With a penchant for varying her production style at each stage of her career, Fiona Apple once again sets out for new sonic terrain on her fourth album, The Idler Wheel. A partial return to the acoustic-based instrumentation of her 1996 debut, Tidal, Apple’s new material nonetheless rarely revisits that album’s courtly brand of jazz pop. Instead, The Idler Wheel veers much closer to what Apple might sound like if she landed somewhere between modern experimental theater, the unabashed pomp of Broadway, and the bustle of a frontier saloon or Prohibition-era speakeasy.
Last month ALARM presented its 50 favorite albums of 2012, an eclectic, rock-heavy selection of discs that were in steady rotation in our downtown-Chicago premises. Now, to give some love to tunes that were left out, we have our 50 (+5) favorite songs of last year — singles, B-sides, EP standouts, soundtrack cuts, and more.