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Best Albums of 2012

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.

Best Albums of 2012 Albums
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  1. 1

    Neil Young & Crazy Horse

  2. 2

    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

  3. 3

    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.

  4. 4

    Jack White Most Valuable Rocker of 2012?

  5. 5

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

  6. 6

    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. 

  7. 7

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

  8. 8

    Blak and Blu Gary Clark Jr

  9. 9

    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. 

  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.

  11. 11
  12. 12

    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

  14. 14

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

  15. 15

    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

    Lonerism Tame Impala

  17. 17

    Sun Cat Power

  18. 18

    Grace and LIes Family Band

  19. 19

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

  20. 20

    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. 

  21. 21

    Blues Funeral Mark Lanegan Band Maybe his best

  22. 22

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

  23. 23

    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

  24. 24

    Big Moon Ritual Chris Robinson Brotherhood

  25. 25

    Handwritten The Gaslight Anthem

  26. 26

    Women & Work Lucero

  27. 27

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

  28. 28

    Mumford And Sons

  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. 

  30. 30

    Gojira, Felicia Atkinson

  31. 31

    I Bet On Sky Dinosaur Jr

  32. 32

    Here Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

  33. 33

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

  34. 34

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

  35. 35

    The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends 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)

  36. 36

    Landing On A Hundred Cody ChestnuTT About time. 

  37. 37

    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. 

  38. 38

    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.

  39. 39

    United We Stand Brad

  40. 40

    Best Coast

  41. 41

    Tomorrowland Ryan Bingham

  42. 42

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

  43. 43

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

  44. 44

    The Sheepdogs The Sheepdogs

  45. 45

    Big Inner Matthew E. White

  46. 46

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

  47. 47

    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.

  48. 48

    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

  50. 50

    Kill My Blues Corin Tucker Band Not bad, not bad at all. 

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