My top three (in no particular order) are Pink Floyd, Level 42 and The Smiths.
Pink Floyd because no other band can create atmosphere like them. Imagine the most spectacular, phenomenal and powerful music you can, and then imagine one better than that and that is Pink Floyd. The lyrics are poetry, David Gilmour's playing is the most architecturally beautiful ever and when everything comes together it's something of an ineffable experience. Also the way their albums aren't all chopped up into separate feelings and subjects per song, it all blends into one divine, unique masterpiece. Thank the lord for Syd Barrett.
Level 42 because they create the most fantastic tracks with the most visceral funky bass, grooviest drums and the most melodic keys and guitar! And when Mike Lindup's angelic voice harmonises with Mark King's rich lower voice it is beeaauutiful. Also I'm an 100% mightily passionate bassist and I just love slapping my bass so Level 42 and Mark King are PERFECT for me. They're something of an obsession.
The Smiths because lyrically, they can connect with me in so many different ways - like the annoyance and sadness of being lonely and often feeling helpless. Sometimes it's like Morrissey has dipped his quill into my brain when writing lyrics and written my feelings all across the songs. Also, I love Morrissey's rich, haunting voice which is so emotionally charged it's incredible. And coming away from the lyrical side of things, musically The Smiths are incredible too. Johnny Marr's guitar playing and music writing skills are immense: wonderful chord progressions, singing melodic ostinatos in the guitar with varying and unique rhythms. Also the bass part is usually a counter melody, a different line of music in it's own right, but supporting the song effortlessly anyway.
I think I may have written more than required - but get me started on music and it's hard to get me to stop, hehe. Sorry!
Muse, The White Stripes, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys
Unknown, but AWESOME