Here’s a selection of upcoming music releases for your summer listening pleasure:
Rhett Miller – The Dreamer
The Old 97’s front man steps away to release a new solo album. Miller’s side projects tend to be a little quieter and poppier than his day job’s raucous alt-country records. Early word on The Dreamer is that it’s still relatively low-key but more folk-infused than usual.
The Hives – Lex Hives
The sharply-dressed gents from Fagersta, Sweden return with their fifth album of glorious noise. Lex Hives promises to administer another healthy dose of punked-out Stooges energy to cure whatever ails you. After a five year hiatus, expect twelve new sonic salvos that sound like the Ramones accidentally plugged into 240-volt power instead of 120-volt.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Americana
Neil Young lives and dies by the magic of the first take. He is notoriously unwilling to develop songs in the studio, preferring to bash them out in one pass instead. From time to time, he captures lightning in a bottle, especially when the erratic Crazy Horse is involved. That said, early reports suggest that these 11 new recordings of American folk standards (including, inexplicably, “God Save The Queen”) might have benefitted from a bit of rehearsal and some editing.
Metric – Synthetica
The Canadian modern-synth-rock ensemble releases Synthetica, the follow-up to 2009’s well-received Fantasies. Like The Hives, it seems that Metric have decided to hoe their own row by self-releasing their new album. I haven’t been too enamoured of lead-off single “Youth Without Youth”, but maybe the album will reveal itself over time.
Rush – Clockwork Angels
The Canadian power trio (finally) releases some truly new studio material, five years on from the surprisingly decent Snakes & Arrows. Some of the new songs, like “BU2B” and “Caravan”, have actually been in the live set for awhile now, which is a little unusual for Rush. Exclaim.ca reported that Clockwork Angels “chronicles a young man’s quest across a lavish and colourful world of steampunk and alchemy as he attempts to follow his dreams”. So, Neil Peart’s still reading a lot of fiction, then.
Wintersleep – Hello Hum
Completing the trio of Canadian rock releases on this day is a new album from Nova Scotia’s Wintersleep. Check them out if you think you’d like to revisit the highlights of R.E.M.’s back catalogue by way of Halifax and Montreal.
Smashing Pumpkins* – Oceania
Billy Corgan Inc. gets set to unleash Oceania upon the world. Since giving the boot to Jimmy Chamberlin in 2009, the Smashing Pumpkins* (2012 edition) features all-new guys, including the seemingly-mandatory lady bass player. If the band’s somewhat random trajectory since 1998’s Adore album hasn’t already driven you away, then consider that Oceania was designed to be an album-within-an-album. It reportedly features a number of songs intended to sit within Corgan’s sprawling 44-track Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project. Artistically brave, and likely to be peppered with moments of gothic synth-rock beauty, but probably not for the casual Pumpkins fan (you have been warned).
Beachwood Sparks – The Tarnished Gold
Eleven years removed from their previous album, the classic line-up of these California cosmic-rock revivalists make a triumphant return with a set of all-new songs. In this era of multi-part harmony vocals and sunny baroque pop on the indie-rock charts (see also: Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear) the Sparks may finally be primed to make a long-overdue breakthrough.
The Flaming Lips – The Flaming Lips & Heady Fwends
If you missed picking up a double-LP vinyl copy of this collection on Record Store Day 2012, here’s your chance to make up for lost time. The Flaming Lips have been keeping busy since their 2009 record Embryonic by recording EPs with other artists. Check out the Heady Fwends if you’re keen to hear their collaborations with Ke$ha, Bon Iver, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, Jim James, Nick Cave, Neon Indian, and a host of others. Pretty much guaranteed to be the weirdest album you buy this month, if not the best.