The TAS Staff Picks Our Top Albums And Singles Of 2012 ... So Far

The first half of 2012 has already come and gone. The Alternate Side staff, looking at the scores of WAV files, MP3s, CDs and even vinyl singles we've trundled through over the past six months, is slightly overwhelmed by the abundance of good music, so we've made some midpoint selections for our top 10 (or 11) albums and tracks of the year thus far. We have the freedom to change our minds completely by December, but in the meantime, bands and artists like Japandroids, Jack White, Hot Chip, The Walkmen, 2:54, Zeus, Public Service Broadcasting, Father John Misty, Cold Specks, Alt-J, Bobby Womack and Damon Albarn have made the cut. Read the lists after the jump.

TAS Interview: Brian Borcherdt Discusses Dusted And The Future of Holy F***

Never one to stand by idly, Brian Borcherdt has long split duties between his ambiently aggressive band Holy F*** and outside or solo projects. His latest endeavor is the lovely, lo-fi Dusted, a collaboration with producer  and drummer Leon Taheny. The duo's debut album, Total Dust, was released this week on Polyvinyl/Hand Drawn Dracula and Borcherdt and Taheny play Manhattan's Cake Shop tomorrow, July 12, and Brooklyn's Glasslands on July 15. The Alternate Side caught up with the traveling Borcherdt and he not only discussed Dusted, but the immediate — and rosy  —  future of Holy F***.

These United States: TAS Tour Blog

These United States — which actually hail originally from two states, New York and North Carolina — are currently on tour with Trampled By Turtles and both bands land at Webster Hall tonight, April 17. The geographically-minded These United States release a fifth eponymous album on June 12 and after finishing their tour with Trampled By Turtles, they'll hit the road with Heartless Bastards in May. TAS asked These United States if they'd blog about their tour journey, well, across several states leading up to their New York show. New bassist Anna Morsett kindly obliged and recruited Lindsay Giles McWilliams to take photos.

Young Magic: SXSW 2012 Blog

Although they've got Australian and Indonesian roots, Young Magic is based out of Brooklyn and have a brand new album, Melt, out now on Carpark Records. The band just kicked off their North American tour today, March 29, and will play Brooklyn's Cameo Gallery on April 6. The Alternate Side asked the three members of Young Magic if they'd keep a SXSW blog for us tracking the highs, the lows, the deflated air mattresses and the free tacos. They were a little tardy turning it in —  traveling and illness got in the way — but we forgive them.

Workaholics: SXSW 2012 Interview

Workaholics, Comedy Central's slacker sit-com telemarketers, got into the spirit of SXSW this year and hosted their own Austin house party on March 16, featuring bands like Wavves, Reptar, The Cool Kids and Trash Talk. The Alternate Side's Alisa Ali had a chance to sit down with Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Kyle Newacheck and the hirsute Blake Anderson to talk up their music expertise and house party imprisonment. The third season of "Workaholics" begins May 29 on Comedy Central at 10:30 p.m. EDT.

SXSW 2012: The Alternate Side Wrap

Check out The Alternate Side's coverage of SXSW 2012 featuring exclusive interviews with Built to Spill, Yukon Blonde, Django Django, Sharon Van Etten and Poliça. Plus TAS in Session with Michael Kiwanuka and Friends, who visited the TAS and WFUV studios prior to their Texas travels. We also have Austin-brewed band blogs courtesy of Spanish Prisoners, Exitmusic, AU, Jonquil, Bishop Morocco, Zeus and Sleepy Sun.  And finally, live performances from Alabama Shakes and Shearwater, thanks to our sister station WFUV.

