Fanzine issue #1
Why 2010 is going to totally rock ultimate!
Hello there, if you're reading this, you're either a friend of mine who I've linked this to, or you clicked it by accident. If not, or even if you are, welcome to my semi-regular column that I'm totally not going to give up on after like three installments! This is Fanzine, a mainly music based column about what's rattling about my head, but with the added bonus of you getting to watch me trying to string each installment (which I'm calling issues, because I'm pretentious like that) together into some sort of theme. Originally, this first issue was going to be a wrap up of 2009 and I had lists and top tens for best songs and best albums, and winners of the year and losers of the year and so on and so forth, but we're nearly in February and Best of 2009 lists are so... well, 2009.
So this issue, the debut issue, #1 collector's edition, the first issue in the first month of the first year in this brand new decade is going to be dedicated to what's going to be good in the New Year. So, if you've made it this far and aren't put off by the fact that I'm obviously trying too hard, let's delve right in shall we?
SHINY NEW BANDS
It's a tradition for the media to fall over themselves at the start of the new year in a rush to name the great musical hope for the next 12 months. Last year had everyone hailing solo female acts like Florence Welch, La Roux (technically nota solo female act) and Little Boots as the queens of music in 2009, and they were pretty much right. So, the name on everyone's lips for this year? Solo female artist, Ellie Goulding!
Now, I'm not going to be one to rubbish any bands here (Well, I probably will, but Ms. Goulding ain't that bad). I quite like the few songs I've heard by her, but she represents everything that upsets me about the so-called ‘hot-tips for 2010' the fact that they couldn't be more middle of the road even if they all took a ruler, measured how long the road was horizontally, then vertically, worked out where the exact middle of said road was, and sat down there. I'm just not excited by anything I've heard really. Like I said, I don't want to rubbish anyone, partly because they're still getting started and the amount of hype bestowed upon certain acts at the start of the year is ridiculous, and partly because if anyone's album is blinding, I'm gonna have to eat my own words.
This is a positive column, with a positive message, that being, music is awesome,especially music you haven't heard yet, so now I'll present one band whose hype I am definitely buying into.
The Drums have the uncanny ability of toeing the line between the coolest, laid back,effortless guitar music and the most saccharine, annoying schmaltz ever heard.They make me want to dance and punch them in the face at the same time, but the songs are good, like really good. Look at them, and you think, ‘Look at these pretty boys, they look like some label noticed how this indie-pop seems to be catching on and held an audition of Top man models to form a band' but then you hear them and you think ‘This is pretty fucking good' Their ‘Summertime EP!' is full of sweet, summery songs as you'd might expect, but the word from some of their gigs is that the new songs they're playing show much more... not an edge really, because that's a cliché, but the newer stuff has drawn comparisons both to Morrissey and Pavement, and I'm excited to see what their next release brings.
REASONS TOBE CHEERFUL!
2010 sees a glut of hotly anticipated albums, and these are my picks to look out for.
Hot Chip -One Life Stand
Hot Chip have really established themselves now, they really broke through with ‘Over and Over' from the 2006 album ‘Made in the Dark' but they've been consistent electro-indie-synth-pop (Can you tell I hate trying to classify an artist?) fora while before, and have done since. Their last album, 2008's ‘Made in the Dark' was an even greater improvement from the Batman '89 referencing ‘big' single ‘Ready For The Floor' to stunning album tracks like ‘Out at the Pictures' and ‘One Pure Thought' (Although my favourite track was Japan-only ‘Bubbles They Bounce' as if you didn't already hate me enough for being smug and pretentious when it comes to this stuff). They return this year with ‘One Life Stand' and the lead single of the same name is a fun, danceable ode to monogamy that should light up dance floors as much as ‘Over and Over' and ‘Ready For The Floor' did.
One Life Stand is released on the 8th of February.
Lightspeed Champion - Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You.
...and the award for best album title of 2010 goes to Dev Hynes AKA Lightspeed Champion.The follow up to Hynes' debut ‘Falling Off The Lavender Bridge' was recorded mainly in America, where the native Brit relocated several years ago. Lead single 'Marlene' shows an evolution of the almost Country sound of his first album, but with a more pop influence as well as featuring more strings and arrangements than previous work. Hynes said of the album "I wanted it to sound expensive, even though it wasn't. There's been a real drive to make music sound lo-fi recently which is something I hate" and for this album, he scored all of the arrangements himself, but hired more experienced and accomplished musicians to play them, so give it a more professional feel, so expect a much more lavish sounding Lightspeed Champion come mid-February.
