Top five albums of the year

Its that time of the year again: snow is falling, UVM students are slipping and sliding to class, Christmas is around the corner and its finally time to start putting a wrap on this crazy year of 2012.

For many, the end of the year is a time for reflection. In the spirit of the holidays, lets look back on this year in music and name the Cynical Listeners top five albums of 2012:

5. Frank Ocean channel ORANGE

There are few albums that were as universally acclaimed by critics this year as Frank Oceans channel ORANGE, and its easy to see why. An R&B album with a sensitive soul, channel ORANGE is solid from start to finish, a masterwork of intriguing beats and empathetic lyrics.

Frank Ocean, who started out as a member of super-group Odd Future, has a restrained yet powerful voice that aptly complements the albums overall style.

Standout songs: Super Rich Kids, Bad Religion, and Pyramids.

4. Schoolboy Q Habits &Contradictions

Though props have to be given to Kendrick Lamars excellent good kid, m.A.A.d city, I cant help but find myself going back again and again to fellow Black Hippy Crew member Schoolboy Qs early 2012 release, Habits & Contradictions.

Schoolboy Q is a playfully inventive and entertaining rapper of the highest sort. Backed by hard but deeply textured beats, Habits & Contradictions will make you laugh, think and maybe even choke you up a little. How many rap albums can you say that about?

Standout songs: Druggys Wit Hoes Again (feat. Ab Soul), My Homie, and Blessed (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

3. TameImpala Lonerism

The most recent album on this list, Tame Impalas Lonerism is an album with one foot in 2012 and the other in 1968. Channeling the psychedelic sound of classic bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd and even Black Sabbath, Tame Impala stands on the shoulders of these giants and creates a sound all their own.

With mesmerizing and inventive psychedelic instrumentation, catchy pop structures and lead singer Kevin Parkers delicate yet soaring John Lennon-esque voice, this is an album thats easy to put on and hard to get out of your head.

Standout songs: Mind Mischief, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and Keep on Lying.

2. Beach House Bloom

Beach Houses fourth album Bloom is a perfect example of slow and steady growth. While many bands explode and then burn out, Beach House has improved with every album, and with Bloom, theyve released a masterpiece of dream pop.

Bloom is an awesome album in the truest sense of the word. Epic and powerful reverbed guitar is masterfully mixed with lead singer Victoria Legrands smoky, deep and ethereal voice to create a sound almost religious in nature.

Turn off the lights, close your eyes, turn up your speakers as loud as you can and feel yourself lifted by this gem of an album.

Standout songs: Lazuli, New Year, and Irene.

1. Polica Give You the Ghost

There have been few debut albums that have impressed me as much as Policas Give You the Ghost. Christened the best band Ive ever heard by Bon Ivers Justin Vernon, Polica has had plenty of hype surrounding them and deserves even more.

Give You the Ghost is an album that escapes labels while sounding entirely familiar. Made up of a bassist, two drummers and the heavily digitally altered voice of lead singer Channy Leaneagh, Policas unique makeup gives them an entirely distinctive sound.

Groovy bass lines, ominous but danceable beats, emotionally charged vocals and lyrics, minimalist electronic ambient noises and climactic song structures make up much of their sound. Thematically and musically, the album is cohesive without being the least bit repetitive.

As a whole, their combination of rhythmic beats, distorted vocals and minimalist sound provides a stark contrast to the otherwise highly emotional song structures, lyrics and pain-tinged vocals.

This combination of sincerity and distortion is something that many contemporary bands have attempted, but none have executed in such a subtle, accessible yet profoundly deep way as Polica.

For this, Give You the Ghost deserves the Cynical Listeners 2012 Album of the Year.

Standout songs: Dark Star, The Maker, Lay Your Cards Out, and Happy Be Fine.