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.
- 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 ]
- 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 ]
- 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 ]
- 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 ]
- 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 ]
- 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 ]
- 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 ]
- 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 ]
- 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.
- 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 ]
- 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.
- 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 ]
- DAVID BOWIE - the Next Day - David's not in innovator mode here, but he has made a solid album right in his comfort zone.
- the WOGGLES - Big Beat - Supercharged party rock from one of the most reliable garage revival bands working today. [ MY FULL REVIEW HERE ]
- SAVAGES - Silence Yourself - Exciting post-punk like an modern indie take on the Siouxsie sound.
- the RESONARS - Crummy Desert Sound - Swigning power pop with loads of Merseybeat energy.
- 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 ]
- 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 ]
- 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 ]
- VERONICA FALLS - Waiting For Something To Happen - Spry pop goodness from the band's second 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.