Part one of our best of 2012 album countdown
Gigwise
14:39 10th December 2012

2012 is nearly over and we've been wracking our brains to remember which albums we were playing on repeat in the early months of the year to bring you our collection of the best albums of the past year.

All this week we'll be counting down our favourite albums of the year - ten a day. Fifty albums that range from international chart toppers to undiscovered gems that should have been listened to by the masses - but were edged to the sidelines by the likes of Muse, Mumford & Sons or Lana Del Rey.

As well as bringing you our favourite albums of the year, all through December we've been asking Gigwise readers to tell us their picks of the year's releases in our readers' poll. Currently at the top of the poll is 2010 X Factor winner Matt Cardle, who can certainly rely on fans to vote in polls - even if they are less inclined to keep him in the charts. He faces stiff competition from Muse, Aiden Grimshaw and Lana Del Rey however - click here to cast your vote.

Today, we're counting down the first of our albums of the year, numbers 50 to 41 - check out our picks below.

  • 50. Jack White - Blunderbuss: In 'Love Interruption', the first single from The White Stripes' frontman’s debut solo album, Jack White declares 'I want love to roll me over slowly/Stick a knife inside me'. Blunderbluss unapologetically gives you Jack White: tortured soul, and it's brilliant. Everything from R&B to prog-folk is explored in this album and used as a tool to deplore love gone wrong. So for its sheer unpredictability and brilliantly crafted weirdness, you've got to tip your hat to Jack White. Standout track: 'Love Interruption'

  • 49. Miike Snow - Happy To You: Conclusive proof that men with beards are the experts when it comes to perfect pop music, Miike Snow's second album was a hi-concept collection of perfectly formed gems. Singles such as 'The Wave' and 'Paddling Out' caught the attention of mainstream radio, but it was soaring album tracks such as 'Archipelago' and 'Bavarian #1' that really saw the album take off. Standout track: 'Archipelago'.

  • 48. Clams Casino - Instrumental Mixtape 2: After the success of the first Instrumental Mixtape from Clams Casino, it was always a worry that the follow-up would fall too easily into the 'more of the same' category. Luckily, Instrumental Mixtape 2 sidesteps that entirely - forget the last mixtape, there's nothing that sounds even remotely similar on this. The best part is that there's nothing missing even without the MCing - Clams doesn't just fill the voids, he makes them sound like they never existed. Standout track: Lana Del Rey - 'Born To Die' (Clams Casino remix)

  • 47. Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball: Album number 17 from the Boss combines a passionate critique of the rotten concept of the American dream with authentic folksy guitars. 'We Take Care of Our Own' in particular highlights the great achievement of Wrecking Ball. Springsteen sings 'I've been stumblin' on good hearts turned to stone / The road of good intentions has turned dry as a bone'. The single was played throughout Obama's presidential campaign and emphasises how Springsteen's lyrics are more relevant than ever in 2012. Minimal, political, Springsteen. Standout track: 'We Take Care Of Our Own'

  • 46. The Orb ft Lee Scratch Perry Present Observer In the Star House: 2012 has been a relatively quiet one for reggae music, with few really exciting releases in the genre. Observer In The Star House, however, was a brightly burning polestar of reggae inventiveness. The union of comedown-favourites The Orb and dub originator Lee Scratch Perry might have looked odd on paper, but in practice it worked wonderfully. Rolling rhythms and a cosmic atmosphere met Perry's loopy ramblings to create a musically compelling and lyrically intriguing record. Standout Track: 'Golden Clouds' or 'Soulman'

  • 45. Mumford & Sons - Babel: The year's fastest selling album and rightly so. Babel heard the London band tread a darker road than heard on Sigh No More, with more aggression, passion and self-doubt seeping through the story-driven tracks on the album. There were moments of light among Marcus Mumford's fierce introspection however, such as stirring single 'I Will Wait'. Standout track: 'Hopeless Wanderer'

  • 44. Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory: There's something very raw about Attack on Memory; maybe it's down in part to Steve Albini's production, but a lot of the credit rightfully belongs to the band. It would be wrong to call it abrasive, although the word comes to mind - but Attack on Memory is more like an album with the rough edges purposefully left on. Definitely an attack, and in all the best ways, too. Standout track: 'Stay Useless.'

  • 43. Portico Quartet - Portico Quartet: No one does what these guys do do like Portico Quartet do it. No one even comes close. This year's self-titled release confirmed their musical prestige still further. An insanely thought-out record of glistening soundscapes and carefully balanced beats put together with near-flawless production quality. Imbued with a steely stylishness and genuinely touching emotive expression, Portico Quartet saw the band developing still further both technically and creatively. Standout track: 'Ruins'

  • 42. Lana Del Rey - Born To Die: This album contains some of the most beautifully delivered pop songs of the year. Certainly one of the most distinctive voices of 2012, Del Rey's gorgeous vocals lace this record with effortless perfection. Production on the album seems to have been dialled down in an inspired move to let Del Rey's voice take you on the emotional journey that it portrays. Standout track: 'National Anthem'

  • 41. Jake Bugg - Jake Bugg: Jake Bugg's self-titled debut album was a breath of fresh air for it's simplicity alone. Bugg has a certain tone to his voice that captures a sound from a different era. Bob Dylan mixed with the modern day music of Artic Monkeys is the most complementary way to describe this record. Such a real artist, Bugg's album shows no sign of over-production and his organic style has made him rise to the top this year. Standout track: 'Two Fingers'