TheOwlMag's 50 Best Albums of 2012

December 21. 2012 | By Staff

We debated, we disagreed, we came up with our collective BEST 50 albums of 2012. At a mere 140 characters in length and conveniently alphabetized, they are easy to consume and share. And we made an RDIO playlist filled with 62 amazing songs to keep y

ou humming all day long (sidebar, over there >>). So, did we miss anything?


Alabama ShakesBoys & Girls
Rowdy blues/rock riffs + Brittany Howard’s soulful Otis Redding-meets-Janis Joplin-rasp = @Alabama_Shakes for #OwlBest2012 —Jason Jurgens

Best songs: “Hold On” + “You Ain’t Alone”


Alligator IndianSpring, I’m In
With haunting undertones & pseudo pop eccentricities, @alligatorindian’s debut is sure to leave an unforgettable impression. #OwlBest2012 —Jon Allmond

Best songs: “Gamesss,” + “Ice & Asteroids”


Alt-JAn Awesome Wave
One of the best things to come from across the pond in 2012. @Alt_J are all hushed harmonies & indie pop at its very finest. #OwlBest2012 —Julie Dyer

Best song: “Tessellate”


Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft OrchestraTheatre Is Evil
Counterculture collaborator @amandapalmer guides us through the banalities of life with swinging punk arrangements + ballads. #OwlBest2012 —David Korman

Best songs: “The Killing Type” + “Want It Back”


Animal CollectiveCentipede Hz
You get it or you don’t. @anmlcollective, the avant-garde geniuses, have created another psychedelic, jam cult classic. #OwlBest2012 —Julie Dyer

Best songs: “Monkey Riches” + “Today’s Supernatural”


Ariel Pink’s Huanted GraffitiMature Themes
Mature Themes shows @menopausemen sounding absolutely odd, yet charming, and it can’t duplicated by anyone else. #OwlBest2012 —Jon Allmond

Best songs: “Early Birds of Babylon” + “Driftwood”


Bad BooksII
@ManchesterOrch + @KevinDevineTwit = a much-anticipated second course of masterfully crafted indie rock and untouchable lyricism #OwlBest2012 –Kelley Bennett

Best songs: “It Never Stops” + “Pyotr”


Beach HouseBloom
@BeaccchHoussse submerges drowsy wails and wistful pining into a viscous, nostalgic pop dream in #Bloom. #OwlBest2012 –Alyssa Pereira

Best songs: “Myth” + “The Hours”


Ben GibbardFormer Lives
@Gibbstack’s first solo album includes literary inspiration, country twang, Northwest flair, and of course, the best metaphors. #OwlBest2012 –Christine Cook

Best song: “Dream Song”


Best CoastThe Only Place
Boy crazy fuzz be gone! @best_coast composed an addictive series of love letters to the Golden State, maturity, and depression. #OwlBest2012 —Sean Morris

Best song: “No One Like You”


Citizens!Here Were Are
Clever, upbeat lusty British electro-rock, @GoCitizens is wicked catchy. Get up and dance! #OwlBest2012 —David Korman

Best songs: “Reptile” + “True Romance”


Cloud NothingsAttack On Memory
Fueled by restless frustration + juvenile energy, @CloudNothingsOH enact a heated duel between angered ennui + frantic melody. #OwlBest2012 —Augustus Welby

Best songs: “Our Plans”


Crystal Castles(III)
No one throws a better pre-apocalyptic dance party than @CRYSTALCASTLESS. Goth-tronica finally went soulful and sociopolitical. #OwlBest2012 —Sean Morris

Best songs: “Affection” + “Violent Youth”


David Byrne & St. VincentLove This Giant
@st_vincent + David Byrne, two of music’s most beloved mad geniuses, team up to make a stellar album quite unlike any other. #OwlBest2012 —Kelley Bennett

Best songs: “Who” + “The Forest Awakes”


Beyond the curtain of reverb daze lies the intricately arranged guitar riffs and solid bass lines of @DIIV’s Oshin. #OwlBest2012 —Jennifer Shields

Best song: “Doused”


Dirty ProjectorsSwing Lo Magellan
This year has been an emotional roller coaster, and @DirtyProjectors were its touchingly odd, harrowingly funky ride operators. #OwlBest2012 —Sean Morris

