BloomTrying to define indie rock or indie pop or indie anything is getting harder and harder to do every day. When every second commercial on TV sounds like a track on side two of an album on Polyvinyl and MGMT songs are played at breaks in the action at football games, the meaning of indie tends to be fuzzy at best, irrelevant at worst. Befitting the ubiquitous nature of indie, our list of favorite albums is broken into two easy-to-digest parts that attempt to span the wide range of sounds and styles that fall under the indie umbrella. The A-L portion includes the broken street poetry of Willis Earl Beal, the fairy-tale pop of Grimes, Beach House's chilly dream pop, the rain-slicked love beats of Chromatics, the reliably weird sound of Deerhoof, and the sweet wisdom of Jens Lekman. These are artists who don’t fit easily in one style, but they all capture the essential spirit of indie, which means doing what you want, the way you want, while being true to your artistic vision, no matter what shape or size. All the records on this list do exactly that, and they helped make the year a pretty good one for indie in all its various forms. (Come back tomorrow for M-Z.)Bat for Lashes - The Haunted Man
Beach House - Bloom
Beachwood Sparks - The Tarnished Gold
Willis Earl Beal - Acousmatic Sorcery
David Byrne & St. Vincent - Love This Giant
Chromatics - Kill for Love
Clinic - Free Reign
Chris Cohen - Overgrown Path
Crystal Castles - (III)
Deerhoof - Breakup Song
Disappears - Pre Language
Grimes - Visions
Grizzly Bear - Shields
Hot Chip - In Our Heads
King Tuff - King Tuff
Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't
Liars - WIXIW
Lightships - Electric Cables
Lonely Drifter Karen - Poles
Lotus Plaza - Spooky Action at a Distance

Listen to the best tracks from our favorite Indie Pop and Rock albums of 2012 in this playlist: