Saturday, January 08, 2011

So this is the new year: 100 reasons to look forward to 2011's musical output part I

"When did music tips for the year articles just become throw-as-much-shit-at-the-wall-as-possible deluge of bands?" - Sean Adams, Drowned In Sound editor

Simple enough concept, really, although one fraught with danger for everyone's sanity when you actually put together what this all means. One hundred things we expect or look forward to in this new year, old friends to new blood, fully aware that any one of the latter may turn up in two years' time as frontperson for a "blazing young rock'n'roll" band. And let's not overlook that it'll be the surprises we don't know about yet that provide the greater delight (though let's face it, that's usually not the case) and something need not be "tipped for big things" to be worth looking forward to the possibilities of (in other words, things that we can't get anyone to like and sell no copies). So...

A Classic Education
One of our longest held favourites, the expansive Bolognans have just finished recording their debut album in Brooklyn with one of Woods, aiming for late spring. Keep alert for more from Jonathan Clancy's own His Clancyness project too.

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Tao Of The Dead
The double drummer, gear wrecking Austinites' seventh album, the fastest they've ever recorded a full set, is made up of two tracks. Luckily they're split into a total of sixteen 'movements'. Bands think like this after seven albums. Oh, and each 'track' is in one tuning. Advance track Summer Of Dead Souls has little to do with such highfalutin plans, instead just getting down and space-rocking out. Released 7th February.

Art Brut
Somewhere in between his thousands of side projects Eddie Argos reconvened with the band - one likes to think he did this by ringing them up individually in the middle of the night and shouting "ready, Art Brut?" - and went back to Texas to work with Frank Black, as on Art Brut Vs Satan. Argos has claimed it'll be called Wam! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out! Then he changed his mind.

Audio Antihero
The 'Specialists In Commercial Suicide' (Nosferatu D2, Benjamin Shaw) get round to a third release with Jack Hayter's Sucky Tart EP at the end of January, the start of a plan to release an EP a month this year, in Jamie Halliday "like the old Sub Pop singles club only an EP because they're better and sadly not on vinyl." Shaw, Paul Hawkins and Tobias Hayes (Meet Me In St Louis, Shoes & Socks Off)'s new project are tied down for contributions, as well as a load of people you've never heard of but some of whom were in the label's recent podcast.

The Avalanches
Yeah, we know, we know. Thing is, ten years on from Since I Left You, stories are starting to circulate - they claimed they were clearing samples in May 2009, an October 2010 date was speculated this time last year, in June Ariel Pink was rumoured to be recording vocals with them, and in November the band updated their website, after a fashion, and joined Twitter. Shall we all see together?

Having spent 2010 dealing with a theatre run for his co-penned play Midsummer and electronic side project Money Can’t Buy Music, Gordon McIntyre's about ready to start recording a new album including the handful of tracks he's been playing live for the last year. We reckon. Here's one.

Banjo Or Freakout - Banjo Or Freakout
Alessio Natalizia finally releases a full album that matches wracked largely acoustic balladry with playing with the space around the recording and fading up bass noises and effects to catch the the recorded songs off-guard, like Elliott Smith in a dreamcatcher. Released 21st February.

Bat For Lashes
Reported in October that Natasha was soon to go into the studio with David Kosten with a set of already written songs.

Can't imagine they're a band that work with the utmost haste, but despite Tyondai's departure they still intend to release an album this year.

Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part 2
If you've been following this, Part 1, apparently cherrypicking from everything they've approached in their career, got delayed when Adam Yauch was faced with a cancer battle; now he's in remission they've rejigged the tracks and given it the sequential title, but apparently there will still be a Part 1 at some stage, which might be the same songs in different versions. Or something. Oh, and primarily Yauch is making a short film based on Fight For Your Right.

Beth Jeans Houghton
The idiosyncratic, bewigged Geordie high priestess of odd-folk had a quiet 2010 after some early touring promise, but she reported the album mixed with producer Ben Hillier in October. Turned 21 last Sunday too.

