Continuing my week of favorite music from last year, today’s post is about my favorite albums of 2012. Making this list was particularly difficult, since there were several albums that I really liked almost equally. So, the rankings below feel almost completely arbitrary — there’s little to distinguish one album from another on my list. But here goes anyway!

My favorite album of 2012 was Put Your Back N 2 It by Perfume Genius. This is PG’s sophomore album. His first CD, Learning, was my favorite album of 2010, so it’s safe to say that I love his music. In particular, I like that his albums feel like artistic wholes rather than just a bunch of disconnected singles. Two of his tracks appeared on my favorites songs and videos lists, so I thought I would add a different sample here: “Take Me Home.”

His music feels raw and real — he’s writing about real life and the struggles people go through, the feelings we all feel sometimes but are afraid to acknowledge out loud. It’s very powerful music. But I also like that he’s clearly grown as an artist since his first album. As much as I loved that one, this one is broader in its musicality and feels like a big step forward in conveying PG’s messages. It’s a great album.

Second on my list is Iris Dement’s Sing the Delta. I was a little ambivalent when I first started listening to it, but after hearing her sing many of the songs from this album in person, I fell in love with it. Her music is so much slower and more thoughtful than anything we hear on the radio today that I think it takes getting in the right frame of mind to really appreciate it. One of my favorite tracks off the album is “Morning Glory,” which I think is emblematic of Dement’s brand of music:

I really hope that Dement is inspired to put out another album soon — the world needs her music.

M Ward’s A Wasteland Companion is number three on my list. “Crawl after You” was my favorite song from last year, and the entire album is great. Here’s another track from the album: “The First Time I Ran Away.”

Number four is Channel Orange by Frank Ocean. When I first heard this album I assumed it would be my album of the year. It’s a major artistic statement that takes music and sexual expression to a whole new level. It could easily be number one on list — I hope Ocean cleans up at the Grammys! “Thinkin’ Bout You” was one of my favorite songs of the year. Seeing Ocean perform “Bad Religion” on Jimmy Kimmel Live was breath-taking, and I mean that literally. I felt like I was watching something incredibly important. The original video doesn’t seem to be up anymore. This was all I could find:

Wanda Jackson’s Unfinished Business is number five. This, too, is a great album that could just as easily be ranked higher on my list. Here’s “Tore Down,” a great song from the album:

Origin of Love is next on my list, another one that could easily be higher. I love the title track but so much of the other songs are great too. One example is “I Only Love You When I’m Drunk,” perhaps the most fun break up song ever written. Here’s a live version:

Number seven on my list is Julie Lee and the Baby-Daddies by Julie Lee. It’s a great Americana album. My favorite track is “Uphill.” Here’s a live version from a few years ago, but unfortunately the sound quality isn’t very good:

Next is the only soundtrack on my list: Django Unchained. Tarantino uses music so seamlessly in his movies that it’s not surprising that his soundtracks are always amazing. My favorite song, which should have been nominated for an Oscar but was somehow overlooked, was John Legend’s “Who Did That to You?”

Number nine on my list is Battle Born by The Killers. Again, it could easily have been higher on my list. Another great track (other than the ones on my favorite songs and videos lists) is “Here With Me.” Brandon Flowers’ vocals on this track are so tender and beautiful (and it’s a crazy video starring Winona Ryder!):

And finally, the last album on my top ten list is Who’s Feeling Young Now by the Punch Brothers. One of the many songs I like is “No Concern of Yours”:

Again, the ranking of these albums seems almost entirely arbitrary, but that’s the best I could do. I think they’re all great albums.

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