Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year - What's on the way?

It's a new decade. And everyone should be taking the opportunity to play the Verve very loudly to celebrate. But we can only do that for so long before we start to look forward.

2010 will bring us many things. A World Cup, a Winter Olympics, and with a bit of luck a global economic recovery.

But none of these things will be quite as exciting as some of the albums on their way.

You're all already, no doubt, eagerly anticipating follow-up efforts from the likes of the Pains of Being Pure At Heart, the Fleet Foxes, the Hold Steady, Midlake, MGMT and more, but here are 10 more to keep an ear out for.

Call this a preview for the 2010 Musical Advent Calendar. But be sure to note that unlike almost every other post on here for the last month, this one is in no order whatsoever.

Sparrow & The Workshop - (As yet untitled, no release date set)

Track: Devil Song (Sleight of Hand EP, 2009)

Technically Glaswegian, but also Welsh and American, Sparrow & The Workshop were the latest band to join the ever-growing folk revival in 2009. Their delightful Sleight of Hand EP, from which Devil Song here is taken, was followed by the Into the Wild mini-album, but 2010 should bring a full-length debut.

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals - (As yet untitled, due Spring 2010)

Track: Ragged Company (Nothing But The Water, 2005)

With Catherine Popper on board fresh from working with Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, the Nocturnals are substantially reinforced to work with Grace Potter on her third album, due sometime in spring. Here's hoping for a return to the bluesier sound of 2005 debut Nothing But The Water, rather than the jazzier This Is Somewhere from 2007.

Peggy Sue - Fossils And Other Phantoms (Due April 2010)

Track: Lover Gone (Lover Gone EP, 2009)

If I had been putting this list in order, this might have been at the top. Sporting a heavy lean on Americana that belies their Brighton roots, Rosa Rex and Kate Klaw have been charming pretty much everyone who has come across them since 2007. Their bluesy sound has landed them a big following on the other side of the Atlantic, and they seem to be spending so much time over there we can only hope they remember to pop back once in a while. A string of excellent sounding EPs has whetted the appetite for the full long-player, which is apparently recorded, mixed and ready to go. Making us wait until's just cruel...

Spoon - Transference (Due January 26)

Track: Rhythm & Soul (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, 2007)

And if I was putting these in order of release, this clearly would be up first. Spoon, one of the rawest, most exciting rock 'n' roll bands out there right now, will not allow January to pass before they hit us with their seventh full-length effort, and the first since the pick of the bunch to date, 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. From what we've heard so far, this should be a very worthy follow-up.

Caitlin Rose - (As yet untitled, due summer 2010)

Track: Dead Flowers (Dead Flowers EP, 2009)

Listening to Caitlin Rose takes you back. All the way back. Back to Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Emmylou Harris and the classic country music of the late 60s and early 70s. The Dead Flowers EP, released late in 2009, only has me aching for more. Seven tracks long and featuring a couple of covers, including the title track, it hints in a very bright future for the 20-year-old.

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson (As yet untitled, no release date set)

Track: The Ongoing Debate Concerning Present vs. Future (Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, 2009)

Given that MBAR, a man who received oodles of love on this blog during the course of the Musical Advent Calendar, actually released two albums during 2009 - his eponymous debut and the follow-up Summer of Fear - it seems a bit much to expect another one in 2010. But when Dollard and myself accosted him in a Leeds pub following his May gig, he told us he had his first three albums ready and waiting to go just as soon as he got a deal for them. Having signed with Saddle Creek in time to put out Summer of Fear, that deal is now in place. Considering the huge difference in sound from the raw and edgy debut to the more playful follow-up, there's really no telling what it might sound like.

Smoke Fairies - (As yet untitled, no release date set)

Track - Frozen Heart (Frozen Heart EP, 2009)

Much like Peggy Sue, the Smoke Fairies are a female pairing from the south of England who sound much more at home in the south of the United States. Their bluesy/countrified sound has already earned them a strong and prominent following, one that saw their third major single, Gastown, recorded and released with Jack White through his Third Man Records company in Nashville, while they've also toured the UK with Richard Hawley, a man who knows a good record when it slaps him about the ears. There's been no official word of an album, but after two years of putting out singles and building a buzz, we can only hope one is on the way.

She & Him - Volume 2 (Due March 23)

Track: I Was Made For You (Volume 1, 2008

This most delightful pairing of M Ward and actress/vocalist Zooey Deschanel will return for a second instalment in March, and we can only hope its half as good as the first. We're wondering if this one might have a very different sound, though. Where Volume 1 had a strong 60s vibe to it, both in the original material and the covers of the Beatles and the Miracles, Volume 2 will have a Skeeter Davis and an NRBQ cover. Do with that what you will...

The Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do (Due March 16)

Track: Birmingham (Southern Rock Opera, 2002)

When recently asked to draw up a list of my top 20 albums of the decade off the top of my head, the Drive-By Truckers' The Dirty South sat proudly at No. 1. Put simply, I adore that album. But while the reviews have only gotten better for subsequent releases, something seems to have been missing on more recent DBT albums. However, I can declare myself officially excited about The Big To-Do. Patterson Hood, whose outstanding solo LP Murdering Oscar restored all my faith in the band, has promised it is "very much a rock album. Very melodic and more rocking than anything since disc 2 of Southern Rock Opera." I can't wait for that.

Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can (Due March 2010)

Track: My Manic And I (Alas, I Cannot Swim, 2008)

One of the key characters in the current UK folk scene, Laura Marling has mainly been in the news during 2009 as she, and her break-up from Charlie Fink, became the subject of Noah & The Whale's acclaimed second album The First Days of Spring. But Marling should get the headlines to herself in 2010 as she returns with her second solo disc, produced by the esteemed Ethan Johns, the man behind such classics as Ryan Adams' Heartbreaker, the first three Kings of Leon albums, and Whiskeytown's Pneumonia. Just don't expect this one to be a direct response to Fink or anything - we get the sense that Laura has moved on.

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