Some of the albums that surprised me either came from unexpected artists that I didn't listen to much before or came from seemingly nowhere.
Harvey Milk - Special Wishes: Until this year I had never heard of Harvey Milk. When I saw a documentary and 3" CD release for sale on the archivecd.com shop I had to see what the fuss was about. Turns out that "Special Wishes" is one of their best albums to date and one of my favorite releases of the year.
Charalambides - A Vintage Burden: I had listened to them a bit for hearing "A Vintage Burden" but this album just blew me away with it's gorgeous songs and simple but effective guitar playing.
The Goslings - Grandeur Of Hair: "Grandeur Of Hair" is by far their best release so far. It's a crushing album that never fully relents and has many sounds buried beneath that can be discovered with repeated listens.
Monkey3 - 39 Laps: Being a huge fan of 35007, as is Monkey3, I'm surprised I hadn't heard about this band until this year. They take what 35007 has done and give it some crunch in places and add more of the space effects that Acid Mothers Temple are known for.
GHQ - Heavy Elements: Although it's one of the shortest drone albums that I own, it's also one of the best. After hearing their previous release "Cosmology Of The Eye", I though they were a decent drone group, but Three Lobed were excited about this album so I ordered it.
Modern Containment CD series from Three Lobed Recordings: When the lineup was announced for the series it certainly had some potential to be great. Not only did it live up to my expectations but it surpassed them. The only weak album was by Sun City Girls, but the rest ranged from great to fantastic.
Xasthur - Subliminal Genocide: I've never really cared for black metal but this album sparked my interest into the genre, particularly black metal coming from the United States. I'm sure their are some better albums out, but the atmosphere Malefic creates is fantastic.