I am notoriously bad at creating Best of lists (just ask Roy Kasten, who have given up even asking me for them at this point). Mostly my problem is that I can't, in good conscience, list an album as a top ten favorite if I don't love (or even really know) the whole album. And honestly, for the last couple of years, I haven't been bowled over by any entire albums and thus no lists from me. I could much more easily list individual songs I really liked, or even albums that I would venture to say are pretty good based on the few songs I heard regularly. But a top ten list of albums? I just can't commit that way.
One exception this year, and it is an EP, is the Cold War Kids Behave Yourself EP. I can absolutely commit to saying I love all four songs. I would also think it's safe to say that Elvis Costello's National Ransom is a solid album's worth of really good stuff. If you are already a fan of Interpol, their latest self-titled album on Matador Records is a continuation of their signature sound with perhaps a bit more bite; I like everything I've heard anyway.
I've never been a big fan of Belle and Sebastian, but I do love the title track to their new album Write About Love. The rest of the record seems to be pretty standard B&S fare and thus I'm not really interested. I can barely tolerate the art-student antics of Of Montreal, but I've only ever liked a song here and there. This year their "Coquet Coquette" killed me. I have nothing less than love for that song. And while the rest of the world bowed at the feet of Janelle Monae, I disliked what I heard of her album and her collaborations with Of Montreal.
Lately I seem to have an affinity for bands that have what I would call a downbeat sound. Kind of sad, kind of dreamy, but with a forcefulness. I really like everything I've heard from Owen Pallett and his Swedish Love Song EP. Erland and the Carnival's Trouble in Mind EP is growing on me. And it's from last year of course, but Mumford & Sons Sigh No More (particularly the exquisite "Little Lion Man") probably fits into this category as well. Put the new Dead Heart Bloom, Strange Waves, into this list too.
I will leave you with a new band I've only heard one song from, but it's one that shows a lot of promise for me. The band is called We Can't Enjoy Ourselves (I am not in love with that name) and the song, "Charming Man" is a keeper. You can get a whole album free for download right here: http://wecantenjoyourselves.bandcamp.com/.