Stereogum's TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2012 So Far

The year isn’t half over yet. We know that. But since everyone starts unveiling their year-end lists in November, we figured we wouldn’t be too far out of pocket if we unveiled our favorites of the 2012 calendar year the week before Memorial Day.

Our favorite album of the year (so far) is the one on which a talented young band teamed up with a production hero of the ’90s and immersed themselves in the decade’s hard, chunky, scraping, anthemic rock music. There’s no drift at all in Cloud Nothings’ Attack On Memory — just forward drive, rendered with style and conviction. That same Clinton-era ferocity is on display in a bunch of the other albums that appear on this list. Japandroids, Screaming Females both ran with it, and so, in their own ways, did Torche and Ceremony. Other albums don’t necessarily draw on that decade’s style, but they do sprint into chaotic combat in refreshingly concrete ways: El-P, Sleigh Bells, Killer Mike, Death Grips.

But it doesn’t make too much sense to impose a narrative on this list. There’s plenty of druggy float in the albums from Beach House and Future and the Chromatics, and plenty of glamorous sheen in the records from Chairlift and Rick Ross and Kindness. The albums that appear on our list don’t really share too much in common, except this: They’re all deeply personal, idiosyncratic visions. That, and we like all of them. Check out our list below.


Heems - Nehru Jackets25 HeemsNehru Jackets (Greedhead)

Ceremony - Zoo24 CeremonyZoo (Matador)

Willis Earl Beal - Acousmatic Sorcery23 Willis Earl BealAcousmatic Sorcery (Hot Charity/XL)

Grimes - Visions22 GrimesVisions (4AD/Arbutus)

Kindness - World You Need A Change Of Mind21 KindnessWorld You Need A Change Of Mind (Polydor/Female Energy)

Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light20 SpiritualizedSweet Heart Sweet Light (Fat Possum)

Chromatics - Kill For Love19 ChromaticsKill For Love (Italians Do It Better)

Death Grips - The Money Store18 Death GripsThe Money Store (Epic)

Frankie Rose - Interstellar17 Frankie RoseInterstellar (Slumberland)

Tanlines - Mixed Emotions16 TanlinesMixed Emotions (True Panther)

Torche - Harmonicraft 15 TorcheHarmonicraft (Volcom)

Lotus Plaza - Spooky Action At A Distance14 Lotus PlazaSpooky Action At A Distance (Kranky)

Julia Holter - Ekstasis13 Julia HolterEkstasis (Rvng Intl.)

Action Bronson And Party Supplies - Blue Chips12 Action Bronson & Party SuppliesBlue Chips (self-released)

Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music11 Killer MikeR.A.P. Music (Williams Street)

Future - Pluto10 FuturePluto (Epic/A1/Free Bandz)

Sleigh Bells - Reign Of Terror09 Sleigh BellsReign Of Terror (Mom + Pop)

Rick Ross - Rich Forever08 Rick RossRich Forever (Maybach Music)

Screaming Females - Ugly07 Screaming FemalesUgly (Don Giovanni)

El-P - Cancer For Cure06 El-PCancer For Cure (Fat Possum)

Beach House - Bloom05 Beach HouseBloom (Sub Pop)

Japandroids - Celebration Rock04 JapandroidsCelebration Rock (Polyvinyl)

Chairlift - Something03 ChairliftSomething (Columbia)

The Walkmen - Heaven02 The WalkmenHeaven (Fat Possum)

Cloud Nothings - Attack On Memory01 Cloud NothingsAttack On Memory (Carpark)


Here’s that list in a more scannable format:

25 HeemsNehru Jackets
24 CeremonyZoo
23 Willis Earl BealAcousmatic Sorcery
22 GrimesVisions
21 KindnessWorld You Need A Change Of Mind
20 SpiritualizedSweet Heart Sweet Light
19 ChromaticsKill For Love
18 Death GripsThe Money Store
17 Frankie RoseInterstellar
16 TanlinesMixed Emotions
15 TorcheHarmonicraft
14 Lotus PlazaSpooky Action At A Distance
13 Julia HolterEkstasis
12 Action Bronson & Party SuppliesBlue Chips
11 Killer MikeR.A.P. Music
10 FuturePluto
09 Sleigh BellsReign Of Terror
08 Rick RossRich Forever
07 Screaming FemalesUgly
06 El-PCancer For Cure
05 Beach HouseBloom
04 JapandroidsCelebration Rock
03 ChairliftSomething
02 The WalkmenHeaven
01 Cloud NothingsAttack On Memory


