It's been a long four years since 'The Fool' was released and I happened upon the pre-order links for the self-titled album completely by accident. The album was produced and mixed mostly by Flood (apart from two tracks that were mixed by Nigel Godrich) and if the two tracks that have been previewed are anything to go by ('Love is to Die' and 'Biggy') we're in for quite a treat. Fortunately the wait will only be a few weeks now.
Mogwai- 'Rave Tapes'
It's hard to think that it's been three years since Mogwai released 'Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will,' mostly since Mogwai released the excellent soundtrack to French zombie miniseries 'Les Revenents' (which aired here in the states under the name 'The Returned'). While the soundtrack was a solid set of beautiful tracks by the band it's always nice to see them getting back into the mode of making a record that comes entirely from them. 'Rave Tapes' appears to be taking more of an electronics-based road (similar to 2001's 'Rock Action') and while I wasn't that blown away by the first preview track 'Remurdered' I found 'The Lord is Out of Control' immensely satisfying in the way that Mogwai's best music is. They're one of the few bands who can make something I wasn't expecting at all sound so satisfying. Plus, 'Hardcore...' was a grower for me to say the least... Again, the wait won't be long.
The War on Drugs- 'Lost in the Dream'
2011's 'Slave Ambient' continues to surprise me with every listen. Somehow I managed to overlook it's greatness with my first few listens but it's one of a handful of records released over the past few years that I find myself coming back to time and time again. 'Red Eyes' is a nice extension of what made 'Slave Ambient' such a distinct record, it somehow manages to take that sound and make it even richer and more melodic.
Sharon Van Etten
I heard through a post of Van Etten's facebook page that this record is, in fact, finished. While it has no release date or an announced title I've been pretty excited about the idea of it since hearing her play a few new songs (that I assume will be on it) during her set opening for Nick Cave back in April. I definitely remember hearing 'Tarifa' at that show and being impressed with its strength even without the aid of Van Etten's backing band. What I'm mostly curious about is what route she'll take with the songs- it seems like she's more in the mindset of sparseness, but her songs work in any context and she's never been shy about switching arrangements when the situation warrants it.
I haven't heard anything to the effect that Beach House are working on a new album, or have even had much time to record anything over the course of the last year. It seems like they've just gone from tour to tour to tour, similar to their never-ending tour in support of 'Teen Dream.' Right now, though, they're scheduled to play a handful of Gene Clark tribute shows and nothing else is listed beyond that. I've heard rumors about growing tensions in the band (which isn't much of a shock considering the speed at which they've been moving for about five or six years), but it's mostly hearsay and I'm hoping that I can expect another new Beach House album right on their two year schedule. There are always a few in my little lists that end up moving to next year, anyway.
2010 was an incredible year for music and one of the albums that made me think so was Panda Bear's second solo release 'Tom Boy.' I hadn't realized, but it's been four years since that second album came out, which came out three years after 2007's 'Person Pitch.' It'd be nice if Noah Lennox were to pair up with Sonic Boom again as his bright mixes and crystal clear mastering did a lot to enhance 'Tom Boy,' but another part of me would like Sonic to finally finish a new Spectrum album (he's been talking about 'On the Wings of Mercury' like it would be done in a few months since 2009 rendering the title hopelessly ironic). Either way it would be great to hear another record from Panda Bear.
During their stop at Lincoln Hall in July (which I missed) the America-based version of Spiritualized played nearly an entire album's worth of new songs. Several of them still sounded like they were in the rough, early (but promising) stages, but the stately 'A song,' 'D song' as well as 'Here it Comes (The Road Let's Go)' had been played in various formats since the band's 2012 European tour and are coming along beautifully. I still struggle with figuring out where I stand on this newest incarnation of the band as the band that stopped at the Metro in 2012 put on the hardest-hitting performance that I'd probably heard to date from Spiritualized. Either way the band's been pretty quiet since their last mini East Coast tour back in September and their lone live engagement is a Valentine's Day stop in Los Angeles to play 'Ladies and gentlemen we are floating in space' in its entirety. This is another album that's in the category of those that I expect will be moved back a year. It seems like Jason Pierce is having trouble getting a record out more often than every four years. At least it's easy to tell when the wheels are in motion.