In no particular order...
1. BIG BUSINESS - "MIND THE DRIFT": It seems Big Business keeps getting better and better. After hearing their tour EP it was obvious that this album would rule, and it really does. It has a hell of a backbone and is super heavy in a pounding, intricate, catchy kind of way.
2. PISSED JEANS - "KING OF JEANS": Speaking of getting better and better... I was really impressed with Pissed Jean's latest release. This album is really dirty, angry, sarcastic and comedic in a dark sense. I'm starting to see Pissed Jeans as sort of this generations version of The Jesus Lizard (big shoes to fill, I know) as they have the same "I-don't-give-a-fuck" attitude with their performance and music yet seem to kill it every time.
3. SHRINEBUILDER - "SHRINEBUILDER": This album didn't exactly live up to my expectations, but my expectations were at a pretty unrealistic level as soon as I saw the lineup for this group. That being said it was still definitely one of my favorite albums of the year. To compare it to the members other acts (how could I not?) they all brought their own style to the table and it's an interesting mash up - it has Wino's signature vocal style, Om's psychedelic, middle eastern riffage and it all gets pulled together with the heavy backbone of Neurosis and Melvins.
4. OM - "GOD IS GOOD": So Om's lineup changed and madness ensued. Well, not really but there was a lot of talk about what they were going to sound like since changing one member is kind of a big deal when your band is a two piece. Luckily this album didn't disappoint and, while diverting from their old sound, it still drips with psychedelia and that metaphysical, spiritual feeling that Om is great for.
5. THEM CROOKED VULTURES - "THEM CROOKED VULTURES": It just wouldn't be a year in music without a release or 2 ...or 3 ...or 5... from Josh Homme, and between this and Shrinebuilder it was a pretty awesome year for supergroups. This album is sleazy and seductive in the way that only Josh Homme can make it and it's really intricate and solid. It's also pretty accessible to fans of many genres because who doesn't enjoy some well done, catchy rock n' roll?
6. VALIS - "DARK MATTER": This album is everything you would expect from VALIS. It has perfectly sabbath-influenced riffs, spacey atmosphere and mind bending psychedelia. VALIS has always been one of the best "stoner rock" bands in my mind because they aren't trying to fit into a specific genre with their sound, they're just extremely good at what they do and are a mindfuck to listen to without being stoned... and how many other bands in their genre can say that?
7. EAGLE TWIN - "THE UNKINDNESS OF CROWS": I actually reviewed this album on this site really recently, but I stand by that it's one of my favorite albums of the year. It's also probably the most crushingly heavy album on this list. This was Eagle Twin's debut album and I'm stoked to hear what they bring to the table in the future.
8. SONS OF OTIS - "EXILED": Speaking of mindfucks of albums, this one blew me away. Sons of Otis are just so heavy, so good. I don't know how to describe their sound other than Black Sabbath buried in a mountain of dirt and sludge, fuzzed out with big muff pedals... oh and something really pissed them off. This album has an apocalyptic feeling and is almost hypnotizing.
9. SOULSAVERS - "BROKEN": My rampant obsession with Mark Lanegan is no secret by now, and he really has yet to release something that I don't enjoy. He's probably my favorite vocalist as he just has that signature desolate, bluesy swing to his voice that's so haunting and mesmerizing. In true Lanegan style, this album has some star studded collaborations like the one with Ggibby Hayes of the Butthole Surfers for "Death Bells," and my personal favorite of the album which is a collaboration with Mike Patton called "Unbalanced Pieces".
And no top album list would be complete without the biggest let-down....
THE MELVINS - "CHICKEN SWITCH": This album may have been long awaited and my expectations may have been high considering it was coming from my favorite band, but I thought this album was pretty much a mess. I suppose you can't -really- blame the Melvins for this one considering it's other artists remixing songs that really didn't need to be touched in the first place, but I guess this just proves that you shouldn't mess with a good thing.