The Top 50 Albums of 2012

Since I have gone on longer than anticipated about songs this year, the albums section will be short. Seeing as how I’ve done reviews of most of them, I will link the reviews in here as well as give a few song recommendations to check out. This year’s list is a lot more diversified, with artists I had never even heard of before. That’s what these lists, and reviews and such are all about, to expose you to new music. Music has taken up a good portion of my life since high school, and even further back. Sharing my passions with people has been a dream, and thanks to Kevin Hellions for allowing me to do so. Before we continue, if the new rating system is confusing or you think it’s just plain crazy, here is a link to a post that explains it.. Now, here are the top 50 albums of 2012!


50. New Horizons by Flyleaf

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Fire Fire” “New Horizons” “Cage on the Ground” “Green Heart” “Broken Wings”


49. Give Us Rest or (A Requiem in C [The Happiest of All Keys]) by David Crowder Band

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Why Me?” “Let Me Feel You Shine” “Fall on Your Knees” “Oh My God” “There Is a Sound” “Oh, My God I’m Coming Home”


48. Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon by Murder by Death

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Lost River” “I Came Around” “The Curse of Elkhart” “Go to the Light” “Ghost Fields”


47. Theatre Is Evil by Amanda Palmer & the Grand Theft Orchestra

This album is known more for it’s hugely successful Kickstarter campaign than anything, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile. She raised $1.2 million, and as a contributor, I can tell you she spared no expense on production or packaging. The album speaks to another time, 80’s new wave in particular. The production quality is very well done, and Palmer pulls out all the stops in making this album worth the $1.2 million raised for it. Its her most ambitions project and does it ever pay off.

Album Rating: Buy It on CD or Vinyl (really, you should have contributed to the Kickstarter!)

Listener Co-efficient: Passive Listen

Essential Tracks: “The Killing Type” “Grown Man Cry” “The Bed Song” “Olly Olly Oxen Free” “Melody Dean”


46. The Russian Wilds by Howlin’ Rain

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Self Made Man” “Cherokee Werewolf” “Dark Side” “Phantom in the Valley” “Walking Through Stone”


45. What We Saw from the Cheap Seats by Regina Spektor

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Small Town Moon” “Firewood” “Patron Saint” “All the Rowboats” “Ballad of a Politician”


44. Wrecking Ball by Bruce Springsteen

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Shackled and Drawn” “Death to My Hometown” “Land of Hope and Dreams” “Easy Money” “American Land”


43. Narrow by Soap & Skin

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Vater” “Voyage Voyage” “Wonder” “Big Hand Nails Down”


42. Breakfast by Chiddy Bang

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Breakfast” “Ray Charles” “Out 2 Space” “Whatever We Want” “Baby Roulette”


41. Rest by Pompton Lakes

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Home” “Merciful” “Pride” “Hope (Banjo Song)”


40. Out of the Silent Nest by Steven Padin

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Down Out and Under” “You” “Nothing at All” “Speaker for the Dead” “Goodbye Winston”


39. Some Nights by Fun

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Some Nights” “We Are Young” “Why Am I the One” “All Alone” “Stars”


38. Clear Heart Full Eyes by Craig Finn

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Apollo Bay” “No Future” “Terrified Eyes” “Western Pier” “Rented Room”


37. Open Your Heart by The Men

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Turn It Around” “Country Song” “Oscillation” “Open Your Heart” “Ex-Dreams”


36. Boys & Girls by Alabama Shakes

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Hold On” “Hang Loose” “Rise to the Sun” “Heartbreaker” “I Ain’t the Same”


35. The Carpenter by The Avett Brothers

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “The Once and Future Carpenter” “Live and Die” “Winter in My Heart” “Down with the Shine” “Paul Newman vs. the Demons”


34. Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables by Todd Snider

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “In the Beginning” “New York Banker” “In Between Jobs” “Brenda” “Digger Dave’s Crazy Woman Blues”


33. The Hale & Hearty by Heyward Howkins

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Hale & Hearty” “Spanish Moss” “The Raucous Calls of Morning” “The Live Oak” “Plume & Orange”


32. I’ll Find You in the Colors by Ninja Turtle Ninja Tiger

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “The Way Back” “The Climb” “Spinning, on Fire” “Outside the City” “Ride”


31. Locked Down by Dr. John

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Locked Down” “Getaway” “You Lie” “My Children, My Angels” “God’s Sure Good”


30. Blunderbuss by Jack White

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Sixteen Saltines” “Freedom at 21” “Love Interruption” “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” “On and On and On”


29. New Multitudes by Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker & Yim Yames

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Flying High” “Old L.A.” “Talking Empty Bed Blues” “Chorine My Sheba Queen” “Angel’s Blues” “No Fear”


28. Red by Taylor Swift

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “State of Grace” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” “Holy Ground” “Sad Beautiful Tragic” “Begin Again”


27. The Clearing by Bowerbirds

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Tuck the Darkness In” “Walk the Furrows” “This Year” “Overcome with Light” “Death Wish”


26. BBNG002 by Bad Bad Not Good

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Earl” “Limit to Your Love” “Flashing Lights” “DMZ” “CMYK


25. Blow Your Pants Off by Jimmy Fallon

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Neil Young Sings ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'” “History of Rap” “Slow Jam the News” “Friday” “Jeremy (Linsanity)”


24. Mirage Rock by Band of Horses

Coming off the heels of one of the band’s best offerings – Infinite Arms – Band of Horses takes a slight detour and goes back in time to the 70’s. Channeling groups like the Eagles, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, as well as CSNY, Mirage Rock is a breezy country rock jaunt that should fit comfortably in someone’s cross country music collection. “Dumpster World’s” acoustic/electric structure is a sonic nod to the music of America, which then kicks into a hard riff for a modern update. The group’s close harmonies on many of these tracks is a lot to admire, especially while the waits for another Fleet Foxes album. The band are way more than that, similarities can’t be helped at times, and while this offering doesn’t fully hold up to the rest of the band’s catalog, it’s still a unique album that can be listened to again and again and a sure contender for this list.

