For me the list is split between great new music from old favorites and fantastic stuff from new (or new to me) bands.
Let's get to it.
My Bloody Valentine: MBV.
I never wanted Kevin Shields (third greatest Kevin after Kevin Durant and yours truly) to make another My Bloody Valentine album. Figured it would suck. Figured it would sour me on their earlier two. I figured wrong. It's a freakin' masterpiece. Clearly the best thing this year.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra: II.
"Swim and Sleep like a Shark" is the best pop song of the year, and there are 4 other songs on this album that are mesmerizing. These guys are still on the way up for what they can do, but this is awfully good.
Waxahatchee: Cerulean Salt.
More electric and in your face than "American Weekend". Katie Crutchfield is awesome. You would also be well served by checking out her twin sister's band, Swearin'.
Those are the three records I enjoyed and listened to the most this year. Now here's the next tier of good stuff:
Bill Callahan: Dream River
Kurt Vile: Walking on a Pretty Daze
The National: Trouble will find me
These three acts can seemingly do no wrong. Everything they've ever recorded is outstanding. Vile and Callahan are somehow still getting better, and the National continue to amaze me by not falling off a cliff.
Now let's head off the beaten path a little bit:
No Joy: Wait to Pleasure
Mutual Benefit: Love's Crushing Diamond
Parquet Courts: Light Up Gold
Speedy Ortiz: Major Arcana
These New Puritans: Field of Reeds
I'm not sure any of these guys will turn into Bill Callahan, but these particular works are terrific. No Joy is clean-up shoegaze, Mutual Benefit is immaculate folk, Parquet Courts is perhaps the best of this bunch, Speedy Ortiz is adorably weird and These New Puritans really impressed me with Field of Reeds. I've got to check their back catalog.
Finally, here's 4 things I listened to, liked a lot but haven't really fully absorbed. I think they might belong on the list, but I'm not sure.
Mazzy Star: Seasons of your Day
Fuck Buttons: Slow Focus
White Fence: Cyclops Reap
Everything I said about not wanting Kevin Shields to revive MBV goes double for David Roback and Mazzy Star, but the new album appears to be quite good. Fuck Buttons are great but never topped their first album. I'm tired of MIA, but Matangi is actually pretty good. White Fence is Guided by Voices mixed with the 13th Floor Elevators.