Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Best albums of 2013 ... so far

Has the year's best album already been released? Or is the best yet to come? At the halfway point of 2013, Chris Schulz asks the Herald's music experts to make their picks.

Is Daft Punk's Random Access Memories in the running for best album of 2013?
Is Daft Punk's Random Access Memories in the running for best album of 2013?

Is Yeezus the pinnacle of music in 2013? Or will Kanye West be upstaged by indie upstarts Vampire Weekend, dubstep balladeer James Blake or futuristic revisionists Daft Punk?

Could a Kiwi act take out the title? Or is the best yet to come?

Yes, it's only July. And yes, there are plenty of heavy hitters expected to release albums in the second half of 2013. But that hasn't stopped music critics from far and wide compiling their half-year Album of the Year lists.

While it's more than a little premature, some seem sure of of their No. 1 choice already.

The website Grantland loves Kanye West's Yeezus so much that it named it Album of the Year. On July 2.

They might be right. Yeezus is pretty amazing.

But that kind of crystal ball gazing seems unfair to the albums that are yet to be released.

Like Nine Inch Nails' Hesitation Marks (September 3). And Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail (July 7). Or M.I.A's Matangi (as soon as possible, please).

Not to mention upcoming releases from the Weeknd, Arctic Monkeys, MGMT, Elton John, U2, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and Arcade Fire, just to name a few.

But July seems as good a point as any to begin speculating what's going to be populating those Album of the Year lists come December.

No one else is holding back: Pretty Much Amazing gave their mid-year No. 1 spot to Vampire Weekend's mature third offering Modern Vampires of the City, as did Stereogum.

NME gave the title to Daft Punk and their raved about new release Random Access Memories. And Metacritic said the best-reviewed title of 2013 was metal act Deafheaven's Sunbather.

Everyone else is doing it, so why can't we? Below are the mid-year Album of the Year entries from the Herald's resident music critics.

Once you've read them, feel free to post your own lists in the comment sections below.

Lydia Jenkin, TimeOut
Mavis Staples - One True Vine
Marlon Williams, Delaney Davidson, and Tami Neilson - The Secret History Of Country Music Songwriting Volume 2.
Eden Mulholland - Feed The Beast
Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience

Hannah Sarney, online editor and bFM DJ
Heatthrob - Tegan and Sara
Yeezus - Kanye West
Time Stays, We Go - The Veils
Desire Lines - Camera Obscura
The 20/20 Experience - Justin Timberlake
(What we've heard of) The Electric Lady - Janelle Monae (so far)

Sam Wicks, former Volume editor
Yeezus - Kanye West
Overgrown - James Blake
Random Access Memories - Daft Punk
Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels
II - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Chris Schulz, reviewer
Yeezus - Kanye West
Wakin' on a Pretty Daze - Kurt Vile
Long.Live.A$AP - A$AP Rocky
...Like Clockwork - Queens of the Stone Age
Acid Rap - Chance the Rapper
Overgrown - James Blake

Scott Kara, TimeOut
...Like Clockwork - Queens of the Stone Age
Random Access Memories - Daft Punk
M B V - My Bloody Valentine
Push the Sky Away - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Overgrown - James Blake
Blood Becomes Fire - Beastwars
Thr!!!er - !!!
Dust - rotor plus
Tomorrow's Harvest - Boards of Canada
Blackbird - Fat Freddy's Drop
Embracism - Kirin J Callinan
13 - Black Sabbath
Silence Yourself - Savages
Paramore - Paramore
You're Nothing - Iceage
II - Unknown Mortal orchestra

P.K. Stowers, community editor
We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic - Foxygen
MCII - Mikal Cronin
Haunted - Tiny Ruins
MBV - My Bloody Valentine
I See Seaweed - Drones
Silence Yourself - Savages
Jamie Lidell - Jamie Lidell

Hayden Donnell, Great North singer and online journalist
Trouble Will Find Me - The National
Modern Vampires of the City - Vampire Weekend
Time Stays, We Go - The Veils

* Which albums do you think will be in the running for Album of the Year by December? Post your own lists below.

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Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Schulz has interviewed some of music's biggest names during his career writing for various entertainment publications in New Zealand. He is a Herald and TimeOut feature writer who covers music, movies, TV and games both online and in print.

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