(10) Paramore, "Brand New Eyes" (Fueled By Ramen)
"You can't be too careful anymore," Hayley Williams concludes on "Brand New Eyes'" opening track, and she's right: When you're least expecting it, some Hot Topic punks and their spitfire singer will sneak up on you.
(09) Converge, "Axe to Fall" (Epitaph)
For pure exhilaration, no 2009 release measures up. "Axe to Fall's" hardcore master class blows you to smithereens before spending its final minutes sweeping up the wreckage and assembling you back into one piece, better for the beating.
(08) Wild Light, "Adult Nights" (Almost Gold)
There's nothing original about Wild Light's take on post-millennial pop-rock. "Adult Nights" is simply a genre exercise executed to perfection by talented musicians smart enough to know great songwriting will always make old tricks sound new.
(07) Kurt Vile, "Childish Prodigy" (Matador)
Vile made an album that sounds like I wish classic rock sounded, bouncing from blues to rock to folk but never sacrificing the psychedelic splendor at his core. For more rhapsodizing about "Childish Prodigy," click to the music section for a preview of Vile's highly anticipated gig Dec. 30 at the Summit.
(06) Micachu and the Shapes, "Jewellery" (Rough Trade)
As evidenced by her band's brief, bizarre set of junkyard cyborg pop, Mica Levi is one of the few genuinely unique new voices to emerge in 2009's music landscape. Here's to the boundless creative power of ADD.