Not in any particular order, unless you consider "order I thought of them" as a valid category.
EELS-DAISIES OF THE GALAXY
I had been aware of Mark Everett aka "E"'s music for a long time and had listened to nearly all his albums, both as E and with Eels, but this was the first one which stuck with me. In this effort, E continued to work out recent tragic events in his life, but this time he set his impressions to some of the most varied music of his career. While it does often remind me of Beck's Odelay in its overall sound and the quality of Everett's voice, practically every cut boasts an infectuous melody or beat as well as a number of sonic tricks and clever lyrics- and sometimes, the results are startingly beautiful, never so much as on the perversely vulgar and forlorn "It's A Motherfucker". As is Everett's wont, the subject matter of most of these cuts leans towards the downbeat, but often it's just so darn catchy that it rarely matters. First heard this one via my son, and I rarely go very long without listening to it.
PUFFY AMIYUMI- NICE.
This one's also a vote for Andy Sturmer of the late lamented Jellyfish, who co-wrote, produced, and played on practically every cut. Sturmer is a pop-music polymath, and he gives this material a stylistic diversity that I suspect the girls couldn't or wouldn't achieve on their own- from the 80's style synth-pop of "Tokyo Nights", Wings-ish ballad "Thank You", to the swoony ballad "Angel of Love" with a trombone solo that just kills me every time, to hyperactive J-Pop exercises like "Planet Tokyo" and "K2G", just to name but a few of the colors in Andy's palette. And, of course, the ubitiquous glam-stomp of the "Teen Titans Theme" which reminds me just a smidge of the Sweet. Still, despite Sturmer's guiding hand the girls' personality manages to come through, making this an overall coherent album that rewards repeat listening.
RON SEXSMITH- OTHER SONGS
Acoustic troubador Sexsmith's second album, produced by Mitchell Froom with a relatively restrained hand (more on that later, with Los Lobos). Sexsmith is an excellent songwriter with a nice sense of melody and a economic way with words, and while there have been many fine songs on his subsequent albums, this is the one in which (in my opinion) the most and best can be found. Highlights include the surprising, and lovely, story-song "Strawberry Blonde", heartbreaking "So Young" in which Froom adds a barely-detectable cymbal hiss in the background which gets steadily more audible as the song goes on, providing an odd counterpoint to the beautiful melody and providing it with a sense of urgency; and the Randy Newman-ish "Pretty Little Cemetery".
PAUL WESTERBERG- SUICAINE GRATIFACTION
Paul's previous two efforts, 14 Songs and Eventually, sounded unsure and compromised despite a couple of good cuts on each. Since this one, Westerberg has pretty much said the hell with it and has cranked out a handful of raggedy releases, emphasizing chaos and fuckall over songcraft, mostly to those albums' detriment. But this one, oh, this one- I think he cared here, and he had a producer in Don Was which would let him step out on a ledge once in a while while keeping him honest instead of sawing all his rough edges off a la his work with Bonnie Raitt. I get a sense of the old, yearning Paul of tracks like "Left of the Dial" and "Unsatisfied", and after the tentative double-ballad shot at the beginning he rips off 8 out of 9 killer songs with great melodies and clever lyrics and even some sloppy stuff in "Best Thing That Never Happened". Sorry, just can't quite warm to "Lookin' Out Forever", which sounds like a 14 Songs leftover. Nobody's ever going to be able to agree on Westerberg's disappointing solo career, but for my money, this one was the best.
BRIAN WILSON- SMiLE
DAVID BOWIE- HEATHEN
LOS LOBOS-COLOSSAL HEAD
THE FLAMING LIPS- THE SOFT BULLETIN
FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE-UTOPIA PARKWAY
I AM SHELBY LYNNE
PAUL McCARTNEY- DRIVING RAIN
IRIS DEMENT- MY LIFE
SEMISONIC- GREAT DIVIDE
R.E.M.- NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI
MARIA McKEE- LIFE IS SWEET
CIBO MATTO- STEREO TYPE A
VICTORIA WILLIAMS- LOOSE
BECK- SEA CHANGE
THE JAYHAWKS- SOUND OF LIES
COLDPLAY- A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD
MATTHEW SWEET - IN REVERSE
THE BLACK CROWES- THREE SNAKES AND ONE CHARM
JILL SOBULE- PINK PEARL
Yes, I know, I'm not finished. I got a late start so I'll do the rest tomorrow. I'll get around to answering some of the great comments as well. I've got some honorable mentions in mind, too.
Of course you know that I'm not necessarily saying that these are the best of the last 10 years, just the ones I've derived the most pleasure from. By all means, let me know what you think.