Just a quick mention of a few online resources I'd recommend:
Julian's Rocklist is a comprehensive round up of various end of year lists and well-reviewed albums from several music publications including Q Magazine, NME, Uncut and Mojo. It's a great starting point for discovering something new.
Martin Newton has a site devoted to Top 40 Chart hits in the UK. Very useful for researching that obscure band that had one or two hits back in the day.
James Masterton has been providing commentary on the UK charts for many years now. Highly recommended. It's always interesting to see new artists taking off in Britain and then making a splash in the USA a year or so later.