10 Beck Modern Guilt Listen Not since the Dust Brothers produced Odelay has a producer worked so well with Beck. This time around, the Scientologist enlisted Danger Mouse, half of Gnarls Barkley and creator of the infamous mash-ups of The Gray Album. This time around, the result is a gritty rock album that expertly mixes Beck's outhouse folk sound with subtle electronic underlays.

9 Moon High Moon High Listen For days, I couldn't get past "Gathering Song," which Chris DeVille and I featured on Alive: Amplified, the paper's 2009 local music comp. Once I did, much more unfolded: a quiet album of folk from a very promising Columbus group. The songs are soothing, soft and expertly played -- a folk album for those often turned off by the freakier things modern folk-rock groups are doing.

8 Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes Listen What can be said about this album has been already: It's a lush, magnificent record about pastoral things that uses the power of vocal harmony better than anyone since The Roches.

7 The Bug London Zoo Listen Five times through this record, your life seems lame, slow and somewhat square compared to the fiery things going on in London. Producer Kevin Martin enlisted an A-list of emcees and toasters at the cutting edge of deep house, dancehall and British hyperdub: noisy, layered genres that come clash together with the energy of the snottiest-nosed punk. It's the sound of getting messed up on cough syrup then struck by lightning.

6 Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago Listen Justin Vernon, the man behind Bon Iver, is from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. So, you know, hooray for Eau Claire. Expect a thriving scene of delicate singer-songwriters to emerge in the wake of this absolutely fantastic album I'm sure to play if I ever find a girlfriend cheating on me with my best friend. Vernon chooses sparse arrangements for much of this record, and his bare-bones, I'm-recording-by-myself-in-a-cabin approach serves to highlight the songs' rich literary depth and almost uncomfortable intimacy.

10 Beck Modern Guilt Listen Not since the Dust Brothers produced Odelay has a producer worked so well with Beck. This time around, the Scientologist enlisted Danger Mouse, half of Gnarls Barkley and creator of the infamous mash-ups of The Gray Album. This time around, the result is a gritty rock album that expertly mixes Beck's outhouse folk sound with subtle electronic underlays.

9 Moon High Moon High Listen For days, I couldn't get past "Gathering Song," which Chris DeVille and I featured on Alive: Amplified, the paper's 2009 local music comp. Once I did, much more unfolded: a quiet album of folk from a very promising Columbus group. The songs are soothing, soft and expertly played -- a folk album for those often turned off by the freakier things modern folk-rock groups are doing.

8 Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes Listen What can be said about this album has been already: It's a lush, magnificent record about pastoral things that uses the power of vocal harmony better than anyone since The Roches.

7 The Bug London Zoo Listen Five times through this record, your life seems lame, slow and somewhat square compared to the fiery things going on in London. Producer Kevin Martin enlisted an A-list of emcees and toasters at the cutting edge of deep house, dancehall and British hyperdub: noisy, layered genres that come clash together with the energy of the snottiest-nosed punk. It's the sound of getting messed up on cough syrup then struck by lightning.

6 Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago Listen Justin Vernon, the man behind Bon Iver, is from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. So, you know, hooray for Eau Claire. Expect a thriving scene of delicate singer-songwriters to emerge in the wake of this absolutely fantastic album I'm sure to play if I ever find a girlfriend cheating on me with my best friend. Vernon chooses sparse arrangements for much of this record, and his bare-bones, I'm-recording-by-myself-in-a-cabin approach serves to highlight the songs' rich literary depth and almost uncomfortable intimacy.

5 MGMT Oracular Spectacular Listen The weird things of Yeasayer -- i.e., let's play psychedelic music about doing crimes and then retreat into the wilderness -- is continued here on a better album from two dudes absolutely unstoppable in the studio. They're dreamers, these two, and they use shattered riffs, organs, bells and a desperate wail the way you once used an empty refrigerator box as a kid. The record has more standout individual tracks -- "Weekend Wars," "Kids" and "Time to Pretend" -- than any other album in 2008.

4 TV on the Radio Dear Science Listen If this band were to collapse and the strange times they critique to straighten out, TV on the Radio would go down with Jefferson Airplane, Buffalo Springfield and Sex Pistols among bands touting a preternatural understanding of how and why the world does and does not work. We live in a tense, frantic climate, and this is a tense record: ups, downs, good times and bad times. No one has made a record as unique, queasy or expansive as Dear Science. Even the album title is clever: They call out to the one thing that once gave order to world and never got a response.

3 Coldplay Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends Listen Each year, I find an album thatís instantly likeable and ultimately complex. In 2007, it was Paper Airplane; this year itís Coldplay. Producer Brian Eno, who worked on this album, hated that the British arena-rock band relied on the same tricks, so he coaxed them into soaring new ones. Viva is bombastic and dramatic like the best tracks from previous albums, but it has none of the easy lines, tired choruses or Lifetime schlock that kept the group from greatness.

2 F---ed Up The Chemistry of Common Life Listen I've been quick to point out all the various influences integrated into this band's searing brand of hardcore. I haven't yet pointed out why I really love this record: It's really, really good hardcore. Sure, it's cool that there are bagpipes at the opening of "Son the Father." But you'll keep listening because of the rip-roaring riff that follows. This is everything you remember loving about a genre that, because of these Canadians, is relevant again.

1 Flying Lotus Los Angeles Listen Flying Lotus produced the early segues during Adult Swim. He's also a relative of jazz great Alice Coltrane. This pedigree makes for the collision of different worlds: ambiance and discord, clutter and minimalism, trash and beauty, high and low art. Much like the film version of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, this record captures culture at a crossroads, a context of no context that's simultaneously vapid and endlessly intriguing. For the most part of this seamless masterpiece, the individual tracks are meticulous studies of fractured parts unified in new forms (the clear influence of post-bop jazz) that function as exquisite, amorphous portals into nothingness (the clear influence of adult cartoons). Los Angeles is that rare record to loop in the background and study at high volumes.