Here's most of what I listened to this year, in 140 characters or less...
Katie Herzig: Charming singer/songwriter cuts to the bone, aided by a cello. Nothing I haven't heard b4, which is probably why I luv it.
Roseanne Cash: Smoother than Daddy, but no less haunting.
Kate Miller-Heidke = Jill Sobule + Nellie McKay + Gwen Stefani. But totes herself. Totes original. Catchy, quirky, charming, etc.
The Sundays: Why didn't anyone mention them before? 90s alt rock band w/ femme lead singer? Just like Mazzy Star? Where have I been?
Tom Waits: Growly troubadour, barroom bard. Why o why did I wait so long?
Willie Nelson: Another American treasure worth finding.
Grizzly Bear: Another party to which I finally showed up, much too late to be fashionable. Pitchfork-tested, Matthew-approved.
Scar Jo/Pete Yorn: Almost as great as She & Him. Don't understand why hipsters ignored em. Scar Jo is husky, Yorn brings the pop. Harmony!
Carrie Underwood: So loud, so sassy... so awesome?
Country music: I guess I'm a fan now. Shit.
She & Him: More vintage radio gold. Zooey wows w/ voice, woos w/ library card liner notes.
Charlotte Gainsbourg: Chanteuse seduces in English & French. A bed of lush strings & room-quaking beats. (Best Beck album since...?)
Rolling Stones: I hereby take back everything bad I ever said about em. This band rocks. Who knew?
Gorillaz: D. Albarn throws world dance party. Snoop, Mos Def, Lou Reed show up. Even tho ur not cartoon, ur wanted on the dance floor.
Lady Gaga: Overexposed? Sure. Edgy? Not as much as she thinks. Catchy? As hell. That's why I care. Monster hooks + underrated vox = fanboy.
Plus her song Speechless is Elton John-esque. Already sounds like a classic 2 me. 4 better or worse, she's here 2 stay. (Sorry, h8ers.)
Ke$ha, on the other hand, is just awful. Grating voice, uninteresting persona, sophomoric songs.
Gang Starr: Essential hip-hop. RIP Guru.
Natalie Imbruglia: International pop tart's going stale continues. Pleasant voice, pleasant tunes, but dance jam lacks the sting of Torn.
Hole: I love it, I'm disappointed, it sounds too much like old stuff & not enough, Love creaks & still sounds fierce... I am not objective.
Hole: Thinking about it a lot, listening to it a lot less.
MarioMedina/Amps4Buddha: Best instrumental experimental metal artist I've ever heard.
Mad Titans: Best instrumental surf punk band I've ever heard.
STP: Instead of ripping off other bands, they're ripping off... STP. Plus Bowie, Aero & other classic rawkers.
STP: And yet, of course, it's growing on me. I figured it would. I'm a sucker. Those chords!
Hold Steady: I finally get it! Thanks to the slide guitar and @NicholasLHoneck 's persistence. Boozy, bluesy rock.
Court Yard Hounds: Dixie Chicks + bluegrass - Maines' mouth = more rustic, less rousing sound. Not backwoods, but back-porch country.
Kate Nash: Foul-mouth Brit chick betrays her past: doo-wop, riot grrl & even spoken word. Often thrilling, often WTF. More piano please.
MGMT: Trippier than ever, 60s psychedelia, kinda sorta indie pop.
Rufus Wainwright: Stripped-down songs sound painful to write, beautiful to listen to. But I kinda miss the ornamentation.
Erykah Badu: Eccentric genius grooves accessibly.
Eminem: Guess who's back? Spits hot fire. Hungry again. Simple beats & complex rhymes. No skits, accents, pop culture jokes. Purist rap.
Big Boi: Underrated 'kast-mate doesn't need Andre. (Does need an editor, esp. for skits.) Nowhere near Speakerboxxx, but good summer fun.
The Roots: Late nite TV hasn't dumbed em down. Somehow it's made em sharper, harder. Keepin it real w/out getting preachy. Rap album of yr.
hip-hop: Luv its essence (beats & poetry), hate its devolution (autotune, party rap, sexism, etc.). Gimme the golden age! Yes, I'm cranky.
Juniper Tar: Another fantastic opener. A fantastic local band.
Arcade Fire: Grandiose, yet intimate. (You know, for the kids.) Believe every word, every chord, even hype. Great 3rd album rumbles forward.
Band of Horses: Chiming guitars, honeyed vox, lovely songs for a slow afternoon.
Kaiser Cartel: Boy/girl duo sings to me directly. After a month of heavy rotation, they're nowhere near finished revealing their secrets.
Kaiser Cartel: Who do they sound like? Swell Season + Mazzy Star. How does it feel? The rush of discovering a new fave band.
Lady Antebellum: Pleasant country pop, no more, no less.
Merle Haggard: As Haggard as his name implies, in spite/because of his age.
Christie DuPree: Eisley's lil sis sings equally ethereally. Only the production needs more maturation.
Band of Horses, Black Keys, Broken Bells: Great year for good (not great?) indie B bands. Keys: Blast it! Bells: Doesn't burn, but simmers.
Weezer: Lacks the emotional depth of first 2 & sugary superficiality of last 2. Maybe the haters r right now. Damn. Lotsa hooks, but why?
Stars, Grace Potter: 2 more good, if not great, women-fronted indie bands. This is what I listen to.
Janelle Monae: Space funk? Outkast for ladies? Jams & torch songs & other indescribables? Affirmative.
The National: Deep, dark indie rock. A better word: brooding. I shouldn't have been so skeptical.
Nick Hornby: After obsessing about music for yrs, the author tries writing it. I hope he doesn't quit his day job, but he totally could.
Ben Folds: Sounds like self, even w/ someone else's words. Sentiment, smarm & smarts combined. I expect he'll continue exceeding my hopes.
Jenny & Johnny: They're having fun now. I am too. A loose record, not a sloppy one. Garage-y & hook-y & other made-up-words-y.
KT Tunstall, Nellie McKay: Old faves return w/ new-ish sounds: dance-y (KT), vaudeville-y (Nellie). Yeah, I need some better adjectives.
Taylor Swift: can write a song about me anytime.
Taylor Swift: "Dear John": Dissing John Mayer while biting his style? Hilarious. Brilliant.
ODB + Radiohead = LOL. Girl Talk, you crazy!
Spacehog? Toadies? Girl Talk has impeccable taste in 90s 1-hit wonders. But where's the New Radicals?
Kanye West: Crazy good, or just crazy?
Kanye West: Most ambitious pop album of the yr. Best? I'm still making up my mind. Do I really need this much opulent arrogance?
Kanye West: Arrogant opulence?
My biggest problem w/ the Kanye West album will be trying to fit 1 of these 6-minute tracks on a mixtape.
Lissie: My emasculation continues. Another female singer who whispers in my ear. Another beautiful indie pop record.
Adam Lambert: A danceable Freddie Mercury? A harder-rocking Mika? Not that there's anything wrong with either.