The year is half over and that means it’s time to check in with how its doing in the media world. First up is the top 5 albums of the first half of the year.
5. Jack White – Blunderbuss
I have, for some reason, not listened to this album very much since it came out a few months ago. I can’t really tell you why. It’s Jack White doing his Jack White thing, which means a lot of different kinds of songs that still somehow manage to sound of a piece. I guess you get pretty good at being yourself when you have a bunch of bands and side-projects going on. I’ve never loved anything White did as much as I love his work as half of The White Stripes, but this album gets pretty close. It’s got some great piano work for a guy known as a guitarist. This is to be expected, I suppose, with the excellence of Get Behind Me Satan, but it was nice to see anyways. Keep it up, Jack.
4. Electric Guest – Mondo
If we’re going to have to wait for a new Gnarls Barkley album it’s not a bad consolation prize to get this little gem. Electro-soul is one of my favorite genres and Asa Taccone (brother of the Lonely Island’s Jorma) is surprisingly quite great at it, even if his appearance wouldn’t suggest it as much as Cee-Lo’s would. It’s poppy and soul-y and the music is solid. It makes you want to dance, but only a little. Fun stuff. Also of note: all but two of the songs on the album are under 4 minutes, the two exceptions being the 5:01 “Awake” and 8:49 “Troubleman”. That’s all.
3. Fun. – Some Nights
I guess I caught this wave just as it was about to crash. Oh well, I still really like the bigness of this album. Its first song has an introduction that seems more like the beginning of a Broadway musical than a first track on an album. The band then goes on to craft large, varying songs of pop bombast. The runaway hit single, “We Are Young,” is one of the lesser songs on the album, and it’s a shame if it is what keeps people away from discovering a great pop band.
2. The Shins – Port of Morrow
After taking some time off and doing his own thing, it would seem like James Mercer was returning to his roots and the band that made him famous. That is, until you see that he’s the only returning member of The Shins for this album. Somehow it still feels a lot like other Shins stuff, a testament to the artistic power Mercer holds. This album came out in the spring, but it feels like a perfect autumn listen, probably because of songs like “September” and “Fall of ’82”. Maybe it’ll move up later in the year as it settles into its own time.
1. The Tallest Man on Earth – There’s No Leaving Now
You’re lucky if you get an album a year where every song works. This is that album. Fantastic folk. It’s not necessarily a happy listen but there’s a certain joy to be taken in such well made music. There’s not an off note as Kristian Matsson expands his sound to include a little electric guitar to go along with his usual acoustic selection. While songs like “Call Me Maybe” dominate the airwaves The Tallest Man on Earth provides a wonderful counterbalance with songs full of meaning and emotion. The obvious comparison to Bob Dylan is obvious for a reason, this guy is really good at writing and performing deep and poetic music.
Now you’ve seen my list, what would you put on yours? What did I miss? Share your picks in the comments.