Admit it: You love lists. C'mon, you know you're reading every single "Best of 2012" piece, either nodding with the satisfaction of having your own opinions validated or boiling with anger at egregious snubs. Without debates, pop culture is boring, and nothing sparks a good debate like a list. Let the arguing begin!
Brainstorm, Heat Waves
An all-white trio playing African- and Middle Eastern-style pop could've been a disaster. Brainstorm embraced the challenge, creating something beautiful as a result. ROBERT HAM.
Chromatics, Kill for Love
A chilly soundtrack for brittle desire, Kill for Love is a perfectly sequenced synth-pop collection that proves things are most beautiful when held at arm's length. CHRIS STAMM.
Dana Buoy, Summer Bodies
A warm and vibrant debut from Akron/Family percussionist Dana Janssen that's as much an equatorial surf ride as carefully stacked digital pop album. MARK A. STOCK.
Dana Buoy's Pick: Brainstorm, Heat Waves
Gaytheist, Stealth Beats
Hyperdrive post-hardcore noise rock from guys old enough to do it as well as their heroes. NATHAN CARSON.
Laura Gibson, La Grande
La Grande finds one of Portland's quietest singer-songwriters getting loud, weird and personal—and proving again why Laura Gibson is among the smartest and most engaging voices in Portland music. CASEY JARMAN.
Lost Lander, DRRT
Lost Lander's inventive debut mixes varying organic and electronic ideas, finding an enticing balance of textural tranquility and vigor to back frontman Matt Sheehy's fluctuating vocals. EMILEE BOOHER.
Lost Lander's Pick: The Helio Sequence, Negotiations.
Lost Lockets, Love Not Fear
Witchy, waltzy organ-viola-banjo gospel rock that channels David Lynch's nightmares into sexy siren songs. (NC)
Mean Jeans, On Mars
Mean Jeans' zitty ode to shitty feelings is a masterpiece of pop-punk idiocy, a lunatic spree of heartbroken moping and heartbreaking fun. (CS)
Mirrorring, Foreign Body
Monarques, Letâs Make Love Come True
The long-gestating debut of Josh Spacek and friends distilled an effervescent aesthetic borne upon the sounds of pop past but made thrillingly new. JAY HORTON.
Myke Bogan, So Long, South Dakota
Bogan has a gift for capturing the concept of fleeting youth through his songs, which are built on heavy-hearted nostalgia and the intoxicated ramblings of a 20-something rapper looking for lifeâs bigger picture. REED JACKSON.
Onuinu, Mirror Gazer
Dorian Duvallâs moody, celestial, hyper-velvety take on dance music features pulsating homages to disco, chillwave and, nowadays, R&B. (MAS)
Radiation City, Cool Nightmare
A gorgeous masterstrokeâimagine Bebel Gilberto soundtracking Loganâs Run. (JH)
Ramona Falls, Prophet
Brent Knopf builds on an explorative vision with this yearâs sonically vast and meticulously produced follow-up to his 2009 debut. (EB)
Vice Device, Breathless EP
The two-song disc is a too-short taste of the undersung local trio's darkwaveâbut it does feature the strangest sax solo you've ever heard. JONATHAN FROCHTZWAJG.
Vinnie Dewayneâs Pick: Mic Capes, Rise and Grind.
Vinnie Dewayne, Castaway
In the age of swag and shock, the St. Johns MCâs flooring sophomore mixtape stands out for next-level storytelling that rejects embellishment. (CJ)
The We Shared Milk, History of Voyager and Legend Tripping
Calling on 10 musician friends for production help, the trio made not just a great, lightheaded psych-pop album but a de facto survey of the Portland underground circa 2012. MATTHEW SINGER.
The We Shared Milkâs Pick: And And And, No Party 7â.