The B List: Top Six Of The First Six

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5) Carolina Chocolate DropsGenuine Negro Jig

There are plenty of bands out there playing bluegrass, new-grass and traditional folk music, but none are doing it quite the way that the Carolina Chocolate Drops are. The trio has embraced the music of the long forgotten and little known African-American jug and string bands from the turn of the 20th century. The Chocolate Drops old-time-y sound features fiddle, banjo, kazoo, jug and bones – literally animal bones that are slapped together, and mixes 100-year old tunes with brand new originals. An unlikely and simply amazing take on Blu Cantrell’s Hit ‘Em Style that will convert those who say they don’t like twangy music stands out as the LP’s top moment.

4) HaciendaBig Red & Barbacoa

Upon first listen, if I didn’t know any better, I could have easily mistaken Hacienda’s sophomore effort for a long lost album from Los Lobos. That’s just how similar the two bands sound. Hailing from San Antonio, the band filters their version of roots-rock through the dust of vintage Texas rockabilly, 1950’s rock & roll and hazy California surf-rock.  Big Red & Barbacoa could have easily been playing on the fictional pirate radio station in American Graffiti or in any rough and tumble border town bar.

3) Various Artists – Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs Of John Prine

Considered something of the singer-songwriter’s singer-songwriter, John Prine may not be as widely well known as some of his peers, but that doesn’t mean that his work hasn’t been equally as influential. This tribute album displays Prine’s subtly sly story songs and features an impressive roster of contemporary roots and Americana acts. Bon Iver, Deer Tick, The Avett Brothers and My Morning Jacket are among the acts who dutifully interpret some of Prine’s best work all in their own unique styles. For those unfamiliar with Prine’s catalog Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows along with his recently released live album will serve you as the best places to start.

2) Mumford & SonsSigh No More

What else can we say about Mumford & Sons that we haven’t already said around these parts? These four blokes from the UK have put out one of the most buzzed about debuts of the year, full of their powerful and instantly accessible blend of the high and lonesome sound of American bluegrass fused with traditional English folk music and the beard rock movement of the last few years. These songs will have you stomping your feet and singing along before you realize the subject matter of their deep and weighty lyrics.

1) Dr. DogShame, Shame

Dr. Dog have come a long way from the lo-fi basement rock of 2002’s self-released Toothbrush. With each passing album the Philadelphia-based act have continued to hone their craft. The group’s latest manages to capture the exuberant sound that makes them a must see band live. Drenched in psychedelic guitar swaths, bouncy rhythms, gorgeous harmonies and even more of their signature lush oohs and aahs, Shame, Shame is Dr. Dog’s most developed album yet arriving at the crossroads where The Band meets The Beatles. As evident from their sold out show at New York’s cavernous Terminal 5 in May, Dr. Dog has quickly morphed from a quirky under the radar band to bona fide rock stars.

So what are you favorite albums of the last six months of the year? Leave your choices in the comments section.

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10 thoughts on “The B List: Top Six Of The First Six

  1. Ryan D Reply

    Really well written Jeff! Nice work. I’m gonna get get the Carolina Chocolate Drops today. You gotta check out the Carl Broemel solo album next. It’s quickly become one of my favorites.

  2. DaveO Reply

    1) MGMT – Congratulations
    2) The Morning Benders – Big Echo
    3) Beach House – Teen Dream
    4) Broken Bells – Broken Bells
    5) LCD Soundystem – This Is Happening
    6) Wolf Parade – Expo 86

  3. Skip_is_Underused Reply

    Nice list…but I’m suprised LCD’s This is Happening didn’t make the cut…I can’t stop listening…or dancing

  4. AK Reply

    Surprising list, haven’t heard/heard of the first 3 you listed, or the Prine tribute and none of my would-be choices (below) made it.

    1. MGMT – Congratulations
    2. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
    3. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
    4. Broken Bells – S/T
    5. Morning Benders – Big Echo
    6. Jonsi – Go

    Honorable mentions: Spoon, Maps & Atlases, The Roots, Wolf Parade, Beach House, Vampire Weekend, Janelle Monae, Sharon Jones, Broken Social Scene, New Pornographers, Marco Benevento, The Black Keys

  5. Luke Sacks Reply

    Vampire Weekend’s Contra would be at the top of my list.

  6. stank Reply

    The National – High Violet would make my list

  7. Jeffrey Greenblatt Reply

    Haven’t spent enough time with that LCD Soundsystem album. Some albums just missing the cut were New Porns – Together, Phosphorescent – Here’s To Taking It East, Woods – At Echo Lake, Broken Bells.

  8. xeyedandpainless Reply

    Haven’t really evaluated the first six months, but the new Black Keys BROTHERS would probably be my favorite of the year, I think it is a big step forward for them.

  9. DaveO Reply

    Oh I forgot the Phosphorescent, that probably edges out Wolf Parade on my list…

  10. Michael Dill Reply

    Great list- Hacienda, Dr. Dog, The Carolina Chocolate Drops- all great and gonna have to check out The Cornershop.

    In no particular order:
    1) MGMT- Congratulations
    2) Black Francis- The Golem (500 ltd ed.)
    3) Blitzen Trapper- Destroyer of the Void
    4) Foxy Shazam-Foxy Shazam
    5) Harlem- Hippies
    6) Local Natives- Gorilla Manor
    I didn’t include Hacienda and the other above mentioned albums since I thought I’d do an alternative list. Other albums that might be on this list” Magnetic Fields- Realism, The Sadies- Darker Circles, Spoon- Transference, The Pernice Brothers- Goodby Killer, Ty Segal- Melted, and Vampire Weekend- Contra.

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