Is it just me, or did 2012 bring us more memorable albums than any year since 2002 brought Yoshimi, Sea Change, Yankee Foxtrot, (), Turn on the Bright Lights, the widespread release of White Blood Cells, etc? Now 2013 is looking just as promising: Flaming Lips, Beck (possibly with Jack White), MGMT, Black Keys, Thom Yorke’s Atoms for Peace, Yo La Tengo, Jim James, Plastic Ono Band, Built to Spill, Sebadoh, Low, Belle and Sebastian, Arcade Fire, The Meat Puppets, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz Ferdinand, Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, Sleigh Bells, Cloud Nothings, Wavves, Marnie Stern, Kurt Vile, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Stardeath and White Dwarfs, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, new-comers we haven’t heard of yet…
..even David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath and My Bloody Valentine (for reals)…
The Future Heart’s 13 most anticipated albums of 2013 are detailed at length on additional pages to follow – but first let’s overview the top releases that didn’t make that list, below and here (with an ongoing list of updates here). Records that are possible but not guaranteed to be issued this year are discussed here, and others set for release but lacking due dates are here – along with a prediction of the breakout artist of the year…
My Bloody Valentine
“I think with this record, people who like us will immediately connect with something,” My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Sheilds told NME last November about his band’s long-awaited third album. “Based on the very, very few people who’ve heard stuff – some engineers, the band, and that’s about it – some people think it’s stranger than ‘Loveless’. I don’t. I feel like it really frees us up, and in the bigger picture it’s 100 per cent necessary…It’s kind of different-ish and the same-ish. It’s warmer, and it’s more emotionally connecting record than anything we’ve done before.”
For decades My Bloody Valentine’s third album was doubted to become a reality – even with Kevin teasing to do so throughout 2012. That was until the above quoted New Music Express’ “Upfront” article detailed Sheilds’ seemingly plausible plan to release the record by the end of 2012 – as well as why it took over twenty years to follow their acclaimed second LP, Loveless.
“I started making this record [in ’96]. I gave up in ’97. It started as quite a conceptual thing because I purposefully didn’t want to write songs in a linear fashion…I listened to all that stuff again during the remastering [of MBV catalogue released earlier this year]. I really liked the guitar sounds in particular.”
NME reported the band were “half-way through mixing” the album in November and announced a new EP would follow in 2013. Additionally it revealed the band would headline Japan’s Tokyo Rocks festival in May, playing material exclusively from this new album. “Tokyo Rocks [is] going to be interesting because it’s going to be in a new venue,” Kevin Shields explained to the music weekly. “Primal Scream played it last year and Debbie [Googe, MBV bassist] played with them, she said it was good so we were like ‘Cool, we’ll do it’. It’s in some baseball stadium, it’ll be the biggest semi-enclosed gig we’ve ever done.”
A month after the NME article bassist Debbie Googe updated the status of the release to Drowned in Sound (well, kind of): “I really couldn’t [tell you what it sounds like] at all. I’ve heard more of the new Primal Scream record than I have the new My Bloody Valentine one!” [Debbie now plays in Primal Scream, and though still in My Bloody Valentine reportedly isn’t actually on the new album]. Most of it is stuff Kevin has done, certainly guitar wise. It’s been a long process, you know. The drums have been added then taken off at least once. His brother did them at one point, then Colm [O’Ciosoig] came in and redid them. There’s some things Kevin can’t do, like the drums or Bilinda [Butcher]‘s vocals, but everything else he can, and I’m certainly happy for him to do that. I guess it would be very easy for me to take some of the credit [for My Bloody Valentine’s success], but nearly all of it is down to Kevin. He’s very single-minded. We haven’t played together since ATP in 2009. I’d like to think there’ll be new material in the live set. I know he doesn’t want to play the whole of the new album. One of the reasons we booked Japan and Australia first was because they’re territories we never got to play the first time around, bar the one festival, so I’d expect those sets to be very similar to the ones we’ve been playing over here and in America. But then by the time we get back here, I’d expect there to be newer songs incorporated into the set that we haven’t played live before.”