Best song: “Just From Chevron”


Divine FitsA Thing Called the Divine Fits
Combine all the best bits of Wolf Parade, Spoon, & New Bomb Turks & you get a mind blowing thing called the @divinefits. #OwlBest2012 —Mayumi Okamoto

Best song: “Flaggin’ A Ride”


Django DjangoDjango Django
They steal our hearts with all their tribal drums, jangly keyboards, avant-pop, and tons of fun. We love @thedjangos. #OwlBest2012 —Julie Dyer

Best song: “Waveforms”


El-PCancer 4 Cure
Most innovative, introspective, and ingeniously produced album of 2012. @therealelp’s magnum opus. #OwlBest2012 —Brendan McWeeney

Best songs: “Drones over Bklyn” + “Oh Hail No”


Emily WellsMama
Multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire @emilywellsmusic seduced, dazzled, and devastated us with her bluesy folk-hop concoctions. #OwlBest2012 —Sean Morris

Best song: “No Good”


Father John MistyFear Fun
The man behind so many sad songs crafted a heap that give us some hope that one day, maybe, @FatherJohnMisty will be happy. #OwlBest2012 —Dustin Shey

Best song: “Funtimes In Babylon”


Fiona AppleThe Idler Wheel…
No one does what #FionaApple does with such surgical, self-exposing, jagged, yet pop-perfect precision. Still an extraordinary machine by any standard. #OwlBest2012 —Trina N. Green

Best songs: “Every Single Night” + “Werewolf”


First Aid KitThe Lion’s Roar
The impressive new release from Swedish folk duo @FirstAidKitBand is ripe with chilling harmonies and melancholic storytelling. #OwlBest2012 —Kelley Bennett

Best songs: “Blue” + “In The Hearts of Men”


Frank OceanChannel Orange
The brave @Frank_Ocean reminds us why misunderstood R&B is the home of humanness, where violence and love make the heart ache. #OwlBest2012 —Rebecca McCann

Best song: “Pink Matter”


Harrowing, haunting verses float above a kaleidoscope of pulsing thunder and synthy, prismatic rain in @geographermusic #Myth. #OwlBest2012 –Alyssa Pereira

Best song: “The Dream Has Faded”


@Grimezsz excels at making inventive tracks that are both danceable and chill-worthy with a lot of angelic grit. #OwlBest2012 —Mayumi Okamoto

Best song: “Vowels = Space And Time”


Grizzly BearShields
@grizzlybear wanders limbo between hazy melancholia and restless anxiety in shadowy #Shields—here there is no wrong, no right. #OwlBest2012 –Alyssa Pereira

Best song: “Sun In Your Eyes”


@hospitalityband’s cryptic indie guitar tone poems encapsulate the shimmering wistfulness of a gray Manhattan morning. #OwlBest2012 —Wayne Jessup

Best song: “Sleepover”


Imagine DragonsNight Visions
Deeply honest lyrics and incredible melodies… so grateful @imaginedragons shared their amazing Night Visions with us all. #OwlBest2012 —Vicki Dolenga

Best song: “It’s Time”


Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
Jack White reminded us again why he is the king of blues rock, wowing us with his timeless, classic, but still badass tunes. #OwlBest2012 —Claire Wohlers

Best song: “Trash Tongue Talker”


JapandroidsCelebration Rock
The sound of fireworks bookending the Vancouver duo’s album is the tipoff. @Japandroids offer a life-affirming clutch of songs.#OwlBest2012 —Wayne Jessup

Best song: “The Nights Of Wine And Roses”


Kendrick Lamargood kid, m.A.A.d city
A James Joyce-esque concept album, @KendrickLamar takes us through a day in Compton, crushing and embracing the cliches. #OwlBest2012 —Jeff Bracco

Best song: “Backseat Freestyle”

Kishi Bashi - 151a

Kishi Bashi151a
Beautiful arrangements, enchanting vocals, and sly lyrics make @Kishi_Bashi easily the most talent you’ve heard all year. #OwlBest2012 —Julie Dyer

Best song: “I Am The Antichrist To You”

