Best Albums of 2012

Best of 2012

Reiterating just how much good music I heard in 2012, I’ve decided to expand my usual end-of-year Best Albums list from a Top 30 to a Top 40 to include more of the albums that I’ve heard and enjoyed this year.
Obviously this list only includes full albums that I’ve heard.

40 cranberries#40: Cranberries – Roses

I’m always torn when a favourite from the 90s announces the release of a new album, especially when more than ten years have passed since their last record came out. Not because I know they likely won’t deliver but because I feel like they’re setting themselves up for failure.
Roses is a decent record that satisfies the curious yet nostalgia that one might feel for a band from the golden 90s.

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39 green day#39: Green Day – ¡Uno!

¡Uno! offers a power-pop sound that shows the band at its least serious it’s been in almost a decade.
Even still, there’s the thought that in this post-AI world, you can take the idiot out of America, but you can’t take the American out of the idiot.

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38 david usher
38: David Usher – Songs From The Last Day On Earth

Songs From The Last Day On Earth isn’t in reference to the apocalypse but is internal as he closes one lifetime and prepares for the next one.

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37 calvin harris
#37: Calvin Harris – 18 Months

18 Months is well done in that it isn’t Calvin fully sacrificing his sound for the sake of earning mainstream success. It covers all the bases well enough to do what it was intended to do.

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36 amy macdonald
#36: Amy Macdonald – Life In A Beautiful Light

What ultimately makes this album work is that it isn’t Amy attempting to do something that may or may not work out. She’s created a reliable style and presentation of herself with her musical influences and has consistently stayed true to that sound.

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35 no doubt
#35: No Doubt – Push And Shove

The band plays around with many different sounds on the record, blending the old and familiar with sounds that aren’t characteristic of them.

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34 killers
#34: Killers – Battle Born

The album is made up of a solid list of anthemic songs.
Battle Born is a return to form that many thought the Killers had departed from.

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33 gotye
#33: Gotye – Making Mirrors

Gotye is a very versatile recording artist who uses his production skills very liberally on Making Mirrors. If there’s one thing that can’t be said about him is that his techniques are boring.

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32 regina spektor
#32: Regina Spektor – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats

As a whole, the record is lyrically reluctant yet musically eager. Regina accepts, with hesitation, the inevitability of aging and moving on.
What We Saw From The Cheap Seats is a playfully troublesome collection of lyrics that is simply an exploration of curiosity.

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31 mika
#31: Mika – The Origin Of Love

The Origin Of Love is an album that might create a rift between those who were drawn to Mika’s earlier songs and those who are likely to latch on to him now. While he hasn’t fully mastered the ability to capture both sides on the album, he does do a good job mixing many different styles of pop, dance and electronic together into a record of actual good pop music.

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30 shins
#30: The Shins – Port Of Morrow

One of the leaders of the indie pop movement of the last decade bring another valuable addition to the genre as Port Of Morrow brings the band back to the head of the class.

29 mumford and sons
#29: Mumford & Sons – Babel

The new face of rock comes with a banjo.
Babel is a continuation of the same style that Sigh No More had, even an extension to it, catering to the philosophy of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

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28 nelly furtado
#28: Nelly Furtado – The Spirit Indestructible

With this record, her pairing with Rodney Jerkins surpasses even that of her Timbaland collaborations to the point where this album’s biggest fault is the fact that it isn’t all Nelly+Darkchild.

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27 bonnie raitt
#27: Bonnie Raitt – Slipstream

Once again proving she can do no wrong, Bonnie Raitt does an exquisite job on Slipstream. After lightly flirting with your ear, Bonnie has succeeded in the task of full seduction.

26 jenn grant
#26: Jenn Grant – The Beautiful Wild

The Beautiful Wild brings out the romantic in Jenn; done in a way that it’s casual and feels adventurous, but like an every day adventure so that it’s not novel.

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25 our lady peace
#25: Our Lady Peace – Curve

The songs on here are made to be performed, rather than be mere album filler. Most of the tracks can be easily imagined into a standard OLP setlist as neither would stand out as being a departure to their sound.

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24 beth orton
#24: Beth Orton – Sugaring Season

Sugaring Season is a reflective album that eases through with each song showing that Beth is true to the words she sings. It’s simplicity is only on a surface level while underneath the details in the underlying instruments and lyrics show that there’s more to Beth than meets the ear.

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23 ingrid michaelson
#23: Ingrid Michaelson – Human Again

If this were ten years ago, Ingrid Michaelson would be the go-to girl for tv themes and teenage dreams. She might even single-handedly be keeping the singer/songwriter genre alive.

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22 serena ryder
#22: Serena Ryder – Harmony

Harmony is a nice album in that it confirms Serena’s capabilities as someone who can partake in a wide range on the musical spectrum. She’s choosing not to firmly plant herself into a single area and be limited by genre labels.

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21 kimbra
#21: Kimbra – Vows

Vows is a cohesive collection of songs without sounding redundant or repetitive. It is Kimbra’s beginning and if the cards are played just right, it could be the introduction to someone that everyone will know of.

