At this point, you might feel sorry for the members of Doomtree. How are they ever going to top 2011 on the local front? As if packing First Avenue and 7th Street Entry for seven straight nights weren't enough, the hip-hop collective's month-old record, "No Kings," ran away with this year's Twin Cities Critics Tally as swiftly as Dessa ran from the bathroom mid-set on Night Six of the Blowout VII marathon. Plus fellow member Sims placed No. 2 with his February solo release, "Bad Time Zoo."

1. Doomtree, "No Kings" -- The group's first all-in-one-room collaborative effort, it comes off like a nonstop tag-team cage match with the rappers in one corner and the punk- and electronica-inspired beatmakers in the other (never mind that a couple of members wear both hats). It plays out like Wrestlemania, too. "Bangarang" and other crowd-riling displays of showmanship run into the bludgeoning rockers "No Way" and "Punch Out," topped off by "Team the Best Team" and other displays of personal drama. (237 voter points)

2. Sims, "Bad Time Zoo" -- Eschewing stereotypical rap themes -- as befits a Hopkins native -- the real-life Andrew Sims beats his chest and flows his infectious rhymes around such broad topics as liberals' consumer practices and social media's soul-sucking vacuum. Not exactly "Gangsta's Paradise," but powerful. The future freaks him out, a theme that suits the futuristic but densely funky backdrop by producer Lazerbeak, another Doomtree mate. (176)

3. Pink Mink, "Pink Mink" -- Buzzing straight out of the gate thanks to veteran frontwomen Arzu Gokcen (ex-Selby Tigers) and Christy Hunt (Ouija Radio), this punky, poppy quartet makes good on record, adding just the right amount of polish. Their tributes to Minneapolis landmarks Hidden Beach and Scott Seekins -- along with a Replacements cover -- make it feel like a locals-only love affair. But there's no secret formula here, just a classic rock snarl. (135)

4. Haley Bonar, "Golder" -- Following a head-clearing stayover in Portland, Ore., the emotionally charged songwriter sounds settled, confident and ready to take on the rest of the world on her sophisticated fourth album. With help from guitar maestros Jeremy Ylvisaker and Jacob Hanson, it's also her most sonically realized record, a sort of space-twangy orchestral backdrop for the earthy songs. (130)

5. Low, "C'mon" -- Duluth indie-rock vets Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker were letting the world get to them on their last couple of noisier albums for Sub Pop Records. This one sticks mostly to the softer and more personal fare and thus has a classic feel, although the frayed, maniacal rocker "Witches" proves it's not entirely pretty. (118)

6. Peter Wolf Crier, "Garden of Arms" -- After its self-made debut was reissued by hot indie imprint Jagjaguwar, the raw-nerved folk-rock-electronic duo of Peter Pisano and Brian Moen hit the road and the reset button. They came back with a heavier, freakier and more experimental follow-up record, ranging from the Radioheaded "Settling It Off" to one mighty elegant ballad, "Having It Out." (88)

7. Astronautalis, "This Is Our Science" -- Vagabond-ish Florida native Andy Bothwell moved to Minneapolis a few months before issuing his fourth album, but guest appearances by P.O.S. and Sims and the effortless blend of indie-rock and rap prove he was already at home here. Produced by John Congleton (see also: Modest Mouse, Hold Steady), this half-rock, half-rap, all-passion collection carries a studious theme of musicians as mad scientists. A eureka kind of record, that's for sure. (84)

8. M.anifest, "Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America" -- Fraught with the stress of international traveling -- and this was before he started touring with Damon Albarn's and Flea's Afrobeat project -- the second album by Minneapolis-based, Ghana-reared rapper Kwame Amet Tsikata also celebrates the comforts of home. It just so happens he has two homes, a fact that plays out in the disc's cool musical hybrid of Twin Cities indie-rap jams and Africanized grooves. (75)

9. Night Moves, "Colored Emotions" -- This is a first: year-end praise for an album you can't actually buy at year's end. Part MGMT electro-haze pop and part cosmic twang-rock, the young trio's debut was sidelined for a re-release next year on buzz-maker label Domino. Its availability online over the summer was enough to make a big local impression. (65)

10. Sleeping in the Aviary, "You and Me, Ghost" -- Offering a music-hipster holy trinity of Hives-like spazz-punk, '60s sun-baked California pop and nervy, Spoon-style indie rock, the prolific quintet's fourth album might sound overly clever were the music not matched by Elliott Kozel's playful and charmingly lovelorn writing style. Wanna bet they're next to get the big label offer? (60)


11. (tie) The Cloak Ox, "Prisen" EP; Mason Jennings, "Minnesota" (53)

13. Dessa, "Castor, the Twin" (48)

14. The Blind Shake, "Seriousness" (46)

15. (tie) Communist Daughter, "Something Wicked This Way Comes" EP; Big Quarters, "Party Like a Young Commie" (43)

17. Buffalo Moon, "Selva Surreal" (42)

18. The Cactus Blossoms, "The Cactus Blossoms" (37)

19. No Bird Sing, "Theft of the Commons" (33)

20. Davina & the Vagabonds, "Black Cloud" (32)



Jay Boller, Jon Bream, David Campbell, Tim Campbell, Cyn Collins, Pamela Espeland, Jay Gabler, Tom Horgen, Kyle Matteson, Raghav Mehta, Jim Meyer, Jason Nagel, Pat O'Brien, Jessica J. Paxton, Jahna Peloquin, Ross Raihala, Chris Riemenschneider, Michael Rietmulder, Peter Scholtes, Jack Spencer, Andrea Swensson, Erik Thompson, Rob van Alstyne and Jim Walsh.