Starting today, I’ll be counting down my Top Albums of the last year, one each day until we hit #1. 

As I’ve done for the last few years, I’m jettisoning the traditional “album” approach and will be considering each artist’s entire output for the year. In an era ruled by digital releases, SoundCloud demos and artists who often see no reason to hold songs back just for the sake of selling them as a collection, it’s the only approach that makes sense to me. Sure, many artists still work on a traditional release schedule – it’s just that I don’t see any reason to penalize those who don’t. If I could listen to it this year, it should count, regardless of how it’s been packaged. And indeed, nearly half of this year’s list contains EP’s, 7"s, singles, demos, or other output outside of the traditional LP format.

That’s not to say that those packaging decisions aren’t important – in fact, there are a few entries on this list that rank where they do specifically because they evidence craftsmanship in their sequencing and their curation. Making a great album is a larger task than releasing a handful of great singles, and there’s a particular joy in listening to an album that holds your interest from front to back and compels you to pay attention. That joy is certainly a consideration; it’s one, among many.

Finally, as usual, I couldn’t hold myself to only 10 entries on this year’s Top Ten list. So without further ado, here comes #12!