Top Ten Albums of the Year
1.Kings of Leon - Because of the Times: Well, these Nashville brothers grew up fast, didn't they? Rocketing into the southern rock stratosphere from their 2005 launch pad, Aha Shake Heartbreak, the follow-up is not only better in every way possible, it is the most consistently stunning album of the year. An easy choice for the top spot.
2.Dungen - Tio Bitar: Such a sincere, accurate portrayal of '60s acid rock may never again be done. And, a Swedish farm boy leads Dungen, no less! Bluesy guitar solos, Jethro Tull-ish flute sections and chameleon-like song movements make this a superbly interesting listen.
3.Radiohead - In Rainbows: The long wait for a new album was worth it, and not just for the do-it-yourself price tag. In Rainbows is dense, atmospheric and deeply emotional. Blending the digital coldness of Kid A with the lush layers of OK Computer, Radiohead reminds the world that they are still kings of experimental rock.
4.Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris: Grimy cock-rock returns in full fashion on Queens of the Stone Age's sleazy, slinky June release. The fuzzed-out guitars and grungy vocals make this another hit for the volatile rockers. Best track: the "Smells Like Teen Spirit"-esque riff and killer solo on "3's & 7's."
5.Minus the Bear - Planet of Ice: Minus the Bear are really making a statement with Planet of Ice, and that statement is: "Listen to us: We are so damn good at what we do!" What they do is combine Postal Service electronica with Pink Floyd prog-rock for a catchy, danceable sound that also rocks out hard.
6.Modest Mouse - We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank: With the manic, delirious sounds of lead singer Isaac Brock, We Were Dead has more of the trademark off-kilter fun, making Modest Mouse one of the more consistent rockers out there today.
7.The White Stripes - Icky Thump: Boy, do these two have expectations to fulfill with each release or what?! Icky Thump may not be as flawless as their last two records, but Jack White continues to take the band's sound further, incorporating Latin horn arrangements and twangy acoustic guitars. And, of course, there's the rocking, infectious title track.
8.The Shins - Wincing the Night Away: Containing maybe the best opening song all year in "Sleeping Lessons," The Shins show once again why they continue to be media darlings and fan favorites. Noteworthy moment: when the band jams to close out "Sea Legs," a grooving, swaying highlight on the album.
9.LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver: Diversifying their sound to incorporate elements of Talking Heads, David Bowie and Public Image Ltd., band leader James Murphy acknowledges his dense musical knowledge when he references Pink Floyd as he sings, "We set controls for the heart of the sun/one of the ways we show our age."
10.Deerhoof - Friend Opportunity: These indie oddities are hardly accessible, but then again, people said the same thing about Captain Beefheart. Friend Opportunity certainly has shades of Trout Mask Replica in the strange riot of sounds, but you can't deny the hilarity of the band's no-barrier-can't-be-broken approach.
Honorable Mentions: Bright Eyes - Cassadaga
The Fratellis - Costello Music
Neil Young - Chrome Dreams II
The Good, the Bad and the Queen - The Good, the Bad and the Queen
Air - Pocket Symphony