7. Radiohead, In Rainbows -- For a limited time this album was available for download from the band's website for whatever price you wanted. Lots of people grabbed it for free. Using advanced mathematics, I decided it was worth 3 quid 50 p ($7.05 USD), and yeah, it was. It's a great album. Here's a studio version of "Bodysnatchers."
6. The Decemberists, Picaresque -- Kinda-Wes-Anderson-rock, but I mean that in a good way.
5. The Coup, Pick A Bigger Weapon -- Song title of the year: BabyLetsHaveABabyBeforeBushDoSomethin'Crazy. This one's called "We Are The Ones."
4. Okkervil River, Black Sheep Boy -- Jackie turned me on to this band, and they were in heavy rotation on my iPod for a big chunk of this year. I guess you could describe them as alt-country (for lack of a better designation) or storytelling folk-rock, but the lead singer often sings like he's auditioning for Fugazi. Here's a live version of "Black" which captures the boiling anger behind the song, but I miss the bouncy, poppy keyboards on the album version - such a beautiful contradiction.
3. The Arcade Fire, Neon Bible -- The first track from their first album (Neighborhood #1 Tunnels - youTube link) still gives me the chills when it launches into the chorus with gorgeous ascending chords, steel drum tremolos and anguished lyrics. Talk about a tough act to follow, but there's not much about the new album that says sophomore slump. They're supposed to be amazing live (all 43 of 'em)... here's they are doing a live version of (Antichrist Television Blues).
2. TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain -- This band somehow manages to combine hardcore punk, soul music, Peter-Gabriel-style art rock and (um) doo-wop and makes it kick ass. This album is really good, but a tad tentative - it seems like they're one album away from blowing the doors off the place. Here's a live version of "Wolf Like Me."
1. Mountain Goats, The Sunset Tree -- I've raved before, and, yep. My new favorite band.
Honorable Mention: M.I.A., Kala; The New Pornographers, Challengers; Manu Chao, La Radiolina; Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs; Cloud Cult, The Meaning of 8.