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2010 Q2 A-List: Black Keys, Gaslight Anthem, LCD Soundsystem, The National, Tracey Thorn

Tracey Thorn, from Everything But the Girl, whose

Tracey Thorn, from Everything But the Girl, whose new album " Love and Its Opposite " is coming out Tuesday May 18th, 2010 by Merge Records. ( Handout) Photo Credit: None/

Tracey Thorn's "Love and Its Opposite" is one of the year's best.

Yeah, the music industry isn’t doing so well and the concert industry seems to be following suit. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of great music still being made and the last few months have generated an extraordinary amount of great music.

Here’s a look at what we’ve heard from the second quarter:

A

Black Keys, “Brothers” (Nonesuch, 5/18/10): Sometimes, more is really more. For five albums, the Akron, Ohio, duo The Black Keys has done impressive work, drawing mainly on loud guitar riffs and brute force, with a touch of inventiveness. On "Brothers,” singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney take a whole new approach, a broader one that proves to be even more effective than the raw, blues-oriented one they have used for years.

Gaslight Anthem, “American Slang” (Side One Dummy, 6/15/10): It's not that the lyrics are unimportant - in fact, they've improved by leaps and bounds, especially in "Bring It On," drenched in "Born to Run" heroics and Ronettes sweetness. But, on "Orphans," the full-throttle Replacements-fueled guitars, the driving rhythms and Brian Fallon's Springsteenish growl sound so good together it gets dizzying to try to parse it.

LCD Soundsystem, “This Is Happening” (DFA, 5/18/10): There are extended dance anthems to burn - especially the thrilling "Dance Yourself Clean" and "Pow Pow," while the single "Drunk Girls" is a jaunty, more focused "North American Scum." But it's the "Heroes"-era David Bowie flair of "All I Want" and the punk rebelliousness of "You Wanted a Hit," clocking in at a radio-unfriendly nine-minutes-plus, that guarantee "This Is Happening" will be the soundtrack to cool spaces all summer long.

The National, “High Violet” (4AD, 5/11/10): Sometimes, they are straightforward and rock-oriented, as in the rhythm-driven "Anyone's Ghost" or the U2-influenced "Lemonworld." Sometimes, they are subtle and orchestral, as in "Runaway," where the band surrounds Matt Berninger's complaints and rallying cries ("I won't be no runaway," he promises, "because I won't run") with muted horns and acoustic loveliness. And sometimes, they build to epic proportions, as in "England," where the gorgeous, regal arrangements are the stars, as Berninger offers a series of mantras.

Tracey Thorn, “Love and Its Opposite” (Merge, 5/18/10): Whether it's the telling details of "Oh, the Divorces" or the bittersweet return to the dating pool in "Singles Bar" or the lush melancholy of "Swimming," Thorn presents her unique point of view, an approach to songwriting tied to her love of music.

A-

David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, “Here Lies Love” (Nonesuch, 4/6/10)
Macy Gray, “The Sellout” (Concord, 6/22/10)
Shelby Lynne, “Tears, Lies and Alibis” (Everso, 4/20/10)
Rufus Wainwright, “All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu” (Decca, 4/20/10)

B+

Jason Castro, “Jason Castro” (Atlantic, 4/13/10)
Jonsi, “Go” (XL, 4/6/10)
MGMT, “Congratulations” (Columbia, 4/13/10)

B

Court Yard Hounds, “Court Yard Hounds” (Columbia, 5/4/10)
Drake, “Thank Me Later” (Aspire/Cash Money, 6/15/10)
The Hold Steady, “Heaven is Whenever” (Vagrant, 5/4/10)
Hole, “Nobody’s Daughter” (Mercury, 4/27/10)
Jack Johnson, “To the Sea” (Brushfire, 6/1/10)
Marina and The Diamonds, “The Family Jewels” (Chop Shop/Atlantic, 5/25/10)
Scissor Sisters, “Night Work” (Universal, 6/29/10)
Stone Temple Pilots, “Stone Temple Pilots” (Atlantic, 5/25/10)
Various Artists, “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (Chop Shop/Atlantic, 6/8/10)

B-

B.O.B., “B.O.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray” (Atlantic, 4/27/10)
Charice, “Charice” (Reprise, 5/11/10)
Christina Aguilera, “Bionic” (RCA, 6/8/10)
Taio Cruz, “Rokstarr” (Mercury, 6/1/10)
The Dead Weather, “Sea of Cowards” (Third Man/Warner Bros., 5/11/10)
The-Dream, “Love King” (Def Jam, 6/29/10)

C+

Eminem, “Recovery” (Aftermath, 6/22/10)
Miley Cyrus, “Can’t Be Tamed” (Hollywood, 6/22/10)

2010 Q1 A-List: Corinne Bailey Rae, Johnny Cash, Envy on the Coast

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