10: Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
Veckatimest is the second great album by Grizzly Bear and - in some ways - a more ambitious work than its predecessor (though it's difficult to say which is really better). With its detailed arrangements, mind-blowing vocal harmony and just exceptional songwriting, Veckatimest is a truly accomplished album.
9: Wildbirds & Peacedrums - The Snake
There's a certain primal element to the music of husband and wife duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums that isn't capture often in music. Their limited palette of drums and vocals (mostly) is striking, and somehow never feels lacking or bare on The Snake, which is a uniquely fantastic record. (More from me)
There Is No Light (MP3)
8: Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer
Dragonslayer is Sunset Rubdown's most epic statement yet, an indie rock album made in the fashion of late 80s metal records - eight songs totaling 48 minutes of grandiosity and excess. Yet somehow it doesn't seem too over-the-top or dramatic, it's just a thoroughly compelling experience. (More from me)
Idiot Heart (MP3 via Pitchfork)
7: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz
A divisive record among fans of the band, Yeah Yeah Yeahs' It's Blitz is, to me, their most accomplished record yet, despite the very different approach used here. Instead of jagged guitar lines and yelping, we mostly get a mixture of synths and beautiful melodies - I'll take it. (More from me)
6: Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Another band that broke out in a big way this year is Dirty Projectors, who had previously existed more on the fringe before vaulting themselves into the indie spotlight with tunes like "Stillness is the Move." Bitte Orca finds just the right balance between the group's avant-garde style and pop accessibility.
Solange Knowles' cover of "Stillness is the Move" (via Stereogum)
5: P.O.S. - Never Better
Stefon Alexander (P.O.S.) hasn't really made a rap-rock album with Never Better, he just bleeds a punk attitude into his stellar rhymes and organic beats. He's ferocious yet positive, abrasive yet approachable, disgusted at the current state of affairs but hopeful for a better future. Simply amazing. (More from me)
4: St. Vincent - Actor
Annie Clark, a former Polyphonic Spree member, has made serious headway with her sophomore solo effort, Actor. The arrangements are strange, but entrancing, and her lovely voice adds a layer of mystique to the music that begs for repeated and careful listens. It's a wholly absorbing and beautiful album. (More from me)
3: The Antlers - Hospice
I just kept coming back to Hospice, the latest from indie newcomers The Antlers, coming away each time feeling more affected by the experience than the last. From the opening wash of "Prologue" to the echoed refrain of "Epilogue," it is a haunting and emotionally rich listen unlike any other.
2: DM Stith - Heavy Ghost
It's difficult for me to overstate how much I love this album. DM Stith's debut, Heavy Ghost, sounds like nothing I've heard before. It's dark and moody, yet expressive and full of life - and full of remarkable musicianship from a guy I hope to hear much more from in the future. (More from me)
Pity Dance (MP3 via Asthmatic Kitty, upper right corner)
1: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion
I'm kinda tired of writing about Animal Collective, but they deserve all the praise they've received for this truly special album and their great EP, Fall Be Kind, which came out late this year. Released in January, the LP remains the best of this year and one of my favorite of the decade. (More from me)