Blessing Force
With four pages of the NME the other week the Oxford collective mostly made up of Youthmovies and Jonquil members (and a self-proclaimed collective, like all the best collectives) aren't exactly a secret, but this could be the year a whole gang of them break out. Jonquil themselves should be more active, Hugo Manuel has his own post-chillwave (WE WENT THERE) Chad Valley, then there's the warped electro R&B of Andrew Mears' Pet Moon, Trophy Wife's pulsing odd-pop, Fixers' arena-sized psychedelia, Solid Gold Dragons' math-synth (more about them later in the week) and our favourites, the looped vocals and pastoral strings of Rhosyn.

Bob Mould - See A Little Light: The Trail Of Rage And Melody
Not an album - Bob Mould albums are far too busy these days to invest much hope into at this distance - but an autobiography, co-written by the great Michael 'Our Band Could Be Your Life' Azerrad. Mould has had a life, as much outside music as within Husker Du, Sugar and a cornucopea of solo records, and hasn't told a lot about it in public as yet. Currently scheduled for 15th June, which is two weeks after the year's other tempting memoir Post Everything: Outsider Rock And Roll, the second volume of the Luke Haines story.

Bon Iver
Nobody seems to really know - apart from him, presumably - but odds are something emerging this year in whatever form Justin and band now take after.

Brainlove Records
We had to get a word in with our longtime online running mate John Brainlove, who told us that on the slate at the moment are an album on April 4th by the abstract kalimba-powered etherealism of Chicago's Bastardgeist, a We Aeronauts EP, a 7" collection of Stairs To Korea singles, including the forthcoming Guy Fawkes, a new 7" from Mat Riviere and a single, The Unknown Unknown, and tour from Napoleon IIIrd in March.

The south-east London collective, involving all sorts of film-making and multimedia sidelines, have just released their third EP on the label that put out James Blake's first record. Counter Balance EP is one of those fascinating art-beat curios you get occasionally, all dubstep low frequency basslines, hip hop and math rhythms, found samples, submerged electronica and strident London bloke vocals, and suggests they're finding their own little niche in a crowded market. They're reported/rumoured to be working with These New Puritans and, good lord, Tom Vek.

British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall
They described single Living Is So Easy as "a mixture of Serge Gainsbourg, Ralf and Florian era Kraftwerk, Lee Scratch Perry and a sprinkle of Stock, Aitken & Waterman." No pressure, then. In fact it does take a greater sweep of their influences, from Krautrock to slowcore to the 'Cold War Pixies' of their early days. Hear for yourselves. Released 10th January.

Cat Power
2010 was an oddly Chan Marshall-less year, all the more so because of talk that straight after her last covers album Jukebox in 2008 she had another written and ready to go; in fact she described some of the material in a 2006 Spin interview. She's playing some Australian dates this month backed by Judah Bauer (Blues Explosion) and Jim White (Dirty Three), with a Hollywood date in early February.

The Chapman Family - Burn Your Town
The current holders of the tag of band keeping us waiting the most for their debut album, but the red-raw Teesside indie-noiseniks were studio bound in the autumn with Andy Falkous' producer of choice Richard Jackson. A couple of European sources are listing a 7th March release date.

Chapter 24
Not, it seems, the first band to name themselves after the Piper At The Gates Of Dawn track, but for now the only one worth bothering with. Originally from Corby, now based in London like they all are, they have the nodding terms relationship with linear rhythms of the Raincoats, a healthy knowledge of sci-fi effect laden rock'n'roll, notes of art rock and tropical punk and a captivating frontwoman with a Siouxsie on Ritalin presence.

Clock Opera
Guy Connelly calls what he does 'chop pop', cutting and pasting fragments of instrument noises and found sounds into mechanically building and pulsing precision avant-pop, electronics with emotion. He's toured with Marina & The Diamonds, for whom he also produced an acclaimed remix, and recorded the album with Graeme Stewart, who engineered Kid A, Amnesiac and In Rainbows and co-produced Jonny Greenwood's soundtrack.

Cloud Nothings - Cloud Nothings
Lo-fi fuzzy guitar pop bursting with melody and indistinct of vocal. Yeah, hugely original these days, we know. Still, like Wavves at his best Cleveland teenager Dylan Baldi has the chops and a sense of how to construct things in growth spurts that puts it a step beyond most of those who turn on and DIY out. Released 24th January.

