1) Roomrunner - Ideal Cities: As I said here, "if riffs could kill then Roomrunner would be a weapon of mass destruction". Ideal Cities is a crushing, hook-ladened and sonically inventive record. They're also a fantastic live band where something memorable seems to happen each time I've seen them (4 times so far).
2) Föllakzoid - II: Not only is II one of my favourite records of the year (reviewed here), it spawned my interest in Chilean rock music, which has some of the most incredible bands of the last decade. There is a new space-rock champion and their name is Föllakzoid.
3) Anna Calvi - One Breath: Having been a fan since before her debut album came out (profile), I was pretty confident that Anna wouldn't suffer from second-album-syndrome and she justified my faith with the wonderful, One Breath. I managed to catch her recent show in New York as well which was fantastic.
4) John Grant - Pale Green Ghosts: This one crept up on me a little bit, but Pale Green Ghosts is perhaps my most played album of the year, and contains some of the best, most bitingly sarcastic lyrics I've heard in a long time. I managed to catch his recent show in New York, which I reviewed here.
5) Mikal Cronin - II: This is one of those records where every song is so consistently strong that there isn't really a focal point or highlight. He plays almost everything on the album, the melodies are instant, perhaps so instant that the depth of the lyrics are missed on first listen, with lines like "Faith is just a lover I don’t own. Love is just an answer I don’t know".
6) The Men - New Moon: I reviewed this album earlier in the year here, my enthusiasm has not waned since it was released back in March.
7) Weekend - Jinx: Slumberland have a great roster of acts at the moment, with Joanna Gruesome, Veronica Falls, Girls Names all releasing material worthy of consideration for this list. The pinnacle however, is Weekend's second album, Jinx, an assured and meticulously crafted record with as wide a colour pallette as you'll hear.
8) Sisu - Blood Tears: Sandra Vu is better known as the drummer in Dum Dum Girls, but Sisu's output is more impressive, imo, debut album, Blood Tears was released the previous EP also got a re-issue. The album is filled with what are essentially dark, post-punk pop songs, highly recommended (artist to watch profile here and live review here).
9) Wymond Miles - Cut Yourself Free: This shouldn't come as much surprise (artist to watch profile here, live mention here), Wmon is one of those people that can't seem to write a bad song.
10) Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaVelle - Perils from the Sea: Another album I reviewed earlier in the year, Kozelek moves out of his comfort zone to wonderful effect.
Top 10 gigs post coming soon...