40. Songhoy Blues, 'Music in Exile'
To find the heaviest-hitting blues-rock of the year, take a sharp left at the Mississippi Delta until you're in the deserts of Mali. Though rooted in the nation's world-famous guitar lineage and chugging with the rollicking Saharan-rock rhythms made popular by contemporary bands like Tinariwen and Terakraft, Songhoy Blues are a far harder and punkier affair: Think Ali Farka Touré's iconic desert blues shredded out by kids raised on hip-hop and Jimi Hendrix. Their debut album, produced by Marc-Antoine Moreau and Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Nick Zinner, is the blazing solution to a year without a new Black Keys or Jack White album, full of lyrical solos, entrancing rhythms and melancholy lyrics like those of "Desert Melodie," a protest of the jihadists who outlawed music in the northern part of their country.