10 Albums To Not Overlook In 2012

In case you're already blinded by the golden aura of 2012's major releases -- The Shins, T.I., Soundgarden, Nicki Minaj, Mumford & Sons, Muse, Sigur Ros -- we want to make sure you don't forget about some other sure-to-be-top-notch albums that will see release next year. They may not shine on the iTunes chart, but it won't be for lack of quality.

Kathleen Edwards, Voyageur (Rounder)
The latest album from the Canadian singer shows definite signs she's departing from her alt-country past and heading in the direction of her current beau, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. The songs she played from this album at her September Dallas show made us feel the wait has been worthwhile.

Big K.R.I.T., Live From the Underground (Def Jam)
Another stud who's made a serious name by putting out killer mixtapes and busting out genius collabs with some of the best in hip-hop. The album was pushed from a late 2011 release, so last year's loss is 2012's gain.

Joe Pug, The Great Despiser (Lightning Rod)
The former Chicagoan has been folkin' it up in Austin for a little over a year now. The location proved to be rather fortuitous, as he was able to snag the Hold Steady's Craig Finn for a guest vocalist spot while the king of the sing-talkers was in ATX recording his own solo album. Pug's 2010 full-length, Messenger, was possibly the best modern folk album of that year.

Craig Finn, Clear Heart Full Eyes (Vagrant)
Speaking of the geeky-cool frontman, when it was time to pick a few collaborators to help out with his first solo album, Finn grabbed Centro-matic's Will Johnson, among many other Austin-based ass-kickers, to lend a hand. Even the album's title has an Austin tie-in, but you'll have to figure that one out for yourself.

Lauryn Hill
Reports have been popping that Hill will be following up her slate of 2011 live shows with a 2012 album from Island Def Jam. Even if the new collection's half as unreal as her instant-classic 1998 solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, it'll be worth more than a few listens.

Jamey Johnson
Perhaps the only real outlaw in mainstream country these days, Johnson will soon follow up his last two risk-taking records with an LP that one must assume will be anything but safe, let alone predictable.

Delta Spirit, Delta Spirit (Rounder)
This Matt Vasquez-led batch of Californians has increased the gloss, but not the schlock over the course of releasing their past two albums. 2010's History From Below was a great example of an album that boasted polish, yet retained grit that can come through only when a song is written just the right way. Simply dismissing this band as a sun-soaked, pseudo alt-country act will likely be impossible after this year.

Melanie Fiona, The MF Life (Universal Motown)
The insanely sultry Canadian steamed things up a couple years ago with her debut album,The Bridge. While a few singles from the new album have already been sent to radio, look for Fiona to grab a hefty slice of the R&B superstar pie in 2012.

The Will Callers, The Will Callers (Shiner Records)
There are a ton of local records that we're looking forward to, but thanks to the group's history, this one has added importance. The long-awaited Ray Wylie Hubbard-produced debut from the best young honky-tonk act in North Texas will finally see the light of day.

Dr. Dre, Detox (Aftermath/Interscope)
Who knows if it'll actually drop this year, but hip-hop's Chinese Democracy just has to be better than Chinese Democracy, right?

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16 comments
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Suck
Suck

Tool > all this crap you mentioned.

hdmi
hdmi

This article probably should have mentioned Modest Mouse's new album. Not only is Big Boi involved, but the two new songs they've been playing are some of the best songs they put out in years.

Its surely not something you'd want to miss.

Jessica
Jessica

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guess
guess

What about 2pac? I heard he's got a new album and tour coming up this new year. Should be ill, foolz.

Kid spuddy
Kid spuddy

Krits album will blow hiphop out of the decade.

pissydan
pissydan

the wrens have PROMISED me a 2012 album.

Watcho
Watcho

Thanks for the suggestions, I've loaded a bunch of them up in my Rdio queue!  But I find it surprising a list as heavily-indebted to earthy, authentic American rock sounds as this one leaves off the upcoming Springsteen/E-Street record.  He totally represents where a lot of these bands could go if they do the work.

Pabdrums
Pabdrums

So is the popular stance to put down chinese democracy? Its actually not an unlistenable album. With that fifteen year wait it couldnt help but fail. I guarantee the lauryn hill album will be way more unlistenable. And really, a honky tonk albums gonna really impress me in 2012???? Get over yourselves observer, you arent pitchfork. You arent the taste makers you think you are...and worse, you are really out of touch. You have your heads so far up todd lewis' ass i half expected to see him on the list.

Lance
Lance

No mention of Lana Del Rey's "Born to Die"? Tsk tsk, Observer...

phe_75034
phe_75034

I get it that people are passionate about their own tastes in music, maybe more than on any other topic (well, perhaps politics and religion are up there too, but that's not the point).

I don't get why people insist on beating down anyone who doesn't agree with them. Why does it have to get so confrontational?

Chinese Democracy is a punchline. It was going to be a punchline pretty much no matter how it sounded. If you're a GnR fan, and you happen to like the record, great. But don't be surprised when it gets used as a (you guessed it) punchline.

Try discussing. Even debating. But there's no reason to be a dickhead about it.

Kelly D.
Kelly D.

Not sure if the popular stance is to crap on Chinese Democracy, but I did because I didn't like it. Im not worried about whats populat as much as you seem to yhink i am or this list wouldve looked very different. You actually have (sort of) a point with the Hill album. Itll be impossible to top her previous work, yet I still suspect it will be good. Well done Honky Tonk music is still vital and relevant, especially in Texas. No one is trying to "taste-make" here. This is a list of albums I hope people give a chance next year, plain and simple. Bitter much, pabdrums?

Kelly D.
Kelly D.

Sorry for the typos. Fat fingers, little keys.

phe_75034
phe_75034

I guess. It's still pretty silly. Why does Pabdrums and his/her ilk gotta be jerks?  Golden fucking Rule and all that, remember?

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