Before we get started here, yes, we realize this is a somewhat unusual list, in that it completely eschews no fewer than three of the year's most talked-about and generally drooled-over releases. We promise, though, that there was nothing cynical or purposely contrarian happening here—just an honest to goodness case of some human beings having ever so slightly different taste in things than other human beings. At this time of year, it's easy to forget such a thing is even possible. Anyway, these are the records we loved the most over the past 12 months, the records that renewed our faith in things, comforted us, made us think about what music is capable of—we bet a lot of them had the same effect on you, and we hope we can convince you to give it another shot with those that didn't. For a Spotify playlist of key tracks from our favorite albums, click here.