Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hello again, it's been a while.

After perusing a list of upcoming releases, it seems that August and September shall be interesting record-buying months, at least for this old boy. Interesting, in that there are a number of albums being released by bands that, two or three years ago, I simply adored. Now I realize that I haven't listened to said bands in quite some time. Will the new stuff pique our interest again? Or will they be forever shunted to the rear end of my playlist? Here's a sampling, along with some completely speculative pre-release "hype."

Sigur Ros: Takk (September 13)
Of course, it's a mystery as to what this will sound like. Sigur Ros' previous full-lengths were consistently interesting and highly listenable, but their recent EPs of programmatic music have been impenetrable at best. Hopefully the enigmatic Icelandic lads can strike a balance between the great songwriting (if you can call it that) of Agaetis Byrjun, and the experimentalism of ( ). All I know is, if they even come close to approximating the stellar catharsis of ( )'s closing track, my ears will dance a jig. And my girlfriend will still hate it. Anticipation: high.

Death Cab for Cutie: Plans (August 30)
Based on the title track alone, Transatlanticism was one of my favourite albums of 2004. After setting it done for some time, I recently rediscovered the greatness of "Expo '86." However, the band's earlier work, such as The Photo Album and We Have the Facts..., never really pulled me in as effortlessly. So really, any new Death Cab material will still be met with some scepticism from my court (this is also known as the "download first, buy later" approach). Plus, I have a feeling they might be on their way to becoming the new Modest Mouse, which is to say, undercooked and overexposed. Anticipation: mild.

Elbow: Leaders of the Free World (September 5)
As far as I know, this album was at one time titled Ustinov, which frankly is much better than what it appears to be called now. Hopefully it does not imply any particular political commentary, because I just don't think Guy Garvey as a lyricist could pull it off with the subtlety required. I don't anticipate the band's sound to have changed much from their previous two (fairly excellent) releases, which should mean that they'll be the perfect sad-sack soundtrack to my next bout of wintertime pseudo seasonal affective disorder. Anticipation: reasonably high.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Howl (August 23)
Frankly, I tired of this tiresome trio after about two full plays of Take Them On, On Your Own. Once again, nothing to indicate that they'll be any better this time around. The first single, "Ain't No Easy Way" has a semi-intriguing country stomp groove, but also some pretty amateurish slide guitar playing, and the mantra-like lyrics are boring and sung atonally. I'd expect two or three solid rock songs on the album, scattered between a bunch of semi-experimental drivel (the single being a case-in-point). Anticipation: nil to low.

My Morning Jacket: Z (October 4)
An acquired taste that's not for all occassions. Seemingly best suited for languid evenings at the cottage or plantation, depending on your geography (where's my Mint Julip!?!). Nonetheless, It Still Moves was an accomplished, if eccentric, effort, though it's currently a little too twangy for my tastes. The band has something like thirteen guitarists (yes, an exaggerration), but they still sound very "tinny" to me, like they've got the treble on their amps turned up too high. I don't know... maybe I just want them to be too much like Drive-By Truckers or something. Anyway, they've got two new members now, and claim that the new record is "a sign of a new beginning." So here's hoping for some more great whisky-soaked alternative Southern rock, with just a bit more of a sonic axe to grind. Anticipation: reasonably high.

David Gray: Life in Slow Motion (September 13)
Yes, I'm a sucker for this mellow Irish troubadour -- Van Morrison just isn't what he used to be. Gray will likely never achieve the popularity he gained with 1999's White Ladder, but I don't think he has to, nor does he seem compelled to do so himself. It's unlikely that the singer-songwriter will have changed his acoustic-with-electronic touches approach, so the quality of the album will hinge upon the quality of the actual songwriting (which is a strange thing to write... shouldn't the worth of any record be based on the merit of its songs?). Gray's playing a sold out show at The Carlu in August, so a taste of the new material is likely to be on the menu, though he's much stronger in live performance than on record. Anticipation: mild to reasonably high.

Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand (October 4)
I came to this band somewhat later in the game than most "in the know" type folks, and really, they haven't stuck with me for half as long as similar bands like Bloc Party and Maximo Park. Sure, "Take Me Out" and "This Fire" are great dance-rock songs, but... yeah... I have no justification for why I don't like these so-called Archdukes as much as the rest of you do. They just don't float my boat. Plus, I don't like how they're implicitly positioning themselves in Led Zeppelin and Peter Gabriel territory by making more than one eponymous album. In any case, they're basically critic proof at this point, which is odd considering they've only release one album. Anticipation: mild.


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2 Comments:

Anonymous Chris Martin said...

I've heard "Leaders of the Free World" and it is not a political commentary xept for the song with that title ( and a great commentary at that )

7/22/2005 9:23 p.m.  
Blogger Punk is Dead said...

I agree. Heard the album yesterday, and first impressions of the title track is that it is cracking indeed, with lyrics that reminded me of Peter Gabriel's "Games Without Frontiers."

7/23/2005 11:49 a.m.  

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