As 2007 fades into the history books, it’s time to look forward to yet another exciting year in music. With the record industry in flux, 2008 will be full of surprises. Expect new mainstream releases from Coldplay, Madonna and Weezer sometime this year, and indie releases from Toyko Police Club’s, M83, Raveonettes, and Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox new band, Atlas Sound. In the first quarter alone, a lot of spectacular releases are expected. And away we go.
Magnetic Fields – Distortion
Stephin Merritt and band haven’t released a new record since 2004’s lackluster i, but luckily Distortion is a strong return to form. Recorded with fuzzy feedback, it sounds warm and accessible. Eschewing their typical banjos, the songs are guitar centric with terse, lamenting tracks reminiscent of the masterful 69 Love Songs. Merritt is still cynical when it comes to love as he sings about aging and self-medicating. Singer Shirley Simms supports vocal duties adding a feminine touch. After over 15 years together, Mag Fields continue to enthrall.
Street date: 1/15
Cat Power- Jukebox
Lucky you indie rock fan, not only do you get new Magnetic Fields in January but also a new covers record from Chan Marshall. Her first record since 2006’s The Greatest and her second covers record, this time around she does a sexy blues rendition of Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and covers everyone from Hank Williams to Joni Mitchell. She includes an original song paying homage to Dylan in “Song to Bobby.” Marshall’s trance inducing vocals run rampant throughout the record. Thank goodness she got off the drugs.
Street Date: 1/22
Hot Chip- Made in the Dark
In 2006, these UK electronic blokes made a huge impression with their sophomore album, The Warning. Their third record is more of the same: catchy, lively, funky and emotional laptop music. “Ready for the Floor” and “Out at the Pictures” features quick and bouncy beats while “We’re Looking for A lot of Love” and the title track slows down the tempo Hot Chip will make you dance away the winter doldrums.
Street Date: 2/5
Portishead – Untitled
It’s been over a decade since Bristol duo Beth Gibbons and Geoff Barrow have released any new material. Forming in 1991, they helped usher in the genre of Trip Hop. After 1994’s seminal Dummy featuring the hit “Sour Times” and 1997’s self-titled album, they went on hiatus. Gibbons and Barrow continue with the trend of bands reuniting after a long break. In December they played a festival becoming one of their first live appearances in years. A still yet untitled third record is slated for 2008. Welcome back.
Tentative Street Date: March 31
My Bloody Valentine – Untitled
On the heels of the Portishead reunion, Kevin Shields and group announced their Class of 1990s comeback. The quartet hasn’t released any new material since 1991’s shoegaze epic Loveless and disbanded in 1995. It may be a challenge for them to live up to Loveless’ mastery, but the new album is supposedly going to contain material recorded years ago and some brand new tracks. In June, they will play a bevy of sold out shows in England and hopefully a US tour will follow. Anticipation is reaching a fever pitch and they will deliver.
Street Date: TBA
Aimee Mann – Smilers
Her last record was 2005’s pugilist concept album The Forgotten Arm. She then released a Christmas album in 2006. In 2008, she makes a refreshing return with her latest non- concept record. On her seventh solo record, she uses heavy keyboards and lets go of electric guitars. It should be in the vein of I’m With Stupid where each song is different. from the next. She tried out some of her new material at her Christmas variety shows and they sure sounded good.
Street Date: March
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – REal EMotional TRash
Pavement died in the late 90s, but lead singer Stephen Malkmus picked up the pieces with his solo career. The newest member of his backing band is ex Sleater Kinney drummer Janet Weiss. This is The Jicks’ fourth album and their first since 2005’s Face the Truth. The title evokes curiosity: what exactly is emotional trash? We’ll find out soon, I guess.
Street Date: March
The Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain Lookout Sea
Nashville Husband and wife duo David and Cassie Berman follow 2005’s countrified rock Tanglewood Numbers with their sixth record. During most of his lengthy career, David Berman has had extreme stage fright and until 2006 never performed live. He will definitely be touring again for this record. Some song titles are: “Aloysius, Bluegrass Drummer”, “Suffering Jukebox,” “Strange Victory," "Strange Defeat", and “San Francisco B.C.” For the first time in their career, their album title contains more than two words. It’s going to be the year of the Jew.
Street Date: April
The Walkmen – Untitled
The Walkmen’s 2006 A Hundred Miles Off and Pussycats weren’t the best albums one could expect from the same guys who recorded the stunning Bows + Arrows, but their new record will inherit strings and horns and thus should revitalize their sound and bring back the New York band we’ve grown to love. They are touring this winter and testing out new material.
Street Date: Spring
Colin Meloy – Skulls, Ship, Sleep
The Decemberists frontman Meloy is doing what every great frontman eventually does: release a solo record. Judging by the title, it’ll probably contain some sea shanty tunes, The Decemberists lit-heavy lyrics, and maybe a track or two about a wayward sailor or something.
Street Date: April 8
Ten Artists to Watch in 2008
Some of these bands broke out last year, but in ’08 they will be even more ubiquitous. Remember the following ten names. They’re going to rock your city, your blog, and your world in the next 365 days.
