Rather than bore you with our oh-so-deep thoughts on our favorite records from the first half of 2012, we decided to do something different. Chances are, you're already listening to these albums, so we offered up a handy guide on how to best enjoy this great music, often with a beverage pairing. We recommend you try all of these, and if you think we missed any albums, or you have any suggestions on how to listen to them, please let us know in the comments below.
Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas
The 77-year-old legend's voice has deepened so richly over the years that it would be a pity not to listen to this album by sipping a finely aged scotch and contemplating life.
Listen to Leonard Cohen's "Going Home"
Sharon Van Etten, Tramp
With her third album, the Brooklyn-based singer added a heavier side to her haunting songs, thanks in part to the production of the National's Aaron Dessner. Going back between her ballads and the harder, driving tracks makes this LP the perfect complement to curling up with a glass of wine and reading a good book.
Sharon Van Etten Performs "Give Out' on The Interface
Alabama Shakes, Self-Titled
If you don't know how to cook some Southern-style cuisine, learn. Once you're ready, fire up the grill and let this be the soundtrack to the best damn cookout you've ever had. Warning: Be prepared to get sweaty with all the dancing you're about to do.
Watch Alabama Shakes' "Hold On" Video