A lot of great music came out over the past 12 months, and we’ve been busy culling through it for you to pull out the gems. Below, in no particular order, are the year’s Top 10 lists of our three most prolific music writers. These are the new albums they listen to again and again even when they’re off the clock. You’ll see some notable overlap, including Micachu and the Shapes and Sharon Van Etten—and by all means rush out right this second and buy the Screaming Females’ album. Also check out Asawin Suebsaeng’s opinionated roundup of “The Most Fantastic and Glorious Movies of 2012—and the Worst of the Worst” and 2012 music, books, and media picks (coming soon) from the rest of the MoJo staff. And now, without further ado…
Alyssa Battistoni’s Top 10
3. Purity Ring, Shrines (4AD): This shimmering, sparkling, stuttering electro-pop from Corey Roddick and Megan James is packed with inspired lyrics and infectious beats that’ll stick in your head forever.
9. Grizzly Bear, Shields (Warp): The Brooklyn band’s fourth album deploys their usual hallmarks in service of a richly textured, gorgeously complex, precisely structured album of contemplative indie pop-rock. (Review.)
10. Grimes, Visions (4AD): Claire Boucher chirps and loops her way through weird-pop that’s cluttered but clean, fluid but sharp, ambient but danceable—and above all, catchy as hell.
Sydney Brownstone’s Top 10
2. Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (Epic): Apple’s lyrics find a new place to burn inside this masterful, tempestuous cabaret.
5. Screaming Females, Ugly (Don Giovanni): If you thought it couldn’t get better than the last album, Castle Talk, Marissa Paternoster’s punk vibrato and slaying hooks will prove you very, very wrong. (Review and short profile.)
7. Ty Segall, Twins (Drag City): Having trained under the auspices of Bay Area garage greats like Thee Oh Sees for years, young’n Ty Segall released his best set of heart-on-sleeve hits in 2012.
8. Cat Power, Sun (Matador): Cat Power’s “pop” album takes the songwriter in a vibrantly experimental but wholly satisfying direction.
10. Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan (Domino): Unclassifiable, ornate, and soaring. Dave Longstreth has taken flack for the cerebral quality of the Projectors’ music, but this is the kind of cerebral you can play on repeat.
Jon Young’s Top 10
2. Bill Withers, The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums (Sony Legacy): Withers, a singular voice of ’70s R&B, as fresh as ever.
4. Alabama Shakes, Boys & Girls (ATO): Rousing gospel-soul from future superstar Brittany Howard.
8. Melody’s Echo Chamber, self-titled (Fat Possum): Poignant psychedelia made by France’s Melody Prochet and Australia’s Kevin Parker.
9. Mission of Burma, Unsound (Fire): Punk forefathers drunk at the fountain of youth.
10. Lianne La Havas, Is Your Love Big Enough? (Nonesuch): Subtlety, wit and elegant acoustic guitar with an English twist.
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