40. Flight of the Conchords - Flight of the Conchords [Sub Pop]
These college flatmates and New Zealand transplants turned comedy on it’s head with their hilarious sketch style show on HBO. Then, the talented musicians put out their first full length record, a rollicking sampling of bitingly hilarious tracks from the show.
39. The Dodos - Visiter [Frenchkiss]
The Dodo's Frenchkiss debut effectively combines so many typically separate elements of folk, Americana, electronic, indie and art-house into one album that it can almost feel like a cohesive, brief sampler CD through the modern landscape of indie-rock subgenres while never leaving their comfort zone.
38. Jamie Lidell - Jim [Warp]
This is no half-assed attempt at a white-boy Motown reproduction. Paste
Best Of What’s Next artist Jamie Lidell’s background in electronica adds a unique edge to his sunshiny soul music. In the words of Lidell himself, “a little bit of feel good goes a long way.”
37. Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit - A Larum [Lost Highway]
One of the problems with the word “Americana,” is how it ignores the vernacular traditions of the Old World. Englishman Flynn has crafted a quirky folksy romp that surpasses most of his peers on this side of the Atlantic.
36. The Bridges - Limits of the Sky [Verve]
Harkening back to when music was a family affair, the beauty of this sunny debut lies in its simplicity: soaring pop songs anchored by charming hooks and bridges (no pun intended). Case in point: “Pieces” might be the catchiest tune you’ll hear all year.
35. Colour Revolt - Plunder, Beg and Curse [Fat Possum]
These Mississippi boys offer the best edge-of-your-seat energy since The Arcade Fire. Frontman Jesse Coppenbarger seamlessly alternates between a quiet moan and a roar, and his cryptic lyrics offer a new revelation with each listen.
34. Torche - Meanderthal [Hydra Head]
You'd be hard pressed to find something as alternately punishing and pleasant (at press time, our best guess was a marshmallow with—surprise!—a thumb tack inside), but Torche's latest slab of melodic metal combines the oil-and-water rivals to fine effect.
33. Santogold - Santogold [Downtown]
This wildly innovative solo debut from Santi White (a.k.a. Santogold) effortlessly vacillates between singing and rapping, gleefully hopping from one genre to the next. “L.E.S. Artistes” shines the brightest on a sonically eclectic record devoid of vacuous filler.
32. Silver Jews - Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea [Drag City]
Wistful, poetic heartland rock and psychedelic-tinged, truck-stop country tunes delivered from a lonesome mountaintop in David Berman’s wizened, exhausted Cohen-meets-Cash croon.
31. The Walkmen - You & Me [Gigantic]
A moody, searching record from a band that’s tried on several different musical costumes since its inception, You & Me
has allowed The Walkmen to find their beat, pulsing drunkenly from a heart of darkness under the blurry lights of some long-forgotten, cotton-candy-smeared midway.