Upcoming Music Releases – Summer 2012

It’s been a pretty slow summer for notable new music releases, unless you happen to like Marcy Playground and Maroon 5.  In which case, you are a crazy person and you should seek help immediately.  If the very thought of a new Maroon 5 album is enough to compel you to burn down the nearest record store, then here is a brief list of alternative releases that you might enjoy instead.  And kindly leave the Molotov cocktails at home…


The Soundtrack of our Lives have released their swan song effort, Throw It To The Universe.  The Swedish rock band made their name over the last decade with near-perfect albums like Behind the Music and Communion, seamlessly blending classic rock influences (primarily Pink Floyd and The Who) with modern rock dynamics.  However, bandleader Ebbot Lundberg has recently been quoted that this year’s new release will be their last, having completed a perfect six-album cycle.


If you are into Hasidic rap reggae (and who isn’t?), rejoice, because Matisyahu is back.  Spark Seeker marks out a new direction for Matisyahu, after announcing in late 2011 that he is moving away from his religious studies and toward a more secular, power-pop future.  That said, we should probably expect his compelling hip-hop and Jamaican dancehall beats to remain somewhere in the mix.  And with Kool Kojak on board as producer, the bleeps and bloops should be hyper-polished.


Tapes is the new release from Oxford, UK math-rock band Foals.  Note that Tapes isn’t a new album per se – it’s actually a 21st century mix tape of other bands’ music.  With Foals on board as curators, the 22 tracks range from Afropop and Southern soul to techno and electronica.  Quite the Maxell XLII, then.


UK group Bloc Party return to the scene after four years away with their fourth proper studio album, helpfully titled Four.  Not to be confused with 1980s ultra-slick pop album IV by Toto, this Bloc Party record should feature angular guitars, spiky rock, and electronic flourishes.

Perhaps the least surprising story in UK rock in 2006 was that leotarded lead singer Justin Hawkins had stepped away from The Darkness to pursue a new career in rehab for a cocaine addiction.  After recording and performing the musical equivalent of a speedball for half a decade, it was really only a matter of time.  Hawkins returned to the fold in 2011 for some well-received reunion shows, and new album Hot Cakes promises to once again ‘rock out with its cock out’.  It also includes a cover version of Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”, which simply has to be heard to be believed.

Brooklynites Yeasayer are set to officially release Fragrant World, the follow-up to 2010’s brilliant Odd Blood.  The leaked songs circulating on the Series of Tubes suggest that Yeasayer are continuing in Odd Blood’s unsettling and challenging yet compelling synthetic-soul direction.  Expect a bearded and bespectacled record store clerk to spin this one (on vinyl, of course) at least once a day at your local record shop.

Back-Catalogue News:

Finally, 31-Jul-2012 marked the long-awaited re-release of the Blur back catalog.  All seven studio albums have been given the deluxe two-CD remastering treatment, just in time for Blur’s headline appearance at tomorrow’s London Olympics closing ceremony.  It has also been reported that all seven albums will finally be available on vinyl.  And if you’re REALLY keen, you can pony up for the new 21-disc Blur box set – featuring the seven twin-disc albums, four more CDs of rarities, and three DVDs.  That’s a lot of UK music nerd all in one place.  Whoo-hoo!


Music Challenge Day 25 – A Song That Makes You Laugh

This one is pretty easy.  In 2005, a British band called The Darkness released an album called One Way Ticket To Hell… And Back.  The title track is a tour de force.  It sits somewhere on the precarious ledge between the pure hard riff-rock of AC/DC and the over-the-top pop hooks and theatricality of Queen, but with modern recording accoutrements.


There are so many things about “One Way Ticket” that make me laugh.  Obviously, releasing a balls-to-the-wall rock song in 2005 was pretty hilarious.  I can just imagine walking up to the counter at the record store with The Darkness and, say, The Decemberists and Death Cab for Cutie in my hands.  The lead singer had a penchant for wearing bare-chested spandex jumpsuits in concert, a la Freddie Mercury circa 1978.  That’s not very ’emo’.  Wait, is that him singing in double-tracked falsetto?  Of course it is!  Big rock-out sitar-styled guitar solo and liberal use of flanger on the breakdown?  Mais oui.  To say nothing of the fact that the original album version of “One Way Ticket” includes a mock-dramatic intro with pan flutes and, yes, guys sniffing coke.  If you can’t laugh at (and laugh with) this song, then your sense of humour might be broken.

Honourable mention to LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge”, which was a 2002 single that later appeared on the bonus disc with their 2005 debut album.  For a music snob and semi-professional smart-ass like me, this song is like the Magna Carta.  “Losing My Edge” is an extended, ironic soliloquy wherein James Murphy tells us all about how he is the coolest, hippest, undergroundest DJ on the planet over a minimalist disco beat.  A few of my favourite lines:

I’m losing my edge to the kids whose footsteps I hear when they get on the decks.
I’m losing my edge to the Internet seekers who can tell me every member of every good group from 1962 to 1978.
I’m losing my edge to the art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties.
I was there when Captain Beefheart started up his first band.
I told him, “Don’t do it that way. You’ll never make a dime.”

I was the first guy playing Daft Punk to the rock kids.
I played it at CBGB’s. Everybody thought I was crazy. We all know.
I was there. I’ve never been wrong.

I hear you’re buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real. You want to make a Yaz record.

I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables.
I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.
I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know.


That, my friends, is 100% awesome.