Upcoming Music Releases – May 2012

Another selection of upcoming indie (and not so indie) music releases:

1-May-2012:

Welsh straight-up rock act Feeder returns with new album Generation Freakshow.  Their albums have been less consistent lately, but once upon a time they (nearly) conquered the world with radio-friendly records like Comfort in Sound and Pushing The Senses.  Foo Fighters fans may find much to like here.

Frequent indie collaborator Santi White (aka Santigold) releases her second full-length record, Master Of My Make-Believe.  This time out, the album features a veritable mix-tape of guest producers, running the gamut from Diplo to Dave Sitek.  Expect a correspondingly wide range of sonic textures.

8-May-2012:

Last month it was Amadou & Mariam.  This month, their English compadre Damon Albarn gets in on the new-release racket with Dr. Dee.  Here’s a quick summary from the album’s tumblr site (and no one will ever accuse Albarn of playing things too straight):

Dr Dee is 18 tracks of songs and music inspired by the life of John Dee, mathematician, polymath and advisor to Elizabeth I. Described by Albarn as ‘strange pastoral folk’, Dr Dee is a fitting companion to the end of another Elizabethan age. The album combines Albarn’s voice with early English choral and instrumentation alongside modern, West African and Renaissance sounds.

UK trio Keane return with new album Strangeland.  Coming on the heels of 2008’s transitional Perfect Symmetry, the new album is reportedly a back-to-basics affair with a greater emphasis on songwriting and fewer production tricks.  As always, success or failure will begin and end with the quality of the songs.

Silversun Pickups are back with Neck of the Woods.  Will be interesting to see if producer Jacknife Lee and his Topanga Canyon recording studio influence the band’s unique sound.  It also sounds like the album will come out on very cool 180g yellow double vinyl, if you’re so inclined.

Sony Japan are releasing new remastered CDs by The Byrds, including Notorious Byrd Brothers, Turn Turn Turn, Fifth Dimension, and Younger than Yesterday.  These records are the fountain of jangle-rock genius from where bands like the Flying Burrito Brothers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, R.E.M., Blue Rodeo and Dawes nicked all their best ideas.

15-May-2012:

Indie darlings Beach House release Bloom, the follow-up to 2010’s well-received Teen Dream.  Let’s see if a more expansive approach to their multi-textured dream pop can continue the momentum.

At the complete opposite end of the indie-rock spectrum is Rise of the Fenix by Tenacious D.  It would be hilarious if Jack Black and Kyle Gass came out with a multi-textured dream pop album, but who are we kidding.

22-May-2012:

Kind of a slow day for new releases.  If you’re in the mood for vintage two-minute rock gems wrapped in black leather, try the posthumous Joey Ramone solo release called …Ya Know?

28-May-2012 (UK release date):

2:54 is the self-titled dark-pop debut album from the hotly-tipped UK sister act that’s named for their favourite moment of a Melvins song.  They were discovered last year after posting their GarageBand experiments online.  Doesn’t get much more indie than that.

Meanwhile, Scissor Sisters get back in the game with Magic Hour.  Check out the album cover – I can’t decide if it’s stunningly brilliant or everything that’s wrong about Photoshop.  But it is undeniably eye-catching.

29-May-2012:

It’s virtually impossible to describe Icelandic indie-rock superstars Sigur Ros in mere words.  You might be better off seeking out a copy of new record Valteri and listening for yourself.  If it’s anything like previous works, imagine guitars turned up to eleven, played at half speed, all while providing the sound track to icebergs cleaving from glaciers into the North Atlantic.  Utterly unique – you either get them or you don’t.

Indie rock’s most anticipated new May release is undoubtedly the new album from The Walkmen.  Heaven promises to expand upon the sterling reputation earned by previous albums You & Me and Lisbon, two tough acts to follow.

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Music Challenge Day 6 – A Song That Reminds You Of Somewhere

I could write a dissertation on this one.  One of my favourite things EVER is road trips with appropriate soundtracks.  I always seem to come home with some new, permanent meta-link in my brain between music and location.  I could hit “random” on my iPod and come up with many relationships.  Just for example:

Chemical Brothers – “Out of Control” – driving the Bow Valley Parkway between Lake Louise and Banff, Alberta at ‘entertaining’ speeds (but not technically ‘out of control’)…

Supergrass – “Sun Hits The Sky” – riding the trains & buses around Cardiff in 2001, checking out Caerphilly Castle in the back yard of my ancestors…

Spinal Tap – “Big Bottom” – stuck in traffic with my buddy somewhere in the BC interior on a road trip to Vancouver and Seattle to see the Manic Street Preachers do a North American club tour…

Matthew Sweet – “Girlfriend” – en route to an airshow in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba with my high school friends circa 1991 (if I recall correctly, none of us had girlfriends at the time, but we all loved the song)…

Guster – “Architects and Engineers” – on a bumpy early-morning flight to Calgary on company business last month, thinking about the day of engineering meetings ahead of me and the steady progression of ranches and farmyards appearing and disappearing below my shuddering window…

Radiohead – “How To Disappear Completely” – watching one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, Radiohead at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington state, USA, on the Amnesiac tour, from a grassy hillside as the sun set behind the stage and then a full moon appeared above the horizon behind us…

Paul Simon – “America” live from Central Park – as I flew over the Verrazano Narrows bridge and Liberty Island on approach to LaGuardia airport in New York City at night for the first time in 1996…

The Autumn Defense – “Spend Your Life” – hiking at Elk Island National Park one beautiful autumn day, and seeing a bull plains bison slowly negotiating his way through the trees off to my right…

Pink Floyd – “High Hopes” – punting on the River Cam in Cambridge, England with my friends, back in David and Roger and Syd’s old stomping grounds on a sunny summer afternoon…

I could go on for hours.  And over the next few months, expect me to revisit this theme.

But the classic example of music being forever linked with a location in my mind is when I flew home from London, UK to western Canada in August 2001.  The great circle route between Heathrow and Calgary takes you pretty much over Iceland and the southern tip of Greenland.  I had a window trip for the journey (I always book a window seat – how often do you get to see the world unimpeded from 40,000 feet?).  As we flew over Greenland, we were lucky enough to witness icebergs calving off of the glaciers into the North Atlantic, pockmarking the water like an armada of brilliant white ocean liners on an azure sea.  Meanwhile, in the earbuds of my Discman (hey, it was 2001!), I had the whole of the Agaetis Byrjun record by Icelandic band Sigur Ros providing the soundtrack.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWR-jJ3v1pk

It was a perfectly clear day, I had the Atlantic Ocean at my feet, and I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck standing up from the synchronicity of time & place & music.  The music, like the scenery, was out of this world.  Pure magic.

I can’t wait to go on my next road trip to make some more musical associations.