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.

The Avett Brothers, 'The Carpenter'

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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