Forgive me if this feels like I’m already straightening out 2010’s picture frames, pushing its chairs under its tables and hurrying you out of the door marked ‘2011’ when we’re only halfway through August. The trouble is music release schedules operate several months ahead of real time so, as someone who is informed about music releases on a daily basis whether I like it or not, I’m currently existing in a parallel universe where it’s late October/early November.
Luckily, from my position in this imagined future (all release dates are of course subject to change), this autumn looks like continuing what was already been a strong year for new records. 2010 has seen many of the previous decade’s primary acts return in some form or another, to varying degrees of success, such as The National, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire, Big Boi and Broken Social Scene. At the same time, newer acts have continued to hone their sound (Wavves, Best Coast) or seemingly burst out fully formed (Wild Nothing, Male Bonding, Baths). When looking ahead, it’s always the big names that stand out then – but don’t rule out a few surprises along the way.
Big names don’t come much bigger than recent Twitter convert Kanye West, who revealed in his recent surreal, hilarious, and even endearing Ustream monologue that his still untitled new record will finally be released in November. Leaked track ‘Power’ sees him return to rapping after 808s and Heartbreak (and already has its own Kanye-as-Roman-God trailer – he’s beyond simple music videos now) and if he can retain this song’s intensity and energy over a whole record, he could be approaching a career best.
Bradford Cox rivalled Kanye (at least on particular sections of the Internet) in the questionable blog post stakes for a while, and Deerhunter will return in September with Halcyon Digest. Free (so far) of the leak controversies that have dogged his last couple of releases, early previews have been positive. ‘Revival’ further demonstrates the malleability of Deerhunter’s sound, and there are reports that the record includes synth touches, more acoustic guitars and even an oboe solo. Who’d have laid out this path for this band after Cryptograms?
If Deerhunter continue to carve out their own distinctive body of work, two artists are looking to further expand on their own in the coming months. Nick Cave and a few of his Bad Seeds reconvene as Grinderman for their second album in September. If you needed further proof that this is a vehicle for them to flex their musical muscles in new ways while also having a laugh (in a terrifying sort of way) then look no further than the video for ‘Heathen Child’. It turns out the gods are just dirty old men. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how Corin Tucker’s first record since the Sleater Kinney (hopefully) hiatus shapes up – 1000 Years track ‘Doubt’ only lets up for the sound of waves crashing on the beach.
We’ve also recently had a taste of the new record by Antony and the Johnsons – Swanlights is due in October and lead single ‘Thank You For Your Love’ is Antony at his loosest and most at ease than ever before. Whether this is a good thing or not is up for debate – I Am A Bird Now and The Crying Light both worked due to their atmospheric restraint that set Antony’s tremendous voice apart. However, The Crying Light’s songs sounded odd taken out of an album context, so the wait for Swanlight continues. Speaking of restraint, one band knows when to open up and when to hold back is The Walkmen. Their forthcoming album Lisbon will please those who fell for You & Me – ‘Angela Surf City’ and ‘Blue As Your Blood’ pack the same punch as ‘I Lost You’, and the album closes with a set of their best ballads yet. Gone are the days of ‘The Rat’, when they’d throw everything at you from the off and, surprisingly, they’re all the better for it.
Another band who appear to be settling into their sound is No Age. Their forthcoming record Everything In Between anchors their ferocious two-pronged noise attack with ambience and electronics and appears to be the summation of their sound that Nouns was claimed to be at the time of its release. Lyrically, the songs address the mundane ups and downs of life, which gives their otherworldly noise a human touch. Robyn has always been adept at zoning in on fragile, human moments in her pop songs, and Body Talk Pt. 2 arrives in September. With ‘Hang With Me’ as its emotional centre, it’s difficult to see how she can fail and with Body Talk Pt. 3 also due by the end of the year, she could be about to pull off a quite astonishing run.
Finally, although the die hards haven’t had an Animal Collective album this year, the band’s members haven’t exactly been slacking off. There’s ODDSAC, a collaboration with Danny Perez that sounds like it’s aimed at fans of acid flashbacks rather than fans of ‘My Girls’. And then there’s the solo projects – Avey Tare’s first solo record Down There will be released in October and apparently has a lot to do with crocodiles. Meanwhile, Panda Bear will follow up Person Pitch (which arguably spawned chillwave) with Tomboy. Expect many ecstatic reviews followed by disappointing and/or confusing live shows.
What’s left? Interpol’s new line up have a self-titled record due soon; The Clientele, despite threatening otherwise, have new material on the horizon; The Thermals will release Personal Life in September; expect Calories to fly the flag for British DIY in September with the expansive Basic Nature; and Royksopp follow last year’s bright Junior with the sombre Senior.
So, should we care more about Interpol? Should we care less about Robyn? As ever though, it’s often the records you aren’t expecting that have the most impact – are there any hidden gems that have yet to catch our eye?