7 January

My "great books" project brings to mind sites like Metacritic that compile reviews and attempt to give a numerical summation of what, say, fifty publications have said about a given music album. The average number given should be ignored; it is extremely idiotic, especially as many of the sites whose reviews are being tabulated do not give a numerical score or even a school-style letter score. I give them a 0.5 for this aspect of their site. You can read the customary non-explanation of their "proprietary" method of determining Metascores yourself to see through the phlegm. But they do provide quick links to many reviews. They also remind me of the large number of music publications, online and print, nearly all offering year-end lists. These annual "best of" lists appearing over the course of December and January always intrigue me, often disgust me as well, as they're supposed to. Many web sites that did not begin as periodicals, such as the All-Music Guide (Best Albums of 2012) and E Music (Best Albums of 2012) have a blog-like section and also give annual lists. The web behemoth, Amazon (The Best Albums of 2012), once got a lot of attention for its yearly list, but I had to dig around to find it this year.

The music industry, from a broad economic perspective, is certainly struggling. Total sales and the number of high-selling releases are down. Terrestrial radio offers fewer options than ever, or at least since its early years in the 1920's. And yes, a few print magazines have stopped, or switched to online-only. Nonetheless, as with book publishing, more is available than ever before. Going into questions of aesthetics, that glut of material may very well be the reason music seems less significant to our lives. The music being created is no longer, in the abstract, as a whole, such a grand gesture, a unique treasure. Certain artists and works do stand out, though; using your own mix of standards, you need to filter the suggestions made by these publications, many with a strong interest, financial or intellectual, in getting you to buy new music, or at least make a lot of clicks.


The following is a list of extant music publications, as well as publications that offer all the expected content of a music-focused publication but which also focus on film, literature, etc., plus a link (if available) to their yearly round-up of the best albums. Many of the print magazines do not give away these lists for free on their web sites.


online:

Absolute Punk (Top 30 Albums of 2012)
Ad Hoc
Alt Sounds (Top 50 Albums of 2012)
Aquarium Drunkard
Blastitude
Bowlegs
Club Fonograma (Best Albums of 2012)
Collapse Board
Consequence of Sound (Top 50 Albums of 2012)
Coke Machine Glow (Top 50 Albums 2012)
Country Standard Time
Delusions of Adequacy (D O A) (Best of 2012)
Drowned in Sound (Favorite Albums of 2012)
Dusted
Engine 145 (Top Albums of 2012)
Fact
Faster Louder (Top 50 Albums of 2012)
Fast 'n' Bulbous (The Best Albums of 2012)
405 (Albums of the Year)
Freaky Trigger
Gigwise (Albums of the Year)
Hip Hop D X (Top 25 Albums of 2012)
I Like Music
Impose
In Music We Trust
K Mag
Line of Best Fit (The Best Fit Fifty Albums of 2012)
Live Music Blog
Louder Than War (The Albums of the Year 2012)
Music OMH (Top 100 Albums of 2012)
Mxdwn
New Noise
No Ripcord (Top 50 Albums of 2012 (Part One); Top 50 Albums of 2012 (Part Two))
Obscure Sound (Best Albums of 2012)
Okayplayer (Top 12 L Ps of 2012)
Organ
Perfect Sound Forever
Pitchfork (The Top 50 Albums of 2012)
Pretty Much Amazing (Best Albums of 2012)
Resident Advisor (Top 20 Albums of 2012)
Reverb
Reggae Report
Skyscraper
Slicing Up Eyeballs
Sound It Out
Sputnik Music (Top 50 Albums of 2012)
State (Albums of 2012)
Stereogum (Top 50 Albums of 2012)
Still Single
Tiny Mix Tapes (Favorite 50 Albums of 2012)
Tone Deaf
Urb
Wondering Sound 
Yellow Green Red

print:

Alarm
Alternative Press (10 Essential Albums of 2012--see below)
American Songwriter (Top 50 Albums of 2012)
Artrocker (Artrocker Awards)
Big Cheese
Big Takeover
Black Velvet
Blues Matters
Blues Music Magazine
Blues and Rhythm
Blues and Soul
Blurt
Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles
Clash (The Top 40 Albums of 2012)
Classic Rock
C M J New Music Report
Cyclic Defrost
Decibel (The Top 40 Albums of 2012--see below)
Decoder Magazine
D J Mag
D J Times
Elmore
Exclaim! (Best Albums of 2012)
Fader
Filter (Top 10 of 2012)
Ghetto Blaster
Goldmine
Hittin' the Note
Iron Fist
Juke Blues
Kerrang!
Living Blues
Loud and Quiet
M Music and Musicians
Magnet (Top 25 Albums of 2012)
Maximum Rocknroll
Metal Hammer
Mixmag
Mojo (50 Best Albums of 2012--see below)
New Musical Express (Albums of the Year)
Off Beat
Outburn
Performer
Prog
Q (50 Best Albums of 2012)
Record Collector
Record Collector News
Relix
Respect
Revolver
Rock-a-Rolla
Rock Sound
Rolling Stone (50 Best Albums of 2012)
Shindig!
Songlines
Source (Top 20 Albums of 2012--see below)
Spin (50 Best Albums of 2012)
Stomp and Stammer
Substream
Terrorizer
This Is Fake D I Y
Ugly Things
Uncut (75 Best Albums of 2012--see below)
Under the Radar (Top 100 Albums of 2012)
Vibe
Vive le Rock!
Wax Poetics
Wire
XLR8R (Best of 2012: Releases, Part OneBest of 2012: Releases, Part Two)
X X L

Publications that cover music but also focus on other media:
online:
Digital Fix
Paste (The 50 Best Albums of 2012)
Pop Matters (The 75 Best Albums of 2012)
Quietus (Albums of the Year 2012)
Slant Magazine (The 25 Best Albums of 2012)
Slug Magazine
Spectrum Culture (Top 20 Albums of 2012)

print:

Complex
Entertainment Weekly (10 Best Albums of 2012)
Fact (The 50 Best Albums of 2012)
Vice

Village Voice, with its famous Pazz and Jop Critics Poll that collects the top-ten lists of hundreds of critics [the subject of another post at some point this year], plus many other "alternative" newsweeklies, of which the most prominent in music have been the Chicago Reader and the Boston Phoenix--the latter now only online--should be noted, as should:

the Onion's A V Club (The Best Music of 2012);

the London newspaper the Guardian (Best Albums of 2012) has become as much a trendsetter as Pitchfork--listener beware!; the New York Times (Popcast: The Best Albums of 2012) is not so organized;

the government suggests a few (N P R Music's 50 Favorite Albums of 2012 and B B C Music's Top 25 Albums of 2012);

at least one person at M T V (Best Albums of 2012) still listens to music;

and the true curios of the bunch: A B C News (The 50 Best Albums of 2012), the Associated Press (A P Music Writers' Top 10 Albums of the Year), and Time (Top 10 Everything of 2012: Albums).

The Album of the Year web site provides a few lists not available online: Alternative Press's 10 Essential Albums of 2012; and Insound's Top 10 Albums of 2012 (apparently already replaced on their site by a longer "staff picks" list).

Another site, Year-End Lists, transcribes several of the print magazines' lists noted above but unavailable at their sites: Decibel; Mojo; Source; Uncut; Wire.