• Tedeschi Trucks Band — Revelator (Sony/Masterworks)
A dream band finally makes it official. This album makes me unbelievably happy every time I play it.
• Carey Murdock and NoStar — Baby Don’t Look Down (NoStar)
This album technically came out in December 2010, but I didn’t hear it until a month later. The unknown Augusta singer-songwriter (and pal of Cary Ann Hearst) sounds like a gravelly, wisened 60-year-old man. Then you Google him and realize he’s a baby faced kid. His voice, songwriting, and song arrangements are downright incredible.
• Béla Fleck and the Flecktones — Rocket Science (Entertainment One Music)
Howard Levy, welcome back to your band. The level of musicianship on this recording is staggering. One second they’re the Bad Plus, the next they’re Tinariwen. It’s the Flecktones at their best.
• Wilco — The Whole Love (Anti-)
By the end of the first song, it’s unclear what’s happening, but there’s no question it’s amazing. Turn it up loud.
• Bon Iver — Bon Iver (Jagjaguwar)
Could Justin Vernon come close to matching his amazing For Emma album? Yes, and then some. He’s here to stay.
• The Deep Dark Woods — The Place I Left Behind (Six Shooter)
This will be the album that finally puts this incredible Saskatchewan band on the map. They’ve got all the soul, harmonies, and backwoods boogie that made the Band immortal.
• Gaslight Street — Idle Speed (independent)
I should immediately mention that I am a friend of the bands, and I help them with their tour promotion. But I do that because the music is so damn good. Cary Ann Hearst’s singing on “Vicksburg” makes me smile with hope for the growing Lowcountry music scene.
• Iron and Wine — Kiss Each Other Clean (Warner Bros.)
The first time I saw Sam Beam play, I wanted to John Belushi his guitar into a million pieces on the wall. This album changed my mind.
• Adele — 21 (Columbia)
Take your AutoTune and shove it. Thanks Adele for being a light in the black hole of FM radio.
• Feist — Metals (Polydor)
Feist debuted these songs during a concert in a crypt underneath New York City. How could anyone not love this girl?