TFD started it, Cliff kept it going, so in the year that belongs to iTunes, here's my Top Ten list of best albums:
1. OutKast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
: TLB is so good that everyone is ignoring the first disc. It's a shame since it's some of the best work of Big Boi's career, but the best songs are the ones that Andre comes back for. There's been enough written about TLB that I don't need to add much here.
2. The Drive-By Truckers, Decoration Day: OutKast will be wondering how to follow up a classic double album after they finish their HBO musical, but DBT answers the question with a great album. It's not the classic that Southern Rock Opera is, but to follow 'classic' with 'great' isn't bad. Dreadfully ignored band that's as good live as in the studio, a rare combination today.
3. Warren Zevon, The Wind
: Not his best work, but his rawest. Gone too soon, Warren leaves us with yet another album to remember him by. It's a full length sonic goodbye.
4. Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers
: Sure, the video broke them, but FOW make the kind of pure pop not seen recently in music - argue with me if it was The Cars or Prefab Sprout that last did it. If you heard the song once, you probably sang along all day. The whole album is like that, beginning to end.
5. Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
: 'The Scientist' is one of my favorite songs of the year and no album has as many great lines. Coldplay's emergence gives me hope that pop doesn't have to be pre-packaged or stupid.
6. White Stripes, Elephant
: I was late to the party on the White Stripes, but I'm catching up. Stripped down, Zeppelin-esque blues rock with range and emotion. They're not as pure as The Black Keys, but they do better riffs.
7. Joss Stone, Soul Sessions
: The best white soul since Shannon Curfman (who's apparently fallen off the face of the earth) and a better album than the much more heralded Alicia Keys. It will be interesting to see how this young Brit will grow and what kind of material she'll showcase.
8. Jesse Malin, The Fine Art of Self Destruction
: He's not Bruce Springsteen and he's not Ryan Adams (who plays here), but he's a damned fine talent. I wouldn't be surprised to see him follow the Springsteen path - a couple well recieved albums and then an explosion into mainstream consciousness.
9. Joe Strummer, Streetcore
: If Zevon will be missed, so too will Joe Strummer. His post-Clash work never lived up to that amazingly high standard, but this album showed it was still within reach. Being robbed of a Clash reunion at the Rock & Roll HoF induction was a blow.
10. Radiohead, Hail To The Thief: An off album for this band is better than 99% of the other things forced out by record companies.
Honorable Mentions: New Pornographers, Electric Version