1. Divine Fits — "Would That Not Be Nice"
Sweet, sweet groove from a side-project band that includes Spoon's Britt Daniel up front, and lyrics that name check Minneapolis. Go straight to the top of the list.
2. Zeus — "Are You Gonna Waste My Time?"
A refreshing, unpretentious Canadian band with a song that sounds like the Faces and a video that (by accident, it would seem) makes them look like the Beatles during their rooftop concert.
3. Now Now — "Thread"
Local band Now Now Every Children chops off the second half of their name and delivers an album of airtight, pulsing guitar pop/rock that sounds like ingenues armed with machine guns. Yes, that's smoke you saw pouring out from under the hood of this song.
4. The Pines — "All The While"
Another local gem, but from the opposite end of the sonic spectrum. A song that glows so softly that it will make you rub your eyes as you try to bring it into focus, ultimately giving in to its warm, hazy charms.
5. The Grates — "Turn Me On"
Quite simply, pure indie rock seduction.
6. The Mynabirds — "Generals"
Laura Burhenn used to be in a band called Georgie James. It was charming and catchy. This is way better.
7. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis — "Same Love"
Somebody had to write this song. It could have been really terrible. Fortunately, these guys got to it first, and it gets the job done quite nicely.
8. Metric — "Breathing Underwater"
Emily Haines and company once again come up with another batch of nearly perfect, economical indie pop for their latest, "Synthetica." It was hard to choose just one song, but I went with this one simply for the line "we should never meet our heroes."
9. The Tragically Hip — "At Transformation"
These Canadian veterans are still in top form, and frontman Gord Downie is just as spastic as ever.
10. Frank Ocean — "Lost"
The single from an album ("Channel Orange") that was this year's best demonstration of a how sometimes you can make great music by focusing just as much on what you don't put in the mix as what you do.
1. Metric — Synthetica
2. Frank Ocean — Channel Orange
3. Sigur Ros — Valtari
4. Andrew Bird — Break It Yourself
5. Dr. John — Locked Down
6. Now Now — Threads
7. Various Artists — Twin Cities Funk and Soul
8. Michael Kiwanuka — Home Again
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