Halfway through the year in music

We’re six months into 2013 and I’ve already exceeded this year’s music budget.

Like most music geeks who also are writers, I’m compiling what will be my Top 10 list throughout the year, which leaves little time to rehash any older releases. Here’s some of what’s been getting the most spins on my turntable and/or in my iPod:

Red Hare, “Nites at Midnight” – Shawn Brown and Jason Farrell were teenagers when they formed Swiz, one of the harder-hitting punk bands in Washington D.C.’s second wave of hardcore in the mid 1980s. This is their first set of new music in decades; and while angst often gets pushed off as a young mans music, Farrell’s always stabbing guitar still carries weight under the angered growl of Brown. It’s a firm punk record at times leaning away from classic hardcore and diving towards metal. A must own for start up punk rockers or middle aged people like me who never outgrew aggression in music and still have a soft-spot for the slight reunion.

The Melvins, “Everybody Loves Sausages” – The Melvins remain true heroes to hard rock. While hard to pigeonhole, bringing doom like Black Sabbath and aggression like Black Flag that’s too hard for many, they continue to baffle fans and critics alike. This release is all covers; some straight on takes of the originals, others altered in ways only the Melvins could or would. It also serves as a revealing insight into what Buzz Osbourne and his band listen to, while giving a nod to the likes of Bowie, the Kinks, Queen and some other bands that came and went unnoticed, except by the Melvins.

Yo La Tengo, “Fade” – If there is a canon of indie-rock bands, this Hoboken, N.J., trio would remain in the top 5. A band capable of doing anything from improvisational noise rock to perfectly constructed pop songs, “Fade” is another piece in the Yo La puzzle; a slowed down, modern psychedelic release bordering on transcendent rock and electric folk with plenty of pop full of fuzzed-out guitars. Even though it is a quieter Yo La Tengo record, they remain just as adventurous in chancing at throwing the constant curve ball.

Queens of the Stone Age, “...Like Clockwork” – QOTSA’s first release in seven years is a brooding, dark mix of psychedelic blues, their trademark heavy rock riffs and even some harder pop. Yet it remains identifiable by a sound QOTSA has created and mastered. Inspired by band leader Josh Homme’s brush with death on the operating table in 2010, it features guest performances by Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor and super fan Elton John.

Lisa LeBlanc, “Lisa LeBlanc” – This French Canadian’s debut may not do it lyrically for some American audiences, save for those that actually know French and can identify when she name-drops Johnny Cash. However, fans of all things twang, folk and rockabilly will be drawn to it musically; Leblanc has constructed a record of trash-folk-a-billy, with the drive of modern alternative country, early Sun Records recordings and country ballads.

Five down, five to go...

Liggett_b@fortlewis.edu. Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager.

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