1 HEM Eveningland (Rounder) New York's Hem top their impressive Rabbit Songs debut with an even more entrancing countrypolitan-psych hybrid. Awesome.
2 ROKIA TRAORE Bowmboï (Nonesuch) Malian soul diva connects with the Kronos Quartet and magic ensues.
3 BUILD AN ARK Peace With Every Step (Kindered Spirits) Hu Vibrational 's Carlos Niño builds his own 20-strong Arkestra with spiritual jazz legends Derf Reklaw , Phil Ranelin and Nate Morgan . Too sweet.
4 COMETS ON FIRE Blue Cathedral (Sub Pop) Over-amped Bay Area bruisers exceed all expectations in creating a modern psych-rock classic destined to bemuse and befuddle connoisseurs of fuzz-enhanced battering for decades to come.
5 DEVENDRA BANHART Rejoicing In The Hands/Niño Rojo (Young God) Two albums recorded during one highly productive session that prove folk mystic Devendra Banhart isn't your average outsider folk weirdo.
6 IRIS DEMENT LifeLine (Flariella) Folk firebrand rediscovers gospel music. Amen.
7 ANDY BEY American Song (Savoy Jazz) In a year overloaded with standards discs, Bey's masterfully understated set sits at the top of the heap.
8 THE FLATLANDERS Wheels Of Fortune (New West) Texas top hands live up to their legendary status with their finest collection of compositions since the Nixon administration.
9 Electric Life's A Struggle (Sun Moon) Fabulous but sadly slept-on debut of Boston's Electric Company hiphop crew underscores that melody and harmony aren't mutually exclusive from rhythm and rhyme.
10 WAYNE McGHIE & THE SOUNDS OF JOY (Light In The Attic) The mysterious Wayne McGhie and his Toronto posse originally cut this soul-funk bomb 34 years ago, but so few copies were circulated that most people never heard or saw it until Seattle's Light In The Attic reissued a remastered version. Definitely something to shout about.