We're now well past the year's halfway point. Accordingly, some sites, including SPIN.com, have taken stock of the year's best albums so far. [Read SPIN's list here.] With that in mind, I'd like to give a shout out to five albums that likely won't appear on anyone's year-end list, but deserve a listen anyway. Have a look, then tell us about your 2009 favorites in the comments section.
1. Astra, The Weirding (Rise Above): The Weirding is these shaggy San Diegans first album, but I have a suspicion they may have released something in a past life--10-minute-plus prog fantasies like "Ourobouros" and the title track recall the early '70s heyday of Yes and King Crimson with uncanny accuracy. But even with their virtuoso guitar solos and thrillingly labyrinthine song structures, Astra's songs have a focus--they explore, but never meander.Read More »from Overlooked Already! 2009′s Most Underappreciated Albums (So Far).