Ted Gioia
HONORABLE MENTION

Here is my Honorable Mention list— another 100 recordings of distinction,
each one worthy of your listening attention:

Behzod Abduraimov    Prokofiev Sonata No. 6, Liszt, Saint-Saens    Classical Music       
Correo Aéreo    Semillas de Inmensidad   Latin American Folk Music        
Ray Anderson Pocket Brass Band    Sweet Chicago Suite    Progressive Brass Band Music        
Antibalas    Antibalas    Afrobeat / Funk        
Jean-Efflam Bavouzet    Haydn: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 4    Classical Music        
The Beach Boys    That's Why God Made the Radio    Retro Surf Music        
Black Prairie    A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart    Folk / Americana        
Harper Blynn    Busy Hands    Indie Pop-Rock        
Lee Brice    Hard 2 Love    Country        
Bobby Broom    Upper West Side Story    Jazz        
Anthony Brown & Group therAPy    Anthony Brown & Group therAPy    Gospel        
Zac Brown Band    Uncaged    Country        
Claire Chase    Terrestre    Contemporary Classical Flute Music        
The Chieftains    Voice of Ages    World Music        
Citizen Cope    One Lovely Day    Singer-Songwriter        
Gary Clark Jr.    Blak and Blue    R&B / Blues        
Zac Clark    Young Volcanoes    Singer-Songwriter        
Jon Cleary    Occapella    New Orleans R&B        
Michael Collins    British Clarinet Sonatas, Vol. 1    Classical Music        
Chick Corea & Gary Burton    Hot House    Jazz        
Dead Can Dance    Anastasis     World Fusion Rock        
David Del Tredici    Gotham Glory: Complete Piano Works Vol. 1    Contemporary Classical Music        
Mac DeMarco    Mac Demarco 2    Singer-Songwriter        
Chano Dominguez    Flamenco Sketches    Jazz        
Gerard Edery    Edery Sings Yupanqui    Argentinean Folk Music        
Kurt Elling    1619 Broadway The Brill Building Project    Jazz-Pop        
Brian Eno    Lux    Ambient Music        
Donald Fagen    Sunken Condos    Pop-Rock        
Adam Fairhall    The Imaginary Delta    Avant-Garde Trad Jazz        
Tim Fite    Ain't Ain't Ain't    Singer-Songwriter        
Fitzwilliam String Quartet    John Ramsay: String Quartets 1-4    Contemporary Classical Music        
Roberta Flack    Let it Be Roberta    Singer-Songwriter        
Jacob Garchik    The Heavens: The Atheist Gospel Trombone Album    Jazz / Gospel        
Sara Gazarek and Triosence    Where Time Stands Still    Jazz        
Gold Motel    Gold Motel    Indie Pop        
Vladimir Gorbach    Guitar Recital    Classical Guitar        
The Grascals    Life Finds a Way    Bluegrass        
Benjamin Grosvenor    Chopin / Liszt / Ravel    Classical Music        
Joel Harrison    Search    Jazz        
Fred Hersch    Alive at the Vanguard    Jazz        
Hilliard Ensemble    Carlo Gesualdo: Quinto Libro Di Madrigali    Early Music        
Susanna Hoffs    Someday    Pop        
Italian Surf Academy    American Dream    Pop Instrumental        
Joe Jackson    The Duke    Jazz-inflected Pop        
Stevie Jackson    (I Can't Get No)    Singer-Songwriter        
Benedikt Jahnel    Equilibrium    Jazz        
Marc Johnson / Eliane Elias    Swept Away    Jazz        
Kim Kashkashian    Kurtág, Ligeti: Music For Viola    Classical Music        
Masabumi Kikuchi    Sunrise    Jazz        
Michael Kiwanuka    Home Again    Soul        
Garth Knox    Saltarello    Classical Music        
