Every year, it seems, twice as many outlets in print and on the web as the year before publish lists of what they determine are the year’s best albums. And every year, most of those lists look suspiciously similar to each other regardless of who compiled them. Though who knows, maybe they’re all right -- casting aspersions on the undoubtedly wonderful Frank Ocean is not my intention. But given the zillions of releases that come out every 12 months, that still means lots of really good ones fall through the cracks, and 1 percent of the albums getting 99 percent of the year-end-list love is a clearly worrisome income imbalance. So here are 15 from 2012 that you may have passed by.
All kinds of music is represented below: Americana, teen pop, R&B, country, dub reggae, pub rock, art folk, jazz, power pop, illbient hip-hop noise, gray areas and cusps in between. But these albums do have at least two things in common: (1) They haven’t shown up on many, if any, year-end lists; and (2) they are way better than many, if not most, albums that have. Plus, four are by artists from Michigan (which is only reasonable), two prominently feature former members of classic late ‘70s British punk bands, two of the artists might have last names that rhyme, and two artists – one born in 1949, one in 1992 – have been both teen idols and television stars. Most barely got reviewed in the first place, though a few did dent some Billboard chart or other, if only for a couple weeks.
History may well sentence these albums to the Great Cut-Out Bin in the Sky, forgotten by even the few who ever noticed they existed. If you want, you can ignore them with the rest of the world. Or you can take this chance to get on board, decades before everybody rediscovers them in 2032.