Top 10 Best Albums of 2012 (That I Never Heard)

Welcome to the time of the year where every music writer everywhere declares a ten or more albums to be THE BEST IN THE WHOLE WORLD, like a million times better than all those other new albums you’ve been listening to under the misguided impression that they are amazing.

According to other websites’ ‘Best Of’ lists, I didn’t listen to many good albums this year. (Apparently Green Day‘s Uno wasn’t a critic favorite, what a shock). Therefore I felt unqualified to compile a ‘Best Of’ list of my own. So here are ten albums that I predict would have made it on to Autostraddle’s own “Best Of’ list, had I actually heard them. I did not.

good kid, m.A.A.d city

Kendrick Lamar

kendrick lamar

When Kendrick Lamar‘s name first started popping up everywhere on the internet, I asked my friend, “who is this Lamar person?” and he replied, “Oh, he’s one of the guys from Nickelback“. Due to my trusting nature, I didn’t bother confirming this via independent research. I know.

So! With the belief that Kendrick Lamar was one of the people responsible for this musical travesty and others, I spent most of 2012 avoiding reading about or listening to anything with his name on it. It wasn’t until earlier this month — when good kid, m.A.A.d city topped every ‘Best Of 2012′ album list — that I realised Kendrick Lamar is actually a hip hop artist and I am actually an idiot. What if he really was in Nickelback though.

Which Side Are You On?

Ani DiFranco


Ani‘s Which Side Are You On? dropped in the same month that I made a New Year’s resolution to start writing the lesbian romance novel that I’ve been half-joking about writing forever. Rather than share in Autostraddle’s excitement over Ani’s sweet new sounds, I spent January holed up in my room trying to decide which super butch name I’d give the tall, dark and dashing stage-hand who falls in love with the deeply-closeted Broadway superstar. How does everyone feel about ‘Harley’?


the xx


Coexist was released during a time that I had been sequestered to a Taiwanese monastery. There was no internet or music players, just a straw mat to sleep on and days and days of reflection time which an the xx album would’ve been the perfect soundtrack for. I fully intended to buy Coexist in the hot second of internet connectivity I experienced between Taiwan and A-Camp, but then I downloaded P!nk‘s new album instead. You probably already know this but, it was the wrong call.


Tame Impala


The only time I ever hear Tame Impala‘s name is when music critics declare that they’ve written the best album of the year, which is strange; I don’t recall anyone ever saying to me, “I’m seeing Tame Impala tonight!” or “I just bought the new Tame Impala record, it’s rad!”. Maybe I just don’t personally know any Tame Impala fans or maybe only music journalists buy their records, I don’t know.

Unlike Lonerism, I did actually buy the last Tame Impala album that reached the top of every ‘Best Of’ list, Innerspeaker (2010), but it’s sitting in my CD cabinet still in its original shrink wrap. For an unknown reason my brain has decided that I’m not going to be a person who gives Tame Impala and their critically acclaimed psychedelic rock a chance.


Cat Power


Earlier this year I talked a really big game about how the new Cat Power album was going to be totally amazing and probably also life-changing. Then another totally amazing life-changing forthcoming release must have caught my attention because Sun was eventually released and I forgot to buy it. I vaguely recall streaming it once but if I can’t really remember then it doesn’t really count.

Theatre Is Evil

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra

Amanda Palmer

I was really excited about listening to Amanda Palmer‘s new album, Theatre Is Evil, ‘til I discovered that she wasn’t paying her guest musicians despite having recently raised $1.2 million via Kickstarter. $1.2 million! That’s a significant recording budget. When you add merchandise and ticket profits on top, finding a spare $35K in the budget to pay tour musicians doesn’t seem impossible. Having those funds available and choosing not to use it to pay musicians is, in my opinion, a dick move, and I never imagined that Palmer would’ve pulled it. Although she eventually started paying people, I’m still unsettled by the whole thing and need more time.


Jack White


As a rule, Jack White can do no wrong. Unless we’re discussing that song he did with Insane Clown Posse about ass licking, which was not for everyone. I’ve heard many of the Blunderbuss tracks and they’re all amazing and so it’s no stretch to assume the entire album is amazing. I have no idea why I don’t own it.

The Temper Trap

The Temper Trap


I wasn’t even aware that the Temper Trap had a new album out until last month when they won some things at the ARIA Awards, which are Australia’s version of the Grammy’s but with one-hundredth of the budget and entertainment value. If you’re an empathetic blusher like me then it’s pretty much like watching people get pranked  – awkward and embarrassing, but for four hours straight. For some reason Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift were on the guest list; one made a polite attempt at paying compliments to Australia’s music talent and the other didn’t even pretend to care. I’ll let you mull over which was which. Anyway, The Temper Trap apparently released The Temper Trap this year but it doesn’t have “Sweet Disposition” on it and so I’m not really sure I want to listen.