Although the band missed the deadline they gave to NME, this time it doesn’t seem like just a tease – it could literally be released any day now. Just a few minutes before midnight on Christmas the band updated their facebook status: “finished mastering the new album.”
UPDATE Febuary 3rd – Finally…
Last night My Bloody Valentine posted to their their social media accounts, “preparing to go live with the new album/website this evening.” They did – making good (almost) on Kevin Sheilds’ stage announcement from days earlier that the LP “might be out in two or three days” – then promptly crashed said relaunched website. Titled mbv, the album was soon uploaded by the band to YouTube and is available now for purchase as an instant download, or shipped within three weeks on vinyl and CD.
Listen to the full album here, the tracklist is below:
2. only tomorrow
3. who sees you
4. is this and yes
5. if i am
6. new you
7. in another way
8. nothing is
9. wonder 2
The band has officially been on a self-imposed performance hiatus since 2011’s Bridge School Benefit, though last October they played Partners in Health events in New York (resulting in the first bootleg of unreleased song “Crucified Again”) and an unannounced secret show followed in December at Montreal’s Breakglass Studio. Playing under the name Les Identiks at last month’s show they debuted new material described by attendees on twitter as “fun, dance-y and groovy” and “punk rock-ish” with themes “rooted in the mid-19th century and the African American history in the US.” Don’t bother mining YouTube for footage though: the top secret show had a tightly enforced ban on phones, camera and taping:
These guys really are pricks…
Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God
The solo debut album from My Morning Jacket frontman, Regions of Light and Sound of God, is an imaginary soundtrack of sorts for Lynd Ward’s 1929 graphic novel “God’s Man.” The book – which “invented the concept of a wordless novel with …evocative, text-free ‘woodcut’ narrative” – tells the story of an artist’s path through temptations and corruption to find love. James received a copy from a friend in 2008, recalling to Spin, “It’s one of those things you can look at over and over because it’s so beautiful. When I saw it I felt like I was electrocuted, that I knew it from a past life. I was like, “Woah, here it is again!” I read it and read it. The message of it is . . . I didn’t feel like I was selling my soul to the devil or anything but there was a time a few years ago when I wasn’t listening to my heart a lot and I was traveling a dark path and it resulted in a physical injury. I fell off the stage [at a 2008 MMJ show in Iowa City] and not following my heart led to me being physically injured, which was a very horrible experience and very psychologically traumatic.”
“There’s a scene [in God’s Man] where the main character’s like chased out of town and he falls off a cliff and is lost and kind of injured and this woman finds him and nurses him back to health and they fall in love,” James explained to Rolling Stone. “And they have a child together and they have this new life that’s kind of coming. That had happened to me. Like, I had fallen offstage and gotten injured and gotten super dark and fell in love and all that was happening at the same time I was loving this book. It was like I had this beautiful illustration of what was happening in my life.”
James didn’t set out to write about the book. He explained to Spin, “I have a collection of studio gear and a studio at my house and whenever I’m not on the road I’m always working and these songs would pop in my head. And they would just tell me that they wanted me to work on them by myself and be part of the album…. There are several songs where I was playing piano and singing and playing drums, then I’ll go in and play bass or put strings on a track. I love playing bass, playing drums, and keyboards, but in My Morning Jacket I don’t really have a need to do that.”
As he became touched by “God’s Man” and saw similarities to his own life, “the book started to become this record. Music started pouring out of me. Like, the Devil’s in the book — I like to call him “the dark man” because he don’t look like the Devil — but the song “All Is Forgiven” on the record I wrote as his theme. I wrote that song for the end when the devil comes back to take his due. I wrote “Dear One” for when the guy meets the girl and they fall in love. “A New Life” is for when that love is consummated and they have a child together. “Know ‘Til Now” I wrote for when the guy is progressing in the city.”
As the album title suggests, Regions of Light and Sound of God is rooted in deep questions, “I feel it’s each of our jobs to learn what spirituality is” Jim told Spin. “It’s something I can’t help putting into music because I think about it all the time. I’m just trying to figure out why. I’m trying to be a better person. I’m trying to avoid making the same mistakes I’ve already made in my life. I’m trying to figure out the answers to questions a lot of people want to figure out. What happens when they die? Is there a God? What is God? Is God love?”
