The number of albums getting released each year has been increasing, so it makes sense that the number of albums that go largely ignored by radio and the mainstream music media each year would be on the rise. In fact, this was one of the toughest years in the past decade to rank the best overlooked CDs. More than ever, many of the best albums of 2012 (Archie Powell and Prima Donna would have made my top five overall) were ones that didn't show up on the "Billboard" magazine charts or the shelves of big box retailers. Here's how I rank the best of the overlooked albums for 2012:
4) The Mastersons: "Birds Fly South" -- The husband-and-wife duo that makes up the Mastersons -- Eleanor Whitmore and Chris Masterson -- have been key members of Steve Earle's latest backing group. But they're going to get noticed as major songwriting talents in their own right with this auspicious debut. Songs like "Tell Me It's Alright" and "The Other Shoe" strike a winning balance between country twang and tuneful rock -- and shades of pop and rock filter in throughout the album as well. However one describes the Mastersons, this duo has a bright future.