The closing of 2012 has brought music fans with plenty of gifts to end the year.
If you are looking for what you may have missed, I’d check the “best of” lists on NPR, Amazon, Paste, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone to feel out a wide-ranging assortment of albums.
The year laid claim to records from major names like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Dave Matthews Band, Jack White and The Killers.
On the other hand, Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange is on many lists and has one of the smoothest, catchy songs in “Thinkin About You” and groups like Grizzly Bear, Best Coast, Dirty Projectors and Fun. all had solid efforts.
When you’re searching for top albums, don’t worry too much about the order, but look at those that cross over on multiple lists.
There are many albums this year that were really great, and there are always those that fly under the radar that can rival even the top critic’s picks.
As for me, here are some of the albums, in no particular order, that I enjoyed over the past year.
Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls
There hasn’t been a group this year that has garnered as much excitement as Alabama Shakes.
I first caught wind of the group in late 2011 after news they had opened for the Drive-By Truckers on a few dates. Soon after, I had blasted their single “Hold On” numerous times until I finally coughed up the $5 dollars they rightly deserved for the EP. Boys & Girls was released in early spring and gave the group much momentum for festivals such as Hangout and Bonnaroo in the summer.
Michael Kiwanuka, Home Again
London-bred Michael Kiwanuka is all about soul.
Home Again is equal parts mystical and uplifting, while tackling subject matter such as love, solace and sentiment. His voice carries this one, and it’s one you should be acquainted with if you haven’t listened yet.
Dr. John, Locked Down
Dr. John, a.k.a., Mac Rebennack, gave music fans one of the smoothest albums of the year. Produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, Locked Down brings a New Orleans groove, funk and sometimes psychedelic feel to the table.
Dwight Yoakam, 3 Pears
Dwight Yaokam may have always been “too country” for Nashville, but he dropped one of the best country albums this year.
Yoakam self-produced 3 Pears, but also had help from Beck on a couple of tracks while Kid Rock co-wrote the opener, “Take Hold of My Hand.” It’s classic Dwight when you hear songs like “Nothing But Love” and “It’s Never All Right” and as always, it’s good to have him back making music.
The Lumineers, The Lumineers
The Colorado roots outfit, The Lumineers, presented one of the top albums on many “best of” lists.
Their first single, “Ho Hey” helped the group sell out may shows this past year while they received two Grammy nominations and even had a shout out on the series Nashville to make them even more hip among the masses.
My Prized Pleasure: Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Big Moon Ritual/The Magic Door
Black Crowes’ front man Chris Robinson has toured the last couple of years under the name, Chris Robinson Brotherhood.
In 2012, the group released two complementary albums, which showcase some of the finest jamming and Grateful Dead infused sounds to date.