Man, 2012 has been a *fantastic* year for music. Here are a few of the albums that have stuck with me most since January... (Apologies in advance for length--leaving out tons more just for the sake of 'brevity' lol.)
Fiona Apple: The Idler Wheel--This one's been brought up a few times already I see. I just want to reinforce the point.
Burial: Street Halo & Kindred--Compilation CD set that comprises two EPs, including this year's Kindred. Possibly the finest electronic music I've heard all year.
Converge: All We Love We Leave Behind--My favorite 'heavy' release this year. Peerless combination of metal and hardcore punk--Converge has consistently released some of the finest heavy music releases of the past decade and a half, and I hope they never stop.
Flying Lotus: Until the Quiet Comes--Transcendent instrumental hip hop. FlyLo is not only the JDilla for our time, but also the Miles Davis *and* the Aphex Twin. Yep, it's that good. Listen to it at night for the full effect.
Grizzly Bear: Shields--I have issues with the production, but ultimately the music itself is so good that I just have to include this here. Listening to this for the first time I got the same feeling I got the first time I heard Radiohead. Might be a future indie pop/rock/folk classic.
Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid Mad City--God-tier hip hop. Comparable in quality and feeling to Nas's Illmatic, insofar as I'm concerned. Probably my AOTY.
Frank Ocean: Channel Orange--R&B is not dead, you just have to know where to look for the good stuff. If, in recent years, you've liked Janelle Monae and The Weeknd, but you haven't listened to this yet, then you really, really need to.
Swans: The Seer--Turns out post-rock isn't dead, either. Unnerving and uncompromising drone music with occasional flashes of beauty. Already mentioned--just making sure people don't forget. :-D