Comet Gain
Features members of Comet Gain. The impetuous, dreaming, occasionally shambolic indiepop ever-presents (except at Indietracks) have been recording for most of 2010 variously with Edwyn Collins, Ryan Jarman, Alasdair from The Clientele and undisclosed members of Shrag. David Christian Feck describes it as (spelling and punctuation artist's own) "a little bit rock n rol a little bit boo-hoo... i can almost listen to this Lp without puking my heart out,is that good?"

Copy Haho
For a moment we thought Stonehaven's finest had gone the way of all flesh, given their unbound promise and heavy support tour routine had gone quiet since the Bred For Skills And Magic EP in March 2009. However they were merely biding their time, recording in Glasgow's celebrated Chem19 studio in September.

2010: the official year of the cagily mysterious retro-leaning duo. Cults are a couple originally from San Diego, now based in New York, who got here basically on the back of first track Go Outside, both cutesy (glockenspiel-driven melody, Madeline Follin's voice) and haunting (Jim Jones sample, hazy atmospheric) at the same time. They really don't have a lot of songs still, but they've been signed to Columbia and are recording with Vampire Weekend/Sleigh Bells engineer Shane Stoneback for May release.

Second album declared finished on 22nd December on Twitter, having been in LA for a couple of months with Ross Robinson. John Baillie Jnr, who apparently is merely second singer rather than second drummer too these days, reckons there's more of a Krautrock influence.

The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
Much is being made about this being the Decemberists' Out Of Time, a reconnection with songs rather that concept suites, aided by Peter Buck's guest presence. It's also a connection with American roots music, Gillian Welch guesting on more downhome countrified fare, bolstered itself by Gillian Welch guesting. Colin Meloy's archaic language dictionary is however still in evidence. Try it out. Released 17th January.

Dirty Projectors
For sonically adventurous perfectionists Dave Longstreth and co do work quickly, and whispers are of a new album some time this year.

Dog Is Dead
Nottingham's restlessly jolting "skate kids and aspiring thespians" have big plans ahead following a 2010 which saw two spectacularly good singles and some airtime during BBC2's Glastonbury coverage. Their next single River Jordan is out at the end of February, coinciding with... oh god! Oh Jesus Christ no! They're going to be on Skins!

Echo Lake
Brought to you by No Pain In Pop (Banjo Or Freakout, HEALTH, Veronica Falls, Gentle Friendly), the London band are part of The New Haziness (go on, NME, you can have that one). A lo-fi, jarring, stand-up drumming rhythm take on dreampop floatiness, but gauzed in shoegaze noise and psychedelic while tethered to reverb and melody nonetheless.

Elbow - Build A Rocket Boys!
So what now, post-Mercury, post-fame, post-arenas, post-One Day Like This? Guy promises an album neither specifically pitched at the huge spaces nor at deliberately turning away from mass consumption. Returning home and tackling the change in priorities is his big theme. Released 7th March.

Emmy The Great
Having gone the PledgeMusic route to recording her second album, currently comfortably over three times her original target, most of the record, possibly called Virtue, is nearly mixed and should be out in early spring. Apparently there's songs about dinosaurs. Here's a track she recently performed for Hong Kong radio.

Emmy The Great - Exit Night (Live) by thisisellie

Esben & The Witch – Violet Cries
Are Matador's first UK signings in six years small-g or capital-G gothic? Not in the Fields Of The Nephilim sense, but the disquieting dark fog of a Dead Can Dance/This Mortal Coil type, something wicked permanently this way coming, and certainly not the sort of band that get nominated for best newcomer Q awards, as they did. And yes, Rachel Davies does sound quite a bit like Florence Welch, but that makes it seem all the more jarring. Released 31st January.

The Fall
The dalliance with Domino over already and Mark E having failed to change the band for the third studio album in a row - is that a record, does anyone know? - they were already back in a Manchester studio in autumn.

The Flaming Lips
No new album as such yet, but Wayne Coyne revealed plans to Rolling Stone regarding releasing a new song every month, starting at the end of January. That said he's not sure how yet: "The dilemma is whether we're going to release it on vinyl, cereal boxes or some of it on toys that we make". Something playable would be nice.

Fleet Foxes
Now here's a band with a lot to live up to on a second album. Recording was announced as finished in September... and then rescinded in October, Robin Pecknold claiming it still had some way to go. In fact they re-recorded three songs, tweaked others and have April or May pencilled in. Inspired by Roy Harper, apparently.