Habib Koité & Eric Bibb    Brothers in Bamako    Folk / World Music        
Lee Konitz / Bill Frisell    Enfants Terribles    Jazz   
Sonny Landreth    Elemental Journey    Electric Blues     
Paco de Lucía    En Vivo - Conciertos Live In Spain 2010    Flamenco        
Johnny Mastro and the Mama's Boys    Luke's Dream    Electric Blues        
Kathy Mattea    Calling Me Home    Country        
John McCabe    Rainforest 1 & 2    Contemporary  Classical Music        
Elizabeth Mitchell    Blue Clouds    Children's Music        
Mobtown Modern Big Band    The Re-(w)Rite of Spring    Jazz        
José Luis Montón    Solo Guitarra   Flamenco        
Maria Muldaur    …First Came Memphis Minnie    Blues        
Netherlands Symphony Orchestra    Julius Röntgen: Symphonies 5,6 & 19    Classical Music
O'Brien Party of 7    Reincarnation: The Songs of Roger Miller    Retro Pop Music      
Annalisa Pappano    Renaissance Treble Viola Da Gamba Divisions With Lute    Renaissance Music        
Arvo Pärt    Creator Spiritus    Contemporary Classical        
Phantasm    William Lawes: Consorts to the Organ    Early Music        
John Pizzarelli    Double Exposure    Jazz-Pop        
Jorge Luis Prats    Live In Zaragoza    Classical Music        
Einojuhani Rautavaara    Modificata / Incantations    Contemporary Classical Music        
Carol Saboya    Belezas    Brazilian Jazz        
Lionel Sainsbury & John Foulds    Cello Concertos    Classical Music        
Jenny Scheinman    Mischief & Mayhem    Jazz             
Pete Seeger    The Complete Bowdoin College Concert, 1960    Folk        
Anoushka Shankar    Ravi Shankar Symphony    Classical / World Music Fusion        
Chris Smither    Hundred Dollar Valentine    Folk / Roots        
Carmen Souza    London Acoustic Set    Cape Verdean Folk-Pop        
Bobo Stenson    Indicum    Jazz        
Paul Stewart    Nikolai Medtner: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1    Classical Music        
John Surman    Saltash Bells    Jazz        
Esbjörn Svensson Trio    301    Jazz        
The Tallest Man on Earth    There's No Leaving Now    The Swedish Bob Dylan        
The Tallis Scholars    Jean Mouton: Missa Dictes Moy Toutes Voz  Pensées    Early Music        
Hilary Tann    Here, The Cliffs    Contemporary Classical Music        
Ebo Taylor    Appia Kwa Bridge    Ghanaian Highlife         
Tedeschi Trucks Band    Everybody's Talkin'    Electric Blues        
Los Texmaniacs    Texas Towns & Tex-Mex Sounds    Tex-Mex        
Tin Hat Trio    The Rain is a Handsome Animal    Progressive Chamber Music        
Sofia Tosello    Tangolandó    Afro-Peruvian / Tango Fusion        
Ryan Truesdell    Centennial: Newly Discovered Works Of Gil Evans    Jazz        
Elle Varner    Perfectly Imperfect    R&B / Hip-Hop        
Rhonda Vincent    Sunday Morning Singin' Live    Bluegrass-Country-Gospel        
The Wallflowers    Glad All Over    Rock        
Jack White    Blunderbuss    Rock        
Pharez Whitted    For the People    Jazz        
John Williams    Soundtrack from Lincoln    Soundtrack        
Cassandra Wilson    Another Country    Jazz        
Wu Man    Music of Central Asia, Vol. 10: Borderlands    Traditional Asian Music        
Zieti    Zemelewa    Afrobeat        
Mati Zundel    Amazonico Gravitante    Argentinian Rock        
Follow Ted Gioia on Twitter at
www.twitter.com/tedgioia
BACKGROUND

