Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Six for 2006

Another list of, well, let's not call them predictions per se, more like semi-educated guesses. The topic? Bands and musicians who will find (or in one case, regain) increased "cultural" relevance and popularity over the course of the new year. Let the punditry begin!

ARCTIC MONKEYS ~ Britain's best band ever for 2006.
These young bucks from Sheffield used the power of the internet to accrue quite a following this year. They signed with hipster label Domino (home of Franz Ferdinand, Four Tet and Test Icicles, to name a few), and the band's peppy, waggish single, "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor," debuted in the top spot on British charts in late October. Of course, popularity in the UK means nothing to the majority of North American listeners, but the Arctic Monkeys seem ready to corner that market as well: a recent jaunt on this side of the Atlantic sold lots of tickets and was well-received by people who write about concerts on websites and in newspapers and such. The band's music does resemble that of their popular Scottish labelmates, but where Franz Ferdinand is typefied by its swagger, Arctic Monkeys go for more of a sting. Look for a full-length album in 2006, followed by an extensive tour of all the "coolest" towns.SOMEONE STILL LOVES YOU BORIS YELTSIN ~ Eight of ten indie bloggers agree...
... that this ensemble from Springfield, MO makes for great listening while they [indie kids] await the next Shins album. Once again, the internet seems to be almost solely responsible for the hype that has met the cheekily-named band's debut album, Broom (for example, this review almost compares it to The White Album and Pet Sounds, and this popular blog lists it as the best record of 2005). Frankly, as was stated here, Yeltsin is hardly a groundbreaking band, but these days, calling a band 'derivative' just means that critics get to write about all the other cool bands they know about; which is to say, it's a criticism that doesn't usually slow a band's ascent to the upper echelons of insular indie pop notoriety. Look for The O.C. to express its love for Boris Yeltsin sometime in the new year.THE SECRET MACHINES ~ Fulfilling the promise that BRMC squandered (by being boring).
Now Here is Nowhere, the Secret Machines' 2004 full-length debut, was and remains one of the best recent examples of rock music that is artful without being overindulgent; an album that is 'progressive' without sacrificing its melodic sincerity. And, it's one heavy mofo. Put it in your CD player and click over to "Sad and Lonely." Now, watch as your speakers implode with their own embarassment at being unable to do justice to the song's unbelievably deep bass riff (maybe the heaviest since "The Ocean"). Yes, that's right. The Secret Machines have such a huge sound that by simply encountering the band's music, inanimate objects are imbued with human weakness! But your stereo system is a greedy bastard, and what it wants is for you to feed it more heavy fibre courtesy of the Secret Machines. "Speakers be damned," it shouts at you, and commences to spit out your James Blunt CD in disgust. Well, you'll get your chance to love the Secret Machines once more, when they release Ten Silver Drops in March.THE FUGEES ~ Hip-Hop's best-loved supergroup returns
In 1996 The Score sold 18 million copies worldwide. Then Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean and Prakazrel Michel went their separate ways. The gentlemen have since had modest critical and commercial success (Wyclef, moreso than Pras) with a few albums to each of their names, while Hill's lone 1998 studio album is still held up as one of the greats of that decade. So now we find ourselves almost 10 years removed from the trio's big hit, debating the socio-cultural impact 50 Cent's criminal record and whether or not Kanye's arrogance is just a clever marketing ruse. Can the Fugees climb back on top after such a long layoff, as an album-based group in a market increasingly dominated by singles and ringtones? Probably. They're good. The as-yet-untitled album's first single, "Take It Easy" (not a cover of that horrible fucking Eagles song), is available on iTunes, and wouldn't you know it, according to this, the group kicked off a European tour last week. Addendum: this somewhat dated Rolling Stone article notes that Hill is also at work on a new solo album.THE HIGH DIALS ~ Can-Con!
This blog has been the site of extensive (ok, maybe not extensive) ballyhooing in favour of Montreal's most effectively unaffected band, and the High Dials flag shall continue to wave in this venue for many months to come. It's baffling that they haven't yet achieved an Arcade Fire-level of popularity, since they're just as talented. For now, we'll chalk (chock?) it up to the fact that the High Dials have are pushing a slightly more mainstream sound in a music/fan environment that, for the past year-and-a-bit, has been spasming with glee over the wonder of its own eccentricity. Maybe the tremendous influence wielded by Andrew Loog Oldham will help swing the balance!THE CONCRETES ~ Twee pop anthems for the IKEA set.
So you heard "Say Something New" on a bunch of television adverts and went out to buy that cute little album with the pink cat on the cover. Then your too-cool-for-school indie rock friend was all like "dude, I've totally been listening to that album for like a whole year already. Don't you have the Swedish import version?" And then you were all like, "No. I guess I missed the boat on that one. But I'm considering jumping on the North American bandwagon, cuz the Concretes play the kind of wide-eyed twee pop that people really seem to be into right now. And they're probably gonna release a new album in the spring." Finally, your indie friend said something like "Well, I hope it's not just an American release of Layourbattleaxedown, which came out earlier this year." Unlikely, says this sage blogger, since the aforementioned record was a compilation of previous EPs and stuff. So expect new material next year from the Concretes, who will benefit from continued comparisons to the Velvet Underground and being mentioned in the same breath as similarly heat-seeking SwedePop band Shout Out Louds.

2 Comments:

Blogger Beer said...

damn, you're good. a great list. this is my favorite blog. i like it even more than fleshbot.com

12/11/2005 7:05 p.m.  
Blogger Punk is Dead said...

Thanks 'Beer'. That means a lot coming from you.

12/11/2005 9:49 p.m.  

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