Albeit a late-comer, I've got my top 10 list for the first half of the year.
[Note: Despite a handful of terrific albums released since the beginning of the month, i.e. Air Traffic and Gogol Bordello, I'm limiting this to January to June, as the true first half of the year. That's the price of laziness, I suppose.)
, What's The Time, Mr. Wolf?
9. Bloc Party
, Weekend in the City
8. Arctic Monkeys
- Favourite Worst Nightmare
7. The White Stripes
- Icky Thump
6. Kaiser Chiefs
- Yours Truly, Angry Mob
5. The View
- Hats Off To The Buskers
Scottish punk briefly rose in the late seventies, producing a few notable acts such as The Zips and The Valves, but never quite caught momentum. However, this Dundee outfit is generating quite a bit of buzz in the UK, and their terrific debut is testament why. Anchored by their singles (the plucky “Same Jeans
” and “Wasted Little DJ's
” stand out), they exude charisma, more than a majority of their Brit-Pop, Post-Punk peers. While they still have plenty of room to grow, The View takes some major steps here, and show promise above other bands of their ilk, even if they are getting a late start.
4. Art Brut
- It's A Bit Complicated
Art Brut pulled off what seems to be one of the hardest feats for any artist: matching the sound and energy of a smash debut while at the same time maturing their sound. It's a daunting task for anyone, and more often than not (see numbers 9 and 8 above for proof) the end result is less than stellar. Yet here's an album that shows some fine songwriting ("Pump Up the Volume
" and "People In Love
" are testament to that) with a youthful feel. Eddie Argos' nearly spoken-word vocals still manage to work well, and the simple, candid lyrics make for a refreshing, amusing punk album.
3. Paul McCartney
- Memory Almost Full
Naturally, the record spends his 64th year on earth recording an album that harks back to his Beatles days. A fun, bouncy, wide-ranging album full of original material ("Dance Tonight
," the lead single features in both iTunes ads and my car on a practically daily basis) make this one of his best works since the 70s.
2. Arcade Fire
- Neon Bible
A gorgeous follow-up to one of the best alternative debut LPs this decade, French-Canadian outit/Pitchfork darlings Arcade Fire churn out a unique album, balancing a rock record with fringes of post-rock. With ten touring members on instruments such as a violin, horns, and accordions, no band out there matches the sound, or energy of this band. From the opening pipe organ on "Intervention
," to the poetical ramblings of "My Body Is a Cage
," all 11 tracks captivate and thrill new and old Arcade Fire fans.
1. The Fratellis
- Costello Music
And my number one is as surprising to me as it is to everyone else. Sitting down to plan out this list, I figured this would fall somewhere on the list, and as I sorted out my favorites, I realized I'd listened to it more times, spent more time singing, dancing, and simply enjoying this album more than any other. Much like Oasis
burst onto the scene in 1993 with Definitely Maybe
, these Scottish rockers blast a fun, high-energy mix of songs, 13 strong on an album no one seemed to see coming. But come it did, and it's arrived in a glorious disc. The strongest statement about Costello Music
is that almost everyone I knew who listened to it faced the same problem: there was no getting past the first five tracks. Aside from blossoming radio hits "Flathead
" and "Chelsea Dagger
" (a celebratory anthem for Chelsea FC) lie 11 tracks that mimic but damn near outshine Arctic Monkeys, with a greater refinement that makes it more ready for a music-loving public. If they keep this up, The Fratellis could be the next big thing.
And there we have it. I've just compared The Fratellis to Oasis. What in hell have I done?!