Hailing from Jacksonville, FL, these kids (some are indeed black) are riding only on a self-released four song EP, Wizard of Ahhhs. With rabid touring, it won’t be long before they should be signed. The blog-o-sphere and word of mouth hype keeps escalating with their infectious song, “I’m Not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You.” Hopefully the kids won’t be another Voxtrot type fatality (Yunno, Voxtrot released three awesome EPs and then their full-length debut kinda disappointed.) Hopefully they will know better than to blow their load right away.
Download: “I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You.”
Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser’s debut album, Oracular Spectacular, finally comes out in January. Last year the guys opened for Of Montreal building a name for themselves. An abbreviation for management, their music runs the gamut of psychedelic and classic rock to pop. “Time to Pretend” satirizes the sordid life of a rock star filled with tongue in cheek lyrics about drug use and marrying models. “Electric Feel” features disco inspired harmonies and the synth addled “Kids” is a strong track as well. They will be touring with fellow Artist to Watch Yeasayer equating a can’t miss show.
Download: “Time to Pretend”
Last year’s Pitchfork approved All Hour Cymbals introduced Brooklyn group comprised of Anand Wilder, Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton, and Luke Fasano to the indie kids. They describe their music as “Middle Eastern-psych-pop-snap-gospel.” And yes, it’s as interesting as it sounds. With a dash of world music, songs like “Sunrise” and “2080” have a tribal feel with intermittent drumming and yelping. Comparing them to the experimental nature of fellow New Yorkers Liars wouldn’t even begin to describe what Yeasayer can offer.
Hailing from the UK, Nash easily garners comparisons to Lily Allen with her cockney accent and occasional spoken vocals, but her songs lack Reggae beats and imbue more brazenness mixed in with Regina Spektor-esque narratives. Nash plays piano and guitar on her debut, Made of Bricks. On “Dickhead,” she blatantly questions: “Why are you being a dickhead for?” She’ll be touring in the new year showcasing her heart-on-sleeve musings on troubled love.
Vampire Weekend is another indefinable new band. The NYC based group’s self titled debut arrives at the end of January but has been creating rumblings in the blog-o-sphere for the past couple of months. Inspired by African and classical music, lead singer Ezra Koenig and band play funky short basslines, bongo drums, and sing about Peter Gabriel. “Oxford Comma” is breezy like a day at the beach while “Walcott” infuses light hearted strings and rambles about Cape Cod, a recurring location in their songs. The reason appears to be as enigmatic as the band.
Download: “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”
This exclamatory septet from Wales juxtapose twee cuteness with rock centric tunes. Last year’s Sticking Fingers in Sockets features the contagious and exuberant “You! Me! Dancing!” Many of their tracks range from punk to jangly and contain male/female vocals. Barely out of college, the group formed in 2006 and have already accomplished more than most nascent bands do. Their full-length debut, Hold On Now, Youngster will his the streets on February 28 on the esteemed Arts & Crafts label. It will surely be a 2008 staple.
Download: “You! Me! Dancing!”
These New Puritans
Encompassing the sound of everyone from Death from Above to Gang of Four to The Fall, the quartet’s angular music will hopefully reach an American audience once their full-length debut Beat Pyramid is released this month. Their songs are frenetic and raw with heavy guitar, synths and percussion. A slight Joy Division influence can be heard on “Chamber” while early Chemical Brothers bleed through on “Colours.” So far there hasn’t been much hype about Puritans, but be forewarned: They are going to be the next big UK band.
A Place to Bury Strangers
Right from the start of the cryptically named band’s self-titled record, the listener is pelted with a cacophony of screeching guitars and overall noise. Oliver Ackermann’s monotone vocals evoke Jesus and Mary Chain and Joy Division. “Missing You” hits shoegaze tendencies, “To Fix the Gash in Your Head” rams it home, and “I Know I’ll See You” jabs with darker terrain. There’s a reason they’ve been dubbed “The loudest band in New York”
Download: “My Weakness”
2007 revealed the electronic geniuses of masher Girl Talk and future rock presario Dan Deacon, but Clevelander White Williams (needs to be included, too. Last year’s Smoke cd contains cut and pasted bass and drum samples yet sounds polished. “New Violence” soars on the merit repetition and “Fleetwood Crack” is just a funny named track. Glam rock comes to mind when thinking about his music. If Bowie was electronic, he probably would’ve sounded like this.
Does this singer/songerwriter’s last name ring a bell? Does the group Crowded House refresh your memory? Liam is Crowded House member’s Neil Finn’s 24 year old son. Like so many singer/songwriter’s these days, Finn has an uncanny resemblance to Elliot Smith. It could be his laconic delivery, pensive lyrics and acoustic melodies heard on “Wide Awake on the Voyage Home” or the more electric and haunting “Second Chance.” He plays all his own instruments even live. Sure he may be a Smith incarnate, but hopefully he’ll have a longer career than said Smith. Finn’s debut record, I’ll Be Lightning lands this month.
Download: “Wide Awake on the Voyage Home”