Wednesday, February 1, 2012

ruminations: most anticipated releases of 2012

Whoa, fell off the map there for more than a month. This list is expiring quicker than I expected, so I figured I should delay no further. Here they are- my most anticipated releases of 2012.

There are quite a few releases that I’m eager to get my grubby little mitts on this year. So far the forecast for the year in music 2012 looks very promising—in a lot of ways it should be the follow up year to a majority of the artists who released records in 2010—which, to me, was the best year in music in quite some time. I’ll probably start subliminally with the records I’m looking forward to the most and working my way backwards from there.

Spiritualized—‘Sweet Heart, Sweet Light’ (Originally March 20th, now delayed to late March/early April)

One of the most bittersweet prospects involved with the release of any new Spiritualized album is the fact that it might be the last one for quite some time (only two of their records have arrived within the standard two-year wait that most bands adhere to). While it’s been a fascinating ride between 2008’s ‘Songs in A&E’ I’ve been looking forward to the release of ‘Sweet Heart Sweet Light’ since I heard it was in the works. Based on the bootleg I have from the band’s performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London in October ‘Sweet Heart Sweet Light’ looks to deliver the follow-up to ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, We are Floating in Space’ that ‘Let it Come Down’ failed to deliver. The arrangements appear to return to the grandiose—gospel choirs, orchestras and white noise aplenty. As if that weren’t enough there are echoes of ambience that haven’t been heard since 1995’s ‘Pure Phase.’ The opener ‘Hey Jane’ cooks and somehow maintains a visceral feel throughout a 10+ minute long running time. The only question that remains is will these songs sound like this on the actual record? Evidently the delay was caused after promo copies were sent out and Jason Pierce decided the mix needed further tweaking. Anyone who has any knowledge of Spiritualized’s past knows that once any of Pierce’s records reach the mixing stage it is usually at least a year before they emerge to his satisfaction. I have faith that it will emerge better than before as the exorbitant amount of time that he spends mixing always appears to make for the best results. What’s more I can’t help but look forward to the prospect of seeing the band live again as they played a version of ‘Sway’ from ‘Lazer Guided Melodies’ at the Albert Hall that completely smoldered—a longtime favourite of mine I’ve always wanted to hear it live and hopefully it will endure the trip all the way to the Metro this May. Godspeed, Mr. Spaceman.

Beach House

All signs point to Beach House having been in isolation mode since their last tour of the coasts in September. One can only imagine that this time has been spent recording new material. There are new songs that show the type of promise one would expect from them (see above), so hopefully a solid announcement will be made soon. ‘Teen Dream’ remains the most played album on my ipod, so my hopes are high for the quality of whatever they’ve got cooked up. I also am hoping that they aren’t so massively popular that I won’t be able to afford wherever they end up playing when they stop through. I knew I should’ve just tried to catch them at the Metro back in April of 2010. Why?! WHY?!

Mazzy Star

I’m beginning to think that it might be safe to finally get excited for the release of new Mazzy Star material. Hope Sandoval set the rumor-mill buzzing after the release of her 2009 album ‘Through the Devil Softly’ when she announced that she had been working with Dave Roback again on a new Mazzy Star album. Her prediction of it being released in 2010 did seem a bit overly optimistic, but out of the blue the ‘Common Burn’ digital single landed in late fall last year. The fact that the physical manifestation of the single has finally materialized (I have two copies) coupled with a growing list of confirmed shows (including Coachella in April) makes for a ‘holy shit, this might actually HAPPEN’ kind of feeling. Granted their last tour in 2000 was supposed to preface the release of the fourth Mazzy Star album, which never materialized. This seems significantly more likely as SOME material has obviously been recorded. I’ve seen Hope twice in her solo band incarnation and would love the chance to finally catch Mazzy Star live as they have endured as one of my favourite bands from the 90s.

Disappears—‘Pre Language’ (March 1st)

Even though this is soundly confirmed I am still on pins and needles waiting for this one. While I loved ‘Guider’ I never found it to be a proper match for ‘Lux.’ I’m hoping that ‘Pre Language’ makes up for this a bit. The material from the ‘Live at Echo Canyon’ EP is incredibly promising and hopefully indicative of what the record will sound like. Definitely looking forward to catching the band at Lincoln Hall in April and finding it too difficult to be terribly disappointed in the end of Sonic Youth if it means that Steve Shelley will become Disappears’ full-time drummer, especially if the results continue to prove as pleasing as they have so far.

Wild Nothing

There is new material that has been released from Wild Nothing—a single released on February 21st. I’m a bit nervous about what shape it’ll take as one of my favourite things about 2010’s ‘Gemini’ is the feel that it had as a result of Jack Tatum having performed and recorded the entire thing by himself. This second Wild Nothing album would be the first recorded in a proper studio and with the live band that he toured with in support of ‘Gemini.’ ‘Nowhere’ is a shimmering, bright slice of pop as expected. I just worry that some of the more out-there experiments on ‘Gemini’ such as ‘Pessimist’ might be lost in the shuffle. That said, I’m sure that my fears are unfounded and I will enjoy whatever the band is cooking up in the studio right now.

