To be perfectly honest, we'd by and large be happy with the way our chart of the year currently looks come the big write-ups in December, but that's not how the music industry works. Indeed, eleven of our top 20 of 2007 came out after this day last year. With that in mind, what's likeliest from what we currently know about to barge its way in?
The old favourites
A section for new records expected from those we've particularly cheered on to date. In an interview last year Okkervil River's Will Sheff revealed last year's STN Best Album Of The Year The Stage Names was envisioned as a double album. The other half, The Stand-Ins, has been set free by itself in lieu of another Appendix EP, released 9th September in America and October 13th here. It's seen as a continuation of the earlier album, with a follow-up song to Savannah Smiles, while Jonathan Meiburg, then a bandmate but now merely of Shearwater, gets a duet on one track. More excitingly, it's an album that follows on from a record that dealt with celebrity and the nature of fandom and there's a track called Blue Tulip. It couldn't be, could it?
Outside our own parameters Jeremy Warmsley merely skirted the boundaries of press interest with the superb 2006 debut The Art Of Fiction. This time, in the wake of the slow burn success of Welcome To Our TV Show and dates with the Mystery Jets and Transgressive's travelling show, you feel he's going for it. How We Became, released in September, sees him link production wise with Markus Dravs, who's just co-produced Viva La Vida And That and previously engineered/mixed three Bjork albums and Neon Bible. What we've heard him do live and in sessions suggests variously more directness and a Rufus-approaching grandiosity. How that will all turn out on record will be intriguing.
It was one of our great regrets that Michigan multidirectionalists Anathallo's sumptuous 2006 album Floating World never got a full British release - indeed, a track from it was released as a single only this February. No such fate awaits Canopy Glow, as Big Scary Monsters have a hand on it. According to Matt Joynt in a May interview "we're hoping for this fall. We're working out label stuff right now." Also, the songs are "more like traditional songs. There's still not like something anyone would hear on the radio", which is fair enough. Owen Pallett first announced a Final Fantasy album called Heartland in November 2006, but last July he said it wouldn't come out before halfway through this year. Reports around the release of Jukebox claimed Cat Power was working on a follow-up of original songs called The Sun, but that trail's gone quiet since. Grizzly Bear are doing a lot of touring in the first half of August, some with Radiohead, and they've already performed excellent new song While You Wait For The Others on Conan O'Brien's show. Late summer 2006 cause celebres The Victorian English Gentlemens Club are reportedly recording album two as you read this, a stage early 2006 cause celebres The Boy Least Likely To went through at the end of 2007 - their album, back to being self-financed, should be out very soon.
Since her debut 7" two years ago Emmy The Great has been content to do things her own way while lesser talents hop on the major label bandwagon, and if that means being called the new Kate Nash as Q did even though Emmy's first single came out while Nash was still playing open mic nights, so be it. The album, presumably still on her own Close Harbour, is called First Love and is set for September. Ms Moss was once backing singer with Noah And The Whale, although it's probably unwise to enquire any further about when and how Laura Marling took up that mantle instead. Their own debut bears the cryptic title Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down and is out on 11th August. The tracklisting we have here lists an opener called 2 Atoms In A Molecule, which is a lyric from 2 Bodies 1 Heart, which is absent. What's gone on there?
Another former STN inquisition subject going longform are Sky Larkin, who were in Seattle over May and June with John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Death Cab For Cutie, Blonde Redhead). Quoth the studio boss in its blog "my goodness, I am TRULY excited about Sky Larkin. They are a band to watch, for double sure. They've certainly got my attention, and I think we'll be hearing a lot from them in the coming months." Those Dancing Days are a band we've been hearing no small amount about in the recent past, and now that Linnea has finished school they can get on with the important business of an album, scheduled for September/October. The Field Music diaspora has already produced one fine spinoff in School Of Language, and now Peter Brewis gets a go with The Week That Was, whose self-titled LP is released on 18th August.
We haven't talked about Mary Hampton on here, have we? Mary Hampton. Sparse, gothic English folk in the Denny/Briggs tradition from a Brightonian affiliated with lovely Drift Records (who among many other things are preparing a new Thirty Pounds Of Bone album), although My Mother's Children ("an album I know I am going to love for life" - Eliza Carthy) is released through another label on 4th August. Sheffield's wooden chair-utilising harmonising duo Slow Club got their studio stuff done early this year so their LP might just sneak out before the end of the summer. Haven't heard much from Eugene McGuinness since the flurry of interest around his mini-album The Early Learnings Of..., but a forthcoming flurry of business suggests something is afoot. East London absurdists XX Teens have been racing through rhythm section members of late and have still found time to complete Welcome To Goon Island, dropping 21st July. At long, long last Transgressive's long serving but lately very quiet synth-poppers with the accent on pop Burningpilot have an album ready - Cold Caller, released in October.
We've waited long enough
So now Chinese Democracy looks like coming to pass before the next ice age, the next band to have the dead hand of expectation placed upon them must be The Avalanches. Coming up to eight years since the first album's Australian release, Modular Records claimed they'd got it ready in 2006, the band said they were making final decisions in January 2007, but still radio silence prevails. As DJ Shadow will ruefully confirm follow-ups to critically acclaimed sampledelica debuts are always difficult work, but we can only find out for ourselves. It would have been My Bloody Valentine but then they went and played these comeback gigs. Last year Kevin Shields promised a collection of songs completed between 1993 and 1997 plus some up to date stuff was on the way, and last week he said he'd begun penning new material again.
