MID-YEAR REPORT: THE TOP 24 OF '24 (2024): The moving finger writes . . .

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MID-YEAR REPORT: THE TOP 24 OF '24 (2024): The moving finger writes . . .

It's the middle of the year and progress cards are being sent out. Here Elsewhere singles out excellence from the many dozens of albums we have written about so far this year.

But note, these are only chosen from what we have actually reviewed: we heard more but didn't write about them.

And we also didn't hear albums which are doubtless your favourites from the past six months. That's as it should be.

However we feel these albums – new ones, no reissues – are those we'll be returning to for many years to come. So have a look . . . and start writing that angry letter.

Anyway, here's what we believe to be among the best we've drawn attention to so far in 2024. In no particular order . . .


Lucien Johnson: Ancient Relics

We said: “Every piece is distinct and distinctive, but among the extraordinary tracks is Satellites where the rhythm section and Johnson set up a swinging Coltrane mood, Crayford takes over for a swirling solo before Johnson returns, progressively moving into abrupt, assertive and spell-binding hard bop to end the album on a cathartic note.”

For our full review look here


The Smile: Wall of Eyes

We said: Wall of Eyes with its layers, detail and confidence means a double header now from The Smile where electronica rubs against unearthly echoed vocals and choral expansiveness 

For our full review look here


Idles: Tangk

We said: “Great rock-cum-art album.”

For our full review look here


Brittany Howard: What Now

We said: “Brittany Howard is a serious artist but manages to bring danceable joy, some sterling rock guitar and the celebratory spirit of Paisley Park on an album which reaches wide and offers as much pleasure as poignancy.”

For our full review look here


Charles Lloyd: The Sky Will Still Be There Tomorrow

We said: “There is a profound optimism, from the title track through Beyond Darkness and When the Sun Comes Up Darkness Is Gone to Defiant Reprise; Homeward Dove.”

For our full review look here


Arooj Aftab: Night Reign

We said: “Somewhere between night-owl jazz, slow-burning world music and a seduction, Night Reign occupies its own spiritual sphere.”

For our full review look here


Georgia Lines: The Rose of Jericho

We said: “An outstanding body of work.”

For our full review look here


Kaylee Bell: Nights Like This

We said: “A mature, empowered, American country crossover album hitting every target aimed at. And the justifiably confident, committed Bell makes the familiar sound as if she'd just discovered it.”

For our full review look here


Tomasz Dabrowski and the Individual Beings: Better

We said: “We recommend Tomasz Dabrowski and his band if you are looking for intense, enjoyable European art music-cum-jazz.”

For our full review look here


Mel Parsons: Sabotage

We said: “Emotionally naked lyrics in gently hypnotic songs and clever arrangements.”

For our full review look here


Adrianne Lenker: Bright Future

We said: “Bright Future -- which offers a different, very personal take on weird Americana -- is an album of emotional exposure, folk imagery, lessons learned and ecological pessimism. But also a place where there's comfort and a lilac river.”

For our full review look here


The Lemon Twigs: A Dream Is All We Know

We said: "This new album confirms that they've certainly found their niche in power pop, mid-Sixties Casey Kasem radio pop, touches of baroque pop, Early Seventies McCartney balladry, the pastoral-influenced I Should Have Known Right From the Start, a smidgen of Badfinger-meets-Cowsills, head down throwaway boogie pop . . .”

For our full review look here


Paul Weller: 66

We said: “On this pensive collection – with Noel Gallagher and Bobby Gillespie (both contributing lyrics), Madness' Suggs and others – the 66-year old changingman eloquently addresses aging in another of his ever-changing moods.”

For our full review look here


Sam Bambery: Rubricator

We said: “Rubricator confirms the emergence of a real talent.”

For our full review look here


St Vincent: All Born Screaming

We said: “A journey from darkness into a glow, this – despite such arresting lines as “I feel like graffiti on a urinal in the abattoir” – is quite something.”

For our full review look here


Richard Thompson: Ship to Shore

We said: “Yet another excellent album from a man whose work rarely falls below a very high threshold.”

For our full review look here


Sheherazaad: Qasr

We said: “As with so many artists who exist between past and present, the here and there, Sheherazaad presents as an artist tied to all of these, yet somehow finding a personal freedom because of them rather than being constrained within them.”

For our full review look here


Mdou Moctar: Funeral for Justice

We said: “From the title and cover art inward – with only a couple of more familiar Sahara blues pieces – this burns with white-hot intensity, the guitars deployed like rocket launchers.”

For our full review look here


The Bevis Frond: Focus on Nature

We said: “A generous – 19 songs – double album which sears off the vinyl with focused energy, wah-wah when required and bristles with great, stand-alone songs which sound fresh and furious while working within recognisable parameters.”

For our full review look here


Amiria Grenell: The Winter Light

We said: “Quite what category it might fall into when a record store is looking for a bin to put it in is another matter: folk, country, pop . . . Any and all of those, and then some. You could even put an “alt” in front of each if it helps.”

For our full review look here


Kim Gordon: The Collective

We said: “At 70, Kim Gordon sketches an unsettling place few would want to visit. But The Collective is the extraordinary, if lacerating, exploration of a dystopian world and her tuned-in psyche.”

For our full review look here


Pearl Jam: Dark Matter

We said: “Dark Matter finds Pearl Jam relevant and still standing when so many others have fallen.”

For our full review look here


T Bone Burnett: The Other Side

We said: “Quiet, thoughtful and reassuring meditations for this time of doubt.”

For our full review look here


Beth Gibbons: Lives Outgrown

We said: “Beth Gibbons' long overdue debut after numerous collaborations has been worth the wait.”

For our full review look here

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