We always try to do this on July 1st, the year's official midpoint, but we've got all the weekend stuff to do then so brought forward a whole day, here's what we reckon are the ten best albums released thus far:
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
No Funeral, but then what is? An enormous sounding almost gothic pop-musical tour de force from the end of the world, or thereabouts. Start with: Intervention
Battles - Mirrored
Almost uniquely in 2007, it sounds like nothing else. Brings avant-garde mathrock to hardcore structures, and it's listenable too. Start with: Atlas
Blonde Redhead - 23
If sophisticated, almost elegaic, shoegazing is a more approachable Blonde Redhead sound then everyone else is in trouble. Start with: Spring And By Summer Fall
Field Music - Tones Of Town
The last product of Field Music under that name, apparently, recalibrates intelligent, classicist pop into its own shapes. Start with: Give It Lose It Take It
Jetplane Landing - Backlash Cop
The post-hardcore of old is jammed full of namechecks, grooves and soul power and ends up not sounding like Rage Against The Machine. Start with: Lungs Of Punk
Johnny Boy - Johnny Boy
We've waited a long time for this, the duo swiftly leaping styles while remaining somewhere between Spector, Shields and sloganeering. Start with: You Are The Generation...
LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
You can hear exactly what James Murphy grew up on, but what he's done better than anyone is recalibrate those records into uberdancey modern wholes. Start with: Time To Get Away
Lucky Soul - The Great Unwanted
They emerged in 2006's Summer Of Spector but belied all that with a collection as much tearstained Dusty as fist-pumping Ronettes. Start with: Ain't Never Been Cool
Napoleon IIIrd - In Debt To (currently download only - CD coming very soon, so preorder while you can)
AKA James Mabbett, one of 2007's most spectacular and underappreciated successes, superbly crafted intelligent lo-fi Elephant 6-meets-folktronica. Start with: This Is My Call To Arms
Piano Magic - Part Monster
Speaking of underappreciated, Glen Johnson and co's latest is swathed in haunting reverberic qualities and quiet suburban desperation. Start with: England’s Always Better (As You’re Pulling Away)
And here's twelve albums we're looking forward to in the year's second half. Please, artists involved, don't let us down:
Interpol - Our Love To Admire (9th July)
Only a week away. It's doubtless leaked by now.
GoodBooks - Control (30th July)
Quality post-punk produce still waiting to fully commercially emerge, which is your fault. All the family favourites are on it, and Passchendaele is the advance single, which is nothing less than well and good.
MIA - Kala (20th August)
Timbaland, Diplo and Switch all pop by the console but early signs are that it's still very much Mathangi's vision at the helm. The cover is no better than Arular's.
Rilo Kiley - Under The Blacklight (20th August)
Plenty of bands could line up to scamper through the Billboard chart wormhole in the wake of the Shins and Modest Mouse - Spoon, for example, whose Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is out next week - but Jenny, Blake and the others seem best positioned. Dr Dre cohort Mike Elizondo co-produces.
Super Furry Animals - Hey! Venus (27th August)
With Love Kraft now almost universally regarded as a misstep, word is that for their first release on Rough Trade it's back to frazzled Beach Boyisms, although less electronically inspired.
Liars - Liars (27th August)
Always be suspicious of bands who release a self-titled album that isn't their debut, we've always thought. Story is that it's far more guitar-based than anything since They Threw Us All In A Trench... but stil not easy listening.
Go! Team - Proof Of Youth (10th September)
The coming together of the six-piece live band since Thunder Lightning Strike was recorded has inevitably meant a change in recording methods, sounding more live but no less stylistic cut and paste. Chuck D, Bonde Du Role and junior cheerleading teams appear.
Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam (10th September)
Perhaps taking after Panda Bear's album, their eighth full-length seems more structured, deep and tight than usual, although in AC world these things are relative.
iLiKETRAiNS - Elegies To Lessons Learnt (1st October)
Yeah, that about sums iLT up. The single The Deception supposedly being about fake round the world yachtsman Donald Crowhurst, ditto. It all being an elegaic wall of post-rock, similarly.
British Sea Power - TBA
Their last Newsboost claimed the album, recorded at the start of the year at Hotel2Tango with Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, GY!BE) and out in the autumn, will be called Now That's What I Call World War One Joy Division.
The Young Knives - TBA
"It'll be shit, like every other second album" Henry reckoned onstage in Loughborough on their recent tour, before playing some new songs that proved him wrong. October, it's said, with Tony Doogan (Belle & Sebastian, Mogwai, Delgados) on board.
Elbow - TBA
Self produced for the first time between Guy Garvey's radio stints, words like "darker" and "heavier" are being bandied about. November, say whispers.