1. Beck - Modern Guilt
As bleak and penetrating as it is groove-suffused, Modern Guilt is at its surface beat-heavy danceable psych pop, but at its heart, it's an exploration of spiritual emptiness set in a labyrinth of illusion and routine. It is an album of good music and hard questions.
2. TV On The Radio - Dear Science
Some of this year's most arousing rock and soul/funk sounds are herein, from this 'post-racial' college favorite.
3. Okkervil River - The Stand-Ins
A line in any of Will Sheff's songs says and implies more than most entire albums by ordinary songwriters. The Wrens' Charles Bissel allows for an added dimension and extra punch to their songs. The Stand-Ins proves that poetic rock isn't necessarily an oxymoron.
4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Raw, Reader, Raw!!!
5. The Kills - Midnight Boom
Listen to Midnight Boom.
Get a room.
6. The Raveonettes - Lust, Lust, Lust
Hands down the year's best road album. Too bad I have the wrong car for listening to this album - something like this would be more appropriate:
7. The Submarines - Honeysuckle Weeks
Suspiciously sunny, and at first listen, maybe too bright to be taken seriously. Confirmation: You, Me, & The Bourgeoisie was in an Apple commercial. But taken in the context of their marital reunion, it becomes just the substance that we need.
8. Vivian Girls
...which has more balls than the boys have.
9. The Raconteurs - Consolers Of The Lonely
Worth the price of the album just for the Zep-like vocal break in the title track. The rest of the album is a riot of riffs, licks, and hard luck drama. And though I didn't see them live, I heard them on the internet radio live, and I could swear that my computer started sweating.
10. R.E.M. - Murmur (Deluxe Editon) - Disc 2
I would have placed this at #1 if I weren't already cheating. I'm not blaspheming when I say that I'd rather listen to the live bonus disc than the remastered studio album, which many critics regard as both R.E.M.'s best album AND the best album, period, of the 1980's. This is a reminder that yes, they were that good.