1. Richard Thompson: Sweet Warrior (Shout! Factory). Another flawless outing from Mr. Doom and Gloom - literate, provocative, and musically delicious.
2. Sloan: Never Hear the End of It (Yep Roc). For those who just can't get enough of Side 2 of Abbey Road, here's a string of 30 (count 'em!) irresistible pop pearls.
3. moe.: The Conch (Fatboy). Sparkling guitars, amiable melodies, and bittersweet reflections from an ever-maturing band.
4. Umphrey's McGee: Live at the Murat (SCI Fidelity). Defining double disc: Live Dead for a new generation.
5. Porcupine Tree: Fear of a Blank Planet (Atlantic). Smart, chilling visions of alienation, riding on waves of hauntingly beautiful progressive rock.
6. Tori Amos: American Doll Posse (Epic). A 23-room dollhouse full of alter egos: her richest songwriting since Under the Pink.
7. The Roches: Moonswept (429 Records/Savoy Label Group). Sisterly folk that's both playful and poignant. A long-awaited return to form for these masters of three-part harmony.
8. Uncle Earl: Waterloo, Tennessee (Rounder). Old-timey string-band fun never sounded so fresh; the g'Earls will tug on your heartstrings, too.
9. Kristin Hersh: Learn to Sing Like a Star (Yep Roc). Vulnerable but volatile vocals, simple yet unsettling poetry: her finest (if most angst-ridden) solo effort.
10. Nellie McKay: Obligatory Villagers (Hungry Mouse/Vanguard). Giddy meditations on modern life dressed up as show tunes. Savvy and instantly engaging.
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