I have probably listened to a lot more new music this year than any other year. This was partly due to changes in lifestyle that left me with ample spaces in my daily routine that could be filled by putting a new album on – public transport commutes, long walks, cooking alone. Beyond that, though, I guess I got to a point where the amount of new music I had listened to reached some kind of tipping-point and triggered my completionist impulses: if I had already listened to so much, I figured, I might as well try to listen to everything that sounded even vaguely worth listening to, and really be able to say that I had ‘done’ the year 2012, at least when it came to music.

I soon found out this was impossible. Here’s the thing: there is so much great music being produced. So many wonderful people doing amazing things that it feels rude not to lend them your ears and listen to the product, time, and hard, hard work. But there’s only so much time in a year, and so many albums I can listen to. There’s probably an album I haven’t even heard of out there somewhere that blows everything on my list out of the water.

Anyway. This is the list. This is my list, and I make no pretense to objectivity or to this list representing a complete overview of the most culturally relevant releases of the year, or of its accounting for every major genre and movement. It’s simply a link of what I liked, what moved me, what stuck with me enough to keep me listening to it over and over.

First off, today, the honorable mentions – the albums I loved but couldn’t quite fit into the top twenty-five. In alphabetical order, it’s…

Brikkuni – Trabokk

So it seems there was some sensitivity beneath the brash confrontation of Kuntrabanda. Of  course, now that the EFAs have made them household names all over Europe stardom will probably go to their heads. It was fun while it lasted.

Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

The alt-rock 90s live!

Daphni – Jiaolong

Dan Snaith’s side-project doesn’t hit the same grace notes or touch the same raw nerves as Caribou, but you can tell how much fun he’s having, and it’s infectious.

Jens Lekman – I Know What Love Isn’t

Witty, smart, tender, melancholy. It’s good to have you back, Jens.

Krallice – Years Past Matter

I’m not necessarily big on metal, but I do have a soft spot for the vein of black metal that veers towards noise, unpredictability and elemental chaos rather than cheesy riffs, and this provided my recommended yearly dose of that.

Liars – WIXIW

Few bands can reinvent themselves so totally and yet still sound like no-one but themselves. Keywords this time round: texture, repetition, atmosphere.

Lower Dens – Nootropics

Understated, but sneakily so: this is an album that slowly reveals tremendous force with repeat listens.

Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

Or: the one that’s topping everyone else’s list and taking over the world. I must say it took me some time to get into Ocean, but there is warmth, craft and massive ambition here: this is an album of great empathy and keenly-observed detail.

Frankie Rose – Interstellar

Because sometimes, all you need is a dose of crystal-clear, chime-perfect, dreamy new-wave pop.

Sharon van Etten – Tramp

Van Etten adheres so closely to the broken-hearted confessional female singer-songwriter trope it’s almost parodic, but when she carries it off with such intensity of feeling, it really doesn’t matter one bit.

Sleep Party People – We Were Drifting on a Sad Song

My sound of Copenhagen.

Stolen Creep – Throw Your Heart to the Sea EP

So yes, a very good friend of mine is in this band. But that’s not the reason why their brand of early-90s-alt-rock-by-way-of-Warpaint was one of the most promising local releases of the year.

John Talabot – fIN

Dark, uplifting, soothing, floor-filling – trying to describe fIN sounds like a list of contradictions. That’s why it’s so great.

The Walkmen – Heaven

Hardly what you’d call a new direction, but the Walkmen add enough nuance and subtlety to their sound to make this a clear improvement over Lisbon. 

Wild Nothing – Nocturne

Few people can craft a guitar tone as perfectly as Jack Tatum. While there’s nothing here that hits the highs of “Chinatown” on Gemini, this is still music to sink into.