In particular, after Erica had recommended it for years, I finally purchased "Illinoise", by Sufjan Stevens when it was on sale at amazon for $5. 22 tracks, catchy tunes, great variety in orchestration, instrumentation, and time signatures -- I like one song that alternates between 5 and 6 beats per measure, reminiscent of the Radiohead that alternates between 7 and 8. Really nice album, 4 stars.
I followed that up with "The Avalanche: Outtakes and Extras from the Illinois Album". 21 more tracks, still $5. And the 3 remixes of "Chicago" are different enough that I don't mind them, as I normally do remixes.
The only thing not to like about these is that per Wikipedia, Sufjan (which means "comes with a sword" in ancient Persian) was raised by cultist parents; occasionally has somewhat religious overtones; and actually published a "christian" album. Hopefully he will outgrow this.
Note, this was seriously emo stuff (don't hear that too much anymore), as is our next group.
Greatly enjoyed "The Rhumb Line" by Ra Ra Riot, out of Syracuse. Reviews say reminincent of Vampire Weekend, but they're contemporary or before, so I don't think they should be labeled as just a copy. I really like the cello and violin that are permanent members. Track #5, "Winter '05", really struck me. I am almost embarrassed to post the video thereof, as it demonstrates me to be a hopeless romantic. Sad, sad, sad. 4 stars for this album. I think only three for their next album, "The Orchard".
Also got the latest Of Montreal "False Priest". Not as good as the prior, but still some LOL lyrics from the gayest music that I have ever heard. Three stars.
All over the place -- rap, hip-hop, dance, R&B -- is "The ArchAndroid", by Janelle Monae, an Of Montreal collaborator. 18, tracks, quite an effort, and also on sale for $5 at amazon (ouch, also now back to $7.99, should have posted sooner, sorry). Three stars, probably a few will go to four.
The New Pornographers, "Together". A very nice album, after just a few listens some of the songs felt like old friends. Three stars.
Interpol, "Interpol". Didn't do much for me, three stars (just barely).
Finally, "Lonely Avenue", by Ben Folds, to lyrics by Nick Hornby. If you like Ben Folds, highly recommended, it is vintage stuff. Hornby is at least as much a smart-ass as Folds. I particularly liked "Levi Johnston's Blues" -- a great american saga. Four stars.
I've been trying to use iTunes Ping, without much luck. I can follow artists, but I like stuff (which you have to do at the track level rather than the album level) or post stuff and it seems to go in the bit bucket?!?!? I did a one line review of one album, that seemed to stick. I see where one of my Ping friends bought an album -- presumably on iTunes, which I never do. So far, so bad.