1. Nicole Atkins — Mondo Amore (Razor & Tie).
Atkins and her backing band, The Black Sea, turn in an album that has a little bit of everything. Strong songwriting, tight rhythm section and catchy choruses make this her most complete effort to date.
2. Deer Tick — Divine Providence (Partisan Records).
Loose like The Replacements in their heyday, Deer Tick is an ever-evolving act that has put forth its most accessible album without crossing too far into the mainstream.
3. Dawes — Nothing Is Wrong (ATO Records).
An easygoing effort that truly highlights the California band’s introspective, self-aware folk rock.
4. My Morning Jacket — Circutial (ATO Records).
The band’s sixth studio effort features less trickier arrangements and more straightforward roots rock.
5. Foo Fighters — Wasting Light (RCA Records). Easily their best album since 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose. It’s a full effort that hopefully is a sign of things to come for one of rock’s most revered acts.
6. Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears — Scandalous (Lost Highway).
A dizzying barrage of rock and soul, all served up with punchy horns and fast-paced sweaty grooves.
7. The Baseball Project — Volume 2: High and Inside (Yep Roc Records).
The semi-supergroup featuring Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn, Peter Buck and Linda Pittmon proves that it’s not a novelty anymore. The band’s songs about the colorful figures and fandom of baseball are fun for fans and nonfans alike.
8. Those Darlins — Screws Get Loose (Oh Wow Dang Records).
This four-piece from Tennessee use this album to change its sound to more garage rock. This approach toughens the sound up while proving that the girls are not cutesy anymore.
9. Outside the Box — Bridge (Schaeffer Records).
A promising first album from what may be the next breakout band from the Jersey Shore. Passionate power-pop with a wink toward Elvis Costello‘s sly wit.
10. The Civil Wars — Barton Hollow (Sensibility Music).
A haunting folk album that can be sparse at times, but it only serves to highlight lyrics that sound like an intimate conversation at times.