10. Some Nights, fun. Indie pop confection, but good indie pop confection with infectious hooks and some fun, interesting lyrics. I first heard these guys on an alternative Sirius station and so was unaware of their meteoric rise to pop stardom. One of the great things about not listening to commercial radio is I don't need to worry about a song being overplayed. Fav song, "We Are Young."
9. MDNA, Madonna. I can already hear eyes rolling. But I love this CD. I think it's a lot of fun and so SO much better than her previous collection, Hard Candy. Fav song, "Love Spent."
8. Carry the Fire, Delta Rae. Fellow author SJD Peterson intro'd this group to me. They remind me of a slightly over-produced Nickel Creek. The best song (and fantastic video) on the CD sounds like an old spiritual and is quite different from the rest of the album. This was disappointing at first, but then the other songs started growing on me as well. Fav track, "Bottom of the River."
7. Ashes & Roses, Mary Chapin Carpenter. This is the first MCC album I ever had to let grow on me. Usually I love her work right off the bat. But this is slower, even more introspective work than usual. Fav song, "Don't Need Much to Be Happy."
6. Charmer, Aimee Mann. One of the great modern songwriters. Actually, Mann and MCC are my two favorite singer songwriters of all time (though, Josh Ritter and Conor Oberst aren't too far behind). Mann once again constructs a collection of songs that are at once catchy, heartfelt, and sarcastic. Fav song, "Labrador."
5. In the Time of Gods, Dar Williams. The always reliable Williams has been putting great work out since the early 1990s. This is one of her stronger efforts in recent years, commenting on some of our society's most troubling aspects with an innocent voice. Fav song, "I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything."
4. Borderland, The Chevin. They're like a more operatic version of The Killers, especially on the opening track. The lead singer's vocals are soaring. I first heard this group as I flipped through the channels one night and landed on Letterman. Fav song, "Champion."
3. Battle Born, The Killers. Glamorous rock n roll. This is the perfect album to go riding around with the windows rolled down...if it weren't freezing out. Brandon Flowers has a voice that gives me chills when he hits certain notes. The songs are anthemic and grand. Fav song, "Here with Me."
2. The Lumineers, The Lumineers. My best friend Jason intro'd me to this group, the big surprise of the year for me. Great folk n roll with a unique twist and some killer lyrics. This is the folk rock album of the year, not Mumford & Sons disappointing sophomore effort. Fav song, "Stubborn Love."
1. An Awesome Wave, alt-j. FUCKING AMAZING. Funky beats, bizarre twists, and crazy ass lyrics that go perfectly with the quick-as-lightning vocals. The videos are so watchable as well. And how can you not love a group which mentions everything from singer Johnny Flynn to quotes from Where the Wild Things Are in their songs? Fav song: "Breezeblocks."