The Best Pop CDs of 2012

This year we’ve seen a bumper crop of books, music and film and over the next few weeks we’ll be presenting a series of our favourites, voted for and selected by Readings staff.

Here, our music buyers and reviewers from Readings Monthly share their picks for best pop CDs of 2012.

best-sugaring-season**Fiona Hardy recommends Sugaring Season by Beth Orton**

This is sun and shadow in music. Orton’s unshakeable past sounds intensify into a glorious single in opening track ‘Magpie’ and end with musical ache in ‘Mystery’. The expansive ballad ‘Something More Beautiful’ and jaunty folk-waltz ‘See Through Blue’ make this another fine album.

best-spring-fall**Miranda La Fleur recommends Spring and Fall by Paul Kelly**

Composed as a song cycle, Kelly’s new album tells a love story from multiple points of view, with the narrative encouraging the listener to engage with the album from beginning to end rather than simply ‘song grazing’. Spring and Fall is lyrically and instrumentally superb, and listening to it in its entirety is both a deeply moving and uplifting experience.

best-dr-johnMelissa Whebell recommends Locked Down by Dr. John

Beloved New Orleans legend Dr. John has released one of the great albums of 2012 and, it has to be said, it’s arguably his best one in years. With Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys on production and a fantastic band in tow, they bring an awesome slice of funky-jazzy-rhythm-and-blues-swamp pop rock. Killer summer sounds.

best-sun**Michael Awosoga-Samuel recommends Sun by Cat Power**

Cat Power is the alias of singer Chan Marshall and Sun is her first release in six years. The self-produced album reveals much about Marshall as an artist coming to terms with her own maturity as she examines life with less of the angst of her youth. The title suggests a rebirth and this too is evident in the sound, which is punchy and broad in its appeal but never complacent.

best-lions-roar**Alice Bisits recommends The Lion’s Roar by First Aid Kit**

Swedish folk duo (and sisters) Johanna and Klara bring the most gorgeous vocal harmonies to your heart and soul. These songs of melancholy and charm will send you away on a road trip to join a time and a place you have treasured. A must for lovers of Fleet Foxes and Joanna Newsom.

best-privateering**Lou Fulco recommends Privateering by Mark Knopfler**

This collection of original songs has been getting a shellacking on my stereo at home lately. Why? Well, it’s like comfort food – a voice and style that rambles along, telling stories that span familiar themes, places and characters. Throw in some country and folk and invite some great guest artists and wrap it all up in Knopfler goodness. Yummy!

best-django**Richard Mohr recommends Django Django by Django Django**

This record is, against incalculable odds, a modest epiphany. Here are four young guys with infinite tunes and boundless, eerie harmonies that threaten to veer off the rails but never quite do. This is the kind of debut that, like The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party before them, continues rock music’s tenuous life support drip. Plus they have matching t-shirts.

beat-fear-fun**Declan Murphy recommends Fear Fun by Father John Misty**

Having resigned from drumming duties with the Fleet Foxes, Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, has delivered an absolute beauty in Fear Fun. Laced with a darkly humorous narrative, glorious harmonies and tunes in spades, this fantastic slice of skewed Americana was an early contender for best of 2012.

best-moment**Dave Clarke recommends The Moment by Mia Dyson**

Now well established as Australia’s leading blues artist, Mia Dyson has really stepped up with this, her fourth album. Recorded in the US, the songs, her vocals and production are top notch. Think a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams.

best-election**Paul Barr recommends Election Special by Ry Cooder**

Cooder uses his extensive knowledge of American roots music on a bunch of scathing new songs that zero in on the US election and the principles at stake. A political album loaded with memorable tunes and fabulous rhythm playing. Quite a feat.

If you’re after advice this Christmas for music lovers, come visit one of our stores to chat with our music buyers in person.