Being asked to choose your top five world music albums of the year is a bit like being asked which kid is your favourite, when you are a parent of 12 or so. Of course, they say that parents really do have favoured children, even if they tend not to broadcast the fact.
Fortunately, no little tykes will be crushed by not being chosen for this list. And it being merely a matter of favourites, you may have a very different set of choices for your top albums. If so please share, in the comments.
Regardless, these five albums are all well worth cuddling up with over the holidays (or dancing to, depending on the track). So here is CBC Music's top five world music albums of 2012.
1. Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, Radio Salone
Our number one album of the year comes from a band that has a story as famous as their music — the band's members came together in Sierra Leone refugee camps, and consoled themselves and campmates by playing music. But when the conflict in Sierra Leone ended they began to record, and three albums later the proof of their talent is in the excellent Radio Salone, a joyful mix of reggae, West African styles, funk and more.
Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars Radio Salone
Full Album Stream until Dec 23
Listen to "Big Fat Dog" from Sierra Leone's Refugee All Star's Radio Salone:
2. Ondatrópica, Ondatrópica
Colombian musician Mario Galeano and English producer Will Holland (a.k.a. Quantic) take some of the traditional tropical sounds of Colombia and marry them to what they describe as "the cool sound of London" through a supergroup of Colombian musicians. London should always be this cool.
Watch an album teaser for Ondatrópica's Ondatrópica:
3. Novalima, Karimba
Peru's Novalima has such a great sound. That's why they're on this list. That and the fact that this inventive blend — Afro-Latin and dubtronic grooves — is unique, sizzling and played to perfection by the band, augmented by Lima's finest.
Listen to "Festejo" from Novalima's Karimba:
4. Amadou & Mariam, Folila
Shiny, happy yet bluesy, Folila is a fusion of Malian styles with rock and R&B, and features a cast of guesties including Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold, Scissor Sister Jake Shears plus Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV on the Radio.
Listen to "Dougou Badia" from Amadou & Mariam's Folila:
5. The Souljazz Orchestra, Solidarity
Ottawa-based Souljazz Orchestra's Solidarity struts and swaggers with a funky brew of soul, jazz, Afro, Latin and Caribbean rhythms, and a message of positive social change.
Listen to "Ya Basta" from Souljazz Orchestra's Solidarity:
Q&A: Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars transcend the ‘refugee’ tag
Must Hear: Novalima's dance music for the soul
The Souljazz Orchestra rolls with the punches on European tour
Amadou & Mariam’s joyful Folila
Road trip playlist with Quantic, the Very Best, Refugee All Stars, more
on Dec 17, 2012