Previews

Preview: Music 2007, part 3



Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

In the final and fattest part of musicOMH’s music preview of 2007, four writers with what could best be described as “varied” tastes compare and contrast notes and moods as they consider the forthcoming year in music.

Tim Lee hopes The Cooper Temple Clause will end his post-holiday depression; Jenni Cole longs for Joy Division replicants and the end of New Rave and Neil Jones goes wild for Scandewegian DIY. Meanwhile Barnaby Smith checks out what’s in the folk and country store and gets giddy at the return of a certain Mr Wainwright…

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• First off, Tim Lee is feeling miserable, so you will too…

Bollocks. Where are the flying cars? The cities in the sky? The spaceships? The people being beamed up willy-nilly? Nowhere. Nothing.Zip. Nada. Bubkis. Dick. Squat. This is the future? Bah. To top off the technological disappointment, it’s no longer Christmas, so we may as well be miserable. However, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel; a light which isn’t just an onrushing train in a miner’s hat.

There is the possibility that the none too graceful exit of supposed ‘bad boy’ and actual squanderer of oxygen Donny Tourette of quotation mark wasting “rock ‘n’ roll” “band” Towers Of London from the Celebrity Big Brother house will be a precursor to him disbanding his musical aspiration and finding religion, there is the possibility that The Kooks were just a figment of an over-excited A&R man’s imagination, like Upper Street with worse hats, and will quickly evaporate from popular culture, and maybe, just maybe, there is the possibility there might be some albums good enough to prevent depression from getting too strong a grip.

Early on, there’s a new record from The Cooper Temple Clause. And If I’m honest, I’m a little surprised by how excited I am about it. But excited I am, and wait I cannot, if you’ll pardon the Yodaish. The signs preceding its release have been, well, mixed, although verging on good. The early sightings, Damage and Homo Sapien, were blinding, as angular and noisy as you’d want from TCTC, but the latest single, Waiting Game, is as worryingly plain as a girl called Jane, flying on a plane, in the rain, on her way home to Spain while listening to, uh, ah… Snow Patrol? Hopefully, it’s the exception rather than the rule, and fortunately we’ve only got to wait until the 22nd of January to find out.

Probably not stirring the loins of anyone who thinks Snow Patrol are grrrreat, the debut album from The Horrors is a looming, ominous black mark on the musical horizon, scaring parents and bringing Daily Mail readers out in a rash the likes of which hasn’t been seen since an illegal immigrant in a veil conducted a public inquiry into the death of Diana. Will it be as short as their gigs? Will Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs influence help? Will someone mention the fact that the guitarist with the staggering blonde barnet makes his own guitar pedals? Maybe, possibly and yes, definitely.

It’s going to be Springtime for long awaited albums, with everyone’s favourite group of semi-mental Canadians Arcade Fire returning with The Neon Bible. Judging by the speed at which the gigs that they announced in London sold out, and judging by the price they’re now fetching on eBay, it could well be the most eagerly awaited release of the year. (See both other preview parts for more… – Ed)

And we haven’t even mentioned Ian Brown‘s new record, which could, if the Manc Messiah gets his way, feature Paul McCartney on bass, or the third album from New Yorks’ finest, Interpol. Divorced from Matador, but probably still the best band in the world, will they come unstuck with major label backing? Or will it just see the suits getting sharper, the guitars getting choppier and Paul Banks still not making any fucking sense? Give it 12 months and we shall see. (TL)

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• Jenni Cole, meanwhile, is making a last stand for guitar bands and against the glo-sticks of New Rave. Well, we do cater for many tastes…

This year I’ll be planning to catch the Hedrons live, following three superb singles, and looking forward to their debut album One MoreWon’t Kill Us, due for release in February. The return of Brett Anderson (this time solo) to the pop arena will hopefully be a highlight, and I’ll be looking forward to catching the new album from iLiKETRAiNS (the marriage invitation to their bassist is still open….) and more from Susannah and the Magical Orchestra. I’ll also be hoping to decide once and for all whether or not I actually like The Long Blondes.

On the live front, keep an eye out for more Arctic Circle events, the post-rock nights which have so far been held at venues including the Notting Hill Arts Club and the ICA, all glacial soundscapes and sculptured Scandinavian and Canadian orchestral leanings.

It’ll be interesting to see how the (surely by now saturated) festival circuit fares in the face of Glastonbury’s return and whether any of the other majors finally realise that in general, punters probably care a little bit more about things like atmosphere and having a good time than corporate advertising hoardings and gorilla security staff. If you can only do one, don’t miss Bestival.

With nu-folk, folktronica, electro-folk, twisted folk and whatever else popping out of the woodwork wherever you look, I’ll be waiting to forAbsentee to storm the charts and woo the punters. It’s about time Deerhoof had a Number 1 as well, although of course it’ll never happen(there, cruel fate, prove me wrong!).

