2010 is shaping up to be a rather nice year in terms of quality, so much so that I nearly forgot about some of the great albums that were released earlier this year.
Vampire Weekend? That's like so 1st Quarter!
What makes so many good albums so early is exactly that: it makes it hard to put them in proper perspective. You also get a vibe from an album that makes it hard to shake when a new season starts.
So while we're in the middle nineties here in Iowa right now, that aforementioned Vampire Weekend conjures up a time when snow was on the ground.
Not that any of this distracts from an album's overall greatness-which is precisely why I recently revisited some of the year's best records so far and came up with a halfway point Baker's Dozen list to gain some perspective.
The running order may change by the end of the year, just like the seasons themselves, and some of the titles may not even register as more titles come into view.
But so far, here's a half dozen records that have received ample amounts of plays and continue to amaze in a sea of impressive titles.
1.) Roky Erickson with Okkervil River - True Love Cast Out All Evil
More than a comeback, this record plays like an autobiography that ends up becoming a thing of triumph based on how great it actually is.
2.) Pantha Du Prince - Black Noise
Inspired by the sounds of nature, Black Noise tries hard to match the aural beauty of the planet we call home and it ends up sounding just as special as the source material that planted the album's creative seed.
3.) High On Fire - Snakes For The Divine
Oakland's High On Fire finally delivers the album that places them as one of the century's first truly great metal bands, something they only hinted at before.
4.) Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here
Who knows if this legendary performer has finally put the demons behind him, but what we do know is that he's found a muse and a record label that have helped him deliver something that sounds even better than just a late game comeback.
5.) Vampire Weekend - Contra
I was not a fan before, but with album number two Vampire Weekend are beginning to come into their own and sound as good as the hype claimed they were. I hate being wrong, but I really like this album.
6.) Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
This is the one album that may suffer the most after repeated listens. It's got that feeling of intentionally being sloppy in all the right places with a bunch of words just spilling over into everything like gravy. But right now, I'm digging that gravy.
The list will more than likely change by year's end-and I'm already starting to doubt the choices listed above-but there you have it: a half dozen titles that are definitely worth checking out regardless of the season or year.