I didn't listen to as many albums as I wanted to this year. I say this every year.

Part of it is the singles artform itself, but I didn't hear many hip-hop albums that felt complete and completely likeable as I wanted. That's not to say they're not there. Same goes for dance albums and R&B.

What astounded me was the devotion to song-craft by lighter artists, some of which have been around for years. These past few months, I noticed a lot of think-pieces on "soft rock," floating around on the blogs, sometimes in revolt of NPR-rock, dad-rock, whatever you want to call it. Among those offenders, I have several on my year-end list -- like Bon Iver, Feist and Laura Marling. But even among the growing indie establishment, I found records from St. Vincent, Panda Bear and The Weeknd to give off much the same result, that is, soothing, smart, song-centered mini-theater, start to end.

Check out the excellent first-time efforts from Washed Out, Shabazz Palaces, the Head and the Heart (yes, yes, TWO Sub Pop albums), Korallreven, tUnE-yArDs and Sallie Ford. Josh T. Pearson, let's you and me have a drink with Tom Waits, it'll make you feel better. It would be an honor for Fucked Up to f*ck up my apartment. And in news from the self-awareness camp, half of the artists on my Top 40 Songs of the Year were from artists of color; on this list, just over 10%. In 2012, I'll spend more time considering diversity: is there remedy, and is it remedy?

Beyond that, here's the hodge-podge. Listen to tracks from all of these albums (with exception to Danny Brown and The Weeknd) via my Spotify playlist.

  1. PJ Harvey, "Let England Shake"
  2. Mastodon, "The Hunter"
  3. Tom Waits, "Bad As Me"
  4. Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside, "Dirty Radio"
  5. Feist, "Metals"
  6. Washed Out, "Within & Without"
  7. Danny Brown, "XXX"
  8. Laura Marling, "A Creature I Don't Know"
  9. Cut Copy, "Zonoscope"
  10. Liturgy, "Aesthethica"
  11. Fucked Up, "David Comes to Life"
  12. St. Vincent, "Strange Mercy"
  13. Peggy Sue, "Acrobats"
  14. Korallreven, "An Album By Korallreven"
  15. Bon Iver, "Bon Iver"
  16. Colin Stetson, "New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges"
  17. tUnE-yArDs, "w h o k i l l"
  18. Shabazz Palaces, "Black Up"
  19. Battles, "Gloss Drop"
  20. Anna Calvi, "Anna Calvi"
  21. SBTRKT, "SBTRKT"
  22. The Head and the Heart, "The Head and the Heart"
  23. The Weeknd, "House of Balloons"
  24. Josh T. Pearson, "Last Of The Country Gentlemen"
  25. Panda Bear, "Tomboy"