A grand, uplifting album that is J Spaceman's best output in a decade, Sweet Heart Sweet Light is full of hope. Not everyone gets it; that's the point.
#8: Mark Lanegan Band - Blues Funeral
One of the best rock voices of the Nineties puts out an incredible album informed mostly by...synthpop? It's weird to hear Lanegan's gravelly delivery matched with drum machines and keyboards, but it works. Really well.
#7: Murder By Death - Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon
Murder By Death is about as American as a band can get. They weave Western, country, rock and singer-songwriter motifs into campfire stories that recall a much different time than ours. This album is a Faulkner novel in song.
#6: Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet On Sky
A more laid-back approach than 2009's Farm, this album is reminiscent of the band's late 90s output. All the usual tropes are in place, but overall it comes across as a bit more sad than the rest of Dino Jr's post-reunion output. Still, there are plenty of anthems to choose from here.
#5: Golden Void - Golden Void
The thrill of discovering a new favorite will never diminish. Led by Isaiah Mitchell of Earthless, Golden Void is full of fuzzed-out guitars, moody keyboards and - most importantly - memorable songs. It recalls both Queens Of The Stone Age and Atomic Rooster, bridging a generational gap with the sheer power of rock & roll.
#4: Those Poor Bastards - Behold The Abyss
This album is meant to accompany the novel it was released with, The Terrible Tale of Edgar Switchblade. The book is a brutal and haunting story, and the album is the aural haunted house to read it in; all Gothic vocals, acoustic guitar, and dread. This is for fans of God or Satan.
#3: Buffalo Killers - Dig. Sow. Love. Grow.
It's flown under most radars, but Buffalo Killers' fourth full-length is a gem. It matches 60s pop sensibility with 70s psych/rock flourishes. The production is warm and full, and singer/guitarist Andy Gabbard's Joe Walsh impersonation is in top form. This is what a "feel good" album is supposed to be.
#2: A Place To Bury Strangers - Worship
Yes, I am biased.But hey, as someone who wears his influences as badges of honor, how could I not love what APTBS does? You know the drill: fuzzed out, abrasive and LOUD. But with just the right amount of mood and longing. When you gaze deep into the shoe abyss, the shoe abyss also gazes back into you.
#1: - Bobby Womack - The Strongest Man In The Universe
27th studio album. First album in 12 years. Pneumonia. Colon cancer. A lifetime of success, addiction, tragedy, scandal and redemption. He made it. This is not only the best album of 2012, but of Bobby Womack's career as well. And it took a long, hard life to get here.