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The middle of the year begs the question what have you missed?  It’s a chance to reflect back on the first six months of the year and make sure your record collection or digital downloads folder these days is loaded with the best so far. Once again 2013 is shaping up as a year of great songs, but few albums are making it through the mass clutter to provide a music lover with a complete listening experience.


Most Disappointing to Date– There have been disappointments a plenty including a dire release from Depeche Mode, a return to songwriting from Rod Stewart and perhaps the biggest release to fall flat for classic rock fans is a tired reworking of Credence Clearwater Revival songs by the writer responsible for them in the first place.  John Fogerty’s “Wrote A Song For Everyone” held the promise of some updated renditions of CCR’s classics.  What it sounds like is a hurried, high school garage bands attempt to sound like Credence.  There are few new interpretations and fewer moments when a guest artist pushes Fogerty to new heights. The duet with Dawes seems to stand out.


Most Surprising– Black Sabbath “13” a hard rocker from some of the inventors of the genre, that many thought were not just gone but flat out dead. After last summer’s revival tour, the band went into the studio to record their 19th album and their first Number 1 album ever.  It’s the first release from the mostly original members (Brad Wilk sits in on drums for Bill Ward) in 35 years and it’s as fresh as the eyeliner Ozzy Osbourne applied this morning. Congrats to the old hard rock icons.


Most Forward Progress- Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memory” was reviewed in this space recently and it is standing up as a envelope pushing piece of music for the entire electronic dance movement.


Largest Step Backward– Snoop Dogg or Lion’s attempt at reggae. Though we appreciate the sentiment, we wish the album ‘Reincarnated” had never been born in the first place.  According to the former Dogg, he feels as if he is the reincarnated Bob Marley even though Snoop was 10 years old when Marley died. Why quibble? It was just an unfortunate career move for an artist that has been a trailblazer in many endeavors so an occasional slip up might be expected. By the way, has Miley Cyrus (one of his collaborators on the album) ever seen ganja?


Near Misses– Portugal. The Man released their strongest effort to date in “Evil Friends.”  A candid shot at some of their counterparts they left behind in their hometown of Wasilla AK, (paying attention Sarah?), by getting Danger Mouse to produce, the band has set themselves up for a sonic breakthrough and nearly every song delivers.  Dawes album “Stories Never Ends” was a few songs away from perfect and thus came close to most disappointing at the same time.  This band is loaded with potential and appears to be heating up to a monster release very soon. Here’s hoping it’s the next one.


Best So Far- Right now I keep playing Atlas Genius’ “When It Was Now” over and over.  Its contemporary and yet lovers of 80s music will find plenty to dig. I’m not saying it’s the best of the year just yet since the year is young but it is as they say a contender.