Albums of the Year

10. Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday
I’ve only heard bits a pieces of this album and it’s good enough to make my top ten. Her verse on Kayne’s “Monster” put her on the map, but “Roman’s Revenge” unleashes the beast. She’s animated, but not a caricature. Nicki has the potential to be bigger than Lil’ Kim, but I’m not sure she’s totally interested in becoming rap’s next Queen. Key Tracks: Roman’s Revenge, Right Thru Me, Your Love

9. Brian Wilson – Reimagines Gershwin
The best compliment I can give this excellent album is that you don’t need to know who George Gershwin is or like his work to enjoy the music. Key Tracks: Rhapsody in Blue, The Like In I Love You, I Got Rhythm

8. Girl Talk – All Day
Girl Talk returned with another superb release just a few weeks ago. The formula doesn’t change on All Day, we just get more great mashups. My favorites: Biggie over “Sunshine of My Love” and Lil Kim over a faster “I Want You Back.” My only problem: All Day seems darker, not as much of an all-out party as Feed the Animals. Still great moments, but they are fleeting. Key Tracks: This is the Remix, On and On7. Hellogoodbye – Would It Kill You?
Somewhere over the past four years Hellogoodbye became a band. Rather than cheesey synths and drum machines dominating tracks, we have instruments and thoughtful arrangements. Would it Kill You? has some really fun songs, but frankly I expected more after such a long break. Also, for some reason singer Forrest Kline spends more time wispering than taking advantage of his much more powerful upper register. Lame. Key Tracks: Finding Something to Do, When We First Met, Would It Kill You?

6. Four Year Strong – Enemy of the World
I still think they scream too much and they lyrics are pretty generic, but the music dominates sack and stayed in my car rotation all year. Key Tracks: It Must Really Suck…, Nineteen With Neck Tatz [worst title ever], Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride

5. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The consensus pick for AOTY by everyone cooler than me. Look, I really like Fantasy, and appreciate Kanye’s production work. I just want to party with Mr. West though, not have a therapy session with him. Maybe if the b-side “See Me Now” (iTunes only) was included on the disc, the scale would have been tipped. Key Tracks: Dark Fantasy, Power, All of the Lights

4. The Hold Steady – Heaven is Whenever
The best rock and roll band in America. Great stories, classic guitar hooks and an album that proves they can writes songs without relying on a piano break down. Key Tracks: The Weekenders, Hurricane J, Our Whole Lives

3. Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions
The best rock band in the UK. The singles carry this record, but they’re so good and have broad shoulders to lift the weaker tracks. I first saw them on Palladia during some European festival set and was immediately sold. Only Revolutions is heavy, tender and tight with a sharp pop edge. And to think that they’re a trio and he gets those tones out of a Strat? Good shit. Extra manly points for always performing live without shirts. Key Tracks: The Captain, Bubbles, Mountains

2. Vampire Weekend – Contra
Remove everything you know about Vampire Weekend from your brain–the dress code, the pretension, the hipster-Brooklynite affiliation–and just listen to the record. It’s very cool. And completely different than what modern music is. It’s defiant and stubborn and basically Graceland. There’s an odd mix of dub, reggae, rock, African soweto and yet it all works. I was pretty reluctant to even give this record a chance, but I’m glad I did, because its all about the music, right? Key Tracks: Horchata, Holiday, Taxi Cub, Giving Up the Gun

1. Neon Trees – Habits
I think I originally said that this was a good album and something that will help you pass the time until the Killers get back? Well, fuck that. I was wrong. I don’t know what it is, but some albums just grow on you. Habits has the perfect mix of simplicity, nostalgia, and hooks. Three chords, attitude and killer melodies. I stand behind what I said about Tyler Glenn. Freshest vocal talent in years. And they have a female drummer who can actually pull it off live, with harmonies. Total boo-yea. Key Tracks: Sins of My Youth, 1983, Helpless

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