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2010 part 2: and what’s coming up next

19/06/2010

The second part of the 2010 check up focuses on what’s still coming up in the other six months. The first half of the year was dominated by a few very strong albums while the other major cases were flawed successes (and let’s not even go to the albums not discussed already). Quick glance however shows that the later part of 2010 has all the promise to become the heavily dominating half of the year with several major releases – all which promise great things – huddled up somewhere around late summer – early autumn. Let’s give a glance.

ARCADE FIRE

The third album from one of the 00’s most legendary acts is going to be out August 2nd and it’s called The Suburbs. A whole load of preview action has been going on: the title track was released as a buzz single together with another song called “Month of May“, and recently the official US lead single “Ready to Start” and its UK equivalent “We Used to Wait” got their debut airplays. From the sound of these, I’d say it’s fairly easy to figure out that the sound for the album will be a bit of a change from the crowd-pleasing massive anthems that were the soul of the first two albums: the sound is more laidback, a bit subtler, more down-to-earth. Which isn’t really stopping it being good: the title track and We Used to Wait in particular are brilliant. High hopes for this.

BRIGHT EYES

Conor Oberst has planned to get together his bandmates and record one more Bright Eyes album before he puts the project to rest, presumably so he can continue freely to do his boring country twiddling that he’s been churning out for a few years now. There’s no word if the recording’s began or anything, but it’s currently in plans to be released this autumn.

CHERRY GHOST

Cherry Ghost’s debut has a charming aura around it. It’s not musically terribly exciting or ordinary, but it managed to hit all the right spots: Simon Aldred’s songwriting is good and his voice rather swell, and through that their Coldplay-meets-Doves intimate-sounding stadium pop songs became far more than one would expect at the first listen, some of them definitely excellent material. But between that album and the follow-up, Aldred and co had to go through quite a bit of trouble and arguments with their former label and for a while they disappeared off the face of the earth. This year, it’s time for a return. Around July 5th-7th (there’s a fair few mismatching announcements) Beneath This Burning Shoreline will be released and we’ll see just how much influence the previous label had on the band’s songs after Aldred’s recent interviews have brought up his less-than-stellar feelings about the debut’s direction.

A few new songs have cropped up and from the looks of it, the style remains the shame but a bit of the old shiny sheen has been taken off and the songs sound a bit less like studio magickry. Test yourself: sign up to the mailing list to hear the Doves-esque “We Sleep on Stones”, check their Myspace for the excellent “A Month of Mornings” which may or may not appear on the actual album, and give a listen to the nice enough lead single “Kissing Strangers”.


Cherry Ghost – Kissing Strangers

CMX

The Finnish long-running legends with a wild and varied career are set to release their 13th longplayer Iäti at the very end of September. For a long while now, the band’s kept it as their motto to never do two albums the same way and Iäti’s creational theme this time has been a dogma album: a strict ruleset that would not be broken. Among other things – no synths, no loads and loads of layers, no heavy riffing, no great distortion pedal abuse, and so forth. The lead single “Sateenkaaren pää” was released a while ago and the dogma’s audible – whilst the song itself is a very typical CMX album lead single in that it’s a fairly simple rocker, the chorus feels oddly lightweight at first. And then you realise it’s because the riffage that would typically create the rhythm in that place is completely gone and replaced with a gentle acoustic strum. But at the same time, there’s not much you can say about the album itself based on that one single song – their lead singles haven’t reflected the whole album for a while now.

EELS

Tomorrow Morning, released August 24th, will complete the trilogy of albums that E’s been cracking out since last year. The signs aren’t too good: the dirty, gruff Hombre Lobo was a bit underwhelming and the pretty, quiet End Times is the worst thing E’s so far put out in his career as he failed in the fragile peaces of beauty he’s been a master of throughout his career. But who knows, perhaps the end of the trilogy will overcome the flaws of its predecessors.

BEN FOLDS

Folds has fully utilised the wonders of modern social networking and revealed his new album entirely through sneaky Twitter tweets. Lonely Avenue, released September 28th, will be a team effort between Folds and writer Nick Hornby (who’s “High Fidelity” is a damn fine book), with the latter providing the lyrics for the Folds-composed and performed songs. Not much else is known yet, but before all the light revelations Folds also used his Twitter account to enquire about vinyl production (and eventually found his way into a vinyl enthusiast forums) so those who enjoy the clumsy slabs of black plastic can rest assured that the LP version of the album will be very well made.