Life isSweet! Nice to Meet You is out on the 15th of February.
Gorillaz -Plastic Beach
The first few songs from the new Gorillaz album ‘dropped' the other day and they sound very promising. Of course, anything with Damon Albarn attached is cause enough for anticipation but the third Gorillaz album comes with collaborations ranging from Snoop Dogg through to The Fall's Mark E. Smith. The lead single, ‘Stylo' not only features Mos Def but soul legend Bobby Womack and is a grooving beast of a grower, but probably serves no indication as to what the overall album sounds like, this after all is the same band who had Shaun Ryder and Dennis Hopper on the same album, but no matter what the overall product shapes up to be, it's almost certainly going to be interesting.
Plastic Beach is out on the 8th of March.
The New Pornographers - Together
Whenever Canada's finest get together to release something new onto the world, it's truly a monumental moment in human history. OK, that may have been slightly hyperbolic, but it's always great when the best and brightest of Canada group back up and give us a new album. Really not much is known about ‘Together' except the name and release date, but they've rarely put a foot wrong in my book, so when The New Pornographers announce new material, title and date is all I need to know.
Together is out on the 4th of May.
Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can
...and the award for worst title of 2010 goes to Laura Marling! Yeah, I'm being a bit unfair, but the title is just so boring, so cliché, that I worry it might put people off checking out the best solo female artist Britain has to offer. You know what's depressing though? I just found out that Laura Marling was born on the 1st of Feb, 1990. She's only 23 days older than me, and she's got talent oozing out of every pour. Makes me look at my own life and consider it a giant failure. In such a short time, Marling has made herself stand apart from the seeming deluge of solo female artists ‘doing it their way' (which is fine, if you like that sort of thing) by delivering honest, touching lyrics that belie her age and stick with you for a long time after. You've heard the cliché about getting a song stuck in your head? Laura Marling's get stuck in your heart.
I Speak Because I Can is out the 22nd of March
Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
Titus Andronicus made the best album of 2008 that no-one heard. As a matter of fact,in my opinion, they made the best album of 2008 full stop (technically it came out in the UK last year, but I go by whichever came first when it comes to these matters). Titus Andronicus marry scuzzy sounds somewhat similar to No Age or a more coherent Times New Viking, with highly-literate lyrics (People will tell you that if you don't love your neighbour/then you don't love God/but no god of mine would put light in such unrighteous eyes) and a punk punch that makes a fascinating contrast. The Monitor is a loose concept album based around the American Civil War, the release of the record marks the anniversary of the 148th anniversary of the conflict and specifically the battle between the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (referenced in the song ‘The Battle of Hampton Roads', and where the album takes its title from). Some may be turned off by the concept, I was at first, but after hearing lead song ‘Four Score and Seven' it's great to see the Titus Andronicus I know and love still around and going strong.
The Monitor is out on the 9thof May
Los Campesinos! - Romance is Boring
Ah, I've left this until last, partly because it's my favourite band, and partly because it's out now! If you're in America, the album was released on the 26thand I'm very jealous of you. I have to wait until Monday, but I've got it pre-ordered and I expect it to be waiting for me when I get home from work. Their most mature work to date, 'Romance is Boring' has already received an overwhelming amount of positive reviews, Drowned in Sound and NME both gave it 8/10, and Pop Matters gave it an astonishing 9/10. As the title suggests, the record sees the traditional ‘darker' side of the band that always crops up around this stage of careers, but from the three songs I've heard, LC! haven't lost any of their trademark wit in the shift. First single ‘There Are Listed Buildings' has such gems as ‘I remember being naked to my waist but not in which direction' and ‘You dangle fishing line for crabs, but they're not interested, I'm your only bite‘ where as what I'm sure to be the album's finest moment, ‘The Sea is a Good Place to Think of The Future' has a more sombre tone with lines like ‘I ask her to speak French and then I need her to translate, I get the feeling she makes the meaning more significant. She was always far too pretty for me to believe in a single word she said' wrapped around lush strings and a crashing chorus. I know it's going to be good, expect a review if I ever get around to a second issue (which should happen, considering the plans I have), all I have to do is find the patience to wait until Monday.
