The Best Albums of 2012 Albums

The Best Albums of 2012

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List Criteria: As usual, I don't include live albums, compilations, or reissues

No stone classics this year on par with last year (Black Keys and Adele), but overall about 10 truly excellent releases, and many really good ones. In many cases I've added a video of a track to check out. Overall, a lot of good releases in the rock field (I don't like hip-hop or contemporary-sounding R&B and country for the most part).

While I listen to a lot of new music, I am also loyal to bands that I love and will typically pick up their new albums and give them a shot. On that front:

Surprises: Rush, ZZ Top, Smashing Pumpkins, Dr. John, Neil and the Horse.

Letdowns: DMB, Muse (just a slight letdown - "Madness" is at least a killer track), Heartless Bastards, Sigur Ros, Paul Weller, Soundgarden, and the 3 Green Day records, which combined maybe have 10 decent songs on them and very few great ones.

(I didn't include Aerosmith and Van Halen in either bucket because my expectations weren't very high to begin with, but at least each of their albums have a few solid songs).

If you want to really go deep, here's my top albums of the '90s and the '00s, as well as my Top 500 Bands Of All Time.
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  1. 1

    Neil Young & Crazy Horse

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  2. 2
    Wrecking Ball is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Bruce Springsteen Have to admit, while (like all of his comeback records) I liked this from the start, I didn't love it till I heard these songs live. What a tour. Check out "Death To My Hometown" with

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    Bob Dylan Though consistently good, the last 2-3 songs are where this gets great, which puts it a notch above his last studio record.

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  4. 4
    Blunderbuss is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Jack White Most Valuable Rocker of 2012?

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    Dr. John Producer Dan Auerbach is also a strong contender for MVP of the year.

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    Alabama Shakes I have had a couple of these songs for a year and a half now and they still pump me up every time. 

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  7. 7
    Oceania is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    The Smashing Pumpkins Wow. Billy is back, full-on. If you don't believe me check out this song Quasar.

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  8. 8
    Blak and Blu is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Blak and Blu Gary Clark Jr

  9. 9
    Centipede Hz is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Animal Collective Doesn't blow me away the way Merriweather Post Pavillion did, but great stuff nonetheless. Check out the embedded track Today's Supernatural for a serious mind-meld. 

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  10. 10

    Godspeed You! Black Emperor The two main (long) pieces on this album are songs they have been playing live these past two years, and that blew me away live as they blow me away on this record.

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    Mirage Rock is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Mirage Rock Band of Horses Another strong BOH record - and it might grow on me more, like the last one did

  13. 13

    Rush Even more shocking than how good the Pumpkins record is, this is the first Rush record I have kept going back to since . . . Power Windows 25+ years ago. Whouda thunk I'd be riveted watching Rush play

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  14. 14
    Silencing Machine is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Silencing Machine Nachtmystium At first I didn't like as much as their last few, but that has definitely changed. 

  15. 15
    Noctourniquet is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Noctourniquet The Mars Volta This record was largely ignored, but while it may not be their best work it is still pretty great.

  16. 16

    Tame Impala

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  17. 17
    Sun is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Sun Cat Power

  18. 18
    Grace and LIes is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Grace and LIes Family Band

  19. 19
    >Album Title Goes Here< is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    >Album Title Goes Here< deadmau5 Deadmau5 is the one new (tidal) wave of EDM artist who consistently blows me away

  20. 20
    Home Again is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Home Again While the rest of the record (tho quite good) doesn't quite scale these heights, check out Tell Me A Tale, which might be my absolute favorite song of the last 2 years. 

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  21. 21
    Blues Funeral is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Blues Funeral Mark Lanegan Band Maybe his best

  22. 22
    The 2nd Law is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Muse Bit of a letdown from the last two, though Madness may be their best song yet

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    The Magic Door is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    The Magic Door Chris Robinson Brotherhood Very much beneath the radar, Chris Robinson's new jamband released 100+mins of quite strong material on two albums with DIY ethos and "cosmic, man" artwork. They are about equally good and

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  24. 24
    Big Moon Ritual is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Big Moon Ritual Chris Robinson Brotherhood

  25. 25
    Handwritten is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Handwritten The Gaslight Anthem

  26. 26
    Women & Work is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Women & Work Lucero

  27. 27
    Down IV Part I - The Purple EP is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Down IV Part I - The Purple EP If the whole Down IV comes out like this I will be a happy man.

  28. 28
    Babel is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Mumford And Sons

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  29. 29

    Neil Young & Crazy Horse What can I say, Neil and Crazy Horse could sing the phone book and it would still probably make my list. 

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  30. 30

    Gojira, Felicia Atkinson

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    Dinosaur Jr

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    Here is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Here Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

  33. 33

    Baroness Very inconsistent but a good one to cherry pick for MP3 listening. 

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    La Futura is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    ZZ Top Outside of a handful of songs i haven't liked a ZZ Top record since Afterburner ('86). Thank you Mr. Rubin. 

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    The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwe... is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    The Flaming Lips Spotty (Ke$ha? Please.), but both dark and joyful at the same time. And "Do It" is probably the best thing Yoko has ever done without John (which to me at least is not saying much at all)

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  36. 36
    Landing On A Hundred is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Landing On A Hundred Cody ChestnuTT About time. 

  37. 37
    Driving Towards the Daylight is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Driving Towards the Daylight Joe Bonamassa Starting to become a big fan of this guy and slightly ashamed to find out how long he's been kicking along below my radar. 

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  38. 38
    How About I Be Me (And You Be ... is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? Sinéad O'Connor This is some raw emotional vocal stuff on some pretty upbeat tracks in some pretty catchy songs. Sometimes when I put this record on I'm astounded. Other times it just doesn't feel right.

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  39. 39
    United We Stand is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    United We Stand Brad

  40. 40

    Best Coast

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  41. 41
    Tomorrowland is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Tomorrowland Ryan Bingham

  42. 42
    De Vermis Mysterlis is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    De Vermis Mysterlis High On Fire A letdown for the first 5 listens or so, it's starting to grow on me. 

  43. 43
    Old Ideas is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Leonard Cohen The old guy had real life in him not just live, but new material wise as well

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  44. 44
    The Sheepdogs is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    The Sheepdogs The Sheepdogs

  45. 45

    Matthew E. White

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  46. 46
    Little Broken Hearts is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Norah Jones I like this record's sound though I haven't fallen hard for any individual tracks yet. 

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  47. 47
    MMXII is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    MMXII Killing Joke The unsung postpunk juggernaut that is Killing Joke continues with probably their best since the S/T one that Grohl drummed on. Might move up a lot in my rankings as I only just picked this up.

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  48. 48
    Afterglow is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Afterglow Black Country Communion

  49. 49

    Heart Another kinda shocking comeback, except that Heart also made a pretty strong record a few years back. Seriously, if you liked Heart back in the day you will dig this - Ann especially sounds fantastic

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  50. 50
    Kill My Blues is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Albums of 2012

    Corin Tucker Band Not bad, not bad at all. 

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