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What I’m looking forward to in 2011


If 2010 started slowly, 2011 sure as hell isn’t. All signs point to 2011 a rather dandy year.

For a start, we’re finally getting new Bright Eyes. Oberst has spent the last few years doing some boring solo albums and then hanging out with that not-too-interesting Monsters of Folk supergroup, but the Bright Eyes train is finally returning again. “Shell Games” is certainly a rather intriguing preview – it’s pop. Probably as pop as BE has ever been. It’s also rather awesome and not only because its first lines are so massively self-referential as it goes through their past album covers: the synths are pretty awesome, it’s got a wonderfully jubilant feel to it that fits with its comeback nature and that middle eight build-up (“everyone on the count of THREE!”) is one of the best new bits of music in the year so far. Of course, the dampener is that a year or so ago Oberst was talking how he was going to do one more Bright Eyes album and then call it a day for that particular project, so we might just be facing the final chapter in the story of one great band. Unless Oberst’s doing a Nicky Wire on us.

I’m also making it my personal mission to try and start the trend of calling March 7th as Rembow Day. This is due to the simultaneous release date of R.E.M. and Elbow‘s latests. I haven’t decided if this makes March 7th a day of undistilled awesome or a pain in the arse as two albums by artists I love immensely will compete from my attention.

R.E.M. seemingly believes in the power of letting the music do the hype as so far we’ve heard three songs officially – and none of those are the lead single (which is coming out in a few days). And a trailer with clips of even more songs. It seems like Collapse Into Now is becoming the new decade’s equivalent of New Adventures in Hi-Fi stylistically: based on all the songs we’ve heard in some form, we’re getting loud rockers, acoustic-based sequels to past songs, atmospheric drum-machine based stuff, three-and-a-half-minute songs where 50% of the song is spent on the final la-la-la singalong climax and moody something called “Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I”, and the full album will also features guest spots from Peaches and Patti Smith. So eclectic is the name of the game. I don’t even dare to guess what it’s going to be like but so far I’ve greatly enjoyed all songs that the band has released so excited.

Elbow on the other hand is being Elbow. Build a Rocket Boys! has so far been previewed with two tracks: the extremely Elbow-esque “Lippy Kids” (amazing) and the thumping lead single “Neat Little Rows” that sounds little like past Elbow moments but then again, did “Fallen Angel”, “Grounds for Divorce”, “Forget Myself” etc sound much like past Elbow either? So basically it’s a typically Elbow-like un-Elbowy lead single. Elbow’s not failed before and doubtfully they’ll do it now, so we should be getting an album full of awesome as usual.


Also Rubik are returning. Considering the massive stylistic gap between the Radiohead-inspired debut Bad Conscience Patrol and the colourful, vibrant, caleidoscopic, frolicing sophomore Dada Bandits, there’s absolutely no clue what Solar (late March) is going to be like. First single “Laws of Gravity” is fairly close to the bounciness of Dada Bandits which is a pretty great sign.

In the section where we know something’s happening but have no idea what’s happening: Guillemots have been busy recording new music, the website’s closed down to the usual pre-new album status that tends to happen and a secret gig is taking place late  this month but that’s about it. A few new songs were previewed on the Red tour but 1) that was in 2008 and 2) Red tour consisted of just the four band members taking the stage and delivering loud, straightforward versions of the band’s songs which kinda battles against the often expansive studio material. So basically new idea. Red was a disappointment to many but I personally loved it (even if it had a few flawed spots and obviously wasn’t one of the BEST THINGS EVER like Through the Windowpane) so I continue to be highly excited what’s happening with these guys. Moby is another guy who’s known to be doing something and who’s said he’s releasing info soon but who hasn’t done it yet. Based on tweets and blog entries from last year, the new material is more acoustic and orchestral driven (which is bringing hopes fairly high, considering e.g. “Guitar, Flute and String” from the past) and at one point Moby was amusing himself with the idea of re-interpreting some older material in such vein. So who knows. Still excited and interested though: despite his zig-zagging quality I do love Moby dearly and it seems like with 2009’s Wait for Me he finally got over all the mental crap that was bogging him down and his full concentration to music returned, and that doesn’t seem to have changed. And finally there’s Red Hot Chili Peppers. I know, I know, horridly uncool. But they were the band that taught me that there’s more to music than random songs and were a huge thing for me back in my teenage years and they’ll always have a big place in my heart because of it. Plus all the random tidbits they’ve been dropping (lots of piano-based melodies, afropop influences, etc) have been intriguing to say the least, and naturally there’s the question of how Josh Klinghoffer is going to fill John Frusciante’s boots. And speaking of John: new solo album please, you’ve got the time now.

I’ve also got some hopes of Squirrelhouse (Myspace) activating with some album news. They’re a grassroots scene band I got to randomly know during my Indie Paws (pre-RFox blog I used to write in, for those not in the know) days, proving that sometimes all that spam I get from random bands on the internet actually does reveal something interesting. The songs the band’s posted over 2009 and 2010 have all been pretty damn excellent and an album containing such songs and more is fairly high on the wishlist.

The rumour mill is also churning out that Kate Bush might actually release an album this year. The ‘source‘ is a music blog that apparently has connections to record labels and which has so far been correct on some release info regarding Gaga and other such things. So, y’know, here’s hoping that there’s no other decade long gap between albums like some feared.

Speaking of long gaps between albums, if Peter Gabriel announced that he’s going to finally release the damn I/O album he’s been working on since Up (2002), that’d make my year. Although apparently he’s now going to release an album stripped-down, orchestrafied versions of his old songs in vein of last year’s terribly boring Scratch My Back covers album. Woo.

2011 is shaping up to be a mighty fine year indeed.

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