What's the true meaning of Christmas?
Some would argue it's a time to catch up with friends and family, others would say it's for eating too much and getting drunk too often and that "it'll all be fine when the diet and exercise routine kick in in the New Year". Then of course there are those who like to go to church in the middle of the night, why would you do that? Especially not now that the pubs are opening at midnight and there's a better selection of alcohol available there, and of course it's warmer than some dusty old church!
Here at R13 we believe in Christmas as an opportunity to get people to buy you music that you might not have been able to afford during the year, and in the spirit of giving to others, we present you with our guide to some of the best albums of 2005, complete with links for you to find out more.
Happy reading and more importantly, happy listening when you take the advice given.
A – 'Teen Dance Ordinance'
"This is a very good album, although the sounds are not original and can be heard in all the pop/rock tracks playing on every radio station right now. Their sound seems to be more mainstream-oriented than on previous releases." Pauline Lysiak
Antony and the Johnsons – 'I Am A Bird Now'
"Musically, it mostly resembles an easy-listening album, but it's almost impossible to keep as background music because the tunes and vocals are so direct that it feels like you're Antony's emotional doppelganger, you could write a thesis on the lyrics alone. Antony's songs are so touching that he could be the very author of beauty itself." Jo Vallance
Arcade Fire – 'Funeral'
"U2 fans may recall the soaring, ethereal crescendo of eerie sound that preceded their heroes entrance at their gigs this summer; this song was of course The Arcade Fire's stunningly emotional single 'Wake Up'." Jo Vallance
Read more about Arcade Fire
Backyard Babies – 'Tinnitus/Live In Paris'
"Although they've been around since 1989, they're relatively unknown over here, which makes the best of concept more intriguing. This double disc set certainly shows us that if you can catch them live, Backyard Babies wouldn't let you stand still for long." Jo Vallance
Bouncing Souls – 'Live At The Glasshouse'
"A feel good band, no questions, no doubts, so it comes as no surprise to see that this live DVD is rather entertaining. They're also a band with a lot of history, 15 years worth to be precise, and the Glasshouse gig is clearly an emotional show for band and crowd alike." Natasha Perry
Colt – 'These Things Can't Hurt You Now So Throw Them Into The Fire'
"The most striking feature is the range of emotions and how seamlessly they wash over the listener and hypnotise with the sheer beauty of the music, despite how minimalistic some of the tracks actually are." Jo Vallance
Crimea – 'Tragedy Rocks'
"Frighteningly vivid lyrics entwined in catchy melodies, it opens with what John Peel called, 'the best song I've heard in years'." Christine Miller
Darkane – 'Layers Of Lies'
"When you listen to this album you are sucked into a journey of metal where there is no turning back, but trust me, it is a fun ride." Jack Pudwell
Diefenbach – 'Set & Drift'
"It sounds rather like a multi-layered Bright Eyes album with more of an egalitarian focus on the band as a whole. The album has a very organic feel with a fusion of fascinating synth sounds, fresh guitar sounds and swirling vocals." Jo Vallance
Bruce Dickinson – 'Tyranny Of Souls'
"The best album yet from the frontman of the best heavy metal band ever. 'Tyranny of Souls' is definitely one of, if not the best album' Bruce Dickinson has released. The question you may ask yourself is, will he be able to follow this amazing album up?" Jack Pudwell
Dream Theater – 'Octavarium'
"This is an expertly written, brilliantly produced and generally classic album. Even if you hate everything Dream Theater have done so far, check out this album before you write them off." Mike Paxman
Editors – 'The Back Room'
"Its good to see a band achieve success without having to resort to belligerence or aggressive marketing hype. Editors have arrived on the scene off the back of 3 rock solid singles, which has seen them steadily build up a grassroots following." James Sharp
Foo Fighters – 'In Your Honour'
"A two CD set that has been created as too separate records, one an acoustic album that incorporates many different styles including jazz and country, as well as the simple one man and a guitar moments. Those who prefer their Foo Fighters nice and loud fear not, as the first half of this double CD sees the band in places as heavy as they've ever been." Simon Webb
Franz Ferdinand-You Could Have It So Much Better With...'
