Let's face it. If I keep up with this blog, Radiohead is going to be at the top of a whole bunch of these lists. They are so far above any other modern band and Hail to the Thief is just one more momentous achievement. The longest Radiohead album, this is a glorious combination of Kid A-esque electronica with guitar brilliance present throughout the quintet's career. It isn't the best Radiohead record but it contains some of the best songs they've ever recorded. "There There (The Bony King of Nowhere)" is just about as good as it gets. Thank God for Radiohead.
Silver Medal: Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Belle and Sebastian
Though clearly not trying to change the world like Radiohead, Belle and Sebastian is one of the most consistently great bands of the last 15 years. This record is filled with indie pop gems, recorded with the sort of high fidelity lacking on If Your Feeling Sinister, and nearly as phenomenal as that 1996 twee landmark. This is an album that's guaranteed to put a smile on your face without coming across as naive. "I'm a Cuckoo", "Stay Loose", "If She Wants Me" are all easily in the top ten B&S songs.
Bronze Medal: Magnolia Electric Company by Songs: Ohia
The all-American album of the decade, this record is a powerhouse. Jason Molina's project is the soundtrack to the landscape of the heartland. Eight songs that never resemble filler, Magnolia Electric Company is a blueprint for every guitar-slinging, Neil Young worshipping, rebel-rousing, prospective rock star. Guided by the visionary Molina, the band just nails everything. Every slide guitar lick, every drum fill feels so perfect. Get this gem.