I fell in love with "Fake Empire" and then slowly grew to the rest of the album. Like nothing else that was produced this year, The National take their own unique sound and deepen the textures on this record. Probably the only album this year that was solid throughout, this is definately a band that will make seriously powerful music for a long time.
(mp3) Fake Empire
2) The Editors -- An End Has A Start
I posted on the great Editors/Interpol debate when these records came out, and my prediction held true. While the Interpol record faded away quickly, this album just kept hanging around. By the fourth listen the Joy Division comparisons faded and all that was left was epic Brit rock.
(mp3) Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors (bonus: This was #34 on Contrast Podcast's end of the year top 50 and you can catch my intro of the song here)
3) Band of Horses -- Cease To Begin
The first three tracks on this record are better than any other album opening group (with the exception of The National). I admit that I dismissed these guys the first time around, but I rarely make the same mistake twice. While the back half of the record drags a bit, there is no denying that "Is There A Ghost" and "No One's Gonna Love You" are tremendous songs full of passion and emotion.
(mp3) Is There A Ghost
4) Rogue Wave -- Asleep At Heaven's Gate
With a greater depth to the music than previous efforts and an even greater Beatles influence, Rogue Wave brought forth a record of mature songwriting that I really warmed to after awile. "Like I Needed" and "Chicago x12" are slices of pop heaven.
(mp3) Like I Needed
5) Radiohead -- In Rainbows
I wanted to like this record more than I do. Sure Radiohead is still one of the premier rock bands around. Yes it's a solid record, but frankly I expect more from them. Are they being punished for past glories? Probably. But I hope that they still have a great record in them, because I think this one was just really good.
(mp3) All I Need
6) The Shins -- Wincing The Night Away
Originally, this was headed for the disappointment file because I was left a little underwhelmend. Then a few weeks ago I went back to it and re-discovered what I first suspected. This is a pretty darn fine album. In clearly an instance where hype almost killed a good band, The Shins made a wonderful mash up of Smiths, Beatles and California pop for a record that is both very British and very American in sound.
(mp3) Split Needles (do yourself a favor and track down the alternate version of this one!!)
7) Shout Out Louds -- Our Ill Wills
This is mostly on the strength on the single "Tonight I Have To Leave It", which is the clear frontrunner for single of the year (Hanging with The National's "Fake Empire" and Votxtrot's "Introduction"). Taking from The Cure and other 80's pop bands to update a great sound is always a good way to get in my graces.
1) Bloc Party -- Weekend In The City
I wore it out for two weeks and haven't been back since. I think they will still be great and it is possible that in 10 years we all look back on this record and re-evaluate it (much like u2's October) but right now I say it was my biggest let down of the year.
2) Ryan Adams - Easy Tiger
I love Ryan Adams and yet he constantly frustrates me. He could be this generations Dylan, but he just doesn't seem to be able to get out of his own way. Not polished enough for commercial success, too polished for indie god status. He just floats and throws out material that has so much potential and yet fall short. I also am disappointed that he stooped to a duet with Sheryl Crow...I know he can do better.
3) Interpol - Our Love To Admire
I am just about done with these guys. After all the talk about the new sound, all I heard was the same thing. Outside of "Pace is the Trick" the record is lifeless and repetative. If the next record sounds like the last two, they may not recover.