2012's Best Rock, Pop, Folk, & Electronic Albums, Part 1

For the first time in my life, I approached my end-of-the-year lists with trepidation, as 2012 had seemed disappointing, musically speaking. But when it came time to narrow my choices down, it turned out that there HAD been plenty of good music, and I hadn't even reviewed it all here.

1. Nada Surf: The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy (Barsuk)

Too tuneful not to be #1. Review here.

2. Swans: The Seer (Young God)

The comeback continues with an epic album that encapsulates this band's overwhelming power and continuing evolution. Review here.

3. Sharon van Etten: Tramp (Jagjaguwar)

Now that her songwriting has caught up with her vocal talents, she's irresistible. Review here.

4. Godspeed You! Black Emperor: Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)

The comeback of the year just might be their best album yet.

5. Yoko Ono/Kim Gordon/Thurston Moore: YOKOKIMTHURSTON (Chimera)

Yoko at her most avant-garde in years. Interview here. Album review here.

6. DIIV: Oshin (Captured Tracks)

The shoegaze revival continues apace.

7. Asia: XXX (Frontier)

John Wetton faces down aging, gloriously. Review here. Track below is "Face on the Bridge."

8. Nachtmystium: Silencing Machine (Century Media)

Art Metal rules.

9. Actress: R.I.P. (Honest Jon's)

Americans perverted dubstep into bombastic dance-pop that's exactly the opposite of its British roots. So call this post-dubstep. Understated, evocative, imaginative, and great listening.

10. The XX: Coexist (Young Turks)

No sophomore jinx for England's quietest stars.

11. Iris DeMent: Sing the Delta (Flariella)

A heart-wrenching album. Review here.

12. Bob Mould: Silver Age (Merge)

Bob returns to rocking, is still great at it.

- Steve Holtje

steve-holtjeMr. Holtje is a Brooklyn-based composer, poet, and editor. His song cycle setting five of James Joyce's Pomes Penyeach can be heard here.

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