There were others, of course, but I'm big into lists of three and much of what I listened to in 2012 was old news by the time I found it.
Here we go!
Come Back As Rain by Good Old War
I was blown away by Good Old War when I saw them open for Guster a few years ago. I was fortunate to be able to see them open for Counting Crows this summer and I was even more impressed. Their sound is perfect for lounging on the lawn at a summer concert. They execute such a tight and delightful harmony to music that feels down-home comfortable. Every single track on Come Back As Rain is good. If I had to pick a favorite, I would not be able to. I'd say "Oh, Better Weather. No wait, Amazing Eyes. Or Can't Go Home. No, definitely Not Quite Happiness..." and on and on.
Keep in Touch by Old Best Friend
I wasn't sure if an EP qualified for this list but then I realized that I make the rules and if I say it belongs here, it does. I saw Mike Comite of Old Best Friend play with Julia Nunes at Common Ground in July and I was rather impressed by the couple of his songs that they played. He mentioned that his stuff was on Bandcamp and so when I got home, I looked it up and sort of went bananas over it. It's a small but very well done collection of story-telling songs and I hope we hear more from Old Best Friend soon.
Smoke Signals by Dan & the Wildfire
Dan & the Wildfire is one of my favorite Twitter Bands - that is, bands that I discovered via Twitter. I'm not really sure how we found each other there but I'm so glad that we did because this album is just so good I would hate to have missed out. The sound overall is a really fantastic blend of instruments and voices -- a little meatier than Good Old War but not heavy at all. Plus, there's trumpet (!) that is just delightful. This album is very easy to listen to. Each track holds up on its own and flows pleasantly to the next. Very sing-along-able, too.