As some of you will recall, my list
of the
100 best CDs from last year
generated lots of commentary and
even unexpected controversy. In
the aftermath, a number of people
wrote about the list and offered
speculation and opinions about
my music listening habits.  So let
me start this year’s list by sharing
some background info on how the
list is constructed.

How much music do I listen to?  
This year—for the first time in my
life—I actually kept a tally, so I
could answer this question. Thus I
can state with scrupulous accuracy
that I listened to more than 800 new
CDs released during 2012.  (The
exact number was 817.)

What styles of music do I include
in my listening?  
I listen to
everything—from doo-wop to K-pop,
from bebop to (yes) hip-hop.  I
especially like to hear music that is
fresh and different, so this forces me
to go beyond the major commercial
categories.

Why do I compile this list?  Like
any music lover, I enjoy sharing my
favorite music with others.  But in
the last few years, a different
motivation has spurred me. I believe
that the system of music discovery
is broken in the current day.  There
is more music recorded than ever
before, but it is almost impossible
for listeners to find the best new
recordings.  The most creative
work in music is increasingly found
on self-produced projects and
releases from small indie labels—
to an extent hardly conceivable only
a decade ago.  Very little of this
music ever shows up on the radio,
where formats seem to get narrower
and narrower with each passing
year.  Music fans once heard good
new music at indie record stores,
but most of them have closed.  Or
they could read reviews in the
newspaper, but both the news-
papers and the music reviews are
shrinking or disappearing.   And the
big record labels are the worst
culprits of all, picking acts for their
looks or their potential appeal to
fourteen-year-olds, or some other
egregious reason, and in general
jumping on the most trivial passing
fads.  On the other hand, the Internet
presents an almost infinite amount of
music and music commentary—yet
where do fans even begin to
separate the good from the bad
and ugly?  My personal solution to
this dilemma has been to listen to
lots and lots of music, and try to
identify recordings of quality and
distinction. I share my list because I
know, from past experience, that
many other listeners are frustrated
with the broken system of music
discovery, and are also looking for
good new music.

What criteria do I apply?  I have
no axe to grind.  My list is filled with
music I enjoy, and suspect others
will too—especially if they have a
reasonably good ear, and an open
mind.  I like recordings that show
some flair and creativity, a sense
of style, solid musicianship, and an
emotional commitment to the
moment of performance.  I
appreciate it when an artist
possesses a sense of musical
tradition; on the other hand, I don’t
want to see slavish imitation of the
past.  When music strikes me as too
formulaic or contrived or cold, I start
to lose interest.  Like any critic, I
want my readers to think that I am
cool and hip and oh-so-up-to-date,
but I learned some time ago that
many of the best recordings are
decidedly uncool and unhip.  So if
you want to laugh at me for including
an American Idol contestant in my
top 100, or making some other
dorky move, feel free to do so.

In other words, I am not putting up a
list to pick a fight or start a Twitter
flame war.  I like these recordings,
and want to share them with others.   
Give a few of them a chance, and
you might be surprised to learn that
good music is still flourishing—
although often in some out of the
way places.  Happy listening!
The 100 Best Albums of 2012 (all styles, all genres)

As selected by Ted Gioia

Below are my picks for the 100 best albums of 2012, as well
as another 100 'honorable mention' selections.  Happy listening!
1     
Martha Redbone   
The Garden Of Love: Songs Of William Blake    
Americana / Britannia Fusion

2    
Arianna Savall / Petter Udland Johansen   
Hirundo Maris   
Classical-World-Early Music Fusion  

3    
Otis Taylor   
Contraband   
Blues   

4
Jan Garbarek, Egberto Gismonti & Charlie Haden       
Magico: Carta de Amor        
Jazz        

5
Debashish Bhattacharya        
Live in Calcutta        
Indian Slide Guitar

6
   
Nico Gori & Fred Hersch        
Da Vinci        
Piano-Clarinet Jazz Duets        

7    
Ray Wylie Hubbard        
The Grifter's Hymnal        
Country / Roots Music        

8  
 
Mickey Hart        
Mysterium Tremendum        
World Music / Rock   

9  
  
Ahmad Jamal       
Blue Moon         
Jazz        

10  
Roomful of Teeth        
Roomful of Teeth         
Progressive Vocal Polyphony   

11  
SoloDuo (Matteo Mela & Lorenzo Micheli)        
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: The Well-Tempered Guitars        
Modern Classical Guitar        

