Sunday, August 10, 2008

In shops soon

While we've got a moment, let's talk about the rest of the year. We have a friend who for Christmas 2006 was writing a bathroom reader-style book and got the first test prints through that June for publication in September. The publishing house then decided that with demand exceeding their expectations they'd be best to knuckle down to improve the proofs and repro, which might have meant the release being delayed by a few weeks. On that news, the publishers decided to delay the release - a book that would most likely be a order filler, don't forget - by a full year, as the stockists were unlikely to even consider it for point of sale display if it arrived any later.

We're guessing it's pretty much the same with album release cycles. It's not exactly a trade secret to say the industry takes the summer off and lets the releases sort themselves out, which this year entails making a good deal of space Viva La Vida Or All That and running for it, hence the only real impact in the top ten by new albums since then being the increasingly die hard-led Primal Scream and this new thing where even faceless dance acts get to sell albums in decent numbers (Basshunter, Darren Styles). The labels are just about coming back with tans and straw donkeys now to give their new priority acts a quick leg-up, so this week you've got the debuts from Noah And The Whale, of whom more soon, and The Script, of whom more never, with any luck, but indicative of a new trend where labels get to push a big new contender into place when we're at our weakest - Kate Nash rushed into place and Newton Faulkner ambling in slightly later last year, Lily Allen and James Morrison in 2006.

Things don't actually get back into place until Reading & Leeds week, when suddenly the powers that be notice there's a lot of music interest going on and hence throw at us crucial comebacks from The Verve, The Automatic and Slipknot plus new Missy Elliott, grown up Miley Cyrus and another Michael Jackson Best Of. They still buy them, you know. In the first half of September, apart from Metallica bringing their release date well forward, there's a growing number of releases but they're clearly working towards something as the top line is a mix of more touted debutants (Glasvegas, Little Jackie, Sam Beeton) and singles collections (The Coral, Chemical Brothers). But then, the month turns the halfway mark and... Kings Of Leon! The Streets! Queen & Paul Rodgers! Nelly! Pussycat Dolls! Plus Nelly, McFly, Katy Sodding Perry, Paolo Nutini, Natasha Bedingfield... even Mogwai know the key is to time your run, and that's before October comes with its Oasis, Kaiser Chiefs, Keane, Will Young, Travis, James Morrison, Funeral For A Friend, Trivium and ex-G4 Jonathan Ansell, plus the latest rumoured ETA of Chinese Democracy. The end of the month? Rumours say U2, Razorlight and Bloc Party all vying for shelf space with Dido just afterwards and the Flaming Lips and Fall Out Boy possibly having something out before the labels lapse back into Greatest Hits and back catalogue for stocking filler mode. Morrissey has had to delay his album, initially due in September, to 2009 just to get it out of the pathway. Fucking hell, frankly.

So where does all this multinational star willy-waving leave us? Well, we were doing a stock check the other day into album releases that interest us and even in our little cloistered world there's little let-up, with virtually no end of interesting releases in that late September/early October critical period. 13th October, which already boasts Okkervil River (a good month after the rest of the world for some reason), Los Campesinos!, I'm From Barcelona and Eugene McGuinness with more announcements surely pending, is looking particularly bad on the bank balance but no more than 29th September, which boasts Jeremy Warmsley, Mercury Rev, the Hot Puppies and a Saint Etienne Best Of. It's all about timing, see, and an entire year's label outlay condensed into a month and a half. They call it choice.

So yeah, turning to What CD? matters, Noah And The Whale finally follow fellow young pretension travellers Marling and Flynn into the long form racks, although the success, and indeed the sound of the single that made them famous, has put something of a playing card into the spokes of Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down. Firstly, as is now traditional with all bands who've had demos circulating the net for some time we look to see what's made the tracklisting at this crucial stage and what has been left abandoned to the elements, and while Jocasta and Rocks And Daggers have made the cut, both boosted somewhat, Beating and Death By Numbers have been put down to youthful inexperience. Oddly, so has former single Two Bodies One Heart, although its lyrics have been cannibalised for opener 2 Atoms In A Molecule. It's a very hard album to dislike, overcoming all that nu-folk nonsense (which we technically started, so sorry) for one of those communal uplift masking dark lyrics collections you tend to hear so much about now, using the elements of stereotypical twee (ukeleles, handclaps, accordion, whistling) in a different context with the more than odd dip into self-aware melancholy that comes across like Adam Green gone serious, and you don't even stop to wonder what accent that is that the John Martyn-timbred Charlie Fink is affecting. And providing backing vocals throughout is La...oh, right, sorry.

It should also be very much noted that two of those we hold most dear are releasing new singles this week. Jeremy Warmsley starts the clock ticking towards album two How We Became with a download release of the increasingly ace Lose My Cool, while Broken Records' elegaic Slow Parade comes out on 7" on Club Fandango's label while the A&Rs continue circling.


Chris Brown said...

ANOTHER St Etienne best-of?

Simon said...

"First up, we're releasing
a 'new' single - or more precisely, a
Xenomania-produced re-make of a 'lost' single. It's
BURNT OUT CAR, and it'll be out in early September.
Mark Brown has done a very seasonal Balearic mix, and
there will be three new b-sides to boot: River is the
7", Destroy The Building and Night Vision are on CD1.
Mr Brown's work will appear on CD2.

A couple of weeks later, LONDON CONVERSATIONS: THE
BEST OF SAINT ETIENNE will be in the shops. It comes
in three delicious 'flavas': a single 18 track cd; a
double with every other a-side, some of our best album
tracks, and - yes! - Lover Plays The Bass; and a 3
disc set in a beautiful book cover with a dvd of all
our promo vids."

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