Of the 40-plus new albums I heard this year, these are my 20 favorite:
1. Matmos - The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast
2. The Necks – Chemist
3. Junior Boys – So This Is Goodbye
4. Sonic Youth – Rather Ripped
5. Ghostface Killah – Fishscale
6. Burial – Burial
7. Boris – Pink
8. The Mountain Goats – Get Lonely
9. Herbert – Scale
10. Om – Conference of the Birds
11. Love is All - Nine Times That Same Song
12. Mission of Burma – Obliterati
13. Califone - [Roots & Crowns]
14. Jesu – Silver
15. Brightback Morning Light – Brightback Morning Light
16. Joanna Newsom – Ys
17. Kode9 + the Spaceape - Memories of the Future
18. Cat Power- The Greatest
19. Scott Walker – The Drift
20. Yo La Tengo - I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
Artists whose new albums I did not hear, which may or may not explain why they didn't appear on the list (those I've previously heard and enjoyed marked with *): Johnny Cash*, The Clipse, The Knife (Pitchfork's #1), Arctic Monkeys, The Hold Steady*, TV on the Radio*, Booka Shade*, Mastodon*, Lily Allen, Hot Chip (?), Tim Hecker*, Justin Timberlake (other than the two big singles, which, admittedly, I do like), Grizzly Bear, Beirut, Sunset Rubdown (??), Scritti Politti, Pere Ubu*, The Roots*, Thom Yorke*, Final Fantasy, Neko Case, J Dilla, etc.
Albums I did hear, which are getting a lot of end-of-year love, but which aren't getting it from me, and why: Belle & Sebastian's The Life Pursuit (it's ok, about half really good, half drab funk-ish stuff); Bob Dylan's Modern Times (kind of blah, and nowhere near as interesting or as good as "Love & Theft"); Liars' Drum's Not Dead (I expected to love this, since it got such rave reviews and I was one of the few defenders of their much-maligned last album, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. But I have so far been unable to get anywhere with the new one); T.I.'s King (not bad, but this monochromatic coke-rap cd just bored the hell out of me).
Albums I liked a lot, which just missed the top twenty: The Coup's Pick a Bigger Weapon (danceable, left-wing agit-rap!); Destroyer's Destroyer's Rubies (ultra-literate singer-songwritery stuff; will require closer listening to absorb, even though I bought it very early in the year and listened to it several times); Espers II (folky-drone fun!); Excepter's "Alternation" (noise-house, but I wouldn't be able to recognize it as house if I hadn't been told); Jackie-O Motherfucker's America Mystica (much more drone-heavy than previous efforts; also requires more listens to absorb); Six Organs of Admittance's The Sun Awakens (virtuosic guitar + extended droney goodness); Three 6 Mafia's Most Known Unknown (like many rap cds, this album is way too long, but I've really enjoyed at least half it)... Also, Built to Spill, with You In Reverse, made a nice return to form, five years after the fairly weak Ancient Melodies of the Future. Even so, it amounts to a good album with only one great song ("Goin' Against Your Mind").
And that's about it. I may have additional comments about some of my top twenty, time permitting, in a future post or two.