With Arcade Fire igniting the second half blitz, 2010 is shaping up to be a great year for music. Here are albums released in the US during the first half of the year that stick out in my mind. Artists are alphabetical. The center and right-hand covers are from bands I wasn't following before this year. Quite a variety here.
Codeine Velvet Club--Codeine Velvet Club...This was the post-Fratellis side project for band leader John. He added a jazz-singing female to share lead vocals. The Fratellis type melodic hooks are there, but with a softer sound. John will record future projects under his own name. My lead tracks are "Hollywood", "Little Sister", and "Vanity Kills".
The Constellations--Southern Gothic...They have a unique sound and blur genre lines between rock, blues, rap, pop, etc. Every track has its own feel. They're very musical and are one of the better live bands out there. The album is written about after-hours Atlanta and as Hotlanta is their home town, it's a subject they know lots about. The single "Felecia" has been getting strong airplay nationally. Also check out "Setback" and their superior cover of Tom Waits' "Step Right Up". Waits is a big influence on singer/songwriter Elijah Jones.
Devo--Something For Everybody...Possibly their best album overall. They retained their analogue synth sound but added a 2010 production sheen to make them sound very "fresh". There's a need for more uptempo indie music, and this fits beautifully. They'll make many new fans, and the album is a must for old fans. I like it all and mostly recommend "Fresh", "Don't Shoot", "What We Do", and "Please Baby Please".
Gorillaz--Plastic Beach...More hip-hop than I'd prefer, but musically stellar. Fave tracks are "To Binge", "On Melancholy Hill" and "Plastic Beach".
Hot Chip--One Life Stand...I really like this one pretty much beginning to end. They became slightly mellower and more progressive this time around. The album remains in top iPod rotation a half year later. "One Life Stand", "Take It In", "Keep Quiet".
LCD Soundsystem--This is Happening...Every track has a different vibe and they all work. James Murphy is saying this will be their last album, as they want to go out on top. Hope it ain't so but if it is, they will have exited in style. In addition to their "Drunk Girls" single, recommended tracks are "I Can Change", "All I Want", and "Pow Pow".
The Soft Pack--The Soft Pack...The garage sound hasn't penetrated well as of late, but these guys blasted through the barriers with lots of undeniable tracks, especially "C'mon", "Mexico", and "Pull Out".
Stone Temple Pilots--Stone Temple Pilots...I wasn't their biggest fan back in the 90's and it surprises me they'd be under consideration for my year-end list. This is my fave album of theirs, as their focus is relentless and the songs consistent. Recommended tracks besides their hit "Between the Lines" single are "Cinamon", and "Huckleberry Crumble".
Vampire Weekend--Contra...These dudes have entered the mainstream and that's good news to me. Their original fans might not want to share them, but I feel the mainstream needs an upgrade. "Cousins", "California English", "Holiday".
Yeasayer--Odd Blood...What a difference between their first and second albums! A good friend attended raves in the 90's, and he said this was the first album in ages that gave him that same feeling. "ONE", "Rome", "Mondegreen".