Although this is James’ first solo LP it’s far from his first work outside of My Morning Jacket. He sang “Going to Acapulco” with Calexico for 2007’s Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There (which he also acted in), released an EP of George Harrison covers under the name Yim Yames and contributed to the Dark Was the Night AIDS charity album (both 2009), and played a prominent role in two supergroups (Monsters of Folk, also 2009, and last year’s new-songs-from-unreleased-Woody-Guthrie-lyrics project New Multitudes). He’s also guested on numerous peers’ albums: M. Ward, Bright Eyes, Kathleen Edwards, VHS or Beta, Decemberists, The Roots, Laura Veirs, The Flaming Lips and others. James’ dreamy-funk/ psych-folk solo debut is out February 5th with unique shows to follow: “I want to play the album from start to finish. I’m trying to wait at least two or three weeks after the album’s release before I play shows so that people can connect with it more. All I’ve really done solo before is play guitar and sing. I want a different experience.”
Black Sabbath – 13
Three of the four original Black Sabbath members have re-united to record their first album together since 1978’s Never Say Die. The new Rick Rubin-produced work-in-progress will be followed by a major reunion tour. A song called “God is Dead” and 14 other new tracks had been recorded by last August according to bassist Gezzer Butler, though only a dozen will be on the LP. Among the new material is Butler, Ozzy and Tony Iommi’s reunited live on May 19, 2012 at a relatively intimate hometown Birmingham show at O2 Academy (3,800 capacity). In June they headlined Download festival, though Iommi’s treatment for cancer forced the band to cancel the majority of their 2012 tour.
It’s not as though Geezer and these geezers haven’t played in various formations in recent decades though, both live and on record. Butler recorded and toured with Ozzy in the mid-90s, and the full original Sabbath line-up reunited for two shows at Birmingham NEC in December 1997 (a live album from these shows followed, then two tours minus drummer Bill Ward). Ozzy and Ward reunited in the studio with Tony Iommi for a new track on 2000’s Iommi, and five years ago Butler teamed with Iommi under the band name Heaven & Hell (with Vinny Appice and Ronnie James Dio). Still, this will be the first Sabbath album of new material featuring Ozzy in 35 years. Though Ward has opted-out for contractual reasons, the band’s return to the studio with Ozzy is sure to receive a lot of attention.
UPDATE January 12th – Sabbath have announced their new album is titled 13 and drops in June with Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk on drums. Apparently they have a thing for numerology: plans of this reunion were first announced on 11/11/11 (above) and the album’s name seems a reference to both this year and the superstitious connotations of the number. If you’re wondering though – no, it won’t be released on Friday the 13th (as their debut LP infamously was).
A new NME.com video confirms the 15 tracks mentioned last August, and shows the band waxing nostalgic (Ozzy: “45 years…fucking hell,” Geezer: “Ever since I saw the Beatles it was like, ‘that’s what I want to do’) while discussing Rubin’s approach to recording them (Geezer: “He sat us down… put the first album on and he said ‘listen to this’… imagine it’s 1969, you’ve just done that, what would you do next?” Iommi: “It’s taken on the flavor of the old stuff in the way we put things together, but with a different look on it”)…
UPDATE January 14th – On January 11th the band debuted two new songs (“Earth” and “Suck Young Blood”) at an intimate Pomona, California gig. These teasers at the 800-person capacity venue Glass House were followed today with a press statement declaring Yeah Yeah Yeahs intend to “stir some shit up” on April 16th with their fourth album, Mosquito. James Murphy produced one track, Kool Keith guests as Dr. Octagon and – take a look at that album cover! Karen O explains in the press release, “I think this record has more moodier and tripped-out songs than you’ve ever heard from us. You might catch some roots reggae and minimalist psychedelia influences in there… We took a more playful, lo-fi approach.”