12   
Almost Charlie      
Tomorrow's Yesterday      
Beatles-ish Pop-Rock        

13
   
Max Richter      
Recomposed: Vivaldi - The Four Seasons        
Classical Mashup        

14    
Joanne Shaw Taylor       
Almost Always Never     
Blues-Rock

15
Keith Jarrett        
Sleeper: Tokyo, April 16, 1979        
Jazz   

16    
Michael Mizrahi       
The Bright Motion        
Contemporary  Piano Music      

17   
     
Jazz Punks        
Smashups        
Jazz Mashups   

18      
  
Steven Wright-Mark        
My Plastic World        
Rock    

19    
    
Zita Swoon        
Wait for Me        
Blues-Rock-West African Fusion     

20        
David Byrne & St. Vincent        
Love This Giant        
Singer-Songwriters        

21      
  
Turnpike Troubadours        
Goodbye Normal Street        
Country

22
       
The Bad Plus        
Made Possible        
Jazz        

23        
Anthony Ritchie        
A Bugle Will Do        
Contemporary Classical Music     

24        
Kenny Werner        
Me, Myself and I        
Jazz        

25   
     
Cody ChesnuTT        
Landing on a Hundred       
R&B        

26        
Good Old War        
Come Back as Rain        
Indie Folk      

27       
 
Chick Corea        
The Continents        
Jazz        

28       
Evan Ziporyn        
Big Grenadilla / Mumbai        
Contemporary Classical Music

29   
     
Nik Bärtsch's Ronin        
Live        
Minimalist-Funk Jazz

30      
  
Romain Collin        
The Calling        
Jazz    

31
       
Ewan McLennan        
The Last Bird to Sing        
Scottish Folk Music        

32      
  
Léo Gandelman        
Vip Vop        
Brazilian Jazz     

33       
 
Lisa Smirnova        
Handel: Die Acht Grossen Suiten        
Classical Music        

34        
Michael Occhipinti        
The Universe of John Lennon        
Jazz        

35       
 
Sasha Grynyuk        
Gould / Gulda        
Modern Piano Music        

36        
Brad Mehldau        
Where Do You Start?        
Jazz        

37      
  
Anat Cohen        
Claroscuro        
Jazz        

38        
Conspirare        
Samuel Barber: An American Romantic        
Classical Music       

39       
 
Eric Reed        
The Baddest Monk        
Jazz        

40
       
Elina Duni        
Matanë Malit        
Jazz-Balkan Fusion

41       
 
Kelly Joe Phelps        
Brother Sinner & The Whale        
Blues / Folk

42   
     
Casey Abrams        
Casey Abrams        
Jazz-Pop     

43       
 
The American Scene        
Safe for Now        
Indie Rock      

44        
Ronn Yedidia        
Impromptu, Nocturne and World Dance        
Modern Clarinet Music        

45       
Pat Metheny        
Unity Band        
Jazz        

46        
Emily Portman        
Hatchling        
British Folk Music        

47    
    
Frank Kimbrough        
Live at Kitano        
Jazz        

48    
    
Ian Boddy & Erik Wøllo        
Frontiers        
Ambient Music       

49       
 
Wolfgang Rihm        
Astralis        
Contemporary Choral Music        

50        
Punch Brothers        
Who's Feeling Young Now?        
Progressive bluegrass

51        
Kurt Rosenwinkel        
Star of Jupiter        
Jazz        

52       
 
William Brittelle        
Loving the Chambered Nautilus        
Modern Electro-Acoustic Music        

