Britain's Alt-J was this year's Mercury Prize winner, for the band's debut albumAn Awesome Wave. The group is also Bob Boilen's pick for Album Of The Year.
There is so much more to a year in music than a top ten list. I boil my list down to the records I simply loved the most. It’s not a well balanced list — there’s no jazz, hip-hop, classical, world or country — but with all art I find a natural attraction and I don’t fight it. I listen to a wide scope of sounds all year (and rate everything I hear) but my favorites are my friends, the ones I put on and sing to.
I’m still a sucker for songs and the craft of songwriting. Many of these songs on these 10 records show a shift in songwriting, an evolution that I think defines 2012. It’s the same sort of evolution we saw at the birth of progressive rock. Music got more complex with time signature shifts and new ways of arranging and building music. This is what I heard in 2012, only with songwriting — songs within songs; shifting sounds within songs. The verse chorus verse chorus model is being jettisoned for new narrative forms. It’s what ties the music of Frank Ocean with the sounds of Alt-J, Grizzly Bear, Patrick Watson and Dirty Projectors. I find it so exciting. It’s been such a good year.