8. M.I.A.- Kala
It really took me awhile to get used to M.I.A. Her music is extremely unique and at first listen, it may not be very appealing. But after I actually bought the hard copy of this C.D. and listened to it for a little while I finally realized why so many people loved this album. The beats are amazing, and the uniqueness of every track will have you wondering what's coming next. I really love her collaberation with preteen Austraillian rappers The Willcannia Mob in "Mango Pickle Down River" and "Paper Planes" may be the best track of the year.
7. Arcade Fire- Neon Bible
The Arcade Fire's sophomore release definately did not fall under the famous sophomore slump that many critically acclaimed debuts do. Win Butler's intensity in his voice matches only with the greats like Bruce Springsteen and Ed Kowalcyk, and the uniqueness of the rest of the band makes the album even better. "Intervention" is absolutely stunning, while "Keep the Car Running" is also an amazing track.
6. Kanye West- Graduation
What Kanye is doing in music today absolutely blows my mind. He is really one of the only artists in the past 25 years who have been able to be not only extremely popular with underground music fans, but also mainstream fans. This album may even be his best yet, doing a perfect job sampling famous songs, and also creating his own beats. My favorite off the album are "Can't Tell Me Nothing" and "Homecoming" which features Coldplay's Chris Martin.
5. Okkervil River- The Stage Names
Okkervil River continues to create their own folk-based rock sound, with even some punk influence with their fourth studio album. The Stage Names is sort of a strange album because although have two depressing songs about suicide, it also contains many upbeat and happy songs. "John Allyn Smith Sails, which samples the Beach Boys "Sloop John B", and "Unless it's Kicks", two stellar track, sample this contrast.
4. The New Pornographers- Challengers
Now for most of this album don't expect the same "power-pop" New Pornographers that we all heard on Twin Cinema, but rather a more folky sound lead by stellar female vocalist Neko Case. "Challengers" and "Adventures in Solitude" both exhibit amazing vocal performances from Case and male vocalist and songwriter A.C. Newman. Goofy band member Dan Bejar does bring some fun into the album though, as his "Myriad Harbour" is one of the funniest, and best, tracks this year.
3. Wilco- Sky Blue Sky
Alternative Country pioneers, Wilco, really suprised me with the strength of their sixth studio album, Sky Blue Sky. The extremely mixed reviews this album got led me to believe that it may not have been as strong as their earier albums. But the "roots" rock that dominated the album made me fall in love with it right when I got it. It really sounds like a modernized Dylan album, and tracks like "You Are My Face" and the upbeat piano song "Walken", show the strength of this album.
Bright Eyes- Cassadaga
Bruce Springsteen- Magic
The Shins- Wincing the Night Away
Artic Monkeys- Favourite Worst Nightmare
Spoon- Ga Ga Ga Ga Gaa
Iron and Wine- The Shepherd's Dog
Jose Gonzalez- In Our Nature
The Hives- The Black and White Album
Feist- The Reminder
Bloc Party- A Weekend in the City
Brandi Carlile- The Story