It's the midway point of the year and you know what that means, it's time to assess the current landscape of the releases on the year and see who's on top! Check out our Top 15 Albums of the Year (So Far).
1. Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher - Phoebe Bridgers has had a rocket strapped to her back since her 2018 debut album Strangers in the Alps. It's only been solidified by her collaborations with supergroups boygenius and Better Oblivion Community Center. Well, in June, we were finally treated to her sophomore release, Punisher. Needless to say expectations were high, and Bridgers delivered and some. Check out our review of the album here.
2. Soccer Mommy - color theory - Sophia Regina Allison (AKA Soccer Mommy) has has quite the past couple of years as her debut album Clean was a critical and commercial success, opening doors for the Swiss-born singer-songwriter. Where Clean started this, color theory has nothing but continued her success, as she has performed on late-night TV shows and continues to book festival slots (before COVID that is). Read our review of color theory here!
3. Ray LaMontagne - MONOVISION - It's safe to say that many were disappointed by LaMontagne's 2018 release Part of the Light. However, he has bounced back better than ever with the release of his new album MONOVISION. MONOVISION highlights everything that is great about LaMontagne's performance style, his unparalleled bold and unique voice and his transcendent melodies. Check out our mini-review here!
4. Peach Pit - You and Your Friends - Canadian quartet Peach Pit returned with their sophomore release You and Your Friends in April. With it, they brought their signature alt-pop sound and continued the maturation of their sound. We're excited to see where this release will take them once COVID has passed.
5. The Weeknd - After Hours- Canadian singer-songwriter and producer Abel Tesfaye (AKA The Weeknd) released his four album After Hours to commercial and critical acclaim back in March. Having teased the release of the album since November of 2019, the album debuted atop the Billboard 200. After Hours is chock-full of Tesfaye's signature blend of indie, pop, and electronic melodiss accompanied by his dynamic vocals.
6. The Strokes - The New Abnormal - The Strokes dropped their first album since 2016 with their April release The New Abnormal. As we said when we reviewed the album initially, it's just good to have The Strokes back. And boy did they come back in style. The New Abnormal is a slick indie album that is sure to make you move along to the beat. Check out our full thoughts on the record here.
7. Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud - Katie Crutchfield (AKA Waxahatchee) bared her soul with the release of her March album Saint Cloud. She tackled difficult issues of addiction and the impact that it can have on those around you. Saint Cloud is an autobiography of sorts and it is a great listen. If you haven't given it a spin, we recommend you do so immediately. Read our entire review here.
8. The 1975 - Notes on a Conditional Form - One of alt's hottest acts, The 1975 released their new album Notes on a Conditional Form in May. A bit of an experimental album, that includes a reading from climate activist Greta Gerwig, a lead single that reads more like a punk rock anthem, to tracks that fill in their more traditional style. Notes on a Conditional Form is a bold release from one of alt's boldest bands. Read our full review of the album here.
9. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit - Reunions - Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit released their fourth album as a group in May (this marks Isbell's seventh release as an artist). Reunions is one of those rare albums that lyrically just grabs you and won't let go. With a number of noteworthy tracks including: "It Gets Easier", "Be Afraid", and "What've I Done to Help" (feat. Michael Kiwanuka), Reunions is the perfect alt-country album that will surely be in your rotation. Check out our review here.
10. Car Seat Headrest - Making a Door Less Open - Another concept album of sorts, Making a Door Less Open is an album that's songs are intended to evoke a feeling or a thought individually with each track. The album features more electronic sounds than in the past with a steady stream of rocking guitar. Read our review here.
11. Hayley Williams - Petals for Armor - Paramore's Hayley Williams released her debut solo album in May. With the release of her solo work, we witnessed a musical evolution with the Grammy Award winner. Petals for Armor is a beat-filled album that leans heavily towards a fresh alternative sound for Williams. The album was well received by critics and fans alike as it smashed its way onto the Billboard Charts after it's drop.
12. COIN - Dreamland - COIN's Dreamland dropped in February and represents the indie pop band's fourth release to date. Dreamland is chock-full of romantic tunes that are sure to move even the most curmudgeonly individuals. COIN's textbook bright and fast-paced style is present throughout the album, but they can also slow it down a bit. Check out our interview with COIN here and our review of Dreamland here!
13. Tame Impala - The Slow Rush - Kevin Parker's (AKA Tame Impala) first release since 2015's Currents, The Slow Rush represents a sonic departure for Parker. In The Slow Rush, Parker doesn't rely on synth-laden melodies quite as much as he did in Currents. Honestly, it's an interesting evolution for the psychedelic alt musician. On The Slow Rush, Parker made some bold decisions, but they all seemed to pay off in the end. Check out our review of The Slow Rush here.
14. Caroline Rose - Superstar - Another concept album of sorts, Caroline Rose's Superstar is a synth-pop dream that tracks the story of a rise to fame and a subsequent fall from grace. It's narrative-driven lyrics are a breath of fresh air. Superstar is Rose's fourth studio album and shows that she doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Best jump on board. Check out our mini-review of Superstar here.
15. Tennis - Swimmer - After a three year hiatus alt pop duo Tennis returned this year with their February release Swimmer. Husband and wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley of Tennis are at the top of their game with their release of Tennis. It's full of classic themed alt music that any fan is sure to enjoy. They have a golden sound on this one that evokes thoughts of Jenny Lewis. Give it a spin, you won't regret it. Check out our full review here.
Honorable Mentions - Moses Sumney - græ, Pinegrove - Marigold, and Joyce Manor - Songs From Northern Torrance