10. Franz Ferdinand -- You Could Have It So Much Better
Their first self-titled album stormed the airwaves for ages, and the Glasgow rockers are back and better than ever, perfecting the art of uplifting and impossibly catchy lyrics. You Could Have It So Much Better will have you shamelessly singing along by the second track.
9. The Darkness -- One Way Ticket To Hell And Back
Mouthful of a title aside, The Darkness' follow up to the much discussed Permission To Land proved that they aren't just a joke act, destined for an immediate trip to one hit wonder land. My only gripe with the album is that it clocks in at barely over a half hour, which just seems lazy. But the layered, Brian May-inspired harmony of guitars more than makes up for the length.
8. Rob Thomas -- Something To Be
I didn't expect to like this album, being only a causal fan of Thomas' role as Matchbox 20's frontman, but after hearing "Lonely No More" played to death on the radio, I couldn't help but be converted. He interjects soul into the archetypal rock ballad and has the voice to convert me as a new Rob Thomas fan.
7. Muse -- Absolution
Okay, I'm cheating with this one. But I discovered it in 2005, so it's going on the list. Muse have overcome less than favorable comparisons to their counterparts, Radiohead, and produced a conceptual album highlighted by mesmerizing melodies, contemplative lyrics and crunching guitars.
6. Hot Hot Heat -- Elevator
On their third album, Hot Hot Heat are back with their usual energetic pop and to serve as a reminder that music doesn't always have to make a serious statement to be a success. Each song blends the best of the eighties with a modern touch, with standout tracks including "Running Out Of Time" and the jangly "Middle Of Nowhere."
5. Coldplay -- X&Y
To be honest, this album made its way on for "Talk" alone, whose lilting guitar work has remained stuck in my head since first listen. Even though X&Y has been criticized for sounding too similar to previous efforts, Coldplay does what they do best in creating thoughtful, memorable singles, like "Fix You" and "What If."
4. Foo Fighters -- In Your Honor
Foo Fighters have proved themselves to be far more than just your average rock band. On this dual disc, they've combined their signature heavy-hitting singles with gentler, acoustic offerings. Even the already overplayed "Best Of You" sounds fresh in the context of In Your Honor, which is an accomplishment in itself.
3. Soundtrack -- Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and
Soundtrack -- Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire
Okay, I admit it: of all my vices, I definitely can't resist a great soundtrack. And these two, tied for the elusive soundtrack award, have proved themselves. Culled from two of the year's smash hit films, both are just as listenable and enjoyable outside of the theater. And even if you're not a fan of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory or Harry Potter, it's difficult to resist the charm of "Willy Wonka's Welcome Song" or the brooding Hogwarts theme in its latest incarnation, "The Story Continues."
2. The Arcade Fire -- Funeral
Don't be fooled by the title -- this album isn't all doom and gloom. In fact, it's full of optimistic, thoughtful lyrics and soaring melodies that immediately live up to the hype surrounding this indie favorite. And if that doesn't entertain you, listen for the accordions and football helmets, among other oddities of instruments that the band included.
1. Kaiser Chiefs -- Employment
I know I'm bordering on overkill with my praise of this album, but believe me, one listen and you'll be hooked. The Chiefs have injected their own brand of humor and wit into their debut, and I'm already counting down until their next release.