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MusicRadar Playlist: best of 2012

Our staff members pick their top tracks, artist and albums of the year

In this special, end-of-year edition of the MusicRadar Playlist, team 'Radar bring you a selection of song choices that represent the tracks, artists, albums and, err, fish mongers our individual staff members have fallen for over the course of 2012.

The resulting run-down is a bizarre and eclectic selection of some of the year's best music. We hope you enjoy it.

Let us know your 2012 favourites tracks via Twitter, Facebook and the comment section below.

Tame Impala - Feels Like we Only Go Backwards

I'd like to shrink myself down very small, crawl inside Kevin Parker's head, and stay there forever. That's how good Lonerism is. This tune in particular cropped up with alarming regularity on my internal jukebox, its mix of Beatles-y vibes and thrilling psyche modernity pushing precisely all of my buttons at the same time. (Rob Power)

Brian Eno - Lux 2

You could use his iPhone app Bloom and get pretty much the same effect, but if tapping a screen intermittently seems too much bother, why not zone out to sonic boffin Eno's beautiful, generative, ambient adventure, Lux? WARNING: Not get-up-and-go music. (Will Groves)

Frank Ocean - Pyramids

'Channelling' everyone from Stevie Wonder to Kanye West, Frank Ocean's first full-length release proper is as bold as it is beautiful. It skips around in endless different directions, casually throwing out killer hooks before quickly leaving them behind. It's not only the best RnB album of the year, but arguably the album of the year full stop. (Ben Rogerson)

Rush - The Wreckers

Bucking all standards and practices of Music 101, Rush insist on getting better and cooler, looser and more vibrant, and in 2012 they released Clockwork Angels, a grand concept album that moved at a brisk pace and didn't get bogged down by plot or other clunky artifices. The Wreckers, propelled by rousing flamenco strums, at times evokes The Who and The Kinks, but it's clearly the work of a band comfortable in their own skin – more so now than ever. (Joe Bosso)

Usher - Climax

Personally I find Diplo's contributions to the world of electronic music quite hit-and-miss, but you can't argue with his production work on Climax - undoubtedly one of the finest pop tunes of recent years. The thing that makes the track so brilliant is that, at a time when pretty much all r&b vocalists have fallen under the spell of big-room trance-pop bravado, it's content to be one long, drawn-out and spacey build-up that refuses to ever let off in the Guetta/Calvin Harris fashion you'd expect it to. Instead it playfully teases said climax without ever reaching it, massively emphasising the heart-wrenching impact of Usher's vocal in the process. (Si Truss)

Walk Like A Giant - Neil Young

The sound of the Horse running wild over 16 minutes of apocalyptic guitar and doo wop backing vocals. It shouldn't be possible for a human to be as supernaturally superb as Shakey, but once again with Psychedelic Pull he showed the kids how it's done. Majestic. (RP)

The Smashing Pumpkins - Quasar

Several years after declaring the album a dead medium, Billy Corgan has not only returned with a doozy of a long player, but he's done so with a reconstituted Smashing Pumpkins that is every bit the equal of the original. Quasar is a seismic tour de force of guitar rock, and elsewhere on Oceania the band bends and shapes prog, dream pop, folk, alt-rock and psychedelia with raging aplomb. (JB)

Mary Epworth - Black Doe

Originally released in 2009, but resurfacing this year on Epworth's debut album Dream Life, Black Doe is a compellingly creepy blend of Olde English folk, standout drumming, brass and distortion. (WG)

Jake Bugg - Lightning Bolt

When Lightning Bolt was used in the build up to the 100m final at the Olympics, the stage was set for 2012 to be the year of the Bugg. Annoyingly young, at 18 Jake Bugg has already got a number one album under his belt, a US tour with Noel Gallagher, and cooler haircut that you. Plus, he's got the voice of a 45 year old bluesman and more guitar chops than he's letting on. Great things await. (RP)

LHF - Akashic Visions

London production collective LHF's two and a half hour opus Keepers Of The Light was probably my favourite album of 2012. It's a dubstep record in essence, but certainly not in the 2012 sense of the word. Rather than mid-range synth wobbles and endless drops the tracks on Keepers... celebrate the atmospheric power of dubstep's meditative low-end and build spacious, richly textured melodies out of multiple layers of samples and subtle reverb effects. It's an album that looks back on the early days of dubstep while still feeling fresh and endlessly imaginative. (ST)

Elton John vs Pnau - Good Morning To The Night

A dance album comprising remixes of '70s Elton John songs might sound like a hideous idea, but - for the most part at least - it works. Wisely, Nick Littlemore and Peter Hayes (AKA Pnau) left plenty of room for the timeless melodies, recontextualising them into something blissful and contemporary. (BR)

One Pound Fish Man - One Pound Fish

Am I serious? Oh yes. The original video of the legendary Upton Park One Pound Fish man is a thing of beauty. "Do your fish song for me," says the man behind the camera, and Muhammad Shahid Nazir, a Pakistani immigrant working on a market stall selling fish, proceeds to blast out a tune with a catchier hook than anything Katy Perry, Nikki Minaj, Justin Bieber, One Direction or anyone else put out all year. Plus, when he slows down at 1.49, it makes me more emotional about fish than I ever thought possible. The new dance single is rubbish of course, but you can't win them all. (RP)


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