Subject to change as year goes on, and as I listen and re-listen.
Best of breed, moves you beginning to end:
Extra Golden: Thank You Very Quickly (Thrill Jockey). Two Africans, Two Americans. Sick drummer.
Borah Bergman: Luminescence (Tzadik). Lyrical and rhythmically sophisticated jazz piano trio recording.
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears: Rippin’ uptempo R&B with rockin’ guitars that won’t quit.
Jon Hopkins: Insides (Domino). Great electronic sound choice greatly arranged. Sophisticated electronica results.
Nomo: Invisible Cities. Smart Afrobeat variant done with a hint of jazz sensibility.
Daniel Carter: Chinatown (NotTwo). Daniel Carter’s organic sax tone, electric playing, and a solid rhythm section.
Very, Very Good, almost perfect:
John Frusciante: The Empyrean (Adrenaline). Downtempo space rock with high production value.
Bishop Allen: Grrrr (Dead Oceans). Great arrangements of angular pop. XTC for a new generation.
I Was a King: I Was a King: Rockin’ big drums and stoner power chords. Mid-1970′s Alex Chilton-esque rock.
Band of Skulls: Baby Darling Doll Face Honey. Title song was the best tune I heard all summer. I wore it out.
Adam Franklin: Spent Bullets (Second Motion) Slow hooks and guitars from former Swervedriver singer.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Lightning Rod) Great sounding slower but not as witty John Hiatt style Southern rock.