1. Frank Ocean, "Channel Orange" (Def Jam). No doubt this is Ocean's moment, what with his Grammy nominations and the romantic topicality of the his songs, but "Channel Orange" felt like an awakening for popular R&B as well. Fragile ideas, scattered electronics and understated orchestrations surround one of the most tender yet bold new voices in pop.
2.Working with an all-star cast of songwriters, Hogan dips into country, soul and pop, and does it all with gracefulness. Yet whether the songwriter is M. Ward, Jon Langford or Robyn Hitchcock, the star is always Hogan's voice, a casual, inviting instrument that's equally at home amid the recession blues of "We Can't Have Nice Things" and the bar-band fun of "Haunted."
9. Sharon Van Etten, “Tramp” (Jagjaguwar). The drama in Van Etten's songs isn't that of a love gone crazy or a love gone mad. She's after something far more difficult to pinpoint, as these songs are an examination of one's solitary, sometimes self-sabotaging thoughts. The melodies are there, but tension is what's emphasized.