Our Critics' Year-End Top Tens: Noah W. Bailey Picks Swedish Crooner Joel Alme's Waiting For The Bells As The Year's Best
10. Mavis Staples -- You Are Not Alone
9. Possessed By Paul James -- Feed the Family
Possessed By Paul James is the nom de plume of Konrad Wert, a deadly one man-band. Imagine the entirety of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music rolled into one stompin', singin', fiddlin' package.
8. The National -- High Violet
7. Laura Viers -- July Flame
6. Justin Townes Earle -- Harlem River Blues
5. Dr. Dog -- Shame, Shame
4. Cotton Jones -- Tall Hours in the Glowstream
3. Phosphorescent -- Here's To Taking It Easy
Here's To Taking It Easy isn't the first Phosphorescent LP to make one of my top 10 lists (actually, it's the fourth), and as long as singer-songwriter Matthew Houck keeps writing country songs as perfect as "The Mermaid Parade," it certainly won't be the last.
2. The Tallest Man on Earth -- The Wild Hunt
1. Joel Alme -- Waiting for the Bells
Though Alme's virtually unknown in the States--strange considering the Stateside success of fellow Swedes like Jens Lekman, Dungen and The Tallest Man On Earth--it's not for lack of trying. His second straight LP of faithfully executed Spector-esque pop combines his Swedish flair for drama with a thoroughly red, white and blue swagger borrowed from legends like Dion and Springsteen.