Sharon Van Etten—‘Tramp’ (February 7th)

Another late-to-the-party case, I’ve only recently started to get into Sharon Van Etten. I was introduced to her music through a live set that I downloaded through nyctaper. Not the best way to get into much of anything, she fell by the wayside until I happened upon a clip of her playing ‘One Day’ on an acoustic guitar by herself and then getting ahold of 2009’s excellent mini-album ‘Epic.’ I’ve resisted downloading leaks of this album as I’m going to try and do a little less of that kind of thing this year. 2012 is all about the delayed gratification. I hope. Van Etten strikes me as a bit of a more rock-oriented Nina Nastasia—both have similarly impressive voices and song-writing skills and confessional lyrics.

Dirty Three—‘Toward the Low Sun’ (February 28th)

While I wasn’t that impressed with 2006’s ‘Cinder’ as a whole it did have a few standout tracks that were as stunning as anything the band has ever been capable of and it managed to condense their greatness without sacrificing the loose-knit structure that they favor. My hope is that since it’s been six years (!!!) since ‘Cinder’ the band is sure to return in fine form. Even if that isn’t true they’ll probably tour and when I saw them at the Metro in 2006 I was shocked at how engaging they were live and even more shocked at how quickly the time melted away while I was under their spell. I think when I was thinking ‘this is going on a bit long’ I looked at my watch and it had been two hours—usually when that happens it’s only been 30 minutes. As much as I’ve enjoyed all of the projects that Warren Ellis has launched with Nick Cave with the announcement of each one I couldn’t help but feel that bittersweet twinge of, ‘well, I guess that means there’s not going to be another Dirty Three album for a while.’ I might finally plunk down the money for a vinyl copy of ‘Ocean Songs’ in celebration. About fucking time.

Brian Jonestown Massacre

A new album (with tracklist) has been announced officially by Anton Newcombe to be released in 2012. Supposedly it is one of three that he plans to release… well, we’ll see. Judging by the tracklisting this latest BJM albums looks to build upon 2010’s ‘Who Killed Sgt. Pepper?’ which was a welcome step forward from 2008’s mold-breaking ‘My Bloody Underground.’ While it’d be nice to see Anton return to making records with the amazing live band that he’s been touring with for almost three years now (not to mention the core of that band that he’s been with steadily for over six years now) this tangent he’s on at the moment is endlessly fascinating. ‘Prefabulatory Ambulation Device’ and ‘Get Some’ (from the 2006 tour) continue to elude release despite being amazing songs that hint at exciting extrapolations from 2003’s masterful ‘…And This is Our Music’ and possibly hint at the possibilities of ‘We Are the Radio’ had it been extended into a full album, but ‘Stairway to the Best Party in the Universe’ and ‘I Want to Hold Your Other Hand’ are the most encouraging new songs that Anton has released since either aforementioned BJM album. Perhaps there’s more to the big picture than we’re seeing. Regardless, the ride is proving to be a very interesting one and I look forward to the next piece of the puzzle. I also need to remember the psychological term for one who puns compulsively. The last time I heard it was in my Shakespeare class during my sophomore year of college. Anton obviously falls into this category.

The Warlocks

If Bobby Hecksher manages to get some new Warlocks material out this year it will have been three years since ‘The Mirror Explodes.’ There has been a deafening silence since he released the ‘Enter at Your Own Skull’ rarities collection in order to raise money to pay for the recording of a new album. I wait with baited breath. It would be wonderful to hear something new from them and have them tour again this year. It’s been a long time since their two-night stand at the Empty Bottle.

Grizzly Bear

Again, nothing official has been announced, but their lengthy absence and silence (including absence and silence from their members’ side projects) would suggest that they’ve been recording. They have emerged occasionally recently to post tweets and facebook posts implying that something is coming, so hopefully 2012 will see the release of another Grizzly Bear album. My hopes are that they are able to combine the more experimental weirdness of 2006’s ‘Yellow House’ with 2009’s ‘Veckatimest.’


stefanie said...

"I knew I should’ve just tried to catch them at the Metro back in April of 2010. Why?! WHY?"

Because the Metro SUX!!

I hope the Warlocks put something new out too...please oh please!

nyctaper said...

" I was introduced to her music through a live set that I downloaded through nyctaper. Not the best way to get into much of anything"

What does that even mean? The entire mission of our site is to introduce new artists to fans and to enrich the fans' experience of older artists. Are you basically saying that what we do is meaningless?

shalloboi said...

no, i just wasn't making myself clear there. what i meant by that is that a live recording isn't always the best way to judge an artist you aren't already familiar with- after listening to that set a few times it didn't really pull me in yet (which wouldn't really be you or your site's fault since you didn't write the music), but that paved the way for me to hear other things of hers later that made more sense to me in a different context. your site is where i was introduced to her music, though, which is why i mentioned it. if i'd thought that what your site was doing was meaningless i probably wouldn't have mentioned it at all.