PETER GABRIEL

Gabriel’s covers album Scratch My Back was a terribly boring waste of potential as it limited the production mastermind to just strings and voice, creating an album filled with meddling orchestra covers. However, the I’ll Scratch Yours companion piece where the covered artists will cover Gabriel’s work seems a hell of a lot more interesting. Elbow‘s version of “Mercy Street” is already doing rounds around the net and is as wonderful as Elbow always are, the thought of Arcade Fire performing “Games Without Frontiers” sounds immensely exciting and Radiohead should be doing something nice with “Wallflower” too even if most likely it’s going to just be Yorke and his piano.


Elbow – Mercy Street

KENT

Well goddammit. A week or so ago Kent decided out of thin air to announce a whole new album – only a bit past half a year after their last one. The release date of which would be at the very end of this month. Oh, and then they gave us a double A-side single right away. Seems like ever since they switched their guitars into synths and turned from “Sweden’s biggest rockband” into “Sweden’s biggest synthpoppers/rockers”, they’ve seem to become extremely quick at finishing new material.

So, at the end of June we’ll be hearing En plats i solen in full. Right now, you can hear the squeaky-synth discopopper “Gamla Ullevi” and groovy, la-la-la-driven “Skisser för sommaren“, both of which are extremely good. Kent’s summer pop album? Something a bit less gloomy from usually so downery people? Should be intriguing.

And great. Considering that for the past decade the band’s been pulling out one brilliant album after another, expectations are high.

MANIC STREET PREACHERS

The wonderful Manics are back only after a year since last year’s rejuvenated Journal for Plague Lovers. After its decidedly non-commercial angle (no singles, little promotion, hardly any tour), the band’s called the new Postcards from a Young Man their “last shot at mass communication”, ie their (supposedly) final attempt to reach the public spotlight and create some hits. The sound is supposedly a bit slicker and probably more commercial, and apparently three of the songs will feature gospel choirs. Here’s hoping it won’t be another Send Away the Tigers – this band can easily do a more commercial sound while sounding brilliant, we don’t need another autopilot-rocker.

LAURA MARLING

Laura’s not satisfied releasing just one full album of all-new material this year – September will see the release of another as-yet-untitled album by her. Nothing else is known.

NOAH AND THE WHALE

Recording for the band’s third album started early this year and they’re considering the title Old Joy. Not much else is known. Fingers crossed it’s somewhere even nearby as gorgeous as The First Days of Spring was.

R.E.M.

Actually it’s fairly uncertain if R.E.M. will end up releasing anything this year, but the band is currently in studio and a long while ago showed a little of what they were working on through videos on their website. They didn’t give out much but we do know that 1) one of the songs sounds as R.E.M.-esque as a song can sound, 2) one of the songs has a really beautiful, melancholy horn section and 3) Stipe has a huge beard now. Or had, at the time.

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

Some news of the band’s first album after John Frusciante‘s official departure have started to trickle down. It’s likely to be released this year, at the moment the band is considering calling it Pixie Hill (which is probably one of the most un-Peppers-like names you can come up with) and apparently it features a lot of piano-driven songs and strong melodies. A new By the Way? The big question naturally is if Josh Klinghoffer manages to sit well with the rest of the band. Frusciante’s guitar style and singing were major factors in the band’s sound in the 00’s and with those gone, you might as well be considering it a re-invention of the group. Unless, of course, Klinghoffer decides to imitate Frusciante on the album.

SQUIRRELHOUSE

Now this here’s one of the most promising new bands around. Squirrelhouse’s debut SPQR was a nice enough album with a few great songs but overall a bit scattershot, like young bands often do. But it seems like for the still unnamed album #2, the game is most definitely on. The band’s been dropping new songs for preview for a good year now and each one has been excellent, from the intense “Monster” duo to the laidback “Jolene” and buzzed-up pseudo-disco “All That Shit” (all audible in the band’s MySpace). Or take a gander at “Apocalypso” that transforms from jangle bliss into star-glittering torchlight anthemics. Each one naturally featuring the ever-present wildly frolicing guitar lines, lively and vibrant bass riffs and the brilliant horn flourishes. This has all the possibilities to become one of the year’s best – whenever it’s released.


Squirrelhouse – Apocalypso

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