20 Albums to Look Forward to in 2012

Music to watch out for, from Sleigh Bells to Fleetwood Mac to The Shins to Paul McCartney

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What will 2012 sound like? All sorts of things. It's always been hard to sum up or predict a year's sound, but now more than ever—or so goes the new cliche—music listening is fragmented. Still, there's a squishy center of tunes that open-minded people from various backgrounds can kind of, sort of agree might be interesting to hear. Here are 20 examples from the coming year.

Keep in mind that albums aren't announced all that far in advance, so this list is heavy on material from the first part of the year. At the end, there's three long-shot albums from huge artists. Fingers crossed that those ones actually come out.

Note: Some of the music players may be slow to load. Give 'em a few seconds.

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Spencer Kornhaber is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers pop culture and music. He was previously an editor at Patch.com and a staff writer at OC Weekly. He has written for Spin, The AV Club, and RollingStone.com.

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