6 January 2009


Forgive me for the awful pun on Klaxons debut album title. This year is shaping up to be an extremely good one for music (not so much for the economy). With so many new artists readying debut albums for release and a lot of established artists returning with new material, music fans are in for a treat.

The most-hyped new star has to be Florence And The Machine. Already awarded the Critic's Choice award at the Brits, she looks set to be a name on everyone's lips and in everyone's music library, seeing as that award was previously given to Adele, who was undoubtedly successful last year (if overshadowed by Duffy). Her previous two singles "Kiss With A Fist" and "Dog Days Are Over" are two totally different creatures; the former being the kind of punky track to throw yourself around like a madman to at a gig and the latter is something of a Kate Bush-channeling, folky piece of pop. If the rest of her debut follows on from this, then it's future classic time. Another solo star showing promise through a run of early singles is Esser, the ex-drummer of Ladyfuzz (who? exactly). He's gone from a universal indie shoulder shrug with his old band, to a genre-challenging, pop mastermind with the likes of "Headlock" and "I Love You" (sample lyric: "You bring me up then you tear me apart/Still, love is no excuse for bad art"). Look out for him support Kaiser Chiefs on their arena tour this year, the guy is a superstar in the making.

Continuing on the theme of solo stars, Scandinavians Lykke Li and Jens Lekman should be huge in the next 12 months. Okay, Lykke Li is already pretty big in the "alternative community" but her album "Youth Novels" is perfect pop mixed with a healthy dollop of electro and is beautiful in places, a definite 8/10 at the very, very least. Lekman is pretty similar. "Night Falls Over Kortedala" is kind of like Morrissey at his dreamy, melancholic best, an album that's sweet, sour cheerful, miserable and pretty perfect. And on the subject of perfect misery, there's two bands who will be slugging it out this year for the most comparisons to Joy Division, Editors et al. White Lies and Red Light Company are the kind of bands with a knack for writing sky-scraping gloom-laden, radio-friendly anthems to fill stadiums across the country, although it has to be said the latter don't appear to be the kind of band to be too down about being famous rockstars. White Lies' debut "To Lose My Life" has already received the same amount of hype as an Alex Turner yawn, which is quite a fair amount. Tracks leaked from the album sound quite promising as do a reviews floating around the blogosphere. RLC, on the other hand, haven't had too much hyperbole foisted onto them but singles "Scheme Eugene" and "Arts & Crafts" hint at a very good album and some festival anthems for the summer.

A lot of big hitters are set to return this year with new albums, which are already highly anticipated by their core fanbase. The obvious one being Arctic Monkeys. A third classic album will definitely cement their place as the most important band of the decade (not that my poll didn't already do that). There are positive signs already, with band hero Josh Homme possibly producing the album and songs being played "loud and fast". Fingers crossed for that one. On to a totally different band now with Foals, and their follow-up to acclaimed debut "Antidotes", which Yannis claims will be "eager" and "optimistic", as well as sounding "like the dream of an eagle dying" (now that's a song title for all you emo bands out there). Make of that what you will. Klaxons! Yes, those "new rave" gurners are back and apparently their sound has changed slightly but with no real evidence apart from blurry Youtube videos, it's hard to tell exactly what they'll come out with. As long as it's got more tunes, I'll be pleased. U2 have a new album out this year too. "No Line On The Horizon" or something. I'm saying it now, it'll be mind-numbingly average, maybe 2 or 3 okay singles but that's it. Oh, and so do the Manic Street Preachers and Franz Ferdinand. You'll get more about them sometime soon, as I'm already just too excited about that to put it into words.

On the live circuit, there's quite a lot to look forward to. Oasis' stadium tour as well as three nights at Wembley and three gigs at Manchester's Heaton Park will please the lad-rock contingent; Blur's return with reunion shows at Hyde Park and heavily rumoured Glasto headline spot will be the events of summer and then we come to the festivals themselves. Whilst Glasto seems to have ignored any band formed before 1990 with its supposed headliners of Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and, as mentioned, Blur, Reading & Leeds look to want to appeal to the young'uns this year with rumours flying about that the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Green Day, The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, Oasis, Manic Street Preachers, Kings Of Leon, Muse and even Kaiser Chiefs topping the bill at the sites.

Hopefully some bands might call it a day this year too. Here's hoping Johnny Borrell breaks up Razorlight for a solo career then loses the ability to speak or sing, Crystal Castles get unplugged, Chris Martin stays good to his promise and finishes Coldplay before he turns 33 and Interpol stop ripping off Joy Division. But a few reported splits, such as The Maccabees, Good Shoes, Bloc Party and We Are Scientists, won't be so pleasing to hear. But that's just the way music goes.

Here's to a fine '09 after a great '08! (I'm expecting the bad joke police to be questioning me tomorrow).

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