Best of music 2012: Albums and singles
 

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posted Friday, December 21, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 51

Best of music 2012: Albums and singles
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

The year 2012 was a year of breakthroughs. Some of the best music came from newer performers - non-household names with innovative style and the confidence to test the waters. These are my selections for the year's best albums and singles.

ALBUMS

1. Channel Orange - Frank Ocean
This is what modern R&B music should sound like. (Are you listening, Usher and Chris Brown?) A well-crafted, and sometimes rather bold, collection of songs from a desperately needed fresh face in the genre.

2. Red - Taylor Swift
Swift is that rare young superstar who can back up all the hype with actual talent. Straddling country and pop, Red is a knockout.

3. Boys & Girls - Alabama Shakes
This Best New Artist-Grammy nominee has only been together for three years, but you wouldn't know it with this audacious bow. The future of Alabama Shakes is very bright.

4. Paradise - Lana Del Rey
Born to Die, Del Rey's full-length debut, was impressive. But this late year-released EP is better, primarily the song 'Gods & Monsters.'

5. Blunderbuss - Jack White
Whatever he does, it's always unpredictable and genius. The Grammy-nominated Blunderbuss is packed end-to-end with great cuts, and 'I'm Shakin' is at the head of the pack.

6. good kid, m.A.A.d city - Kendrick Lamar
Hip-hop had a disappointing year, yet SoCal rapper Lamar was one of a handful of rappers who offered quality work. 'The Art of Peer Pressure,' though hardcore, is impossible to ignore.

7. Bear Creek - Brandi Carlile
Locally based Carlile put out one of the purest, most compelling recordings by any singer-songwriter this year. 'Hard Way Home' is outstanding.

8. Visions - Grimes
The little electronic-album-that-could of 2012 came from Vancouver, B.C., artist Grimes. A quick listen to the awkwardly cool 'Oblivion' should reel you in.

9. The Lumineers - The Lumineers
There was a lot more to The Lumineers than a commercial jingle. The Denver folk trio emerged as one of the year's most followed newcomers.

10. Master of My Make-Believe - Santigold
Four years went by without a follow-up to Santigold's first record. But she made up for the time lost, and then some, on her sophomore effort.

SINGLES & TRACKS
1. 'Spectrum (Say My Name)' - Florence + The Machine
Florence Welch's best single to date combined choirgirl vocals, dramatic beating drums, and a lightly-strummed harp. Brilliant.

2. 'We Are Young' - fun. (featuring Janelle MonĂ¡e)
Of course, it's been overplayed. Of course, it's (almost) annoyingly catchy. But dammit, it's so good!

3. 'Adorn' - Miguel
I don't care how similar it sounds to 'Sexual Healing,' this R&B smash single by Miguel is infectious.

4. 'Blow Me (One Last Kiss)' - Pink
We can always count on Pink for a great pop hit, but in 2012 she nailed it with this jewel. Her vocals blew me ... away.

5. 'Pyramids' - Frank Ocean
'Novacane,' released in 2011, is the top track on Ocean's highly praised album. This is the runner-up.

6. 'Pontoon' - Little Big Town
This CMA 'Record of the Year' winner proved to be the best lazy summer-day tonic. Umm ... motorboatin'!

7. 'Yet Again' - Grizzly Bear
How do you make a gorgeous indie pop song? Take notes from Grizzly Bear, who delivered this beauty.

8. 'Same Love' - Macklemore (with Ryan Lewis, featuring Mary Lambert)
In a year that saw Gay marriage become legal in Washington state, this song turned into an anthem.

9. 'Bad Girls' - M.I.A.
If this song, from the electro-hip-hop star's forthcoming CD, is any indication of what's to come in 2013, consider me on board.

10. 'Hard to Love' - Lee Brice
Burly men might seem unlikely to release sensitive ballads. But country music's Lee Brice is just a big teddy bear underneath that tough-guy armor.




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