1. Pre(thing), 22nd Century Lifestyle (V2): An acid-rock masterpiece predestined for obscurity by the untimely death of lead vocalist/guitarist Rust Epic just weeks before the CD’s release date.
2. Steve Morse, Major Impacts 2 (Magna Carta): A legend of instrumental guitar rock pays homage to his own influences. Absolutely essential listening.
3. Ambulance LTD, Ambulance LTD (TVT): Penny Lane is in their ears and in their eyes.
4. Audio Karate, Lady Melody (Label): LA Punk Rock revivalists blend disarming melody and authentic grit with a little help from producer and punk rock legend Bill Stevenson (ALL, Descendents).
5. Josh Todd, You Made Me (Label): Ex-Buckcherry front man and his eponymous new band made one of the year’s best albums while keeping Rock & Roll in the gutter, where it belongs.
6. The Killers, Hot Fuss (Island): This Sin City foursome validated its advance hype, combining the hipster synth-pop of Duran Duran and Ultravox on the most original sounding album of the year.
7. VAST, Nude (FourFiveSix): Arena-worthy Thinker Rock for the Modern Progressive.
8. Jonny Polonsky, The Power of Sound (Loveless): Audiot savant Jonny Polonsky graduates from the School of Rock with straight A’s to show all the whiny brat rockers how it’s done.
9. Doug Gillard, Salamander (Pink Frost/Big Takeover): Flawless Beatles-esque pop that sounds like The Lemonheads meet Guided By Voices without all the substance abuse issues.
10. Green Day, American Idiot (Reprise): Ever wondered what The Who’s Tommy would sound like recorded by Green Day? Here’s your answer.
Reissue: The Clash, London Calling (Sony Legacy): Two words: Bonus DVD.