1. Sloan: Never Hear the End of It (Yep Roc). Cue up this 30-song, nearly 80-minute marathon of pure pop for Fab people, and you won't want to hear the end of it.
2. Bruce Springsteen: Magic (Columbia). I've never been one of those mega-mega Boss fans, but this album has one stunner after another. That's gotta count for something.
3. Porcupine Tree: Fear of a Blank Planet (Atlantic). Not since King Crimson's Red has progressive rock sounded so bleak, so glorious.
4. Foo Fighters: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (RCA). Relentless, even when it's acoustic. And Dave Grohl never forgets to bring the hooks and riffs.
5. Tori Amos: American Doll Posse (Epic). Sounds like a big-time comeback to me, with big-time rock and - despite its 79-minute running time - welcome focus in each of its 23 songs.
6. The Hives: The Black and White Album (A&M/Octone). Seemingly left for dead (already), the Hives have blasted back to give Alex Turner a run for his Monkeys.
7. Nellie McKay: Obligatory Villagers (Hungry Mouse/Vanguard). Our national musical treasure writes a "small" album for a "big" band and proves that her talent remains extra large.
8. Lily Allen: Alright, Still (Capitol). Personally, I think that "rival" Amy's album doesn't sound genuine, especially post-rehab and all. Meanwhile, after the smiles, smirks, and smudges Allen has been through, these pictures of Lily remain fresh.
9. M.I.A.: Kala (XL/Interscope). The umbrella here isn't that annoying Rihanna rant but, instead, something under which the whole musical world seems brought together in the voice of one remarkable singer.
10. Kaiser Chiefs: Yours Truly, Angry Mob (B-Unique/Universal Motown). Only two albums in, these guys are already sounding like deep-careerists. And live, they're truly angry.
Copyright © 2013 Bonnier Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.