OK, I think I've now heard all the candidates that have a chance at making this list. As in the past, these are NOT necessarily the BEST albums, or the most popular, or the coolest, or anything else other than just the ones I enjoyed the most and tended to play most often in the past year. So, in no particular order:
Kinda like early 90's Ride, call it "tuneful, mostly upbeat shoegaze." I just can't get enough of this sound. It was a movement that moved on too fast the first time around, so I'm glad the genre is being revisited by the youngun's.
!!! (chk chk chk)
I got tired of Michael Jackson's Thriller a long time ago, but this album of the same name (sort of) is fresh stuff. Groovy, head-bopping good times. Great for driving around or walking around city streets, keeps you moving.
Welcome back, Meat Puppets! These toasted boys from the Southwest have been around since the early 80s and I thought they'd lost it more than 10 years ago, but here they are again with another winner. Only Curt Kirkwood can come up with these lyrics. How does he do it? Only his druggist knows, I think. "Don't leave me here down on my knees, in a waterfall of color..."
Ah, the days when listeners had patience to let a song develop, and bold music sprang forth with grandiose gestures and big dynamics (loud AND soft). These guys somehow sound retro, while being utterly fresh and new. Can't wait to see where they go from here!
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
It's hard to imagine (no, REALLY hard) that TMBG will ever beat Flood for best, most clever, most tuneful album of their illustrious catalog (though a couple of their children's albums could be close), but IMHO, this one comes closest in a looong time. Very catchy, very fun, I liked this more each time I heard it.
Crimes Of Passion
And here's MORE "upbeat shoegaze" rock. Yes! This reminds me of late 80's Jesus & Mary Chain but produced by Phil Spector. A winning combination!
Any band that takes their name from the happy ending of the children's book Go Dog Go (that's my theory and I'm sticking to it) is on the right track. This is like the Ting Ting's but better, because the whole album is strong. Ramones-y, but closer to The Muffs, this has been done before, but I'm far from getting tired of it.
This is truly unhinged music from Japan. And I love it. Hyper, crazy, fun, Devo-on-speed. I DARE you to check it out. This is the band I most want to see live. PLEASE come to the US!!
THE POLYPHONIC SPREE
Yes, It’s True.
More great music from my favorite 25 piece (well, I think they're down to about 17 nowadays) band. Feel-good music, but with some slight melancholic edges to keep it real, I'll be listening to this for years to come.
Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action
I love, Love, LOVE this band. Catchy as hell, guitars that intertwine and jam like a funky machine, and vocals that are smooth but energetic. So happy they've kept it going this long, while others of their type have fallen by the wayside.
THE JULIE RUIN
This band is the latest incarnation of original riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna (formerly of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre), and this is just as good as anything she's done before. Punk, but better than punk. Angry, but having too much fun to be really angry. Riot on, Kathleen.