It’s that time again, when everyone makes lists. It’s been a strange year, with some notable musical awesomeness (where would I be without at least a pinch of that?) but also a dash of disappointment. Still, 2012 brought plenty to be excited about. So here is an honest list (roughly ranked) of the 20 albums I most enjoyed and couldn’t stop playing this year:
1. Tame Impala - Lonerism
Tantalizingly psychedelic, sonically gorgeous rock, without a single weak song.
2. Goat - World Music
A multi-genre trip of an underrated album that brings out the tribal joy in rock-and-roll.
3. Hot Chip - In Our Heads
At turns catchy and emotional, indie and disco, Hot Chip proves that after a 10+ year career, they are more relevant than ever.
4. Bat for Lashes - The Haunted Man
Strikingly intimate indie pop made with genuine creativity and feeling.
5. Purity Ring - Shrines
At once ethereal and natural, this Canadian duo’s debut seems to have been conjured out of nowhere.
6. Woods - Bend Beyond
The cleanest, tightest album that this prolific band has put out to date.
7. Black Moth Super Rainbow - Cobra Juicy
Warped dream pop seemingly made by demons in a cough-syrup-induced dream
8. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
All-encompassing, apocalyptic drone-post-rock with a side of sentimentality.
9. Grizzly Bear - Shields
The kings of indie prove they can still craft a solid album that maintains their signature sound.
10. How To Dress Well - Total Loss
A heartbreaking infusion of indie and electronic music with r&b sensibilities, sung by a shyly charismatic dude who will capture your heart as you cry for him.
11. King Tuff - King Tuff
Brazen garage-rock anthems with a slightly kooky aftertaste.
12. Burial - Kindred EP
The enigmatic English producer breathes life into quivering hits of sub-bass, creating a dark musical world that throbs with emotion.
13. Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes
A dynamic fusion of electronica and jazz featuring some stellar guest vocals.
14. Pond - Beard, Wives, Denim
A smattering of psych rock and brit-pop delivered by carefree Aussies.
15. Matthew Dear - Beams
A worthy follow- up to 2010’s Black City, Matthew Dear continues to make music that’s strange and darkly danceable.
16. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
This breakout R&B prodigy made waves this year for his sexuality. But his album lived up to, and exceeded, all that hype.
17. Melody’s Echo Chamber - Melody’s Echo Chamber
A stellar and dreamy debut album spiced up with a psychedelic edge thanks to production work by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker.
18. Sinkane - Mars
An imaginative melding of genres from indie to afrobeat to jazz makes for a solid, albeit brief, record that deserves a listen.
19. Japandroids - Celebration Rock
Eight tracks of barnstormers about being young and carefree make for one of the most epic garage efforts of the year.
20. Diiv - Oshin
The introspective and slightly darker sideproject from Beach Fossils’ Zachary Cole Smith proves it deserves to be treated as a full-blown project in its own right.