1. FRANK OCEAN - Channel Orange
Every few years someone revisits and reinvents R&B, and Frank Ocean has done it this time. Smooth groove, but absolutely contemporary.
2. ALABAMA SHAKES - Boys & Girls
Lead singer Brittany Howard sometimes channels Janis Joplin, and never strays far from the hall of fame of heartbroken, heartbreaking singers who came before her on this soul-soaked debut.
3. BAHAMAS - Barcords
Afie Jurvanen has made a sleek, subtle and occasionally heartbreaking disc that never leaves you down. His live gig at the NOW Lounge this year was a 2012 highlight, and he'll only get bigger.
4. SEXION D'ASSAUT - L'Apogée
Ten years in, this French band mostly made up of transplanted West Africans delivers urgent, hooky hip-hop with pop power and big, beefy beats.
5. THE WEEKND - Trilogy
Yeah, you could get this three-pack of moody magnificence for free as a download last year, but it's worth buying this release just to pick up the impressive Toronto rookie's smooth stylings at a higher bit rate.
6. KENDRICK LAMAR - Good Kid, m.A.A.d city
Smooth grooves and big, boomy bass can't hide the hard edge of this searing hip-hop extravaganza.
7. IMPERIAL STATE ELECTRIC - Pop War
One-time frontman for fantastic Swedish band the Hellacopters, Nicke Andersson is back with more pop rock power in a band that picks up where his former one left off.
8. KATHLEEN EDWARDS - Voyageur
Love gone bad rarely sounds this good. This amazing breakup disc overseen by then-boyfriend Bon Iver is her best yet.
9. BILLY TALENT - Dead Silence
Mississauga's favourite punk-pop powerhouse deliver their most sophisticated and satisfying disc ever.
10. NEIL YOUNG - Psychedelic Pill
Loud and lyrical, epic and irresistible, Neil Young manages to justify bruising, 20-minute-plus tracks and gives us a new Ontario song along the way.