Just this afternoon I was actually thinking to myself on the bus (nearly out loud!) where the Hell is J. Eric Smith’s list of best albums of the half-year? And lo and behold, here it is.
Mine, for what it’s worth:
- Fun. – “Some Nights”
Super poppy and they tend to veer into territory of a glam/Queen cover band, but it works for this album.
- Andrew Bird – “Break It Yourself”
Not as ambitious as some previous efforts, but still gorgeous.
- Gregory Porter – “Be Good”
Smoothest album of the year. Porter has one of the most earnest voices I’ve ever heard.
- Alcest – “Les Voyages de L’Ame”
French ambient hardcore/metal. Tread carefully if that isn’t your sort of thing.
- Cloud Nothings – “Attack on Memory”
It took me a few spins, but I dig it.
- The M Machine – “Metropolis Pt. 1″
Not that big into electronic BGM, but this one is just the right blend of relaxed yet still engaging.
- Adam Arcuragi – “Like a fire that consumes all before it…”
Surprised Arcuragi isn’t a bigger star. Might be my pick for album of the half-year. Also, “President’s Song” is an incredible song.
- Anais Mitchell – “Young Man in America”
This might be my other pick. Really unique voice.
- Crybaby – “Crybaby”
From the outset (“I Cherish the Heartbreak More Than the Love That I Lost”), it’s so melodramatic it makes Morrissey roll his eyes. But it works.
- The Menzingers – “On the Impossible Past”
These guys are great. If I’d known they were playing Norther Li—ahem, sorry, “Upstate Concert Hall” (For fucking serious? That’s not a name, it’s a vague description!), I would have gone. They opened for Against Me! along with another band that sucked and threw a fit.
- Will Johnson/Yim Yames/Anders Parker/Jay Farrar – “New Multitudes”
More Woody Guthrie lyrics without music, this time penned by the four aforementioned. Really great stuff and a bit more adventurous than the beloved “Mermaid Avenue” editions (no disrespect intended towards Billy Bragg and Wilco; I still love those albums).
- Santigold – “Master of My Make-Believe”
The most punk R&B album you’ll ever hear. I think I’m in love.
- Amadou & Mariam – “Folila”
Mali exports mix genres with genre-defying artists like the previously mentioned Santigold, TV on the Radio, and more. On paper it looks like it’d be a mess, but the execution is brilliant.
- King Tuff – “King Tuff”
Is there a more fun glam rock send-up? If you’re going to do it, do it right. And he does.
- Off! – “OFF!”
An all-star hardcore lineup that works. Sort of like United Nations but with more street cred and better (and I actually really like UN).
- Todd Snider – “Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables”
The kind of thing I wish came out of Nashville more.
- The Mynabirds – “GENERALS”
When this one catches me in the wrong mood it’s unlistenable, mostly because of the choices made during production. But otherwise I think it’s quite brilliant.
- Richard Hawley – “Standing at the Sky’s Edge”
Proggy and psychedelic and singer-songwritery all in one.
- PS I Love You – “Death Dreams”
This took me a few spins, but once it got me it had me.
I’ve made the playlist, which I’ll be continually adding to throughout the year, available on Spotify: The Best of 2012 (So Far)
And/or get a quick taste from videos, after the jump.
Fun. (ft. Janelle Monae) – “We Are Young”
Andrew Bird – “Eyeoneye”
Gregory Porter – “Be Good (Lion’s Song)”
Alcest – “Autre Temps”
Cloud Nothings – “No Future/No Past”
The M Machine – “Promise Me a Rose Garden”
Adam Arcuragi – “President’s Song”
Anais Mitchell – “Coming Down”
Crybaby – “I Cherish the Heartbreak More Than the Love That I Lost”
The Menzingers – “Gates”
New Multitudes – “Talking Empty Bed Blues”
Santigold – “Disparate Youth”
Amadou & Mariam – “Dougou Badia” (ft. Santigold)
King Tuff – “Bad Thing”
OFF! – “Wiped Out”
Todd Snider – “Too Soon to Tell”
The Mynabirds – “Generals”
Richard Hawley – “Down in the Woods”
PS I Love You – “Sentimental Dishes”
- Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye…
- Listen to me LIVE as guest co-host of Alternative to Sleeping tonight at 10pm!
- Realtors: “WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH” George Hearst III: “NONONOO SSSSHHH IT’S OKAY, it’s okay…here. Here’s a pacifier.” Kristi: “#oops.”
- Open Mic web series premiere tonight @ Lark Tavern
- Trust Me, You’re Going to Want to See This