Romance is Boring is out NOW IN AMERICA and on the 1st of February in theUK.
A SHROUD OF MYSTERY
Well, not mystery, but there's a wealth of bands with material out this year with very little known about it. Canadian indie darlings Arcade Fire have confirmed they should have something out towards the end of the year. There's a lot of buzz hovering around Yeasayer's new album , but I cannot confirm that I have already heard it, and I cannot confirm that it is AWESOME. Check out 'Ambling Alp' though, I can confirm it's probably the best song of the year so far. New York's sombre merchants Interpol should have a new release this year after lead singer Paul Banks is done with his solo project, Julian Plenti, and I cannot put into words how much I love Interpol, so I'll be talking about that more when more info is revealed.
Bloc Party may have gone on an indefinite hiatus last year, but this year sees lead singer Kele Okereke working on a solo project, guitarist Russell Lissack working with his other band Pin Me Down, who have been around a while but with no LP yet to speak of, and bassist Gordon Moakes currently rehearsing with his band Young Legionnaire, you'll be hearing new stuff from Bloc Party members throughout the year. Another record I'm really excited for is the second Battles album,because the first seems ages ago, with teases of a more pop sound and more singing on their sophomore effort, will this see Battles breakthrough ('Atlas' is currently on an advert here in the UK) or will it see them alienate hardcore fans? From the few songs I heard when I saw them in December, I'd go with option A.
2010 also sees returns from such Fanzine Faves like LCD Soundsystem, Foals, Crystal Castles, We Are Scientists, Metronomy and Blood Red Shoes, and if we pray really, really hard, there's a good chance Radiohead will release a new album this year as well.
I'm gonna think of a catchier name for this bit, but at the end of each issue, I'm gonna list the three songs I'm really digging at the moment, to the point that I'm playing them over and over on my iPod as I walk to work, and such.
1) Japandroids - Sovereignty
I'm really digging the Japandroids album 'Post-Nothing' at the moment, I'm listening to the whole thing constantly, but this track just sticks out to me. It's the tried and tested formula of a boy and a girl running away together to live their lives on their own, it could almost be a Springsteen song, but filtered through the fuzzy amp and wall of sound of bands like Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine and Les Savy Fav. I gotta give credit to my good friend Tom (ZombieRed on the boards) for recommending the band to me, it took me a while to get around to it, but I'm so glad that I did.
2) Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Art Star
This is a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song that many people might not have heard, it's off the 'Master EP', released before their debut album, and my love for this is a deeply personal one. In early December, I'd just got dumped and was feeling really shitty. My best friend dragged me up and out to see Yeah Yeah Yeahs just a few days after (Someone dropped out and he had a spare ticket) and I remember him saying ‘I hear they're playing 'Art Star' on this tour. I smiled and said awesome whilst secretly thinking ‘I've no idea what that song is' (and I know he's reading this, so there you go). Towards the end, Karen O asked the audience what song they'd like, 'Art Star', or something else, and the response for 'Art Star' was obvious, even I was shouting it, mostly just to keep up the pretence that I actually knew the song. Then they played it, and I fell in love with it.I loved the spoken word opening (‘I've been working on a piece that speaks ofs ex and desperation') and the guttural screech of the title, but most of all, I loved the bouncy, catchy bit after the screeching, and I could see as Karen O was bounding about the stage singing it, she was having the time of her life, I've never seen a smile so wide. Now, that's my ‘Cheer up, Kieran' song. Those ‘dodo dos' at full volume will cheer me up no matter what, and bring a similar smile to my face.
3) The Drums - I Felt Stupid
I talked about The Drums a bit at the start, and their biggest song is the incredibly,almost incessantly catchy ‘Let's Go Surfing' which I do love, but this one, the final track on their 'Summertime! EP' has one of the best choruses I've heard from a guitar band this century. It's not as catchy as ‘Let's Go Surfing' and overall, I'd say the former is a better song, but the chorus here is so perfect, I can't deny it, so it gets the third place for this entry.
Well that's been my first issue of Fanzine, I'm not sure if it's too long, or too short, or whatever, but the crinkles will get ironed out as we go on. I'm gonna sort out YouTube linkage for the next issue, hopefully. Thank you to the five people that read this, double thanks if you read it and I didn't link it to you and make you read it. You're all awesome.
"I'll do thetalking and you'll write the letters. I'll sing The Beatles and you'll sing them better."