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Best Of 2012

Top 25 Indie Albums of 2012

by Stephanie Benson

Top 25 Indie Albums of 2012


Much of this list may look very similar to years past. Recurring best-of-the-year bands like Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Spiritualized, Crystal Castles, Hot Chip and Beach House all continued to prove themselves as steady, reliable, thoroughly enjoyable trendsetters in 2012. But this year seemed especially ripe for the singer-songwriter: Sharon Van Etten and Perfume Genius took misery to a whole new level of scarring intensity; Bat for Lashes continued to haunt our dreams (not that we mind); Cat Power got turned on to electronic music and effortlessly slipped it into her passionate musings; Fiona Apple rose again with erudite rhymes and wild rhythms, as vicious and visceral as ever; even ubiquitous punching-bag Lana Del Rey proved herself the sultriest seductress of the year. Still, none of them blended lonesome outlaw country and twitchy dubstep into a brew as bewitching as newcomer Daughn Gibson's debut.

2012 was also a great year for the loud stuff: Hardcore punks Ceremony and noise-rockers Cloud Nothings both expanded into lusher, sludgier territories; Toronto band METZ introduced themselves to the world with a "can of nerd whoop-ass"; and fellow Canucks Japandroids gave us joyous, raucous rock to pound a Labatt Blue or two to.

Our top pick of the year, however, may have come somewhat out of the blue, but it seems to best encapsulate the state of indie music in 2012: weird yet studied, street-smart yet book-bright, hipster-chic yet hippy-wistful, poignant yet upbeat. And it gets better with each listen.

25) Frankie Rose, Interstellar
24) Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror
23) Lana Del Rey, Born to Die
22) Perfume Genius, Put Your Back N 2 It
21) Animal Collective, Centipede Hz
20) Sharon Van Etten, Tramp
19) Crystal Castles, (III)
18) Grimes, Visions
17) Here We Go Magic, A Different Ship
16) Ceremony, Zoo
15) Bat for Lashes, The Haunted Man
14) Divine Fits, A Thing Called Divine Fits
13) Cat Power, Sun
12) Santigold, Master of My Make-Believe
11) Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory
10) Hot Chip, In Our Heads
8) Grizzly Bear, Shields
7) Tame Impala, Lonerism
6) Spiritualized, Sweet Heart Sweet Light
5) Daughn Gibson, All Hell
4) Japandroids, Celebration Rock
3) Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel…
2) Beach House, Bloom
1) Alt-J, An Awesome Wave