My Favorite Discoveries of 2005

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Ok, here’s my list of favorite movies and CD’s, etc. for the year. Some of these were not released in 2005 (CD’s especially), but I found them in 2005 and that’s all that really matters, right?


Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith
The best Star Wars since the original three. The special effects were beyond incredible.

Batman Begins
To me, easily the best Batman film in the series. The casting was brilliant with Gary Oldman as young Lieutenant Gordan (soon to become commish) and a back-story worthy of a movie within itself.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
I love the original and it is hard to top Gene Wilder, but if anyone could do a remake, it’s Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. They did a terrific job being even creepier than the first.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Like all the Potter films, very enjoyable and with a great story. They keep getting darker, but they stay fun.

Wedding Crashers
One of the single funniest movies I’ve ever seen and that includes my all-time favorites like Stripes and the Birdcage. Vince Vaughn is comedy genius. I laughed so hard I cried. My favorite of the year.

40 Year Old Virgin
Another bit of comedic brilliance from Steve Correll. The combination of he, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Paul Rudd and the Wilson brothers is really churning out some great movies.

Actually, a really good year to go to the movies. I just saw King Kong (which was excellent) and still want to see Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana and a decent list of others I missed at the theatre.


Muse – Absolution
One of many new bands I learned about this year – an incredible mix of catchy hooks, brilliant musicianship and ecclectic influences. Think Radiohead meets Nine Inch Nails meets Queen…seriously.

Green Day – American Idiot
I’ve always liked Green Day, but not been a HUGE fan. This is clearly their best. It sounds terrific and every song has a singable hook. If this is what politics does to them, they should keep on being pissed.

U2 – How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb
U2 continues to show why they are the best rock band on the planet. Great songs and a continued drive to be interesting, they prove that bands often get better with age.

Snow Patrol – Final Straw
I had heard their one radio song and liked it, but the whole CD was surprisingly introspective with an odd mix of production and songwriting. One of the better indie/alt bands out there.

The Weakerthens – Reconstruction Site
As cool as you can get in indie/folksy rock music. For me, hearing this was akin to hearing the Violent Fems or early REM or Guster for the first time.

Juliana Theory – Love
This was such a throwback for me. It felt like I was hearing a modern rock band playing the style of an 80’s heavy metal band with the singer from Faith No More fronting.

Nickel Creek – This Side
I have always liked them when I hear them on indie radio, but hearing the Smoothie Song on a station in Austin followed by seeing their performance on Austin City Limits was enough to make me go out and get this one. A really beautiful blend of bluegrass and pop music with stunning vocal harmonies.

Foo Fighters – In Your Honor
They just keep making the best rock records every time out. I can forgive them for getting a little dull on the second half of this double-length CD because the first half is so classic Foo.

Charlie Sexton – Cruel and Gentle Things
Sexton hasn’t made a CD in over a decade opting instead for the opportunity to tour with and produce the likes of Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams. It was worth the wait. This is a quiet and beaufifully mature CD with Charlie’s signature vocal grumblings.

John Evans – Circling the Drain
It’s pretty rare for me to absolutely love a local CD, not because I don’t love local music, but because they are so often just not that good mostly due to lack of funds. However, this is a complete and total exception. What a great rock record from a rockabilly stalwort.

Millicent Friendly – Downtime
I first heard this local Dallas band on and was taken. Turns out they are managed by the same group that manages people like Arthur Yoria, so they are on the right track. Think a younger, more modern (and not quite as mature) Cheap Trick meets Jellyfish.

John Mayer Trio – Try!
I like Mayer ok, but I’m not a big fan. But, this is outstanding. With a veteran rhythm section made up of Steve Jordan (drums) and Pino Palladino (bass), it was a must-buy for me to begin with. Not only is this a very good bluesy-rock record, he picked the best musicians possible. Kudos.

Rebirth Brass Band
I was introduced to Rebirth by happenstance. I was in Louisiana playing with my violinist’s Celtic band, Paisley Close. Lessa (my drummer) and I wanted to drive into New Orleans for the night and it just so happened that Kermit Ruffins was having his CD release party followed by his re-joining the band he formed over 20 years ago, the Rebirth Brass Band. Not only was it an incredibly memorable experience, but it was a chance to see something spectacular in the heart of a city soon to be devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Unforgettable.

Live Shows/Concerts

Paul McCartney – Toyota Center
Unbelievable. That’s the only worde to describe it. I was in total awe for the whole show. It was easily the best concert I’ve ever seen and I’ve been to hundreds. Simply spectacular from beginning to end.

Kermit Ruffins and the Rebirth Brass Band – New Orleans (Tipitina’s)
One of the great treats of the year and will likely be one of the highlights of my concert-going life. To see a living legend not only at his CD release party but re-joining the group he formed and hadn’t played with in over a decade in the heart of the Big Easy was something I’ll never forget.

Charlie Sexton & Shannon McNally – Continental Club
This is the first time I’ve seen Sexton since he was with the Arc Angels. He was terrific and I was really impressed with McNally who Sexton produced and whose band backed her up. She was reminicent of a young Lucinda Williams with the voice of Stevie Nicks minus the annoying vibrato.

Houston Press Music Awards Showcase – Downtown Houston
Hard not to give props to the Press for putting this on. From the last show for Modulator to the Phlegmatics to the Tony Vega Band to Arthur Yoria, there were tons of great performances and many others I missed.

Patrice Pike – Mucky Duck
This was just last Friday, actually. Pike is a veteran singer/songwriter and former member of the popular Texas band, Sister 7. Her funky, jazzy, folksy thing – reminicent of Joni Mitchell if she had been from New Orleans and grew up playing R&B music – had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand.

Millicent Friendly – Dallas
Another moment of synchronicity was when I was in Dallas for the weekend and Millicent Friendly happened to be having their CD release party. You can’t beat timing.

Steve Tenpenny – Sidecar Pub
Think of a young Steve Earle. I got to see Tenpenny by accident because he was playing on the same show with a band who were friends of a friend – if that is complex enough for you. I was blown away by how comfortable he was and the infectious nature of his gravelly

Overall, a pretty good year for movies and music. I certainly can’t complain. Here’s hoping for an ever better 2006.

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