The xx. Self titled. Girl-guy vocals, understated, great melodies, young Brits. Has that deadpan modern semi-underground feel.
Dinosaur Jr. Farm. Second CD from the reunited original lineup kicks serious butt, if that's what you're into. Play loud.
Sonic Youth. The Eternal. Another long-time act kickin it in their best original style. More raw due to non-corporate approach, and great songs.
Jarvis Cocker. Further Complications. I probably played this as much as anything on the radio this year. Droll lyrics, rockin band and production and Jarvis' inimitable vocal stylings.
Fiery Furnaces. I'm Going Away. At first, I was put off by some of the newly mellow approach, but it grew on me. Where previous efforts were somewhat fingernails-on-chalkboard, this one is mostly palatable.
Viva Voce. Rose City. May not have all-time best Viva Voce tracks, but it's their most consistent from start to finish, song for song. Enough rock and moodiness to roll on.
The Heartless Bastards. The Mountain. I caught the Heartless Bastards bug this summer and it was stuck in the CD player for weeks. The sometimes-desperate, sometimes-strong vocals, simple arrangements and basic strumming struck the right balance of, my God, grunge light and, God help me, World Cafe (I heard it there once, which almost ruined the album for me).
PJ Harvey & John Parish. A Woman A Man Walked By. When PJ is on, as she always is when working with Mr. Parish, she's incredible. Not her best work but very high quality stuff. If you like PJ.
The Handsome Family. Honey Moon. This husband-wife duo was a bit stuck in their mellow alt / goth country formula for a few albums but this one tried some new tricks and was recorded with some Caliexico cats.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It's Blitz. They refuse to get pigeonholed, de-emphasizing the guitar but still keeping the glam rock (can a female be glam?) flame scorching.
Honorable mentions: The Eels, King Khan, Art Brut, Felice Brothers, Spiral Beach, Grizzly Bear, The Ettes, the Crocodiles, the White Rabbits.