Everyone and their grandma and their miniature horse and their work-related urine sample makes a year-end “best in music” list…I know, I know. Making one for myself isn’t me trying to convince you what is “best” because that is a silly conceit anyway. It’s more just having an opportunity to re-enjoy and re-think some of the albums I listened to this year. You are completely welcome to listen along. I enjoy your company, especially when you bring seasonal treats. Yum.

In looking over my 11 musical picks, I feel rather happy to note that this year I have seen nine of the bands play live this year, four of them more than once! It’s been another spectacular year for concerts, from Washington State to Washington, D.C., and seeing a lot of these songs performed in person definitely has influenced my feelings in selecting what I liked the most in new music this year. I will include videos from some of the shows I have seen if you’d like to see what I saw. Or you can just browse through all 472 posts I made so far on this site this year. Or you can clean out your coffeemaker and watch Glee. I don’t mind.

I will rank the albums in ascending favoritenessnessness, then LIKES and DISLIKES. If you ask me tomorrow, the rank might be different. But I don’t really think that’s going to happen, your asking, and I have not scheduled it anyway. Let us begin.

LIKES: Crispy low-fi jangle pop that channeled the few things I do like about the girl group era into something new; a dash of creepy kept it from being too Hello Kitty Goes Punk.

DISLIKES: Couldn’t find the fresh live – inexperienced musicianship and sour-ish attitudes buried the cool wink of the songs. Not sure if the band will have a solid second album in them.

LIKES: HUGE sound: incredibly distorted, grinding, sonic blasts of hip-hop tinged fun.

DISLIKES: Thin female vocals just so lost in the live sound. Can they write another album without it sounding like “That Hot Indie Sound of 2010?” I dunno.

LIKES: Oh, Magnetic Fields…you so strange and lovely and funny and sad. Stephin Merritt never fails to deliver the most devastatingly-intelligent lyrics around…the David Sedaris of pop.

DISLIKES: You have to be in a particular mood to listen to Realism. It’s not really for the beach, let’s say.

LIKES: Definitely for the beach. Silly, but clever songwriting going on underneath tons of low-fi reverb. I’d like to see these songs in a Monkees-style kids show. Without the pot.

DISLIKES: The strong mid-range distortion wears on my ears after awhile. Listening through an old AM-transistor radio might solve the problem.

LIKES: Large diverse group of sincere Canadians make the grand musical statement people from more hip countries wouldn’t dare to. Heart-on-sleeve, but no fools. Success is theirs without compromise.

DISLIKES: A bit grand.

LIKES: Are you kidding me? THIS IS MAVIS STAPLES! Hearing one of the truly great voices of soul as produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilco is a moving experience.

DISLIKES: Are you kidding me? THIS IS MAVIS STAPLES! Like there would be anything to dislike. Get out of here.

LIKES: Strong effort from BRMC following the sublime “Baby 81.” The songs came fully alive for me in concert, with the title track and “Aya” as standouts. This trio doesn’t phone in anything, and they do “bluesgaze” better than their many imitators.

DISLIKES: Nothing on BTDT that hit me as hard as some of their previous work. It’s possible that my feelings here may be influenced by my frustration with Peter Hayes not fixing his missing tooth.

LIKES: There were just too many good songs on this album to keep it off this list. These two guys sure know how to tear up the blues without ever sounding clichéd or dusty. Very deserving of their rapidly-rising success.

DISLIKES: I sometimes long to hear the vocals with a kickass gritty female harmony paired in and playing off. HMM.

LIKES: Song after song of energetic,  engaging preps-meet-worldbeat with solid musicianship behind them. Hints of range and depth to come. Adorable, not as light as you think, but damn fun.

DISLIKES: The autotune schtick on “California English.”

LIKES: A “wow” record. Layers of atmospheric overdriven sound are made somehow delicate and sweet via bright acoustic guitar, high pure vocals, nostalgic retro pop nods. Obscure, random, weird, funny, sad lyrics play with your head. An incredibly cool combo.

DISLIKES: Sometimes a little self-conscious and unfocused.

LIKES: There wasn’t another album I went to more often this year than this debut effort from producer Danger Mouse and The Shins’ James Mercer. At first a little underwhelming, the sheer quality of the songs hooked me in big time: melodic, layered, masterfully arranged. Add Mercer’s peerless clean vocals on top, and I couldn’t get enough. His lyrics pop back in your consciousness at odd times, in odd ways, making you think. Smart smart smart smart.

DISLIKES: Disappointingly cold live, with a lack of connection between the many musicians assembled. They sounded just like the record, which is great because I love the record, but I expected even more onstage. If the record itself suffered from anything, it was a similar lack of edge-pushing. These dudes could use with a good ol’ physical brawl and a few beers or something.

So that’s that. 2010 rocked. Put that on your list.

And you know why I picked 11, right?