Careful with this one. Rock's answer to Tourette's syndrome, the five-piece band dutifully demonstrates on its debut CD how it is liable to blow at any minute, whether it's the band's sonic bombast or singer Chris Besinger's apathetic rants. Not recommended for listening while driving or eating. 72 voter points
7. CLOUD CULT "ADVICE FROM THE HAPPY HIPPOPOTAMUS"
Weird stuff, once again, from this hippie-ish environmental art-rock band. Its fourth CD sound-checks everyone from Radiohead to Modest Mouse to Donovan, all while frontman Craig Minowa seeks out the center of the universe. 60 voter points
8. MINT CONDITION "LIVIN' THE LUXURY BROWN"
St. Paul's cult-loved R&B band sounds fresh and edgy on its first CD in six years. But like John Legend's debut from earlier in the year, its best songs have a classic vibe that comes straight out of Mint's great live shows. 60 voter points
9. ASHTRAY HEARTS "PERFECT HALVES"
Recorded in the dead of winter in a church in Duluth, the second CD by this six-member neo-Americana band actually sounds like spring thaw, its rich guitar noodling and accordion bits dripping over frontman Dan Richmond's budding romanticism. 58 voter points
CHARLIE PARR "ROOSTER"
As rustic and unmodern as the man himself, the fourth album by Duluth's acoustic blues/folk picker is full of death, poverty, injustice, God and other things you meet when you're down and out. 56 voter points
SIMS "LIGHTS OUT PARIS"
Not just another topical rapper, Sims shows a teeth-baring fierceness and tongue-tying lyrical talent on his solo debut. While it's great seeing him step out from the pack, the best song is actually the one on which he brings in all his friends ("No Homeowners"). 56 voter points
TAPES 'N TAPES "THE LOON"
If these guys aren't on drugs, then somebody forgot to give songwriting credit to the aliens living in their basement studio. The first full-length CD by these freakish rock experimenters (produced by Erik Appelwick of No. 2 winner Vicious Vicious) evokes Ween, Guided by Voices and "Umaguma." 56 voter points
13. HAPPY APPLE "THE PEACE BETWEEN OUR COMPANIES"
The seventh CD by Minneapolis' favorite youth-oriented jazz trio covers a lot of territory, from elegant and moody pieces to hair-raising tracks as wild as their titles, including "Starchild Cranium." 50 voter points
14. DESSA "FALSE HOPES"
Rappers with spoken-word backgrounds are often seen as soft (especially ones with philosophy degrees). The Doomtree crew's resident starlet, 24, eschews that stereotype and many others on this daringly personal debut EP. 46 voter points