Sleepy Sun: SXSW 2012 Blog

The visceral, stormy psychedelic rock of Sleepy Sun was very much a part of SXSW this year; the San Francisco band had five gigs in three days. Sleepy Sun is on the brink of releasing a powerful new album, Spine Hits, due out on April 10 on The End Records, and they're in the thick of a long tour which takes them in New York on April 9 (Glasslands Gallery) and April 10 (Mercury Lounge). We asked bassist Jack Allen if he'd blog about the good, bad and ugly of this year's SXSW and he turned us on to mind-and-hair blowing bands (Howlin' Rain), cool Austin bars (Blackheart) and, most tauntingly, amazing avocado tacos.

Zeus: SXSW 2012 Blog

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Toronto's Zeus seemed to have the right idea about this year's SXSW: a good soak in a hot tub after every long day hauling equipment around and racing through short sets. The prog-leaning rockers, who began as Jason Collett's backing band, release their sophomore album, Busting Visions, on March 27 on Arts & Crafts and used their time in Austin wisely, not just playing scads of shows, but checking out friends like Yukon Blonde and The Sheepdogs and loading up on a year's worth of BBQ. The Alternate Side asked Mike O'Brien if he'd keep a blog of the band's mythic musical and gastronomic travels through Austin.

Jonquil: SXSW 2012 Blog

British indie-popsters Jonquil arrived in Austin from the slightly more tranquil environs of Oxford for a dual purpose; not only has the band just released a new album, Point of Go, on Dovecote Records, but frontman Hugo Manuel also has his own excellent solo endeavor, Chad Valley. Gigs galore ensued in Austin, but Jonquil will also stick around Stateside for a while; the band kicks off a US tour tomorrow, March 19, in Atlanta,  heading to Brooklyn's Glasslands for an April 2 show. The Alternate Side asked Jonquil if they'd blog about their SXSW experience for us and bassist/trumpeter Sam Scott sent on some carb-fueled observations (and a cry for decent brioche).

Bishop Morocco: SXSW 2012 Blog

Toronto's Bishop Morocco, founded by James Sayce and and Jake Fairley, signed with Arts & Crafts this winter and last week, just in time for SXSW, released a six-track EP, Old Boys. The band has added on guitarist Ian Worang and drummer Jon McCann and had a productive week of showcases in Austin, including the Arts & Crafts gig on Friday. The Alternate Side asked James Sayce if he'd keep a blog for us ... which included a lot of beer and breakfast.

Spanish Prisoners: SXSW 2012 Blog, Day Two

The Alternate Side salutes Spanish Prisoners' frontman Leo Maymind for being so diligent with his SXSW blog, especially with their two-gig schedule today, March 16. The Bushwick band took a slight detour from their current tour to take on Austin's annual week-of-chaos to showcase their dreamily handsome debut album, Gold Fools. Spanish Prisoners, who have the BirdDog promo show earlier this afternoon, play Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie at Crowbar at 9 p.m. CT tonight and on Saturday, March 17, they play Boston in Austin at the Treehouse Pub at 7 p.m. CT.

AU: SXSW 2012 Blog

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After a somewhat lengthy hiatus, the Portland, Oregon, duo of AU — Luke Wyland and Dana Valatka — will finally release their gritty, gorgeous and heart-accelerating third album, Both Lights, via Hometapes/The Leaf Label on April 3. The pair are in the thick of the SXSW scrum at the moment, with a very busy three-gig day today, March 16, with shows at the Terroreyes Day Party (4:45 p.m. CT), STOUH By SMES Shout 2 (8:45 p.m. CT) and the Redefine Magazine Party (10:45 p.m.). The Alternate Side asked if AU could blog about their Austin walkabout and Wyland kindly obliged.

Spanish Prisoners: SXSW 2012 Blog

Brooklyn's Spanish Prisoners have taken a detour from their current tour to dip into chaos of SXSW and, thanks to frontman Leo Maymind, they'll be spilling all (well, some) of their Austin secrets via a blog for The Alternate Side. The Bushwick quartet, who recently self-released their dreamily handsome debut album, Gold Fools, are slated to play the Paper Garden Records and My Old Kentucky Blog showcase at Uncorked Tasting Room and Wine Bar in Austin, today, March 15, at 5:15 p.m. CT with three more gigs to follow Friday and Saturday.