"Some second albums take that terrifying leap into the experimental unknown, this is not one of those albums! It builds on what has gone before and therefore is a very natural follow up." Paul Diggett
Go! Team – 'Thunder, Lightning, Strike'
"It is very hard to pigeon hole them into any musical bracket as there are so many different styles on offer. If you had to force someone to categorize them, they might well be tempted to call it alternative dance, as that would seem the most logical tag for it. However when a record features rock, dance, soul, urban, classical, jazz and a token funky banjo on the final track, calling them anything would quite honestly be doing a disservice." Simon Webb
Gotthard – 'Lipservice'
"As a country, Switzerland bring forth a number of fantastic things which include: Bank Accounts, Penknives, Cheese, Watches, Chalets and Ski-slope-shenanigans. You can add Hard Rock Bands to that list as Gotthard are without doubt Switzerland's best kept musical secret!" Jim Ody
Hard-Fi – 'Stars of CCTV'
"Lyrically they tackle everything from relationships to Feltham, a part of South West London that is marginally less exciting than their home Stains. It is a very London sounding album as there isn't a hint of an American twang to the vocals, as can often be the case with British singers. Musically it's a veritable spot the ball of sounds ranging from the rock end of New Order, to Audio Bullies via the Specials and Brit pop." Simon Webb
Idiot Boy – 'Sixes'
"This is what music is all about, with styles and influences of bands such as Husker-Du, Green Day, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and of course The Pixies, miss this album and miss a great treat." Jim Ody
Juliette & The Licks – 'You're Speaking My Language'
"The egoistical gal of some Hollywood stars never fail to surprise me; that said sometimes we find a diamond in the smelly proverbial. Gawky and kooky actress Juliette Lewis is a fine example of the latter, she steps up to the microphone, nailing each screaming word with a passion that will make you stand back and perform an eyebrow raise of surprise." Jim Ody
Juan Maclean – 'Less Than Human'
"This nine-track electronic offering from Juan Maclean is an exciting combination of robotic vocals and a mishmash of interesting and eclectic influences. It falls into the bracket of music for late nights as it encapsulates the post night out feeling of being fired up when you walk through the door but after a while the adrenalin starts to calm down and before long you're monged out on the sofa only to be woken up by the cat." Simon Webb
Magic Numbers – 'Magic Numbers'
"The Magic Numbers first full-length offering re-injects some good old appreciation of the finer and softer side of life into music. A timeless record that comes at just the right time. Pure and divine through and through." Daniel Bristo
Maximo Park – 'A Certain Trigger'
"It's an interesting spin on a genre that is getting somewhat boring and monotonous. Maximo Park inject something a little more creative and with the odd chart friendly ditty and the deep lyrical journey of tracks such as 'Acrobat' the champagne could well be put on ice for the Geordie lads." Jim Ody
Million Dead – 'Harmony No Harmony'
"Not only does it stand up to their debut, quite frankly it kicks its ass! More mature, more complex, more of everything really with a few extras thrown in for good measure." Andrew Latham
Miss Black America – 'Terminal'
"This is a band who sound like political pariahs, but without taking it all too seriously because they've had their fair share of trials and tribulations in the past. 'Terminal' seizes all the band's emotion and thrusts it into your heart through the means of captivating, driving tunes that no one can resist." Jo Vallance
Oasis – 'Don't Believe The Truth'
"Oasis are back, and this long awaited album is one of the best albums they have ever done. This will not disappoint the fans, Oasis are back kicking arses, playing Rock n' Roll." Paul Diggett
Quit Your Dayjob – 'Sweden We Got A Problem'
"We have short blast anthems that make the songs of The Ramones sound like epics and comprise of thumping drumming, sing-a-long choruses, very few verses (if any) and spacey-synthesizers. It sounds awful right? Wrong!" Jim Ody
Smother – 'Great White Hoax'
"Smother use a highly charged chord thrashing guitar led sound to great effect. Add to this heart hammering drums and vocals with both a raw edge and intensity that have something in common with a chainsaw and you start to see the passion these guys have for their music." Emily Warner
System of a Down - 'Mesmerize/Hypnotize'
"SOAD score points because, whilst there are hard metal edges to most of the songs, they are more often than not blended with tight harmonies and either quieter, or quite frankly weird interludes." Andrew Latham
U2 – 'Live in Chicago'
"Whether you buy the deluxe or normal DVD, no fan will be disappointed. This will bring back so many happy memories of being in U2's presence as they put on the greatest show on earth. This DVD is the evidence to the doubters who cannot see why they are the biggest band in the world today; it proves that there are currently no bands or artists that can even get close. This is a must have for any U2 fan, go out and get it today!" Paul Diggett
Weezer – 'Make Believe'
"The best way to describe this CD would be to liken it to a musical, every song evokes a different emotion and musical talent from within the Weezer camp. A thoroughly interesting CD, it draws you in for the ride and you won't spend a second of it getting bored." Zara Meerza
Wilco – 'Kicking Television: Live in Chicago'
"This double disc perfectly showcases the might of a band that may not be known to all but is easily loved by those who do. If you have any interest at all in what a great rock band should be doing, this album should be given serious consideration." Andrew Reilly
We also suggest you get your mucky paws on the four disk DVD of Live8, to refresh your memory read the review of the event by
What's the true meaning of Christmas?