So who else is overdue a return? Massive Attack revealed their fifth album would be called Weather Underground and six tracks had been completed for it in January 2006. That's even longer than Mezzanine took, and that ended with a member leaving in disgust - not unreasonably, they now say they're in no rush to actually release the thing. Described as "gothic soul", rumoured contributors include Tom Waits (christ, can you imagine?), Tunde Adebimpe and David Sitek, Guy Garvey, Hope Sandoval, Damon Albarn, Horace Andy, Mike Patton, Liz Fraser and Mos Def. Stereolab's Chemical Chords (18th August) is, if not a back to basics, a set of "purposefully short, dense, fast pop songs", more brassic exotica for a first studio set in four years. Doves' Some Cities is three and a half years old and a release date for the follow-up of late 2007 was completely missed, but Andy Williams promised in a blog two weeks ago "we aim to have this record finished by the end of summer, songs are already starting to be mixed." Madness' The Liberty Of Norton Folgate is a concept record about London of old, but then so was their best album The Rise And Fall. They've just previewed the whole thing with three nights at the Hackney Empire but a release date remains known only to them - September says one rumour. ballboy earned themselves a cult underground following, but with Gordon McIntyre having a couple of side projects some thought they'd gone permanently quiet. Not so, as I Worked On The Ships emerges on 11th August.
After a year of being talked about the Hot Puppies' second album Blue Hands has a release date, 22nd September, just a month or so before Becky Newman produces her first born and well after the New Pop revival it could have presaged. Gah. In fact it's has been in the works for so long that Bec and Beth have had time to form a side project called, erm, Bec And Beth, who release an EP a month before. After the underwhelming last Cardigans album Nina Persson has returned to A Camp business, citing influence from Bowie, girl groups, "80s punk" and Adam & The Ants. Two years on from Grandaddy's dissolvement Jason Lytle, who pretty much made the last two albums solo anyway, has promised solo business this year. After five years Bis' Manda Rin has meanwhile come up with My DNA, out on 8th September, a return to disco-punk yore claiming, worryingly, major influence from Late Of The Pier. Mercury Rev have 'only' been off for three and a half years but have made up with two full sets - Snowflake Midnight will be available from September 29th under proper methods, with companion album Strange Attractor given away free from the same date. According to the press release the former features "the forces of symmetry and chaos at play, shimmering, vibrating close-ups and vistas of Life driving itself onward, bursting with patterns and mandala-like forms pushed to the brink of incredible pressures then lost in an instant... blown apart by their own majestic desire to share themselves, spirals of new momentum inter-twingling with the vastness of limitless new creation." No pressure.
Pot pourri (that's a mixed bag, a random mixture, we don't really know what we're going to get)
Absentee: after working on all their side projects, Victory Shorts arrives in August.
Antony & The Johnsons: autumn sees the hotly anticipated The Crying Light. Hegarty sa: "On my last record, everything was sort of sad and redemptive. And this one, it's more extreme in both directions. Some of the songs are much more joyful, and some of the songs are much less redemptive. And then some of the songs are more thoughtful - more philosophical."
Archie Bronson Outfit: recording over May; new album tentatively talked about for the autumn.
Beck: Modern Guilt is out next Monday, and apparently it sounds like this.
Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning: August's UK release of Something For All Of Us squares the 'Presents' circle after Kevin Drew's Spirit If.
Calexico: "Carried To Dust is the next step in Calexico's ongoing quest of moving forward while never turning its back on the past". Er, yeah. 8th September, in any case, and Sam 'Iron & Wine' Beam's on it.
Charlotte Hatherley: after time playing with Bryan Ferry and Clinic, was recording with Luke Smith (ex-Clor) last month.
CSS: Their London album, Donkey, is out on 21st July.
Drever McCusker Woomble: Kris, John and Roddy have done good solo Caledonian folky things on their own, and Phil Selway and Norman Blake guest on their collaboration Before The Ruin (15th September).
Klaxons: they're not really going prog, are they? They've promised an autumn release for ages, whatever.
MF Doom: heavy rumour has it that a concept album under the name DOOM is imminent.
Morrissey: can Years Of Refusal (15th September) really be as "punk, garage, DIY" as one member is on record as saying it is?
Pagan Wanderer Lu: our favourite Welsh satirical lo-fi electro warrior - a hotly contested mantle - has an album ready called Fight My Battles For Me for release... soon?
PJ Harvey & John Parish: autumn looks likely for the pair's second wide-ranging collaboration.
The Spinto Band: the recording sessions seem to have started a year ago, and while we don't yet have a date we have a title, Moonwink.
The Walkmen: You And Me is out August 18th, and will surely be better than A Hundred Miles Off.
Touch and go for 2008, more likely go
Bat For Lashes: now touring Fur And Gold has finally finished, Natasha has tentatively promised a return to the studio.
Camera Obscura: have been 'in' with previous album associate Jari Haapalainen through May and June but intelligence says nothing until the new year. Until then there's dates in the second half of this month and a few festivals.
Franz Ferdinand: Currently working with Dan Carey, but Alex says there's a lot of mixing still to do and January seems likely.
Lucky Soul: hard at work writing and demoing. Why not see them at London Luminaire next Wednesday?
Mew: just started tracking at Rich Costey's New York studio right about as you read this - Costey produced Frengers, which bodes well.
The Pipettes: the Exciting News Inside!-style line-up have already played live (supporting REO Speedwagon!) and are now searching out a studio to make themselves roomy in.
And then there's all the surprises we don't know about yet...