Crystal Castles: Crystal Castles ( II ) - Hear about album. Acquire album. Listen to album & dismiss it out of hand. Later come back to album. Listen to it for the rest of the year, rabidly.
Chromeo: Business Casual - My favorite album yet from the Canadiens - especially Don't Walk Away & J'ai claque la porte. Another band that hasn't lost its stride.
The Gaslight Anthem: American Slang - Though these guys are (like Lucero & the Hold Steady) moving towards balladry & arrangements rather than relying on youthful angst & razor-sharp wordplay, American Slang is a great album in the best tradition of Jersey rock. I personally hope their next album finds them rediscovering their punk roots, but if they continue to channel Springsteen and late 20th-century Americana this well, I'm cool.
Josh Ritter: So Runs The World Away - A beautiful & ambitious indie rock album with some of the best songwriting of the year. I will continue to stick up for The Curse as one of the prettiest songs I've heard in recent memory.
Darkthrone: Circle The Wagons - Fathers of black metal, continuing their ascent through crust punk-influenced rock n' roll - and while I'm not much for (non-automotively speaking) hybrids, this is the balls.
Midlake: The Courage Of Others - My summer album. I love their take on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-esque country-rock revivalism, and can especially appreciate their back-to-the-roots lyrical fixation.
Arcade Fire: The Suburbs - Probably the most important album that dropped this year to the hipster crowd with Peter Pan-styled ambitions, but also just a damn good album that takes a wistful look at the results of retail rampancy in North America.
John Grant: Queen Of Denmark - Unflinchingly soul-baring & sardonically hilarious in equal parts, this debut album from the Czars' lead singer is going to have me digging through their back catalogue. Members of Midlake made the music to back Grant's baritone, and in digging through their experimental and jazz roots alongside their (now-) regular country-rock sound, probably made a more well-rounded album for Mr. Grant than they have yet for themselves.
Cee Lo Green: The Lady Killer - 2010 saw Mr. Green dropping a hyphen & one of the best R&B albums I've heard since... a while. There are maybe 3 tracks worth skipping on this. I included the Intro and Outro in that estimation.
The Sword: The Warp Riders - Yee-uh
Not quite as honorable mention:
Rotting Christ: Aealo - Too much Greek throat singing for my taste. I really liked Theogenia and was a bit disappointed by this one.
Joanna Newsom: Have One on Me - One disc will be plenty Ms. Newsom, please & thank you. Greater than the sum of its parts because overall it is average and there's so goddamn much on it that the gems get overshadowed.
The Hold Steady: Heaven Is Wherever - I miss Fritz's keyboard & Craig's balls.
Eminem: Recovery - Eminem has regained his ability to rap well. He lost his abilities to choose worthwhile collaborators, decent beats or diversify his subject matter convincingly.
Bruce Springsteen: The Promise - If this had been an album and not a compilation of cutting-room floor tracks (from Darkness on the Edge of Town), I'd say it was one of the best of the year. As it is, I can't stack compilations up against studio albums, even when they're the Boss'.
LCD Soundsystem: This Is Happening - Dude drank way too much of his own Kool-Aid, in my personal opinion.
Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - See previous.
Jamey Johnson: The Guitar Song - I really like what I'm hearing, I just haven't had enough time to digest it, having just acquired it.
Fitz and the Tantrums: Pickin up the pieces - See previous.
And of course, there are probably plenty of albums I missed during the year or obliviated during the making of this list. So it goes.