In no particular order:
Secret Pulse - Zack Browning
Browning, a composer accurately described as "way-cool," likes squares. So much, in fact, that the five pieces on this album are based on varying squares in the universe (the 5x5 Magic Square of Mars, the 9x9 Magic Square of the Moon, and the 3x3 Lo Shu Square). This album is perfectly varied, perfectly represented by top notch ensembles, and perfectly presented. When you hold it, it just feels right as a collection of music. The title track is like an energetic, genre-crossing ensemble mixed with a 9bit video game and a trailer for a Transformers movie. It's wonderful.
The Eleanor Hovda Collection - Eleanor Hovda
This four CD collection of the late Eleanor Hovda's music is like a museum. I was not particularly familiar with her work before I began listening to this collection, but it is one of those things that can get you obsessed with a composer. The four discs are Ariadne Music, Coastal Traces, Sound Around the Sound, and Excavations. Her music is organic, windy, and open with some episodes of order, such as in the Etezady-like murmurs in the piece "Snapdragon." This is a lovely tribute to her and definitely a collection worth owning.
Krzysztof Penderecki / Jonny Greenwood
I'm honestly not sure if this album has an official name or not, but nonetheless, it is lovely. Penderecki and Greenwood are so similar in terms of musical ideals, but their approaches to similar goals are completely different. Penderecki's famous sound of somehow controlled chaos, creepiness, and bugs balance with Greenwood's more organized, sometimes-tonal-sounding (but still dispersed) timbres. Greenwood's "Popcorn Superhet Receiver," while not a new work, is the stand-out piece for me because of its constant sense of beauty rather than experiment. And, as I've stated before, I have a really large crush on Jonny, largely because of this. And this.
Still Sound - Bruce Levingston
Levingston is often thought of as a contemporary maven. His foundation Premiere Commission is an organization that promotes the commissioning of works for himself and other musicians, and he collaborates with the contemporary violinist Colin Jacobsen often. But what really, in my opinion, makes someone's experience with contemporary music really show is their ability to mix it with pieces from other periods. Still Sound's bulk is by the composer Augusta Gross, but the contemporary piano pieces are surrounded by other glassy, watery works by Pärt, Chopin, Satie, Schubert, and William Bolcom, another modern composer. His playing is seamless and enticing. This is a perfect family of sound and mix of time.
...Eco de Violín - Colin Sorgi and Jooen Pak
I like this album for two reasons:
1) It is teaching me about a section of music--new Latin American--that I'm not too familiar with but should be. You can hear small influences of Latin music, but only in some of the spacing between notes or flavors of small percussion.
2) Is that cover gorgeous or WHAT.
The music itself isn't what I would call the most interesting stuff I've heard, but it's enjoyable. This isn't an album I would return to over and over again, but it's a good introduction to this area of music.
White Ladder - David Gray
Let's just disregard the fact that this is neither new nor fits in with the rest of my selections... but I started listening to this album again recently, and it brought back many nights of dancing when I was about 6 because my mom was obsessed with Gray back then. And now every trip in my car is backed up by "Please Forgive Me," a masterpiece of a song. If I could force every home in America to have this on their shelves, I would. Trust me.