Lord Huron - Lonesome Dreams

Lord HuronLonesome Dreams
A soothing, sonic folk trip where stars sprinkle a lonesome yet lovely sky from @LordHuron. Romantic, delicate, and majestic. #OwlBest2012 —Trina N. Green

Best songs: “Ends of the Earth” + “Time To Run”

Maximo Park - The National Health

Maximo ParkThe National Health
Political, emotional, witty, and clever. The National Health is a return to form for UK’s @maximopark after a long hiatus. #OwlBest2012 —Amber Gregory

Best song: “The Undercurrents”

Midi Matilda - Red Light District EP

Midi MatildaRed Light District EP
Wang Chung-inspired electro-pop-rock from the charming and stage savvy @MidiMatilda of #SanFrancisco. #OwlBest2012 —David Korman

Best songs: “Day Dreams” + “Love & The Movies”

Mister Loveless - Grow Up

Mister LovelessGrow Up
@MisterLoveless vandalizes the concept of coming of age through a lyrical license to own the glory of our youthful blunders. #OwlBest2012 —Jennifer Shields

Best song: “Wild Summer”

Passenger - All The Little Lights

PassengerAll The Little Lights
Busker turned superstar performer, @passengermusic has crafted an album of stories told in characteristic heart-wrenching form. #OwlBest2012 —Jennifer Shields

Best song: “Let Her Go”


Passion PitGossamer
@PassionPit’s incandescent #Gossamer dizzies in electric frenzy of impassioned falsetto and glittery ethereality. #OwlBest2012 –Alyssa Pereira

Best song: “Carried Away”

Poolside - Pacific Standard Time

PoolsidePacific Standard Time
Listening to @Poolside is like swan-diving into an instant vacation. Best way to have fun in the sun and get laid in the shade. #OwlBest2012 —Jason Jurgens

Best song: “Harvest Moon”

Regina Spektor - What We Saw From The Cheap Seats

Regina Spektor
@Respektor further refines her sound, finding new heights (and depths) of emotion in some of her strongest tunes yet. #OwlBest2012 —Jason Martinez

Best song: “All The Rowboats”


Sharon Van EttenTramp
Tramp by @SharonVanEtten exemplifies the pains of falling in and out of love can be creatively rewarding. #OwlBest2012 —Augustus Welby

Best song: “Leonard”

Shearwater - Animal Joy

ShearwaterAnimal Joy
The album @ShearwaterBand had always hinted at…in which they drop the curtain of gauzy soundscapes and rock out! #OwlBest2012 —Wayne Jessup

Best song: “Star Of The Age”

Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror

Sleigh BellsReign of Terror
Synthy noise pop duo @SleighBells serve up candy wrapped incendiary cuts in angsty, irreverent, and saccharine #ReignOfTerror. #OwlBest2012 –Alyssa Pereira

Best song: “Demons”

The Soft Moon – Zeros

The Soft MoonZeros
@thesoftmoon’s #Zeros is everything you want in post-apocalyptic music. Timeless, androgynous, and addictive as hell. #OwlBest2012 —Lacey Lampe

Best song: “Zeros”

Tame Impala - Lonerism

Tame ImpalaLonerism
@TameImpala explore self-exclusion and individual anxiety, encasing the inquiries in melodic seduction and expressive synths. #OwlBest2012 —Augustus Welby

Best song: “Music To Walk Home By”


TanlinesMixed Emotions
If you’re not moving to the beat of the sunny calypso-inspired tracks off @tanlines debut LP, your musical soul is dead. #OwlBest2012 —Mayumi Okamoto

Best song: “Real Life”


Twin ShadowConfess
Is @TwinShadow Prince reincarnate? The pompadoured artist wears a sexy punk heart on his sleeve. And it’s broken, just for us. #OwlBest2012 —Jason Jurgens

Best song: “Five Seconds”

Vacationer - Gone

Cheerful, captivating psychedelic emo dream hop from the lead singer of The Starting Line? Who’da thunk it? Hooray for @NUHULA! #OwlBest2012 —Sean Morris

Best songs: “Good As New” + “Farther”


The xxCoexist
#Thexx’s Coexist is hopelessly haunting and romantic. Put it on a loop. Light a candle. Turn off the lights. #OwlBest2012 —Jeff Bracco

Best song: “Chained”

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