53        
Erik Jekabson        
Anti-Mass        
Jazz        

54     
   
Rodrigo y Gabriela        
Area 52        
World Music  

55    
    
Denny Zeitlin        
Wherever You Are        
Jazz

56
    
Alan Hovhaness      
From The Ends Of The Earth    
Modern Choral Music     

57    
Justin Townes Earle   
Nothing's Going to Change The Way You Feel About Me Now   
Americana / Country / Pop      

58      
  
Michael Hearst        
Songs for Unusual Creatures        
Neo-Circus Music        

59        
Jonny Greenwood       
Soundtrack from The Master        
Soundtrack

60        
Icebreaker with BJ Cole        
Brian Eno: Apollo        
Ambient Music        

61
       
Barry Douglas        
Brahms: Works for Solo Piano, Vol. 1        
Classical Music

62       
 
Nikki Iles        
Hush        
Jazz       

63  
      
The Shins        
Port of Morrow        
Indie Rock        

64        
Dennis Stroughmatt        
La Belle Blondine        
Cajun / Zydeco    

65       
 
David Greilsammer       
 
Baroque Conversations        
Classical Music        

66
       
Take 6        
One        
A Cappella / Gospel        

67        
Bang on a Can        
Big Beautiful Dark and Scary        
Contemporary Classical Music

68
  
Jason Mraz       
Love is a Four-Letter Word     
Singer-Songwriter      

69    
  
Bernard Hoffer       
MacNeil / Lehrer Variations     
Contemporary Classical Music      

70  
  
John Abercrombie      
Within a Song      
Jazz     

71    
 
Jean-Pierre Chassé       
Pilgrim of the Strings         
Jazz-Classical Guitar  

72
   
Curumin       
Arrocha        
Brazilian Samba-Funk-Hip-Hop   

73     
Vijay Iyer        
Accelerando        
Jazz  

74    
Keller Williams with The Travelin McCourys       
Pick        
Country-Bluegrass  

75    
John Mayer        
Born and Raised        
Singer-Songwriter  

76  
 
Stephane Wrembel        
Origins        
Jazz     

77
  
Galactic        
Carnivale Electricos        
New Orleans Funk        

78   
The Troubles       
The Troubles        
New Zealand Jazz        

79  
 
Eyvind Kang      
The Narrow Garden        
Classical-World Music        

80    
Chick Corea       
Further Explorations        
Jazz        

81
 
Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars      
Radio Salone    
African Music        

82   
 
Caramelo     
Ride        
Flamenco Funk        

83  
Jóhann Jóhannsson       
Soundtrack from Copenhagen Dreams        
Soundtrack

84   
David Maslanka       
Liberation        
Contemporary Classical Music for Alto Sax

85   
 
Band of Horses   
Mirage Rock   
Rock     

86     
Sam Rivers / Dave Holland / Barry Altschul  
Reunion: Live in New York  
Jazz        

87     
Thomas Newman  
Soundtrack from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel   
Soundtrack      

88   
Gloriana  
A Thousand Miles Left Behind   
Country     

89    
Alamaailman Vasarat   
Valta   
Finnish Klezmer   

90
  
The Offspring   
Days Go By   
Rock

91    
Omer Avital   
Suite of the East   
Jazz

92    
Gaelic Storm   
Chicken Boxer   
Celtic Rock

93   
Carole King   
The Legendary Demos   
Singer-Songwriter

94   
Ruthie Foster   
Let it Burn   
Soul-Blues-Gospel

95   
Lawrence Ball   
Method Music   
Contemporary Classical Music

96   
Susanna Wallumrød & Giovanna Pessi
If Grief Could Wait   
Jazz Art Songs

97  
Caetano Veloso and David Byrne   
Live At Carnegie Hall   
World Music

98   
Fergus & Geronimo   
Funky Was the State of Affairs   
Zappa-esque Rock

99
The Vespers   
The Fourth Wall   
Indie Folk Music

100
Dario Marianelli   
Soundtrack from Anna Karenina   
Soundtrack
To purchase, click on album title or photo