Sunday, January 10, 2010 top Albums of 2009 includes the Duke and the King

10 Green Day, 21st Century Breakdown (Reprise): Not sure if this Queenly thunderclap is as good as 2004's American Idiot, but Before the Lobotomy is GD's best song of the decade. So there.

9 Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz (Interscope): Karen O, the Ichabod Cranial leader of this NYC art-pop trio, is the most fascinating frontwoman in rock. Maybe the scariest, too. If they ever reopen Studio 54, the first song played should be the YYYs Zero.

8 The Dead Weather, Horehound (Third Man): So jarring, so hard, so good, this supergrouping of Jack White and Kills femme fatale Alison Mosshart is the sound of would-be paramours trying to love each other to death — with Uzis if necessary.

7 Them Crooked Vultures, Them Crooked Vultures (Interscope): Do Dave Grohl and Jack White have a bet on who can form the most side projects? The Foo Fighter and his yowling pal Josh Homme join Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones for a hairy-knuckled trip to Misty Mountain.

6 Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3 (Roc Nation): The completion of Hova's decadelong trilogy merges soul samples and a quick-lipped lesson to young MCs itching to take down the king. Rap is a young man's game — unless Shawn Carter says it's not.

5 Gliss, Devotion Implosion (Cordless): Imagine if Raymond Chandler had an apartment in Melrose Place. Or Philip Marlowe dated one of the Olsen twins. This L.A. trio takes "noir rock" a la Jesus and Mary Chain and spices it with the wobbly hookup mores of the Sunset Strip.

4 Wolfmother, Cosmic Egg (Interscope): No surprise here: The '70s-stuck stoner-rocking Aussies might be my favorite new band of the Aughties. Andrew Stockdale & Co. indulge in stoopid head-banging dude rock — and I can't get enough of it.

3 The Duke and the King, Nothing Gold Can Stay (Ramseur): These Woodstock-born folkies feature Simone Felice (of the Felice Brothers) conjuring the puff-puff-pass spirit of Cat Stevens and related '70s bonfire studs. The best band name of the year refers to the con artists in Huckleberry Finn.

2St. Vincent, Actor (4AD/ADA): She's Cinderella with a taste for blood. Or maybe Beauty and the Bjork. Trying to figure out the electro-clashing dreamscapes and labyrinthine lyrics of a.k.a. Annie Clark from Oklahoma is creepy, mesmerizing fun.

1Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson, Break Up (Rhino/WEA): Scruffy busker Yorn makes a postmodern duets album that acknowledges both the frustration and kinky pull of our celebrity-driven culture. Like a lithe, cig-pulling lust object from some Francophilic fantasy, the saucer-eyed ScarJo represents our love/hate relationship with Lohan et al. — but wow, she can sing, too.