Not the strongest year in music, but when I settled on my list, I'm glad I ended up with such a diverse list. I have five rookie acts, two soul acts, three female solo acts, four UK acts and an Aussie band leading the pack.
Most importantly, its Frank Ocean, Grimes and Fiona Apple free.
10. Crocodiles, Endless Flowers -- I like to reserve the No. 10 to an album that's just a fun, rocking effort. It doesn't have to reinvent rock 'n' roll, but what it does, it does well. Crocodiles' third album roars like a super-charged vintage car down an open road with the top down. It's the sound of leather jackets, wayfarers, cuffed jeans and slicked backed hair. Props for Brandon Welchez for going hard, going soft and going weird.
9. Adrian Younge Presents Venice Dawn, Something About April -- Then, my 9th place album I like to place the best album you didn't listen to this year. It didn't get a high-profiled placement in a commercial or glossy PR campaign. Adrian Younge is a L.A. musician/composer who's best known for writing the soundtrack for the movie Black Dynamite. For this concept album, he creates a story about inter-racial love in the 60s. It's filled with deep, soul funk that would make the Wu-Tang and Sharon Jones salivate.
8. Bat for Lashes, The Haunted Man -- I have a feeling Natasha Khan will always have a place in any Top 5 or 10 list I make. She's now created three album of impeccable beauty and diversity. She's unmatched in terms of musicianship and atmosphere. The Haunted Man has an other worldly enchantment and simplicity. It's a great, sit down and listen to album where you can study its every movement.
7. Father John Misty, Fear Fun -- There's a reason Joshua Tillman left Fleet Foxes, so he make beautiful music on his own. Even though his former band is the sound of the forests in the Pacific Northwest, Father John Misty feels like a singer-songwriter album from late 1960s- early 70s Los Angeles. Check out "Well, You Can Do It Without Me". Tillman does play the part of a traveling preacher, proclaiming his world weariness. If you want to compare, he's got a stronger voice than Robin Pecknold.
6. Michael Kiwanuka, Home Again --The other retro soul album on this list, Michael Kiwanuka has a firm understanding of the genre on his debut album. He may sing of sadness, but I find it comforting and reassuring. Songs like "I'll Get Along" and "Bones" kind of put a smile on your face with its throwback sound, orchestration and production.
5. Toy, Toy -- If this band doesn't place New York in 2013, I might go mental. Whenever they do, it will be loud, I guarantee you that. Their debut album, from a band made of the remnants of Joe Lean and The Jing Jang Jong, is a combination of every important 90s UK shoegazer band and every important American indie band of the 80s. The evil brainchild of Sonic Youth and Jesus & Mary Chain.
4. Django Django, Django Django -- This Scottish band puts every other eclectic electronic pop band to shame (*cough*Grimes*cough*). I love albums where you find something new to appreciate every time you listen to. It could be a buzzy electronic undertone, a snappy beat or some quirky lyrics that get your attention. With Django, the kitchen sink is just one of the many elements they bring to the party.
3. Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls -- Music snobs and mainstream media agree, Alabama Shakes is the unianmous most exciting new band in music of 2012. They are the complete package -- dymanic lead singer, top notch musicianship, depth, timeless appeal, a sense of fun and quality song after quality song. You would have thought the band was doing this for decade, but their debut album is wise well beyond its years with vibrant rock and soul.
2. Sharon Van Etten, Tramp -- Damn, SVE. Jersey gal is a superstar. The album stunned me when I first listened to it. There's honest emotion, breathtaking vocals and some truly grand songwriting. It's a wonderful achievement that will only grow better in time. I always knew she had it in her.
1. Tame Impala, Lonerism -- Yeah, me and NME have the same No. 1. When I first listened to the album, it was like getting your brain scrambled. On closer examination, it represents everything I love about listening to music. It's unrelenting, over-the-top, a sense of purpose and it takes you on a weird journey. It does seem to reinvent the rules for creating psychedelic rock -- interweaving harmony, beauty and lushness to its warped landscape.