Okay, year in reviews are kind of obligatory in the musical world. This year I read the OMM and The Wire and realised how hopeless and useless these kind of thing are. Pointing out overlooked gems only works if you have built up some kind of relationship with the reader over the previous year and this year no-one had so I was skeptical of what unknown quantities were chosen over music I had heard.
I think that there can be little doubt that one of the most outstanding albums of the year was Radiohead's In Rainbows. It managed to blend their experimental and conventionally rocky side into a more coherent whole. Some people said it was a retreat from the Kid A era but I think they are wrong, Kid A was exciting and unconventional but In Rainbows is holisitic rather than simply ditching everything done to date.
However personally I was suprised to find myself returning again and again to the math techno of Calabi Yau Space by Dopplereffekt. I liked their previous albums but would have to say they hardly kept me coming back for more. Calabi Yau Space has never left my MP3 player this year and has been a welcome listen in all kinds of situations.
Live the experience I look back on most fondly was watching Jeffery Lewis perform an acoustic version of one of his Crass covers. Lewis is whimsical nu-folker who has some funny kitschy songs but it was a strong of genius to see that aggressive anarchist punk lyrics would more be more plantive within a twee pop setting.