50 Best Albums of 2012

Frank Ocean reimagined R&B; Dylan drenched us in blood; pop-punk vets, disco orchestras and Scottish oddballs made an election year bearable.

37

Justin Townes Earle, 'Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now'

The son of country-rock renegade Steve Earle has grown into a songwriter to rival his dad. His fourth LP is his strongest yet, a set of love-scarred folk-blues travelogues delivered with exactingly shaky phrasing and an undertow of Stax-Volt horns. "Down on the Lower East Side" gets New York-jazzy, and "Won't Be the Last Time" is honky-tonk weepy. Earle's bloodline follows him everywhere, and guides him, too; as he declares in the record's first line: "I hear my father on the radio singing, 'Take me home again.'"

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