Music  |  Features

The Half-Way Point (More or Less)

June 21, 2010  |  9:44am

The only slam dunks for me thus far this year are Titus Andronicus’ The Monitor and Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown, with probably a slight edge to Titus Andronicus because 1) they’re named after a Shakespeare play in which a dude’s hand gets chopped off, and 2) they have a “rock ‘n roll saved my life” desperation that I still find, even in my becalmed dotage, utterly irresistible.

Brad Mehldau’s Highway Rider gets my vote for Jazz Album of the Half Year, and the country category is a good ol’ boy split between Jamey Johnson’s The Guitar Song and Watermelon Slim’s The Ringer. I’m fairly certain that Janelle Monae’s The ArchAndroid is a great album, although I still don’t really care much for dance-oriented R&B. But she does it so well. Sharon Jones wins the coveted Old School Soul Award.

Everything else falls into the “good but not great” category, and that would include (thank you, iTunes):

The Acorn — No Ghost
Alasdair Roberts — Too Long in This Condition
Anders Osborne — American Patchwork
The Black Keys — Brothers
Carolina Chocolate Drops — Genuine Negro Jig
Chip Robinson — Mylow
Citay — Dream Get Together
Drink Up Buttercup — Born and Thrown on a Hook
Drive-By Truckers — The Big To-Do
Erykah Badu — New Amerykah, Part II
Fionn Regan — The Shadow of an Empire
Horse Feathers — Thistled Spring
Jaga Jazzist — One Armed Bandit
Laura Marling — I Speak Because I Can
Male Bonding — Nothing Hurts
MGMT — Congratulations
Mono — Holy Ground: Live in NYC
The Mynabirds — What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood
Nada Surf — If I Had a Hi-Fi
The New Pornographers — Together
Nick Curran and the Lowlifes — Reform School Girl
The Pernice Brothers — Goodbye, Killer
Peter Case — Wig!
Peter Wolf — Midnight Souvenirs
Plants and Animals — La La Land
Scout Niblett — The Calcination of Scout Niblett
Serena Maneesh — The Abyss: No. 2 in B Minor
Shearwater — The Golden Archipelago
Spoon — Transference
Surfer Blood — Astrocoast
The Tallest Man on Earth — The Wild Hunt
Teenage Fanclub — Shadows
These New Puritans — Hidden
Tindersticks — Falling Down a Mountain
The White Stripes — Under Great White Northern Lights

Mild Disappointments

Patty Griffin — Downtown Church
Frightened Rabbit — The Winter of Mixed Drinks
The Gaslight Anthem — American Slang
Jonsi — Go
The National — High Violet
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists — The Brutalist Bricks

Major Disappointments

The Hold Steady — Heaven is Whenever

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