On the big screen, the release of Control will, if we’re lucky, spawn a whole new generation of Joy Division soundalikes whose ubiquity will carry the second Editors album along on a bass-heavy, doomladen wave of success as it buries New Rave ever deeper into the pit of obscurity. Please.

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• Barnaby Smith isn’t bothered at all about Joy Division replicants but continues to be captivated by the wistful, wilfully weird end of the folk spectrum. And he wants Rufus Wainwright, incarnate as Judy Garland. But that’s largely his business.

In 2007, acts from the United States are set to dominate the folk spectrum. Devendra Banhart returns with what has been tentatively titled Smokey, his follow up to the love-it-or-hate-it Cripple Crow. This bucolic wizard-pixie, still a very young man, has developed a huge following among hairy students with nothing to do. As have Fat Cat Records’ Animal Collective. Frontman Panda Bear and his cohorts head into the studio in January to record their follow-up to 2005’s Feels, and also release a live box set. An Incredible String Band for the 21st century perhaps.

Animal Collective have the endorsement of Vashti Bunyan and Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy, and Wilco themselves are due an album this year. Where they will go after 2004’s A Ghost Is Born, the musical equivalent of a full stop, remains to be seen. After going all complex and electronic (by their standards) on that album and 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, perhaps a back-to-basics alt-country record beckons, especially after Tweedy’s sparse and understated acoustic solo tour last year.

Away from folk, The Shins are an act without a great deal of obvious commercial success, yet were able to sell out venues in London in a day or so last year. Their Wincing The Night Away is released in January, and may just see them move beyond the half-exposure given them by Natalie Portman in the 2004 film Garden State: “This song will change your life,” she says to a smitten Zach Braff.

Elsewhere, we have the very welcome return of Lucinda Williams to look forward to. Her new album, entitled West, is her eighth in total and first since 2003. Always articulate and direct in song, the contrasting effects of her engagement to be married and death of her mother are set to make West matter. A lot. The contributions of Gary Louris of The Jayhawks can only help.

One of the most eagerly anticipated albums of 2007 must be Rufus Wainwright‘s Release The Stars. Having spent 2006 perfecting his Judy Garland show (which, if you have a spare 86, reaches London in February), and with his personal trainer in pursuit of a waist size comparable with that of Garland herself, he returns with the follow up to the Want albums. That project saw him draw a cathartic line under his hellish crystal-meth days, and the new one, with Neil Tennant appointed as executive producer, promises to chronicle a relatively happy Rufus. I don’t think we’ve had one of those before.

I am painfully aware that all these treats in store for 2007 hail from across the Atlantic. However, The Aliens might just put us back on the map. Three ex-Beta Band members teamed up to produce a psych-rock delirium the like of which there has never been. Live in 2006, thanks to a maniacal frontman in Gordon Anderson, they have been magnificent and in March they release their debut LP Astronomy For Dogs. See them, hear them, be their friend, because it’s about bloody time they arrived.

And finally, full circle back to the folk thing, check out Alasdair Roberts – a genuine result of the legacy of Nick Drake, John Martyn and Richard Thompson – should hope to spread his name this year, starting with supporting the lava-hot Joanna Newsom on her tour in January.

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• Finally, from a verdant valley in Wales, Neil Jones tells us he can’t get enough Scandewegian DIY, new bands from his very own Cymru – or Kat Flint…

Last year, the swish of embryonic Scandinavian DIY acts certainly provided an irresistible undercurrent. They’re all there in the playground of my eyes, dancing like kaleidoscopic figures, so I hope not to overlook any by naming Lucky Lucky Pigeons, A Smile And A Ribbon, The Lovekevins, Rough Bunnies, Vitpals, De Agtige, Cats On Fire, Marching Band, Montt Mardie, The Mare, Swissair, Boat Club, Biker Boy, Boygirlme, Don Agbia, The Tough Alliance, The Concretes, Love Is All, I’m From Barcelona and After School Sports as not so much ones to watch, but potentially ones to die for this year.

I’ll be putting my father’s money on a band of itinerant hip hop dreamers called Genod Droog to follow up their wondrous Breuddwyd Oer track with an album of prolonged ethereal grace, while looking forward to more pastoral beauty and live thrills from fine young mystery-dwellers including Swci Boscawan, Winabego, Jakokoyak, Little My, Los Campesinos!, Plant Duw, Alun Tan Lan and Rhondda’s own Lucky Delucci and The Long Movers.

For festivals, Huntingdon’s Secret Garden Party in deepest summer was edifyingly outlandish last year and should be again this, while the inaugural End Of The Road in autumnal Salisbury had a musical line-up that had me exploring new and exotic sonic paths deep into the winter months. With the prospect of the very same patches of countryside returning to life this year with similarly ingenious thrills, the hope for ’07 will be to uncover more and more fine chests of slithering, opaque treasures.

To top it all off there might finally be a debut album from musicOMH fave Kat Flint, or new material from The Chalets. Whatever the New Year may bring to your ears, enjoy 2007.


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