Every year when you make your top tens, there are invariably some very worthwhile records that fall just short of making the list. These six albums all came very close to making mine....

Absentee - Victory Shorts
Absentee cut way back on the country-rock on their second album, Victory Shorts. What they don't scale back is the mordant wit of singer Dan Michaelson's lyrics, the band's raucous approach, the size and strength of the hooks, and -- best of all -- Michaelson's amazing voice. He has one of the deeper voices you're likely to hear outside of doo wop or opera; he sounds sort of like a steadier Johnny Cash or a way steadier Calvin Johnson. Mostly, though, he just sounds pretty great as he staggers through the ballads like a heartsick, slightly drunken fool and romps through the rockers with an amazingly light touch. (Read more)

The Botticellis - Old Home Movies
You'd never know from listening that it took the Botticellis' four years to craft their debut album Old Home Movies. It sounds like the work of one sun-soaked late summer afternoon spent playing tunes with friends and family. The album is suffused with warmth and peacefulness that flows from the gentle strum of the guitars, the rich organ that seeps into songs like the golden glow of a sunset, the lush vocal harmonies, and the classic pop song structures laid down by the group's architect Alexi Glickman. (Read more)

Goodnight Monsters - Summer Challenge
Goodnight Monsters' second album, Summer Challenge, is just as sticky sweet and crème-filled as their first, The Brain That Wouldn't Die. The main difference is that they now sound less like a bedroom pop project and more like a real live band. The guitars are richly layered and chiming, the drums are louder (and mostly provided by humans rather than machines), and the vocals are more confident and up-front. The sound has jumped from a Tinkertoy Modern Lovers to a West Coast pre-Teenage Fanclub. (Read more)

LAKE - Oh, The Places We'll Go
The members of Olympia's LAKE are incredibly prolific musicians. Each of the five members has solo projects and they play both together and separately in various other bands, but when they get together as LAKE, they create something pretty magical. Oh, the Places We'll Go is their third album to be officially released (rumor has it they've recorded many more) and it's a tiny masterpiece of 2000s indie pop. (Read more)

The Manhattan Love Suicides - Burnt Out Landscapes
The Manhattan Love Suicides first album was a thrilling blast of fuzz, feedback, and melody that fought their influences (the Primitives, Shop Assistants, Jesus and Mary Chain) to a bloody draw. The chain saw guitars, sharp as butcher knives hooks, and singer Caroline's bruised glamour were enough to convince even the most jaded old-timer that there was some life left in the old template. Burnt Out Landscapes is more proof that the MLS aren't merely aping their heroes and are on their way to becoming heroes in their own right. (Read more)

No Kids - Come into My House
Say what you will about the Great White North's notoriously finicky weather, but Vancouver sounds like the sunniest place in the world when filtered through the immaculate comfort-pop prism of former P:ano denizens Julia Chirka, Justin Kellam, and Nick Krgovich, better known as No Kids. Like their previous incarnation, No Kids are exceedingly uncool and irrefutably talented scholars of pop history....(Read more)