As always, coming up with the master countdown meant leaving out some personal favorites of our four staff members. Here are those…

01 Sun Kil MoonAmong The Leaves
02 Wymond MilesUnder The Pale Moon
03 Field MusicPlumb
04 Moonface With SinaiBravery
05 Sharon Van EttenTramp

01 Mount EerieClear Moon
02 Vijay IyerAccelerando
03 PO PODope Boy Magick
04 John TalabotƒIN
05 The MenOpen Your Heart

01 Jack WhiteBlunderbuss
02 Schoolboy QHabits & Consequences
03 TragedyDarker Days Ahead
04 Killa Kyleon & MouseWelcome To The Fish Fry
05 Split CraniumSplit Cranium

01 Lil BGod’s Father
02 THEESatisfactionawE naturalE
03 Chief KeefBack From The Dead
04 Best CoastThe Only Place
05 Rye RyeGo! Pop! Bang!


That’s a solid chunk of the year’s most notable releases to date, though obviously not all of them. Feel free to nominate those that we missed.

Comments (328)
  1. Sun Kil Moon and Mount Eerie should both be in the top 25. Honorable mentions don’t do either record justice.

    Others left off completely:

    Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It (maybe it lost points for that spelling?)
    The Men – Open Your Heart
    Bowerbirds – The Clearing
    Sigur Rós – Valtari

  2. When you put it all out there like this… it’s been a pretty poor year for music so far. Not to be all Debbie Downer, just one man’s opinion.

  3. Whaddup Moonface & Jack White mentions

    All though not buzzy-y, I love the Father John Misty

  4. son lux, sigur ros ??

  5. Personally I prefer Back From The Dead to Nehru Jackets, but otherwise, it’s a fine list.

  6. Stereogum, your ‘scannable format’ list has Heems at #20 when it should be Spiritualized. Just a heads up!

  7. I would put Death Grips, Spiritualized, The Men, and Chromatics a lot higher but otherwise this is a solid list. Attack On Memory gets better the more i listen to it, Bloom is a masterpiece, and Celebration Rock and Heaven are fantastic too. I think R.A.P. Music was the best rap album of the year over Cancer For Cure and Rich Forever though. (and Put Your Back N 2 It should have been on the list as well)

  8. Andrew Bird gets no love.

  9. I’d get rid of Sleigh Bells and Chairlift and include Porcelain Raft, Mount Eerie, Lemonade and Pond

    Chromatics should both be WAY higher on the list too. Definitely Top 5 IMO.

  10. No Santigold? Really? I’m really loving “Master of My Make Believe”.

    Meanwhile, while I like the new Cloud Nothings well enough, it isn’t better than either of their previous albums.

  11. favorites so far:
    1. The Men
    2. Ty Segall and White Fence
    3. Cloud Nothings
    4. Beach House

    I’m kind of bummed I can’t even get to 10 records yet this year that I really liked. I’m either broken, or this year has been weak.

  12. I’m noticing a severe lack of Napalm Death

  13. well put together list, only one thing I would cha… hey, whats amrit doing in that emusic ad?

  14. I am assuming the “S” key is broke which would explain the absence of “School Of Seven Bells”.

  15. The fucking Maccabees. What’s wrong with you people.

  16. Can’t argue too much with that. I’d have The Shins, M. Ward and Odd Future in there as well as Jack White and The Men, but I can’t say there’s anything that doesn’t deserve to be on the list.

  17. Pretty solid list! Though, I’d personally put Beach House’s new album as no. 1 instead of Cloud Nothing’s. As awesome a change as their new album is, there’s not a skippable track on Beach House’s new album and there are a couple on Cloud Nothing’s. Also, just an honorable mention for Moonface? Once again, Spencer Krug is king of the underrated albums! Can’t wait to hear the new Japandroids as well!

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  19. Anyone checked out the new Menzingers album b/c I’d definitely have it way up on my list. Also, I guess High on Fire, Actress, and Pete Swanson would be my other biggest nods to things not on here but the list has some great stuff (Cloud Nothings’s a good #1 pick for my money).

    Also, this just gets me even more stoked about that Japandroids records.

