6.Field Music “Plumb” (Memphis Industries) — Brothers Peter and David Brewis created a song cycle about a single day in the life of a British working stiff that lives and breathes in the common area of the Venn diagram between Paul McCartney, XTC and Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. At about 39 minutes, “Plumb” is a compact wonder, and by the time the Brewises wrap things up with the angular anthem “(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing,” they prove that prog-rock is alive, well and can be deployed successfully in three-minute bursts.
7.Chairlift “Something” (Columbia) — For their major-label debut, Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberley's pastel pop became more slick and accomplished, and they wear it so well on “Wrong Opinion,” and “Amanaemonesia” that these songs could pass for honest-to-goodness new wave classics. Chairlift's best song on “Something,” “I Belong In Your Arms,” deserved to be a runaway hit in 2012. For bonus points, they recorded the best Japanese-language version of an American alt-rock song since the Flaming Lips' nihongo version of “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.”
8.Jessie Ware “Devotion” (Island) — A former backup singer, British chanteuse Jessie Ware debuted with an uncommonly elegant collection of R&B ballads that surrounded her clear, emotional voice with the kind of spacious production usually reserved for Sade or Bryan Ferry, but with enough nods to A-list dubstep to feel entirely modern.
9.Blur “Parklive” (EMI/Parlophone) — This is the sound of about 100,000 people renewing their love affair with one of Britain's most beloved bands. Recorded in London's Hyde Park at the close of 2012's Summer Olympics, “Parklive” is one of those uncommon live albums that capture both the enthusiasm of the crowd and a reunited band sounding like it deserves every cheer.
10.Japandroids “Celebration Rock” (Polyvinyl) — Two guys from Vancouver make the sound of at least five on this loud, bashing slab of dazed and confused rock. Exuberant blasts of hormones and adrenaline like “The Nights of Wine and Roses” and “Younger Us” sound like the best night of high school, the one everyone wants to have.