5. Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't
That shy, balding guy who seems a little off and looks the guy from High Fidelity's Championship Vinyl that's not John Cusack or Jack Black? That's Jens Lekman and he just happens to write some of the most wonderfully awkward conversational love songs this side of Stuart Murdoch. Listen here.
4. Dwight Yoakam - 3 Pears
Since I am writing this about 16 months late, it seems like 3 Pears came out a decade ago. Of all the resurgent alt country artists that blossomed in the 80's (Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith, etc. etc.), Yoakam is the one that has maintained the highest level of consistency in his recordings. 3 Pears brims with timeless honky tonk that puts the current big hat poseurs to shame. His best since Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.
3. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar
The purity of voice of Klara and Johanna Soderberg is the kill shot here. The foreigners' embrace of Laurel Canyon sweetness , Gram Parsons' Cosmic American Music and the immediacy and earnestness of Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley is addictive, and they wrap it up in a delicate, homesick bow and sell it back to us much like every British rock band from 1963 to 1975 used American rhythm and blues as the template for rock and roll world domination. What's so great about The Lion's Roar is the promise of greater things.
2. Allo Darlin' - Europe
I did flinch a little when I realized that 2 and 3 were adorable female fronted bands but so be it. Allo' Darlin's Elizabeth Morris will win your heart then break it with sophisticated pop songs that pack considerably more wallop than the ukulele sweet treatments that sometimes threaten to undermine the top flight songs. Absolutely gorgeous.
1. The Japandroids - Celebration Rock
Rock and roll ain't dead. Am I right, Jake Hartline?