In the second part of musicOMH.com's music preview of 2007, site founder Michael Hubbard flags up things he's already excited by, just days into the New Year. Holiday hangovers, begone...
Tens of thousands of albums are released every year, all of them competing to prise your hard-earned money away from you. And that's before we even get on to gigs, festivals and the niggling (other) essential purchases we all have to make. Inflated rail fares, anyone?
But there are a few albums - and tours - that, in the first week of the year of the pig, look dead certs to be worth every penny spent on them.
It being January, the post-holiday blues are upon us. There's one album above all that, for us Londoners, surely taps into the melancholia of this gusty, soggy time of year perfectly. The Good, The Bad & The Queen - formed by Damon Albarn, Paul Simonon of The Clash, The Verve's Simon Tong and Afrobeat legend Tony Allen - this month release a record of the same name through Parlophone that bursts with downbeat wooziness. Two taster singles - Herculean and Kingdom Of Doom - both featured in the band's BBC Electric Proms performance of the album at London's Roundhouse in October, where I heard them for the first time. They make sense as parts of a whole.
Rather sleazier but no less anticipated is another eponymous album, from Grinderman, out in March on Mute. Nick Cave, together with fellow Bad Seeds Warren Ellis, Martyn Casey and Jim Sclavunos, have a fiendishly filthy set of material heralded by the limited edition 7" Get It On, out this week, that has little in common with Cave's ballads but rather sounds like it'll be a riot live.
Old timers with new band names aside, from the class of 2004 we have the record that'll set tongues wagging more than most. Montreal's lauded Arcade Fire follow up their hugely successful Funeral with a second opus called Neon Bible replete, it is said, with pipe organ and a Hungarian orchestra. At the time of writing we don't know which label it'll be released on, but it will be preceded by five dates in the band's home city and five more in London. Husband and wife team Win Butler and Régine Chassagne and their gang could easily fill out Wembley Stadium just now; that they choose to play more intimate, unusual venues - St John's Smith Square is usually a recital hall for symphonies - is to their credit, but it could also be a boon for ticket touts. All the gigs sold out in minutes, which means Neon Bible is sure to be the most anticipated album of the next few months.
Bloc Party are back with A Weekend In The City due in February (Wichita). The band have suggested their new material will have all the structure of Coldplay's songs - methinks this means they want to sell to stadiums by this time next year. Kaiser Chiefs are also back, with an album as yet untitled at the time of writing (update: now announced as Yours Truly, Angry Mob), and Brighton's non-polkadot girl band Electrelane have a new record, No Shouts, No Calls, out in April on Too Pure. Also from the noirish side of the indie spectrum, Japan main man David Sylvian returns with Burnt Friedman for a second Nine Horses album, Money For All, this month on Samadhisound.
Michael Eavis's least favourite Glasto guest, Conor Oberst, is set to release another Bright Eyes opus on the world, also in April and again through his Saddle Creek operation, heading a slew of returning solo artists with much anticipated new material. Kristin Hersh's visits to London are always to be looked forward to, and this time round the Throwing Muses and 50 Foot Wave founder is even doing record shop signings at branches of Fopp before a full tour in support of umpteenth solo release Learn To Sing Like A Star (4AD). And while we're on about female solo artists, sometime Fairground Attraction star Eddi Reader is set to return with new album Peacetime this month on Rough Trade.
Exciting solo debuts abound too, from Wimbledon's street poet Jamie T, surely already the world's most famous acoustic bassist, finally unleashing Panic Prevention (Virgin) to big-haired Lebanese Londoner and spawn of Freddie Mercury and Jake Shears Mika, deserved winner of the BBC's Sound Of 2007 poll. I caught him at a showcase last November at which he bedoigned his braces, tinkled his ivories and generally behaved as though he was already a superstar. Everybody in the place was convinced this charismatic artist would be doing big things in 2007, and his debut album Life In Cartoon Motion (Island) looks set to get the ball rolling this month. Also going solo is Suede's Brett Anderson with his eponymous debut slated for a March release on DiS Recordings, who'll also be unleashing a solo album from Metric dynamo Emily Haines.
For lovers of Jamie T and his ilk, Mr Hudson & The Library's blend of geek ska should appeal with debut A Tale Of Two Cities, featuring the ridiculously catchy single Too Late (Mercury). And talking of catchy, only fools and madmen would bet against a breakthrough for Tiny Dancers' irresistible and varied ouevre. A release date for their Parlophone-released debut album is yet to be confirmed - for now, we'll have to make do with repeatedly playing the top notch EP, Lions And Tigers And Lions. From a more electronic place, Black Box Recorder chanteuse Sarah Nixey finally releases her solo debut Sing, Memory in February through ServiceAV - a sop to admirers of cutglass English vocals and inventive electronic pop.
Keep an eye out also for Kate Nash, who'll be graduating from tiny London club nights playing a song called Dickhead to supporting the fine Tilly And The Wall on tour as she enjoys life as a signed artist as part of the excellent Moshi Moshi roster. Join her at the turn of the month for tea and cakes at London's Foundry. Meanwhile her labelmates Au Revoir Simone release The Bird Of Music in March, and anyone with an ear to the ground will also be desperate to get their hands on tickets for Explosions In The Sky's live dates in support of new album All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone, a release set to continue Bella Union's remarkable run of form following last year's albums from Midlake, Howling Bells and Fionn Regan. The label starts the year with the release of Robert Gomez's Brand New Towns - another find from across the pond.
Later in the year we're led to expect long awaited returns (maybe) from Radiohead and Blur, with new albums also expected from the impish Devendra Banhart and his XL labelmate MIA. There should be exciting debuts too from (fingers crossed) Hybrasil and The Wombats, both live favourites of ours. And before we know it, festival season will be upon us. As with 2006, it looks like being a record for the number of events scheduled, so much so that "the festival season" is in danger of becoming a redundant phrase. Expect the summer of music to have started by early April and run through to late October. We'll be previewing and covering the juiciest of these jaunts, in the UK and beyond.
There's also likely to be at least a couple of albums - be they electronica, folk, indie or whatever else - that creep up on us and, completely unexpectedly, lodge themselves into our brains for months. Part of the excitement of doing what we do is discovering the unexpected and telling the world about it. Our new music podcast will help in that when it returns, revamped and fighting fit, and we have a traffic jam of interviews just waiting to make it online for your delectation, from new acts to established names.
According to Google Analytics we're attracting some 400,000 readers a month now - including you. That makes us one of the UK's most popular independent music websites, with a readership that's also considerably in excess of many music monthlies. If you like what we do, maybe your friends would too? As ever, if you've any recommendations for us, let us know. In the meantime, enjoy the music.