Wednesday, January 10, 2007

So This Is the New Year pt. 2

For the past couple of months I've been heavily anticipating the shrimpload of new releases by bands I love. No offense 2006, but you were no 2004 in terms of new releases.

Granted, that Joanna Newsom record is amazing, but I admittedly only recently heard it. Until then I was convinced that 2006 was the Year of the Letdown. TV on the Radio's newest album is good, but not great like I hoped (though apparently I'm in the minority on that one), The Rapture put out a new album that maybe has the worst opening four songs I've heard on a record that wasn't made by Fall Out Boy in a long time. Yo La Tengo played every style they've ever tried, which is good when you're seeing them live but not as good when you really love listening to Electr-o-pura. Even Thom Yorke's album, which has some serious spine-tingling, awe inducing songs on it, also has a couple of snoozers. Albums that lived up to my expectations still didn't blow me away, the new Belle and Sebastian album being exhibit A. All of those examples, and so many others I'm not mentioning, are good but, Joanna Newsom aside, nothing blew me away.

I miss the days where multiple albums really hit me. In '04 it was the Arcade Fire and Animal Collective leading the way, followed by solid albums from Sonic Youth, Of Montreal, Deerhoof, and tremendously under appreciated Blonde Redhead album. In '03 I was seriously into Hail to the Thief, De-Loused in the Comatorium and Chutes Too Narrow, and later discovered The Books. 2002 was maybe a bit overwhelming with Beck and the Flaming Lips making perhaps their biggest artistic statements, Sonic Youth making a major comeback, Sigur Ros saying a lot while really saying nothing, ...Trail of Dead's big big-league debut, and lastly, Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights, an album I honestly feel people will be talking about for years to come. (What about '05, you ask? I'd say it was somewhere between '04 and '06.)

So, to get back on track, I've been waiting for the arrival of the new year unlike any other. In case you've been hibernating (or haven't talked to me in a couple of months to hear this rant in person), the following bands have albums scheduled for release soon, most before Spring Break: The Shins, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Deerhoof, Of Montreal, Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, Modest Mouse, Blonde Redhead, Bright Eyes, Bloc Party, The Ponys, !!!, Explosions in the Sky, Air, Sondre Lerche, and supposedly a little band called Radiohead. I'll acknowledge that not all of the bands/artists listed are great, or have made a great record yet, but I do feel that most of them have the potential to make a great record, and with that potential comes hope.

There's just one little problem though...

You see, some of these albums have leaked, while other bands have started putting songs on their MySpace, websites, or in the case of a select few, the radio. And, well, so far I'm not terribly impressed.

The biggest disappointment comes from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Of the three new songs I've heard, only "Satan Says Dance" really stands out to me, and even it is not as good as the version they played in concert last year. I feel like something is missing from the album version. Guitars maybe. I don't know, I just remember it rocking a little more. It is not a bad song, but you know how it is when you hear a particular version of a song first (the leaked version of Hail to the Thief versus the official release comes to mind). This point brings me to the Arcade Fire. I'm having a hard time getting used to the church organs in "Intervention" after almost two years of hearing the KCRW version. Am I the only one not sure what to make of the Goth Arcade Fire? I know that I need to hear more than three songs and I'm sure I'll like the album, but I don't want to just like it, I want it to reach out and Tickle Me Elmo like the last one did.

The Arcade Fire going goth was one thing, but the biggest shock came when I heard the new Modest Mouse song "Dashboard". I know I probably shouldn't have been so bewildered after "Float On", but this is fucking nuts. Its growing on me though, but not enough to leave me feeling confident that it will create a special place in my heart. I just hope there's at least a couple of songs like "Satin in a Coffin", or "Bukowski".

The new Of Montreal is very much like their other albums in how some songs sound great and others are skippable. I'll probably like it more after seeing them live in February, at least that has been the case in the past. Seeing Of Montreal live is more fun than listening to them at home anyway.

The new releases are not without hope, however. The new Shins album, Wincing the Night Away, is really good. Its not mind blowing great, but considering the new steps they're taking its no surprise. How often are transitional albums mind blowing great? I do enjoy a few of the tracks very much, and already I'm excited for album number 4. The biggest surprise I think has been the new !!! album. I haven't taken enough drugs or the proper amount of time to really absorb it all, but so far what I've heard I really, really like. The title track got me to do some serious dancing on New Year's Eve, as I'm sure it will again and again throughout 2007.

However, don't take my word for any of this. Listen for yourself. Perhaps we can discuss further at a later date (please, Andre is getting a little bored of music talk).

If you want to hear new Arcade Fire, go here. The new songs that they have are "Intervention", "Black Mirror", and "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations".

If you want to hear "Dashboard" click on the link. I'm pretty sure there are some live versions of other new songs on there that honestly don't sound too bad (except for Isaac's voice, which isn't always the best live).

New Of Montreal can be found here. "Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider", "She's a Rejector", "Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse", "Gronlandic Edit", "Suffer for Fashion" are the songs they have available.

Go here for the Shins. "Phantom Limb", "Sea Legs," "Australia," and "Sleeping Lessons".

You can probably search for others while you're there. This site is kinda cool if you're looking to check out a band or find some new blogs.

I have to extend an apology to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Your new songs are not nearly as disappointing as the new Bloc Party song I just heard. Pitchfork posted their latest video today (I'm linking to Pitchfork because for some strange reason I couldn't find it on YouTube). Its bad. Real bad.

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