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20 ellie goulding
#20: Ellie Goulding – Halcyon

Everything you might have known about Ellie Goulding can be completely erased from your memory as you start over again. What was once rainbows and unicorns is now a black skirt with a cocktail in one hand and a microphone in the other.

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19 fiona apple
#19: Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

The Idler Wheel is easily Fiona’s most challenging album as she approaches her writing in such a distinct way. Never holding back and allowing the torment she faces to come through in her lyrics.

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18 missy higgins
#18: Missy Higgins – The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle

The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle is an expansion on Missy’s sound, showing her as more prepared emotionally but also still willing to divulge her thoughts into song.

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17 stars
#17: Stars – The North

The North is a house party where nearly everyone except the host is a stranger to you, with a few drama queens, several intermediaries and a bunch of separate cliques but everyone is having too good a time to be tense.

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16 norah jones
#16: Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts

Little Broken Hearts is further evidence of Norah’s serious musicality as she owns what she sings but also is open to allowing an outside source mould her work into something even greater.

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15 pink
#15: Pink – The Truth About Love

The Truth About Love shows that Pink is still in party mode, almost reckless but still responsible and in control.

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14 lindi ortega
#14: Lindi Ortega – Cigarettes & Truckstops

Lindi takes the golden era of country music to a new time where the genre has blended in so much with pop that it would be almost unrecognizable to the greats of generations ago.

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13 nicki minaj
#13: Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday…Roman Reloaded

Roman Reloaded is purely a mixed-up record with two sides of Nicki showing their heads. Neatly divided into two halves, the first consisting of her hip-hop side while the second is her newly minted electro-influenced dance/pop persona.

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12 christina martin
#12: Christina Martin – Sleeping With A Stranger

Christina Martin is captivating and warm and knows exactly what her task at hand is. Sleeping With A Stranger is very likely to win you over with a single listen.

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11 bruce springsteen
#11: Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball

Wrecking Ball represents a turning point in the songbook of Bruce Springsteen both as a representation of the political landscape of America and as an artist.

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10 hunger games
#10: Soundtrack – The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond

There are few movie soundtracks that can have a lengthy shelf-life rather than floundering into a quick irrelevance but The Hunger Games may be amongst them. The Hunger Games soundtrack could very well end up breathing new life into the concept of the movie soundtrack with its carefully selected group of artists and well-crafted songs that actually fit the movie.

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09 decemberists
#9: Decemberists – We All Raise Our Voices To The Air

We All Raise Our Voices To The Air might very well be the best live record I’ve ever listened to and once again renews my love for this great band.

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08 dragonette
#8: Dragonette – Bodyparts

Bodyparts is Dragonette without the sleaze and sweat but with the heart and plain desire to have a good time. It fills the void in classy sass pop that we didn’t know was there.

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07 kendrick lamar
#7: Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city

Kendrick Lamar puts his focus strictly on rap by bringing back some of the traditional aspects of hip-hop. good kid, m.A.A.d. city is the album that will save rap music in 2013.

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06 ed sheeran
#6: Ed Sheeran – +

Ed Sheeran is honest with his vocals and how he comes off as a writer, bringing with his recordings a complete and satisfying album of songs that sound true to his heart and open up to what could be one of England’s best newcomers.

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05 fun
#5: fun. – Some Nights

Some Nights is the type of album for the heavy thinker, perhaps the reckless mind, to ponder over. With bouncy melodies masking the darker thoughts and memories, fun. provides a bittersweet musical experience to remind us that we all have moments we would change, want to relive or things we think we want to achieve, even if we never do anything about it.

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04 whitehorse
#4: Whitehorse – The Fate Of The World Depends On This Kiss

The Fate Of The World Depends On This Kiss has the sound of a romanticized harmony from a pair who, when started, don’t look back. Likely made to supplement their live act, they once again prove they are on to something with this new collaborative project.

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03 kathleen edwards
#3: Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur

This album serves as a sober reminder that while Kathleen can write killer songs with killer melodies, she is still a songwriter and has that duty to express her own experiences as they arise.

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02 frank ocean
#2: Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE

channel ORANGE has loneliness that is not in the form of a broken relationship or a breakup but rather of that made apparent through the imagery that both the lyrics and the music convey – a self-appointed loneliness. The way in which the themes are displayed are akin to standing in the middle of a crowded cocktail bar with not a single person to talk to.

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01 brandi carlile
#1: Brandi Carlile – Bear Creek

On Brandi Carlile‘s fourth album Bear Creek, she completely changes direction from the sound of her previous records. Rather than trying to recreate that epic pop/rock sound that occupied much of those albums, she instead focuses on nostalgia as she pulls at the familiar feeling of the good old down-home.

Brandi has succeeded in making an album that doesn’t succumb to those outside wishes of earning a radio hit or winning mainstream success in a climate where producers trump musicians. Bear Creek is the most consistent album in her discography thus far. Where her previous albums have had their ups and downs, Bear Creek is all one high point. It’s the album Brandi was made to create.

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