Exitmusic: SXSW 2012 Blog

Tags: Exitmusic

New York's own Exitmusic, the beguiling duo of Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church, finally release their beautifully temperamental debut album, Passage, on May 22 via Secretly Canadian. The Alternate Side asked Palladino, who also stars on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," if she'd keep a blog for us detailing some of Exitmusic's Austin discoveries. Check out the blog, Palladino's photos and the track "Passage," from their soon-to-be-released album, after the jump.

TAS Takes On Valentine's Day With Not-So-Silly Love Songs

Ah, Valentine's Day. A time of crushes, Cupids, chocolate and champagne. Or a depressing night spent with a dopey Katherine Heigl rom-com while polishing off a pint of Chunky Monkey. No matter what your take on the loveliest - or most loveless - of days, The Alternate Side staff has pulled together some of our favorite songs that we feel express the best and worst of romance.

Breaking Bands 2012: TAS Staff Picks Next Year's New Faces To Watch

Looking ahead to 2012, The Alternate Side staff — not normally betting folk — are gambling that bands and artists like Alabama Shakes, Daughter, Gary Clark Jr., Hospitality, 2:54, Zambri, Lucy Rose, The Cold and Lovely and Friends will making a significant impact over the next twelve months. At the very least, we're really looking forward to their debut (or next) albums. After the jump, check out our full list with audio streams and videos.

The Black Keys, M83, PJ Harvey And More On TAS Staff's Best Of 2011

The Alternate Side staff both loves — and dreads — the annual rush of ubiquitous end-of-year lists, sifting through the best albums and singles of the twelve months gone by. There are usually far too many records or songs we'd like to mention, so consider the following just a start of what we really enjoyed in 2011, leaping from The Black Keys to tUnE-yArDs to Elbow to Little Dragon. And feel free to add your comments on what you liked too — we'd love to hear from you.

Mavis Staples, The Head And The Heart, Dawes, Josh Ritter Shine At WFUV's Holiday Cheer

By the time Mavis Staples had transformed New York's Beacon Theatre into a sultry New Orleans gospel tent, carrying the show home with a spirited — and often spiritual — hour-long set, WFUV's 7th annual Holiday Cheer concert had already proved the invaluable bond between artist, radio station and audience. Dawes, The Head and the Heart and special guest Josh Ritter played powerful sets, both ruminative and rowdy, and declared their affection for The Alternate Side's sister station, WFUV, during the station's benefit event on Monday night, December 5. After the jump, photos and setlists.

Cosmo Jarvis On CMJ, Buskers And Bad Habits

Born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, but raised in the UK, singer/songwriter Cosmo Jarvis has justly earned enthusiastic attention and increased airplay in Britain, thanks to viral videos and singles like the bittersweet "Gay Pirates" off of his second album, Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange?, out now on 25th Frame/The End Records. Touted on NPR's fall music preview, Jarvis has a wildly eclectic fanbase of folks like Brian Eno, Stephen Fry and Kylie Minogue. The Alternate Side asked the 22-year-old singer to report back on his three-gig CMJ Music Marathon experience, which involved buskers, the Beatles and the rediscovery of bad habits.

Everything Everything: TAS Interview

As lauded as eclectic, Manchester-based rockers Everything Everything are in Britain, the band still, mysteriously, remains under the radar in the States. In fact, Everything Everything don't even have an American label yet and, despite stops at 2010 festivals like SXSW, they've barely toured here. The Alternate Side caught up with frontman Jonathan Higgs — whose rapid-fire falsetto spurs on Everything Everything's UK hits like "Photoshop Handsome" and "Schoolin''" — and discussed the band's heady trajectory in their homeland, their second album and just when Americans might finally get to hear them here. Everything Everything play London's Relentless Freeze Festival tomorrow, October 29.

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