1. The Weakerthans - "Reunion Tour"
The Weakerthans are amazing. I honestly love everything they do and generally believe they can do no wrong. John K Samson is one of the most amazing lyricists that I've ever heard. It took me forever to put this disc on my iPod because it just wouldn't come out of my CD Player. On their last release Samson wrote a song from the point of view of his cat, and this disc has another song along those lines. In my opinion it's the standout track, "Virtue The Cat Explains Her Departure"
2. Rocky Votolato - "Brag and Cuss"
My buddy Kyle over at 30music.com put it best: "Songs about drinking, love, family, and traveling are still very much so the focal point of Votolato’s music. It’s nice to have another boozing family man in the independent music community these days (Bazan, youstill drinking a lot?). His vocals are as good as ever, too – clean and raspy, whispery and ever-sweet." Mostly acoustic stuff with random instruments and stuff in the background. Very nice stuff to listen to in any mood. I've gotten many people hooked on Rocky starting with this disc! Recomended starting track is "Postcard From Kentucky"
3. Chuck Ragan - "Feast Or Famine"
Another one of those dudes that was in a rock band that decided to be cool and release a solo disc. Chuck was in Hot Water Music and me being a huge HWM fan I had to check out his solo stuff. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of this. I was thinking it was just gonna be HWM stuff but on acoustic guitars, however it is more along the lines of Bob Dylan, but with some more modern influences. All in all I bought 2 releases from him this year (one a live disc called "Los Feliz") and both were fantastic! I would start with the track "For Broken Ears"
4. The White Stripes - "Icky Thump"
So up until the song "Icky Thump" was released I had always been an anti-White Stripes type of guy, but when they released that song I was totally converted. This CD is so well rounded, and the flow of the tracks is also great (something most bands haven't been considering this year I noticed). I really don't know what else to say about this disc, or band, that hasn't been said by everybody already. I also don't have a recomended track because they are all solid! this is white stripes at their best.
5. Maritime - "Heresy And The Hotel Choir"
I love Maritime. Their music is always fun and upbeat, and perfect to listen to on a nice spring day while hanging out at the lakefront. This disc is pretty lryicaly strong and has some great guitar riffs that will get stuck in your head. This is also more well rounded in the full band writing then it has been on previous cd's, which I think shows. Davey and Dan Hinz really do write pretty music together, and Dan Hinz is also one sexy beast! Recomended starting track "For Science Fiction".
6. Skulltime - "Skulltime"
Local band formerly called Wolfbite. This CD starts off better than any disc I have pretty much ever listened to, lofty statement I know but just give it a go. This is a rock band, plain and simple. Full of energy, raw guitar sounds, rock solid bass and drums, and clever vocals. My only beef with this CD is it can't hold a candle to their drunken amazing live shows. If you didn't catch them while they were together, you are SOL! Recomended track "Birthquake"
7. Radiohead - "In Rainbows"
Radiohead's big FU to the industry. This CD needs no explination!
8. Thrice - "The Alchemy Index"
Ok, so this is part of a concept thing they are trying to do, one EP for each element. This release was "Fire" and "Water". The "Fire" part is pretty boring. Loud, aggressive, not very imaginative, not terrible but just not that great. The reason this CD made the list is because of the 2nd EP "Water". It's so brilliant it makes up for the lameness of the first half. This is really down tempo, slower stuff (not typical thrice). Lots of lush digital beats/samples in the background, piano's, layers of vocals. Good stuff. Gary Witt came in the box office once while I was listening to this and it's the first time he ever asked us about who we were listening to and said he liked it, so that must mean something, hahaha...
9. Bloc Party - "A Weekend In The City"
I wasn't sure about this CD at first but the more I listened to it, the more it grew on me. Lots of stuff going on like normal, messing with rthyms(sp?) and what not. I don't know, This is just a really enjoyable CD for me and I don't have much more to say about it.
10. Vic Chestnut - "Northstar Deserter"
This disc is eeire. Honestly gives me the creeps a bit. Vic's voice is amazingly haunting and so full of emotion. This CD would not be good to listen to if you are feeling a bit down/depressed 'cause it'll pretty much just make ya worse. I reviewed this disc for 30music.com so if you wanted to read my full opinion about it I would go there. But to some this disc up "Beautifully haunting"
Honorable Mention: The Octopus Project - "Hello, Avalanche"
There you go man! There are lots of little demo's and stuff that I've heard this year too but I don't count those as albums. Able Baker Fox (ex Small Brown Bike, ex Casket Lottery) was listened to much, but their album doesn't come out till Jan/Fed I think. Most of this year was spent listening to The Weakerthans and The Casket Lottery and The Appleseed Cast.