Frankie & The Heartstrings - Hunger
In something of a natural match, Edwyn Collins has been recording F&TH at his West Heath Yard studio, and if anyone's going to appreciate their slightly rickety classic indie... Released 21st February, with a not all that changed re-recording of Hunger out a week before.

Franz Ferdinand
They didn't play any new songs at their surprise Bowlie II appearance and Alex has said he'll be keeping schtum about predicting anything soundwise in the public forum, so this is more of a long shot.

Fujiya & Miyagi - Ventriloquizzing
Cut-up lyrics delivered deadpan, moody motorik, rumbling electronic tones and pulses - yeah, it's pretty much plain sailing for their fourth album, the theme this time loosely being other people making your moves for you. Released 17th January.

Future Of The Left
Keeping going due to what Falco self-diagnoses as "a mental compulsion which is akin to a dangerous undiagnosed psychiatric disease", as mentioned the other day there are three demos in the wild from the rejigged band, only one of which has explicitly been ruled out from their third album, and Falco reported studio hi-jinks in November. No label yet, as far as we know, after a split from 4AD at the start of 2010. Actual mooted song titles: Home Taping Is Killing Susan,, Confucius Say Get A Real Fucking Problem.

Gang Of Four - Content
Hard to think they were still releasing new material in 1995, into the teeth of a Britpop that wouldn't care for another half decade, isn't it? This is their first set of new material since then. Just Jon King's angry vocalising and Andy Gill's wall of guitar scree these days, still skewering and fat-free, still trying to find their place in a commerce world. Released 24th January.

The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts
The melange of styles Ian Parton slams together are still pretty much untouched by other human hands, so little tweaking really needed doing on this third record of cassette (or, to quote one track title, Back Like 8-Track) warehouse pep rallies. Seems to be more J-pop touches to balance out the mid-west schoolyard chants this time, evened out by guest vocals from Bethany Best Coast and Satomi Deerhoof. Released 31st January.

Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo
Going on the first single, co-producer Andy Votel is bringing the mittel-European tropicalia to bear for Gruff's third solo album. Rhys plays most of the instruments himself, El Perro Del Mar pops by for a duet and this video... doesn't really explain it. Released 14th February.

Keep this Thursday free as there's a countdown going on on their official site until them with the promise of news at the end, after Fyfe reported mastering completed in November. Best to hope the MOR balladry that blighted Red has been siphoned off by his solo album?

Half Man Half Biscuit
Highlight of any year, a new HMHB album. They did a Marc Riley session of new songs in August, meaning something must be imminent - in fact in the accompanying interview Nigel said they might have had it out by the end of the year, but still no conclusive news. This was the highlight of that set:

Half Man Half Biscuit - Tommy Walsh’s Eco House by barrygruff

Honour Before Glory
Whiskas what used to be in ¡Forward Russia!'s solo project, ekeing out cracked dreamy atmospherics and wracked emotions somewhere between M83 and those sprawling Canadian collectives. Whiskas tells us he hopes to put out a single "very soon" and while the album is recorded but not yet mixed "I want to make the releases a bit special". Keep an eye on his new site.

The Indelicates - David Koresh Superstar
"Recorded in London and Austin with a full complement of pedal steel guitars, musical saws and percussive guns, the new record is a concept album telling the story of the Waco siege in a bitter cocktail of rebel country, luau, disco and rock opera... David Koresh Superstar delves into the murky, abusive world of religious extremism, government excess, bad sex and insane logic; rewriting the greatest story ever told on the assumption that the persecuted messiah is definitively mistaken about his divinity."

Internet Forever
James Rutledge, who's produced acclaimed remixes for everyone as well as making his own experimental electronic music as Pedro, is a curious choice on paper to translate the noise-twee trio into album form, something they look like completing next month. They say: "So far, we have afrobeat guitar, saxophone drones, party blowers. MEDIUM TO HIGH FIDELITY."

Together Celebrate This Place and Wimmy would have made one of the standout forward-thinking albums of 2010 but for their unwillingness to show their full hand too early. Still, Mark has said there will be a full-length next, and all being well and nobody gets injured by falling off the stage or being hit by flying drumsticks or whatever their live show will continue to be a peculiar wonder.

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