The Best Albums Of 2011 (So Far)

The year isn't quite half over, but as of today, "summer" is officially here - even if the calendar needs a few weeks to catch up - and by the time summer is over, so will 2011. Or close enough. So Rocks Off asked our staff to give us their favorite two albums of the year so far, plus one outstanding local or Texas release, which we'll give you at high noon.

Chris Gray: At this point, I have heard a lot more new music that I have thoroughly enjoyed than at six months into 2010. This makes me happy, and also makes me wonder if 2011 is peaking a little too early. Screw it. My two favorites so far are Bob Geldof's How To Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell and Gregg Allman's Low Country Blues.

I had no idea what to expect from Geldof's album, and was both delighted and impressed with what I did: A sometimes giddy, sometimes growling affair laced with rock, pop, blues, techno-blues and disco, plus one dynamite love song in "Dazzled By You." I had a pretty good idea what to expect from Allman, a pretty comprehensive cataloging of blues and R&B from the past 75 years or so, and boy did he ever deliver: Skip James, Amos Milburn, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Bobby Blue Bland, Sleepy John Estes, etc. Dive in.