10. Amadou and MiriamFolia.

I first got into these guys, the so-called Malian blind artists, with the track ‘Mon Amor Mon Cherie’ from the Putamayo series. There is a who’s who of guests artistes here – Santigold, Theophilus London, Jack Shears, TV on the Radio homeboys Kyp and Tunde….

9. Beach HouseBloom 

Been a fan of Beach House since their gloomy, melodic debut album ‘Zebra’. It didn’t wow but it had its moments and lots of promise. The band delivers on that promise with ‘Bloom’. Far less monotonic it shows the band varying in mood, tone and complexity. On some tracks like ‘The Hours’ and ‘Lazuli’ the band sounds almost (gasp) happy. The singer is still reminscent of an American Beth Gibbons but this time it seems she has more to say and is alot more comfortable saying it. The album closes with the track ‘Irene’ – a vast, undulating, heaving record. A modern classic – heavy and emotionally intense. If you like Mariah Carey this would not be for you – fans of Portishead however…assemble.

8. BattlesGloss Drop

Saw these guys live at the ‘Black Cat’ in DC. Got there late but it was still worth the rush. ‘Icecream’ and ‘My Machines’ comes close to being my top choices for songs of the year. The album is unpredictable, playful, driving and atmospheric – it takes some getting into but once you’re there it’s…golden.

6. TanlinesMixed Emotions

There’s something really cool about the Tanlines, like inherently not the trying to be cool hipster swag that so many bands try to postulate. I’m still absorbing this one, attracted to it by the lead track ‘Brothers’ but the album as a whole just keeps on giving.

5. Moonface with SiinaiHeartbreak Bravery

I was turned on to two earlier albums ‘Organ Music Not Vibraphone’ and the EP ‘Dreamland’ and was largely underwhelmed. I gave it one more chance and fell in love with this album ‘Heartbreak Bravery’ – like every good song ever made by David Byrne, a more ethereal mainfestation of post punkers Interpol or a less suicidal Joy Division  – synthy, dreamy, heartbreaking with poetic lyrics, odd time signatures and song structures, there is definitely a brain at work here that is worth taking note of.

4. Dirty ProjectorsSwing Low Magellan

The lead track from the album pretty much sums it up. *(I really wish I had directed this music video!!)

3. MiguelKaleidoscope Dream

I saw the hair and I dismissed Miguel. I mean seriously….Still, if this isn’t one of the dopest R&B albums released in the last decade then I don’t know what is.

3. TV on the RadioNine Types of Light

Largely ignored by pundits after topping many 2010 best of lists with ‘Dear Science’ this album seems to have went largely unnoticed. Gentle, melodic, bombastic and literary it is a gem. Are they ahead of their time? Too artsy? Too post/ pre apocalyptic? Too ambigious? Quite possibly but who cares. Everything this band drops is pure classic: Art.

2. Grizzly BearVeckatimest

Yeah. I know. This album came out in 2009. Where have I been? I don’t know – they slipped by me somehow. But damn they are good…hovering on greatness.

2.0 The Weeknd – House of Balloons 

Visionary and inventive. Ruthless, sexy, dope, thrilling, murderous…this is what music will sound like 10 years from now and by then it will be too late. A mish mosh of varied influences perfectly tempered.

1. Grizzly BearShields

Yeah, I know but this album easily takes the cake as one of the most layered, complex, inventive albums that I have heard in 2012. Normally I read, work, create, work out to music but this is one of the those rare albums that I don’t want to do anything else but savor it – like a symphony with two fingers of cognac, a pipe, bunny slippers…ya get me….Jeeves?

Honorable Mentions

1. Cody Chesnutt – Landing on a Hundred

2. Black Keys – El Camino

3. Purity Ring – Shrines

4. Solange – True (EP)

5. The Maccabees – Given to the Wild