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Monday, July 1, 2013

2013 Half Way Point - My Top 20 Albums So Far

We're six months into the year, which is officially start working on my ever evolving list of favorite albums of 2013. At this stage the numerical rankings are VERY fluid, but these are the records I've gone to the most so far during the year. There will be a lot jockeying for position over the next six months as I relisten to albums and reevaluate.

This has been a good year for music so far. Not great, but pretty darn good. In 2012 my Halfway Point list had twenty albums that I would have been happy to have in my Year End Top 20. This year the list isn't as strong, but there are still plenty of good releases.

  1. JOHNNY MARR - the Messenger - My most played album of the year so far. After more than two decades of side projects and hired gun sessions Johnny Marr finally steps into the frontman role with a diverse collection of songs that showcase his guitar and songwriting chops.[ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  2. WAVVES - Afraid of Heights - The San Diego band's fourth album is an adrenaline rush of angsty guitar charged beach pop fun with hyper melodies. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  3. EDWYN COLLINS - Understated - A wonderfully strong British pop record filled with Northern Soul goodness from the former Orange Juice frontman’s eighth solo album. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  4. BLEACHED - Ride Your Heart - Bleached's punked up take on 60's girl group pop is loaded with sugary pop goodness, making it a perfect soundtrack for a Summer road trip. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  5. OMD - English Electric - For their second album since reuniting the classic line-up, OMD deliver a very likable collection of songs recalling some of their best work of the 80's. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  6. WIRE - Change Becomes Us - Using unfinished 30 year old snippets as the starting point, the post-punk legends make their most rewarding album since reforming. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  7. PALMA VIOLETS - 180 - Much buzzed debut album from a London four piece is a raucous blast of organ heavy garagey fun. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  8. JACCO GARDNER - Cabinet of Curiosities - Baroque pop debut from a Dutch multi-instrumentalist and home studio wizard that conjures up spirit and sound of the Zombies, Left Banke, and Sagittarius.[ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  9. SUEDE - Bloodsports - Brett Anderson and company are stunningly strong on their first album in over a decade. I love a lot of Suede songs, but this is the first time I've loved an entire album from them.
  10. BAD RELIGION - True North - On album number 16 Bad Religion proves to still be one of the most vital and engaging punk bands making records, with more power and relevance than band's half their age. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  11. SMITH WESTERNS - Soft Will - I've only listened to this a few times, but it sounds really good and Dye It Blonde topped my 2011 list, so I wanted to make sure this got represented since I'm confident I'll be listening to it many times rest of the year.
  12. HOUSE OF LOVE - She Paints Words In Red - House of Love deliver beautiful jangly psychedelia with rich pastoral melodies and their best album since the 1990 self titled album (aka Fonatana/Butterfly) [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  13. DAVID BOWIE - the Next Day - David's not in innovator mode here, but he has made a solid album right in his comfort zone.
  14. the WOGGLES - Big Beat - Supercharged party rock from one of the most reliable garage revival bands working today. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  15. SAVAGES - Silence Yourself - Exciting post-punk like an modern indie take on the Siouxsie sound.
  16. the RESONARS - Crummy Desert Sound - Swigning power pop with loads of Merseybeat energy.
  17. CHELSEA LIGHT MOVING - Chelsea Light Moving - With his new band Thurston Moore delivers a sludgier and much looser back-to-basics take on the Sonic Youth template. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  18. NOAH & the WHALE - Heart Of Nowhere - The Twickenham band continues in the same light-pop-meets-arena-sing-alongs of 2011's wonderful Last Night On Earth, choosing not to vary the sound much. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  19. the OBLIVIANS - Desperation - After 17 years the Memphis trash garage ne'er-do-wells pick up right where they left off. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
  20. VERONICA FALLS - Waiting For Something To Happen - Spry pop goodness from the band's second album.
UPDATE: As happens with every Half Year update, as soon as I post mine I remember a release that I had forgotten about. Looking at a friend's list I realized I had forgotten Off the Record by Krafterk's KARL BARTOS. That would definitely be on this somewhere. Here's my full review of the Karl Bartos album.

As I said, the actual rankings are pretty loose at this stage, but this is at least a rough idea of where some of my preferences are so far. There are still a bunch of other albums in contention as well that aren't represented here because I haven't spent enough time with them yet. And there's a slew of good stuff on the horizon, so I'm looking forward to a fabulous top twenty at the end of the year.

HERE ARE SOME OTHER ALBUMS IN VARIOUS STAGES OF EVALUAATION THAT ARE CONTENDERS: !!! - Thr!!!er, BEACH FOSSILS - Clash the Truth, BOMBINO - Nomad, MIKAL CRONIN - McII, DUCKTAILS - Flower Lane, the DUCKWORTH LEWIS METHOD - Sticky Wickets, GIRLS NAMES - the New Life, EMMYLOU HARRIS and RODNEY CROWELL - Old Yellow Moon, ROBYN HITCHCOCK - Love From London, JAGWAR MA - Howlin, the LITTLE ONES - Dawn Sang Along, PRESTON LOVINGGOOD - Sun Songs, MY BLOODY VALENTINE - mbv, the NATIONAL - Trouble Will Find Me, PARQUET COURTS - Light Up Gold, PHOENIX - Bankrupt!, POPSTRANGERS - Antipodes, and RICHARD THOMPSON - Electric. Plus I haven't even gotten achance to check out these records that I'm aniticipating good things from: CHARLIE BOYER and the VOYEURS, BILLY BRAGG, CERAMIC DOG, PRIMAL SCREAM, QUEENS of the STONEAGE, and SPECTRALS.

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