So, the year is now half way through, and plenty of brand spanking new stuff has caught my ear. I must say that 2006 so far has been a wonderful year for music, whatever your taste may be. To me, the year is lacking that killer hip-hop release, with the closest to urban being Lily Allen who also crosses successfully over into indie, pop and ska. I'm hoping that Madvillain pull their fingers out and get something out before 2007, but I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Great releases from Phoenix, Tapes N Tapes, The Longcut and Be Your Own PET sit amongst some of my favourites of the year, but it's Islands charming debut Return to Sea that tips the balance against everyone else. It's lush, comprising the finest bits from many of my favourite artists and bands, creating a rather grand soundscape which is as likely to drift into lo-fi acoustica as it is Outkast inspired hip-hop. Quite ingenius, and I'm rather looking forward to seeing them at the Roadhouse later this month.

MP3 Islands Don't Call me Whitney, Bobby.

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