The Half-Way Point (More or Less)

Music Features

The only slam dunks for me thus far this year are Titus AndronicusThe 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 KeysBrothers
Carolina Chocolate DropsGenuine 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 BaduNew Amerykah, Part II
Fionn Regan — The Shadow of an Empire
Horse Feathers — Thistled Spring
Jaga Jazzist — One Armed Bandit
Laura MarlingI 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 SurfIf I Had a Hi-Fi
The New PornographersTogether
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 BloodAstrocoast
The Tallest Man on EarthThe Wild Hunt
Teenage Fanclub — Shadows
These New Puritans — Hidden
Tindersticks — Falling Down a Mountain
The White StripesUnder Great White Northern Lights

Mild Disappointments

Patty GriffinDowntown Church
Frightened RabbitThe Winter of Mixed Drinks
The Gaslight AnthemAmerican Slang
Jonsi — Go
The National — High Violet
Ted Leo and the PharmacistsThe Brutalist Bricks

Major Disappointments

The Hold SteadyHeaven is Whenever