Atoms For Peace – Amok
What band would have members’ sideprojects be with Van Hagar’s rejects (aka Chickenfoot) and at the other extreme, the voice of Radiohead? Only one.
Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Likewise, leave it to Thom York to announce long-awaited album details by revamping his atomsforpeace.info site with interactive artwork and a hidden link to download non-album B-side ‘What The Eyeballs Did’ (click on the clock next to the “Arco” sign, or here).
Three-plus-years-in-the-making, Atoms for Peace’s debut record teams Thom with Flea, drummer extraordinaire Joey Waronker (Beck, Elliot Smith, REM), producer Nigel Godrich (Beck, Radiohead) and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco. Expect sounds and visuals like those in the videos for lead single “Default” and upcoming second single “Judge, Jury and Executioner” – both streaming on YouTube (click links to watch).
“So finally I can tell you the Atoms for Peace record is coming out on the 25th February, it’s called Amok,” Thom wrote on radiohead.com/deadairspace in December. “We put something new on the website for you to stare at etc…It’s a while to wait i know so i’m sure some other things will occur before then. We formed to learn to play The Eraser record, if you don’t know that, and discovered a really good energy doing that.. and it fell into this record.
I’m still reeling from being on tour for much of the year but we are planning to get together and play etc next year !We’re figuring all that out right now.
Atoms is a ongoing and open ended project, where it leads i know not for certain…. which is what is nice about it.”
UPDATE January 17th – Thom Yorke plays with his followers; shows Justin Timberlake how it’s done:
Largely written on Martha’s Vineyard last spring, Vampire Weekend’s third disc is expected this spring. “Neither of us had ever been there before so it was cool to drive to a new place and work continuously. There wasn’t exactly that same time pressure or that urge to show people our ideas really quickly, so we could focus very purely on songwriting,” frontman Ezra Koenig recently told Spin. “And when you prioritize like that, you’re going to be in a situation where you write things that are good, but not good enough. That can be a weird feeling because it’s not always clear what you do in that moment. So we experimented.”
The band is mostly keeping quiet on their work, which they’ve been recording since at least November 2011. “We’ve been writing for a while,” bassist Chris Baio told The Wall Street Journal last June. “It’ll be done when it’s done. I feel like a band can give a bunch of interviews when they’re working on stuff, and you don’t want something you said six months ago to influence how people hear it when it’s done.” They did however debut a new song at last summer’s Pitchfork Fest, “Unbelievers,” which they also played on the Halloween episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! (above).
“We created some characters on the first record, some of which are real people, some of which are ourselves, so it’s not so hard to keep following them and see what their concerns are now and how their lives have changed,” Ezra explained to Q Magazine (left, click on the image to read the article). “It really does feel like the third chapter in a book.”
Producer/ co-writer Rostam Batmanglij added to Spin, “On this album, there’s a lot of organic sounds and a lot of performance. You want the personality of each performer—whether it’s singing or bass or drums or piano—to be intact. In some ways it’s much more challenging to preserve that and to also make music that sounds modern. The way this album sounds is the product of thinking forward and being fearless in terms of mixing and production, going for something that hasn’t been done before but using elements and techniques that have existed for years and years, pushing them as far as they can go.”
My my. What lofty goals you have….
UPDATE January 23rd – Team Vampire Weekend tumblr fansite uploaded a new song, “Arms” – recorded at Vampire Weekend’s Metro Theatre, Sydney, Australia show last night. The band tweeted the release date of their still untitled album, but no other information has been released yet (contrary to some reports).
