1 CHAMBER STRINGS A MONTH OF SUNDAYS (Bobsled) Troubled by the tragic death of Epic Soundtracks, Chicago used-record-store staffer Kevin Junior channels his sorrow into a soulful masterwork.
2 DAVID AXELROD (Mo'wax) Visionary producer and hiphop sample source David Axelrod recycles the unused rhythm tracks from an ancient acetate into the comeback album of the year.
3 O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? (Universal) And to think people laughed derisively when I said hillbilly music would be all the rage in 2001.
4 ZEKE DEATH ALLEY (Epitaph) Hard, loud and fast. Punk rock never sounded better.
5 THE WORD (Ropeadope) The North Mississippi All Stars and John Medeski go to church with 24-year-old sacred steel hotshot Robert Randolph and create a glorious gospel record that even heathens can love.
6 GINNY HAWKER LETTERS FROM FATHER (Rounder) Ignoring the boundaries of country, bluegrass and blues, Hawker finally makes the record of heart songs she's long promised. Simply beautiful.
7 THE NEW MASTERSOUNDS KEB DARGE PRESENTS THE NEW MASTERSOUNDS (BBE) Who says no one makes records like the Meters any more?
8 MARTHA WAINWRIGHT FACTORY (Querbes Service) An enchanting four-song sketch of New York life from the other talented young Wainwright.
9 DE LA SOUL AOI: BIONIX (Def Jam) Proof that adults can make funky, innovative hiphop for other adults.
10 THE DEARS POP NOIR ORCHESTRAL ROMANTIQUE (Shipbuilding) Deep, dark and deliciously doomed.