#10 Laura Imbruglia - Laura Imbruglia. I first heard Laura while listening to Triple J, the Australian youth radio network. She is a strange one to be sure, but that is what I like about her. She doesn't have the most polished singing voice, or the best range, but she writes incredibly creative songs and uses the English language in a bit more creative way then a lot of pop singers out their (her older and more famous sister included). I have compared her to Liz Phair, circa Girly Sound and I think that is a fair and flattering assessment. Favorite Tracks: My Dream of a Magical Washing Machine, Lettuce & Anarchists, I Wanna Throw Stones.
#9. Neko Case - The Fox Confessor Brings The Flood. This is one of those 'tween records that I loved so much this year. You would be well with in rights to call it indie, country, anti-folk, or even easy listening at times. That's not to say that it doesn't kick ass, because it does. Case has a smooth and rich voice, and her lyrics are thoughtful and evocative. Listening to her songs is a lot like listening to a story or family oral tradition. Favorite Tracks: Hold On Hold On, John Saw That Number, Maybe Sparrow.
#8. Pearl Jam - Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam's "Ten" is on of my favorite records of all time, and I also really love most everything they did in the 90's. They started to lose me a few years ago and I thought they would never be relevant (at least to me, if not to the world at large) again. Then they came out with their Self Titled eighth record they took a page out of Nuke Laloosh's play book and announced their presence with authority. This record never stops giving, be it the amazing guitar work by Mike McCready or Eddie Vedder's sharp and observant lyrics. Coming on the heels of Green Day's American Idiot, this record proves you can rock the boat and still move units. Vedder is a far more suitable rabble rouser that Kurt Cobain could have ever wished to be. Favorite Tracks: Life Wasted, Inside Job, World Wide Suicide.
#7 The Living End - State of Emergency. The first time I heard these guys was in '02 when their amazing labor protest song "Roll On" was used in the movie "Van Wilder." I picked their newest record up this summer when it was released in the states by Billie Joe Armstrong's record label. This record is just pure rock from start to finish, complete with a few really radio friendly songs. Just about anyone who has ever had a job, and hated it, will love the track "Long Live the Weekend" which is about as perfect a song as you will ever hear. I'm hate that I missed these guys both times they were touring in support of this record near my home. Favorite Tracks: Long Live the Weekend, What's On Your Radio, 'Til The End.
#6 Lady Sovereign - Public Warning. I had previously picked up her '05 EP "Vertically Challenged" after reading about this Brit MC in an Aussie music mag, and I loved what I heard. So when Public Warning dropped earlier this year I rushed out to get it too. This is just a fun record to listen to, what with Sov's funny and irreverent lyrics. The beets are amazing, and pretty true to what she had laid down on the UK versions of the songs. Sov maybe tiny ("That girl thinks she's so big... And I'm like, Hold on, I'm only five foot one.) but her impact is larger then life. So big in fact that it only took Jay-Z one listen before he singed her to Def Jam. Favorite Tracks: Random, Love Me or Hate Me, Fiddle With the Volume.