1. Kristin Hersh: Learn to Sing Like a Star (Yep Roc). Career peak for a consistently fascinating artist. Whether invoking the Muses or striking in new directions, she rocks with beauty and dances with mystery.
2. Bruce Springsteen: Magic (Columbia): River-style energy meets Tom Joad worldview on an album that may be his best in decades.
3. Amy Winehouse: Back to Black (Universal Republic): Her subsequent meltdowns aside, this was a rare commercial blockbuster that deserved it, with a flat-out classic (and prophetic) single in "Rehab."
4. The Fiery Furnaces: Widow City (Thrill Jockey): Another wildly inventive disc from the Friedberger sibs, with enough gorgeous pop to make the odd quirks worthwhile.
5. Porcupine Tree: Fear of a Blank Planet (Atlantic). Aims to be a modern progressive-rock masterpiece. Damn near succeeds.
6. Graham Parker: Don't Tell Columbus (Bloodshot). Every third GP album tends to be a gem. This one's right on schedule.
7. Lucinda Williams: West (Lost Highway). Her best albums always have some messiness and sprawl to them. No exception here.
8. Spoon: Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge). Though modest as Spoon albums go, this has some of Britt Daniel's most appealing tunes, including one ("The Underdog") that Billy Joel must wish he'd written.
9. The Hives: The Black and White Album (A&M/Octone). Honest-to-God garage rock on a major label - gussied up just enough to let the songwriting shine.
10. The Stooges: The Weirdness (Virgin). It's really crude, the lyrics are juvenile, and most critics hated it. Same as it ever was!