Because year end lists are so fun! BTW if you've never read it, please do yourself a favor and check out Steve Turner's Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts. And why not buy one of these records and try an exercise in discernment! (www.ransomfellowship.org)
10) "Andorra" by Caribou
Gorgeous Beach Boys harmonies, Allman Bros. "Live at Fillmore" drums, with restrained electronics mixed in. The first five or six songs are all great, the second half tends to drag.
9) "At My Age" by Nick Lowe
I put off getting this on emusic for too long. Lowe wrote "Cruel to Be Kind" to give you some context. Great song choices--I'm still trying to figure out which ones are originals. Self-assured, bright and very British music with minimal production and a great horn section throughout.
8) "Cease to Begin" by Band of Horses
Great Neil Young inspired tunes following in the vein of the Shins. They've almost surpassed their Sub-Pop mentors--these songs have better hooks and are less self-aware than anything off "Wincing the Night Away."
7) "God Save the Clientele" by The Clientele
You won't like The Clientele the first time you hear them. It took me a good while to "get it."
As British as you can get, Alisdair is an incredible lyricist and an even better mood-setter. These songs are the brightest he's written and this is now my favorite Clientele record.
6) "Raising Sand" by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant
T Bone Burnett produced this release, which I got to hear two months early from my friend who works at Rounder (thanks T!). Perfect song choices for their voices, and a Lanois-esque southern gothic vibe. Hard to believe that Alison Krauss's voice could get any prettier--it really is next to Robert Plant's harmony.
5) "The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter" by Josh Ritter
I got into "The Animal Years" late in the game but jumped on this one right after it came out.
These songs are much better than anything from his previous release. This one feels like a classic album from the 70's.
4) "Armchair Apocrypha" by Andrew Bird
Maybe my most listened to album of the year. Plucking violins, guitars with just the right amount of tasty reverb, and great jazz inspired songs.
3) "Magic" by Bruce Springsteen
Just got it. Some critic said this was almost better than "Nebraska" so I had to check it out. It's not anywhere close to "Nebraska" but EVERY song is great. So unpretentious, soo good.
2) "Neon Bible" by The Arcade Fire
I got to see them at the Judson church in Washington Square. Even though the sound was horrible, it was one of the best shows I've ever seen. This is a great follow-up to "Funeral."
1) "In Rainbows" by Radiohead
Glimpses of OK Computer, lots of guitars, huge atmospheric bridges, and Thom Yorke's inimitable voice. I paid $7.