It is late enough in the year for "best-of" lists to start coming into being. I only feel confident talking about records, thanks to leaks serving as an equalizer: There are any number of movies and comics that I have yet so see and judge.
Also, I kind of think it wasn't that great of a year for music. This could just be because of the way the music press works. The three records I am going to say were the "best" are all things that received no real reviews.
Best electronic record: Max Tundra, Parallax Error Beheads You. You know that story about the pottery class that was split into two groups? The one group was told to make a large amount of pots, and the other was told to make one perfect pot. The first group ended up making the better pots as they kept on working and learned from their mistakes. Max Tundra is almost the opposite of that: He has worked for six years making this record in keeping with his weird perfectionist tendencies. I guess he kept his game sharp doing remixes, though, because this album is amazing. Meticulously composed pop music filled with many moving parts, clicking into place.
Best noise record: Black Pus 4, All Aboard The Magic Pus. Only available as a CD-R still, as the vinyl release has not yet come into being. Some noise dude was telling me this isn't a noise record, and that Brian Chippendale refers to it as his pop record. This is in some ways true, songs are clearly distinguishable from each other. But only certain songs really register as pop songs, the whole thing is still pretty abrasive, and certain songs use pop song structures to freak out all over where the chorus would be. It's just restrained enough to constitute a step forward, and that on its own would be really exciting even before getting to the fact that the closing track was one of the songs I listened to obsessively.
Best indie-pop record: Nana Grizol, Love It Love It. This dude Theo was touring with the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise. When the encore came, there was some confusion, and I had to tell him that some of his songs were worthy enough to fit into an encore setting. Which is quite the compliment, when you consider that other people on that tour who had written songs that could be performed for an encore included Julian Koster of The Music Tapes (and Chocolate USA, and while we were probably never going to hear "All Jets Are Gonna Fall Today," "Song For The Death Of Parents" seemed like it should've been a shoo-in), as well as Will Cullen Hart and Bill Doss of The Olivia Tremor Control (and The Circulatory System and The Sunshine Fix respectively). He ended up playing songs, but ones not on the album or the preceding EP. On those records are indie-pop songs of a certain nineties variety, and a youthful openness which you would think would find an audience I would find distasteful. The record certainly has awful twee album art. But, oh shit, "Tambourine-N-Thyme" would be the other song to be incredibly resonant in a way that led to many repeated listens, with its gorgeous horn parts in the place of Black Pus' abrasive keyboards. The other songs keep that strength, and while there's the occasional near-cringe-inducing line, there is still so much openness and positivity on this record that has me holding it close.
There were other records this year but they were just cool records. These include Thee Oh Sees The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In (garage-punk record of the year, five times better than that No Age album), Evangelista's Hello Voyager, Excepter's Debt Dept., and any number of albums made by bands I like because of albums that came out before this year that their new records pale in comparison to. See: Why?, Gang Gang Dance, The Lexie Mountain Boys, Beach House, Matmos, Silver Jews, etc. Those are the ones that weren't super-bleak disappointments.