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away
In 1983 Nick Cave and Mick Harvey formed the Bad Seeds out of the ashes of their former group, The Birthday Party. 30 years later the band is set to release their 15th album on February 19th, Push the Sky Away – their return after five years of Cave focusing on Grinderman and other projects, and their first disc sans Harvey. Watch the video for the album’s “first track,” “We No Who U R” – here. If nothing else it will be remembered for its striking album cover (like John Lennon’s “Imagine” video as re-imagined by Wayne Coyne)…
MIA – Mantangi
Circa releasing her “Bad Girls” video at the start of 2012 M.I.A. announced her fourth album would come that summer. She then previewed the LP with her “Come Walk With Me” YouTube video (April), signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation management (May), answered questions about the release on twitter (August) and released a book (October). Her tweets revealed the postponed album’s title, tracklist (well, maybe), and “genre” (“paul simon on acid“) – among other details:
Earlier this week MIA revealed the new release date while explaining the delay to Australian newspaper Gold Coast Bulletin: “It’s due in April, which is the Tamil new year– April 15– and I’m still working on it. I thought I’d finished it. I finished it and then I handed the record in, like a couple of months ago. At the moment, I’ve been told it’s too positive. So we’re having a bit of an issue at the label. They’re like, ‘You need to darken it up a bit.’ I don’t know what it is but as soon as I work that out… I’m taking my time to decide what they mean. It’s an interesting one for me. It’s like, ‘We just built you up as the public enemy no. 1, and now you’re coming out with all this positive stuff.”
David Bowie – The Next Day
Speculated to be in retirement, Bowie used his 66th birthday to stun fans with a new video and the announcement of his 26th studio album. Already called “the most surprising, perfect and welcome comeback in rock history” by The Telegraph, the video for The Next Day’s lead single “Where Are We Now?” references Bowie’s former work just as the album cover recycles his 1977 “Heroes” artwork – albeit with a large white square blocking its center and the former album title crossed-out. This imagery combines with the record’s title to place the listener back in the world of Bowie’s ’70s Berlin trilogy – but the day after, with that past (however near or far) left behind.
As Indie Ethos points out in this insightful post, “the new song fits right into the stream of albums he released in the early 2000s, Heathen and Reality… Again, his obsession with creeping mortality juxtaposed with naiveté has cropped up… an acknowledgement of Berlin, where Bowie famously worked with Visconti and Brian Eno on some his the greatest albums of his career…He clearly is in nostalgia mode referencing Böse Brücke, a checkpoint separating the once divided city. He also sings “Sitting in the Dschungel/On Nurnberger Strasse,” a reference to a club he used to frequent in the city in the late 1970s… video artist Tony Oursler, who Bowie began working with during 1997’s Earthling.. projected faces on oval objects…his hallmark. It reveals Bowie’s typical self-deprecating humor. He knows he’s no longer some pretty pop star.”
“Where Are We Now?” is now available on iTunes with the album up for pre-order. Set for release on March 12th, the tracklist and official release details were posted on davidbowie.com. Bowie supposedly recorded enough tracks for a second new album possibly coming in 2014. Producer Tony Visconti – who’s worked with Bowie since 1969’s Space Oddity – spoke about the release from New York to BBC, via skype (watch here):
“He certainly is looking back on his Berlin period and it evokes this feeling [Where Are We Now is] very melancholy, I think. It’s the only track on the album that goes this much inward for him. It’s quite a rock album, the rest of the songs, so I thought to myself why is David coming out with this very slow, albeit beautiful, ballad why is he doing this? He should come out with a bang. But he is a master of his own life. I think this was a very smart move, linking the past with the future, and I think the next thing you hear from him is going to be quite different.”
“I’ve been listening to this on headphones walking through the streets of New York for the past two years, and I have not tired of a single song. I think the material on this album is extremely strong and beautiful, and if people are looking for classic Bowie they’ll find it on this album, if they’re looking for innovative Bowie, new directions, they’re going to find that on this album too.”
“We never spent more than two to three weeks at a time recording, then we might take off as much as two months. Usually we’d work on one or two songs in an afternoon, and whip them into shape so they’d sound like great rock tracks. At that part there won’t be any final vocals, there won’t be lyrics. That’s the way I’ve been working with him since The Man Who Sold The World, he hasn’t really changed in his approach.”
“During the recording he was smiling, he was so happy to be back in the studio. From the old days I recall that he was the loudest singer I’ve ever worked with. When he starts singing I’d have to back off, and go into another room and just leave him in front of a microphone, he still has that power in that chest and in his voice. We all know he had a health scare in 2003, 2004, but he’s a very healthy man I can assure you, I’ve been saying this for the past few years. I couldn’t explain why I know that, but I worked with a very healthy and happy David Bowie in the studio.”
