It's once again time to count down the best rock records of the month. Though 2012 is only halfway cooked, we here at Napster wouldn't be surprised if July's Top 15 winds up being the year's best. After all, it is absolutely packed with excellent music, as recent weeks have seen an impressive wave of A-list releases, amazing anthologies and under-the-radar surprises.
Easily the most anticipated title is Linkin Park's Living Things, which boasts a heady fusion of everything the band does so well: brutish rap-metal, jarring electronica and arena-sized anthems. Other modern rock that's not to go unheard is Flaming Lips' freaky collaboration album, featuring unlikely cameos from the likes of Ke$ha, Yoko Ono, Biz Markie, Erykah Badu and noise-rock behemoth Lightning Bolt -- yowsa. Smashing Pumpkins are also back with a new album, Oceania, and we're not lying when we say it's the group's best since the Siamese Dream era. It's about time, Billy!
As for the classics, Neil Young's latest reunion with the mighty Crazy Horse has coughed up Americana, a considerably dark and, at times, challenging foray into the American folk songbook. Indeed, you've never really heard "Oh Susannah" until you've heard it slathered in muddy distortion and underpinned with brontosaurus mega-stomp. Far more hummable (we promise) is That's Why God Made the Radio, the reunited Beach Boys' infectious celebration of 50 years of crafting timeless pop music. There's some real joy on this record.
Last but surely not least: reissues. Three really stick out this month: (1) the 25th anniversary edition of Paul Simon's Graceland, the world-pop fusion album that changed the course of American pop music history (be sure to check out our Source Material); (2) Heart's rarities-stacked boxed set Strange Euphoria; and (3) The Lost Tapes, a sprawling collection of previously unreleased tracks from Krautrock pioneers Can.
Now, on to our countdown....