5. Mumford & Sons – Babel
Following the success of 2009’s Sigh No More, Mumford & Sons didn’t fall to the curse of the sophomore slump. While the album wasn’t particularly innovative or experimental, indie-folk Babel showcased speedy banjo-plucking, feverish mandolin, and haunting cello. Is this album the greatest album of the year? No, but it’s a damn good one.
4. Walk the Moon – Walk the Moon
Filled with melodic synthesizer riffs and clever lyrics, Walk the Moon’s self-titled first major label release delivered the perfect soundtrack for the summer. Comprised of re-recorded material from the band’s 2010 indie debut I Want! I Want!, Walk the Moon’s upbeat layering of harmonized vocals, guitar, drums, synth, and bass brought sold-out audiences to their feet during this year’s worldwide tour.
3. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
When times are tough, Bruce Springsteen delivers. Waffling between intimate folk-stylings and manic grit, Wrecking Ball feels like a continuation of 2006’s The Seeger Sessions. With his blue-collared lyrics and patriotic undertones, Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball received the Presidential stamp of approval as “We Take Care of Our Own” became President Obama’s campaign song.
2. Taylor Swift – Red
The best-selling album of 2012 was driven by the irresistibly catchy single “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” but showcased Swift’s growth as a woman and an artist. Like her previous albums, Red recounts Swift’s failed public romances. However, the album introduces Swift’s new depth and maturity.
1. John Mayer – Born and Raised
It’s a crime that this album wasn’t nominated for any Grammys this year. Born and Raised is Mayer’s most exploratory and diverse album to date. The album offers honesty, peace, and impeccable musicality from an earnest Mayer who seeks redemption following his streaky public past.
Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
Of Monsters and Men – My Head Is an Animal
Newsies Original Broadway Cast – Newsies (Original Broadway Cast Recording)
Fun. – Some Nights
Macklemore – The Heist