  20. Bloom is my favorite so far, though honestly the year has had a slow start.

    I also wasnt too crazy about Chairlift and Cloud Nothings, if they were both dropped down a few the list would be much better

  21. Ramona Falls- Prophet
    White Rabbits- Heavy Metal
    High On Fire- De Vermis Mysteriis
    Lower Dens- Nootropics
    Django Django- Django Django

  22. White Rabbits- Milk Famous. Excuse me

  23. Hey where are all the downvotes? I can read almost all the comments in this thread still.

  24. C’mon, Pop. 1280!

    • Oh yeah, and what about the POND album? Did you guys only hype them so that those of us who actually like that kind of music would have to stand in a huge line at SXSW?

    • Aren’t you that guy who made that MCA comment? Well, whatever, I agree with you on this issue. Pop. 1280 unites us all.

      • No, I am not the guy who made any MCA comment. Making offensive comments about the recently deceased is not my department. However, I am the guy who has always hated and will always hate Dave Matthews and Phil Collins.

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  26. Needs more metal

  27. If EPs count, Daniel Rossen.

  28. If someone releases an album this year that I like more than The Men’s Open Your Heart, I’ll be surprised and thrilled. There are certainly some acts yet to release this year that I like enough to top it, but man that album is good.

  29. It seems that what’s been impressing people the most this year is mostly outside of my bailiwick, and that’s cool. I strongly preferred some of the albums that came out in the first five months of last year (Kaputt and Smoke Ring for My Halo are both all-timers for me), and I’ve only heard a handful of albums I dig so far this year (Japandroids, Lotus Plaza, and Mount Eerie stand out so far). I have a feeling Celebration Rock will remain at the top of my list, but I’d love to be surprised – and there’s certainly potential for that.

    • Great to see “bailiwick” used in a Stereogum post crania americana, I, for one, appreciate it. Can any of the editorial staff confirm if this is first time it’s ever been used here ?

  30. Hospitality. For the song, “The Birthday’ alone, it shoulda at least cracked honorable mention (which is kinda dumb anyway when you’re only dealing with 5 months) Ya either make the top 25…or ya don’t!

  31. Haven’t given chairlift its due, but that is a great top 5 otherwise

  32. What about Lambchop– Mr. M?!?

  33. I hate to get all Rubber Johnny, but I thought the Odd Future Tap Vol 2 was pretty good. I would put it on the top 25, but that’s just me.

  34. DO NOT LIKE THIS. I find this list like a 25 tracks album, but full of fillers. Where is Perfume Genius, Porcelain Raft, Lower Dens, Trust, Laurel Halo, John Talabot?

    Don’t know what happened, Stereogums lists are always so good

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  37. Have to agree that Perfume Genius should be on here. It might even be #1 on my list as of now. Santigold is also on my top 5.

  38. Keaton Henson’s “Dear” is a gem. At the very least, it deserves consideration. You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are might be my favorite song of the year.

  39. Stereogum, I want you to know that I love you very much, but Chromatics should have been higher.

  40. Pallbearer – Sorrow & Extinction. Brandon’s presence is missed here.

  41. How is Bear in Heaven not mentioned by anyone on this entire page? A travesty.

  42. Wait a second, Death Grips are ahead of Ceremony?? Wasn’t Ceremony over Death Grips for album of the week what set Michael_ off? Now that was all for nothing, he is gonna flip when he sees this after he gets home from the gym.

  43. You all have no idea how happy I am that Chairlift is so high up. I am in love with that album and was beginning to think that I was crazy/insane that I have that album in the top 3 as well. Good to see I’m not the only crazy one

  44. I will never understand critics’ love for Rick Ross.

  45. some thoughts:

    1. tried to listen to rick ross last week. operative word being, “tried.” shit is terrible. i’m genuinely confused as to why people think it’s good.
    2. quakers, alabama shakes, polica, whirr, lushlife, suckers, simian mobile disco and ab-soul all had some pretty good 2012 releases, too.
    3. nobody likes andrew bird or the shins anymore, eh? well now you’ve got me feeling all nostalgic for 2005.

  46. mostly because i’ve heard about 3/4 of these records, i can agree with this

    except death grips needs to at least be somewhere in the top 5

  47. 5. Shackleton – Music for the Quiet Hour
    4. Burial – Kindred EP
    3. John Talabot – fIN
    2. Grimes – Visions
    1. Chromatics – Kill for Love

    Also will make end-of-year list: Actress, Symmetry, Todd Edwards, Julia Holter, Lone, Ramona Falls, and Beach House.

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  49. good to see walkmen on there already but yeah, where was father john misty? best two albums of the year so far.

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