Album Rating: Buy It on CD or Vinyl

Listener Co-efficient: Passive Listen

Essential Tracks: “How to Live” “Shut-In Tourist” “Electric Music” “Heartbreak on the 101” “Long Vows”


23. Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Oh Susannah” “Clementine” “Gallows Pole” “This Land Is Your Land” “God Save the Queen”


22. A Wasteland Companion by M. Ward

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Clean Slate” “The First Time I Ran Away” “A Wasteland Companion” “There’s a Key” “Wild Goose”


21. Shallow Bed by Dry the River

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “New Ceremony” “Demons” “Bible Belt” “Shaker Hymns” “Lion’s Den”


20. Noctourniquet by The Mars Volta

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “The Whip Hand” “Dyslexicon” “The Malakin Jewel” “Molochwalker” “Noctourniquet”


19. Old Ideas by Leonard Cohen

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Going Home” “Show Me the Place” “Crazy to Love You” “Banjo” “Lullaby”


18. Sun by Cat Power

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Cherokee” “Ruin” “Real Life” “Human Being” “Silent Machine”


17. awE naturalE by THEESatisfaction

Original Review:

Essential Track: “Bitch” “QueenS” “Existinct” “Juiced” “naturalE”


16. Zammuto by Zammuto

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Yay” “Groan Man, Don’t Cry” “F U C-3PO” “Zebra Butt” “Harlequin”


15. Tempest by Bob Dylan

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Duquense Whistle” “Soon After Midnight” “Long and Wasted Years” “Scarlet Town” “Roll on John”


14. We Raise Our Voices to the Air (Live Songs 4.11-8.11) by The Decemberists

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Calamity Song” “We Both Go Down Together” “Down by the Water” “Grace Cathedral Hill” “Dracula’s Daughter > O Valencia!”


13. Shields by Grizzly Bear

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Sleeping Ute” “Yet Again” “The Hunt” “Gun-Shy” “Half-Gate”


12. Put Your Back N 2 It by Perfume Genius

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Awol Marine” “17” “Dirge” “All Waters” “Put Your Back N 2 It”


11. The Heist by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Ten Thousand Hours” “Thrift Shop” “Wing$” “Same Love” “Starting Over”


10. The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do by Fiona Apple

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Every Single Night” “Valentine” “Jonathan” “Werewolf” “Regret”


9. R.A.P. Music by Killer Mike

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Big Beast” “Southern Fried” “Reagan” “Ghetto Gospel” “R.A.P. Music”


8. Channel Orange by Frank Ocean

If you’re hung up on Frank Ocean’s sexuality, skip it. What you’re missing is one of the greatest R&B offerings of the last 20 years. The album focuses on voice, passion, atmosphere, and sexuality pinned on the vocal offering of Ocean himself. His ability to evoke intense emotion is the high selling point, but the album does take risks. “Pyramids” is a 9 minute sprawling track, where Ocean slowly takes references of ancient Egypt to references of a strip club, as he sings about his stripper girlfriend. “Bad Religion” is a ballad of sorts about a guy that contains one of the most haunting lyrics of the year: “this unrequited love/to me it’s nothing but a one-man cult/and cyanide in my Styrofoam cup. Channel Orange is worth all the hype and then some.

Album Rating: Buy It on CD or Vinyl

Listener Co-efficient: Active Listen

Essential Tracks: “Thinkin’ ‘Bout You” “Sierra Leone” “Pyramids” “Bad Religion” “Forrest Gump”


7. Break It Yourself  by Andrew Bird

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Danse Caribe” “Give It Away” “Near Death Experience Experience” “Orpheo Looks Back” “Fatal Shore”

Father John Misty - Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings

6. Fear Fun by Father John Misty

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Funtimes in Babylon” “Nancy from Now On” “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” “Now I’m Learning to Love the War” “Everyman Needs a Companion”


5. The Money Store by Death Grips

To say that Death Grips are pushing the envelope of hip-hop and rap is an understatement, regardless of what their intention is, the group are like nothing either genre has ever seen before. The first of this group’s two offerings this year, The Money Store, is an album that pulls no punches, it just  hits hard. Grips’ sampling covers a wide range of genres, and includes artists like African rhythms, Nine Inch Nails, Run-DMC, Bad Brains; there is so much you’ll find in this music and admire. It’s not for everyone, right from the start you’ll find that out with the opening track “Get Got,” as it combines elements of African rhythm, cyclonic keyboards and glitchy effects. If there is one album to pins your hopes on this year its The Money Store.

Album Rating: Buy It on CD or Vinyl

Listener Co-efficient: Active Listen

Essential Tracks: The Whole Album!


4. Who’s Feeling Young Now? by Punch Brothers

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: “Movement and Location” “This Girl” “Who’s Feeling Young Now?” “Patchwork Girlfriend” “New York City”


3. 4EvaNaDay by Big K.R.I.T.

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: The Whole Mix Tape. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with it!


2. good kid, m.A.A.d. city by Kendrick Lamar

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: Again, the whole thing. Hard to recommend tracks from a concept album


1. The Ghost of John Henry by Sci-Fi Romance

Original Review:

Essential Tracks: Another concept album that deserves to be heard in its entirety.

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