UPDATE January 15th – Tony has spoken at length to Rolling Stone. Among many other details, he notes the recording started in November 2010: “We spent five days, and we didn’t record anything until the last day. We just kept writing down notes. On the fifth day, it was hard to try to remember what we did on the first day. But we got them down…In April of 2011 we went into a downtown New York studio. We only worked for two-week periods. We would take as long as two months off after each period, and he would go and write some more stuff. I would listen to it and get some ideas, sketch out some overdub things, and we’d be in constant communication during those periods. So this is about 18 months ago. If you added up all the weeks in the studio, we probably actually spent three-and-a-half months…. Some of them belong to his life, but some of them are things like social commentary. He was reading a lot of medieval English history books, and he came up with one medieval English history song. That’s the title track, “The Next Day.” It’s about somebody who was a tyrant, very insignificant; I didn’t even know who he was talking about. But if you read the lyrics, it’s quite a horrific story… “The Next Day” rocks out. Same with “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”… They’re more funky, mid-tempo songs. Very evocative. “Dirty Boys,” the second song on the album, is very sleazy… Old bump-and-grind stripper music . . . It wouldn’t be out of place on Young Americans… [“Dancing Out of Space” has] got a Motown beat to it, but the rest of it is completely psychedelic. It’s got very floaty vibe. There’s a guy called David Torn who plays guitar, who we use; he comes with huge amounts of equipment that he creates these aural landscapes. He uses them in a rock context with all that ambient sound, and he’s bending his tremolo arm and all that. It’s just crazy, completely crazy sound on that track…. There’s a few songs about world wars, about soldiers. One is “How Does the Grass Grow” and it’s about the way that soldiers are trained to kill other soldiers, how they have to do it so heartlessly. “How Does the Grass Grow” is part of a chant that they’re taught as they plunge their bayonets into a dummy. “I’d Rather Be High” is about a soldier who’s come out of the war and he’s just burnt out, and rather than becoming a human being again, I think he laments, “I’d rather be high/I don’t want to know/I’m trying to erase these thoughts from my mind.”
“It was very easy to keep it a secret because we’re very loyal to him. I’ve known him 45 years, and everybody knew him for more than 10 years in the band. We just love the guy. He said, “Keep it a secret, and don’t tell anybody. Not even your best friend.” I said, “Can I tell my girlfriend?” He says, “Yes, you can tell your girlfriend, but she can’t tell anybody.” So everybody had to explain why they were leaving for work in the morning, you know where they were going and who they were recording with… Robert Fripp.. was asked to play on it, he didn’t want to do it and then he wrote on his blog that he was asked. And nobody kinda believed him. It was a little flurry for a few days, but everyone said, “How could that be true? We haven’t heard it from anyone else?…He made that very clear to the label that he wasn’t going to tour or do any kind of ridiculously long album promotion. It was his idea to just drop it at midnight on his birthday and just let things avalanche.”
Continue reading 2013 record previews here: Foxygen, Local Natives, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Wavves, Kurt Vile, Jeff Tweedy produces Low, Johnny Marr, Devandra Banhart, Marnie Stern, Phoenix, Daft Punk (with Panda Bear and others), “the first new Replacements release since 1990’s ‘All Shook Down,’” and many more…
Additional 2013 anticipated albums without specific issue dates (Built to Spill, Sebadoh, Belle and Sebastian, Meat Puppets, Franz Ferdinand, Granddaddy, Midlake, The Hold Steady, The Magic Numbers, No Age, Quilt, Cloud Nothings, Woodsman, Sleigh Bells, more); plus the breakout-artist-of-the-year prediction – here. Plausible but less likely releases for this year are explained here – Modest Mouse, Olivia Tremor Control, Mazzy Star, Deerhunter, Spoon, The Jesus and Mary Chain…even The Pixies!
Wait, so you’re telling me that’s there’s albums anticipated more than all those listed above?
Yep. Stay tuned The Future Heart’s 13 most anticipated albums of 2013…