1. The National - "High Violet" (7.5 out of 10) - I must admit that I don't get the heaping accolades that have come their way. Creative - check. Nice Production - check. Lead Singer - Not so much. Melodies - I dare you to hum one of their songs....go ahead. See? Dark and brooding and interesting...just unmemorable. Can't insist you run out and get this one, but if you're a fan it's ok. Maybe it's me.
2. Band of Horses - "Infinite Arms" (7.8 of 10) - You definitely can't say that they made a "leap" with this album. Some very nice moments to be sure, especially the single "Compliments," and the soothing "Blue Beard." But still, there are no songs on here (at least that I can detect) that have the urgency of "Is There a Ghost," or the timeless beauty of "No One's Gonna Love You," from their previous offerings. "On My Way Back Home" perhaps comes closest. But what can I say - they have spoiled us. And perhaps this one is a real grower. I love these guys, and at least they did not lay an egg.
3. Janelle Monae - "The ArchAndroid" - (8.0 out of 10) If this was my type of music...my genre...I would probably score this much higher....this is excellent stuff. Stevie Wonder's mantle passed onto this 24 year old kid, giving us even more hope that the industry doesn't just belong to the Ke$ia's of the world. Maybe a little MJ in there as well. I'm gonna get crushed by some friends for saying this, but even like M.I.A except better. How's that? Check it out.