Half of 2011 has elapsed; in the blink of an eye, my toddler daughter is reading letters, my baby son wants to walk, and the music of our lives (sentimental, isn’t it?) for the first half of the year is in heavy rotation on White Oak. By the way, young McLain has shown a prodigious talent for percussion. His style reminds me of Lionel Hampton in form and Claude Coleman in flare, although at 9.5 months, it might be a bit early to put labels on him.

Also, one day last week, I was playing Purity Ring’s “Ungirthed“. On a whim, I switched to a Wes Montgomery song. Jackie heard the smooth jazz guitar and asked me, “What happened to the jams?” Talk about your priceless parental moments — it was my daughter’s first critical + music-related comment. I was proud, and I honored her request.

This post is not a lame attempt to describe the best of the first half of the year. If that kind of thing strikes your fancy, you can find it at NPR Music or Paste or somewhere.

Here are the albums we’ve, or I’ve, been listening to this year, even though the last three in the list were released in 2010. Even though there seems to be an ever-increasing number of exceptional (and free) mixtapes, I didn’t include those in the list.

Note: My favorites (so far) are denoted with an asterisk, and albums are listed in order of acquisition, most recent first.

Bon IverBon Iver

Shabazz PalacesBlack Up*

Random AxeRandom Axe

Junior BoysIt’s All True*

BurialStreet Halo (EP)

My Morning JacketCircuital

Wild BeastsSmother*

Fleet FoxesHelplessness Blues

Drive-By TruckersGo-Go Boots

Curren$y x The AlchemistCover Coup

Panda BearTomboy*

The DodosNo Color*

Frank OceanNostalgia/Ultra

AustraFeel It Break

The WeekndHouse of Balloons*

RadioheadKing of Limbs

Cut CopyZonoscope

Smith WesternsDye It Blonde

jjKills Mixtape

Lower DensTwin-Hand Movement

The Tallest Man on EarthThe Wild Hunt*

Other music notes:

  • I’ve been using Amazon Cloud Player quite a bit.
  • I’ve been experimenting with Google Music, even though it’s another online locker for music like Amazon Cloud.
  • Ultimately, I’m waiting for Spotify to come to the U.S.so I can jump head-first into a subscription service.