Channel Orange

Frank Ocean


When Channel Orange was released, Carmen wrote this really amazing review for Autostraddle and therefore the album plummeted down the list of things that I needed to hear immediately for music editorial purposes. I’ve heard and loved a handful of the tracks (“Bad Religion” is my favorite) but I’m fairly embarrassed that it’s December and I still haven’t heard this whole record. I’d download it right now to save face except I don’t want my relationship with Frank Ocean to be built on a lie.

The Heist

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis


I can’t go a day without seeing an Autostraddle reader posting something about Macklemore on Facebook. You think that’d be motivation to listen the The Heist immediately, but the truth is that y’all seem to love Macklemore so hard that I’m actually a little scared. What if I don’t like the album? Will you still read my writing? Will you de-friend me? Maybe it’s better that we never know, you know?

Which albums did you fall in love this year?

Crystal is a 33-year-old Australian living in Chicago. Founding member, does HR stuff, writes now and then.

Crystal has written 329 articles for us.


  1. I’m fully prepared to be judged for this, but…

    My favorite album of the year: Taylor’s Swift’s Red. It’s so wrong and so very, very right. It’s also for some reason compromised my ability to listen to Speak Now (her third/”transitional,” if you will, album) but not Taylor Swift and Fearless (her first two “country-pop-but-actually-with-country” albums). So, whatever, I love her.

    Beyond that, let’s be honest, Hello My Name Is… by Bridgit Mendler is also pretty entertaining. She stars on a Disney Channel show, which usually means the music will suck, but “Ready or Not” is my favorite pop song of 2012. So do with that what you will.

  2. AOTY 2012 top tier:
    Extra Life- Dream Seeds (you will feel feelings harder than you hoped and you will love it)
    of Montreal- Paralytic Stalks (psychedelic pop, maybe the best of Montreal album yet, most danceable always interesting)
    Larkin Grimm- Soul Retrieval (maybe you’d call it psychedelic folk, or dreamy, but it’s better than the idea of that genre or adjective. and unpretentious, despite this awful description. Beautiful vocals and imagery. )
    very close contenders:
    Swans- The Seer (almost 2 hours, swansy, apocalyptic)
    Scott Walker- Bish Bosch (listen to with the lights off)
    Divorce- Divorce (full-length LP debut, screeching noise rock)
    other greats:
    (asterisk means you can free download from bandcamp)
    *Told Slant- Still Water (like Modest Mouse but better)
    Xiu Xiu- Always (if you know Xiu Xiu listen to this. if you don’t know Xiu Xiu consider their other recent album’s title “Dear God I Hate Myself” and if like the sound of that listen to this.)
    Whirr- Pipe Dreams (new shoegaze)
    *sin (x) sin- sin (x) sin (darkwave-type synthpop)
    *We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves- One Belongs Here More Than You (imagine a heterosexual variant of The Smiths. this is it. I guess we’ll take what we can get)
    Teen Suicide- I Will Be My Own Hell Because There Is A Devil Inside My Body
    *Teen Suicide- DC Snuff Film (do you like the implications of these words you will like these albums)
    Death Grips- The Money Store (almost as good as Exmillitary)
    Screaming Females- Ugly (not as much screaming as you might hope, but very fun and nice)
    Perfume Genius- Put Your Back N 2 It (sad, dreamy, good to be sad to)
    *Parenthetical Girls- Good Christian Men Rejoice, It’s Parenthetical Girls (It’s a christmas album and it’s so great it’s worth listening all year, like all their others)
    No Babies- Yo No Soy Como Tu (A+ noise rock)
    *heroin party- summer made me blue; summer gave me sky (this is very depressing it’s very good)
    Grimes- Visions (sweet synthpop, I am certain you’ve heard at least one song from this)
    *Gang Wizard- So Excited (noisy, excited)
    Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra- Theatre Is Evil (best Amanda Palmer solo work yet)
    From The Mouth Of The Sun- Woven Tide (sweet gentle ambient)
    My Bloody Valentine- New Album (oh… wait… nevermind)

  3. PRESETS! PRESETS! PRESETS! PRESETS! Srsly, check out their new record if you haven’t, it’s so good.

    Much like Crystal, I missed most of these albums this year. Whoops.

    My faves from this year:
    Sam Sparro
    Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs
    Simian Mobile Disco
    The 2 Bears
    Hot Chip
    Scissor Sisters

  4. I missed a lot of these as well. Thanks for the post! Looks like I’ve got some catching up to do.

    One problem though: Emeli Sande didn’t make it onto the list. And, and, no one has even mentioned her in the comments. Why not guys? Surely everyone has heard and loves “Our Version of Events”…? I’m not very big into R&B/soul pop but this women has an amazing voice.

    My favourite songs: My kind of love, where I sleep, breaking the law, daddy, next to me, heaven. Actually, just listen to the whole thing.

  5. I really loved Ani Difranco’s new album like always..I’m so exited over Tegan and Sara new album Heartrob, needed to listen something new beside “The Con”. Purity Rings “Shrine” was great to hear. Diamond Rings, my new favorite.Two Door Cinema Club, got me dancing, . Love Trance music so Armin Van Buuren and Tydi hands down were my favorite dj’s of the year!2012 overall had some great music and artist popping up.

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