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.

41

The Avett Brothers, 'The Carpenter'

The Avetts are the best pop band in the alt-country corral. On their seventh album they complete an evolution from neo-bluegrass pickers to pure pop tune-crushers. The palette ranges from Nineties grunge to wintry front-porch lamentation to Beatles bounce, tied together by a sweet Southern-bro sentimentality. On the magnolia-scented waltz "A Father's First Spring," Scott Avett turns the cowboy-movie image of "blood on the floor" into an evocation of a daughter's birth that'll have you shedding a tear in your Sunday afternoon IPA.

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