(in no particular order)
Brand New - Deja Entendu
Super catchy, dynamic, and heartfelt. Sic Transit Gloria is one of my favorite songs of the year. At this point it may seem that any punk/emo band is mining old territory, but Brand New make the shopworn conventions of the genre seem, well, brand new.
Outkast - The Love Below
Not to give Big Boi the cold shoulder, but Andre's album is quirkier and more fun. When Hey Ya comes on the radio, I bop around in my car like a microcephalic nimrod. The album is laced with beautiful string arrangements and goofy keyboard hooks that would make John Linnell proud.
Thrice - The Artist in the Ambulance
When my band went to the studio to record our demo, we told the engineer that we wanted to sound like this album. They've evolved in every conceivable way from their earlier releases. This is one of those CDs I play at work, and at least one person will ask me, "Who IS this band??"
Thursday - War All the Time
Full Collapse was my favorite album of 2001. This album just might be better. Vocalist Geoff Rickly summed it up last time I saw them play: "It's not a question of whether or not you like the new album. You either like it, or you're dead." Only Thursday can pull off using September 11th as a metaphor for personal turmoil without sounding trite or insincere.
AFI - Sing the Sorrow
I love every single song on this album without reservation. I hope this album influences the direction of punk music. The songs are dynamic and extremely well written, and they're anthemic without being repetetive and boring.