2012 was the year of unabashed emotionalism. Whether it was the monolithic rage and horror on the latest record from Swans or the pummeling aggression on All We Love We Leave Behind by Converge, music this year seemed predisposed to elicit sudden and deep-seated reactions from its listeners. And I guess that’s the role which music has always played for those of us so inclined to obsess over every note and lyric, but this year felt different. It felt far more personal than in years past. Instead of going for the grand generic emotional statements (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can produce intermittently staggering works of art), artists in 2012 felt a need to develop a personal relationship with their listeners and to try to confide, inspire, and accuse in equal measure.

This year, like every year before, presented artists who expanded their already well-established sounds and others who took some pretty bizarre detours into relatively new directions. Also, Ty Segall made the electric guitar relevant again. I’ve pulled together a few records, my Top 10 in fact, but as is usual for these kinds of things, this list seems to be in any changing state of flux. I think that’s sort of the point though, right? Not mentioned, and falling just out of the top 10, are excellent records by bands like Flying Lotus, Pallbearer, Lambchop, First Aid Kit, and a host of others. While we may not have had many “event” releases this year, 2012 turned out to be a music lover’s dream, with records that appealed to both the head and the hips and made more people look like idiots—myself included—trying to analyze and deconstruct what many of these records meant. Sometimes I have to remind myself to just forget the criticism and listen to the goddamn music. Maybe I’ll do better in 2013. (Probably not though.)


Killer Mike

R.A.P. Music

[Williams Street]

Favorite Track: “Reagan”


The Tallest Man On Earth

There’s No Leaving Now

[Dead Oceans]

Favorite Track: “Bright Lanterns”


Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Allalujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!


Favorite Track: “We Drift Like Worried Fire”



All We Love We Leave Behind


Favorite Track: “Aimless Arrow”


Ty Segall Band


[In The Red]

Favorite Track: “Wave Goodbye”


Perfume Genius

Put Your Back N 2 It


Favorite Track: “Normal Song”



Kill For Love

[Italians Do It Better]

Favorite Track: “These Streets Will Never Look The Same”


Mount Eerie

Ocean Roar

[P.W. Eluvium & Sun Ltd]

Favorite Track: “Pale Lights”



Cancer For Cure

[Fat Possum]

Favorite Track: “Oh Hail No”



The Seer

[Young God]

Favorite Track: “Mother Of The World”