Tuesday, 7 January 2014

2014: the year in music ahead - Part 2

So here is the second part of RW/FF's 2014 preview. As I said in part one HERE, in the mainstream, the current rate of exposure for talentless corporate acts means that things are probably going to stay just as bad in that respect, but in the world of artists and musicians 2014 is promising to be a superb year. So what have we got to look forward to over the next 12 months?

The Manic Street Preachers only released 'Rewind The Film’ a few months ago in September 2013, and while the recording of that album was taking place another LP was being worked on at the same time. 'Futurology' is expected soon, and will be band's twelfth studio outing. James Dean Bradfield: “It’s a lot spikier and shinier. It’s much more band-based, a tiny bit of krautrock influence. It’s not like ‘The Holy Bible’ but there’s a bit of the same intent and threat. Lyrically, it’s got a European fascination. The landscape of Europe, the malaise of Europe, the malaise of us Brits not feeling part of it. We’re not talking like the Tories, don’t worry – there’s not a song where we opt out of Europe. The lead track is me singing half in English and half in German..."

"It's post, it's punk, it's disco, it's rock. It's post punk disco rock," he said. "There's my tagline right there". Tracks up for inclusion on the LP feature 'Europa Geht Durch Mich (Feat. Nina Hoss)', '(The View From) Stow Hill', 'Europe (Dreaming A City)', Futurology (Feat. Cian Ciaranand 'Between The Clock And The Bed (Feat. Green Gartside)'. The band are touring in Spring 2014, where they will be previewing some of the new material.

Mark Morriss, ex frontman of The Bluetones, releases his second solo album 'A Flash Of Darkness'. His first material since the break up of his old band, this superb collection of sincerely humble indie pop gems is released through Acid Jazz records on February 24. You can see the video for his recent single 'This Is The Lie (And That's The Truth)' HERE, and a live version of the excellent 'It's Hard To Be Good All The Time' HERE

I am hugely anticipating the forthcoming album from The Anchoress, a project that brings together the talents of singer songwriter Catherine A.D and ex Mansun legend Paul Draper. It will be the first time Draper has contributed to any music since his 'Greyhounds In The Slips' collaboration with The Joy Formidable in 2008, and the first time he has produced an album since his former band's 1998 masterpiece 'Six'. Draper describes the record as having a recurring "revenge pop" theme, and talks more about the LP in an exclusive interview he was kind enough to do with me HERE. On the subject of Mansun, this summer there will be a convention held in Chester for fans of the extraordinarily brilliant and unique 90's four piece, over 11 years after the band split. More info on that can be found HERE.

Draper has also confirmed his involvement with the forthcoming album from Menace Beach, a Leeds-based supergroup. They also feature joint-singers Liza Violet and Ryan Needham (Komakino), Matt "MJ" Johnson (Hookworms), Rob Lee (Pulled Apart by Horses) on guitar, Nestor Matthews (Sky Larkin) on drums, and Matt Spalding (You Animals) on bass.

In terms of new bands to look out for this year, it's The Bohicas that are getting me rather excited. Banging out dark, adrenaline charged rock n roll is something that these four men do brilliantly on the two new songs that soundtrack their debut video, which can be seen HERE. 'XXX' and 'Swarm' offer fierce guitars, post-punk atmospherics and driving rhythms that come together in explosive fashion, suggesting that this new signing to Domino Records are most definitely worth looking out for. A press release describes the "Essex and east London borderlands"-based group as one that makes "ambitious and arresting rock 'n' roll", adding that they "also have a serious stage presence and are destined to be heralded as a great live act."

Zoo Zero are an thrilling London based four piece, whose amazing self titled psych-post-punk debut found its way into RW/FF's Top 10 albums of 2013 list. After hearing a whisper from ex Mansun man Paul Draper that the band had already begun recording their second LP, I asked Zoo Zero more about their plans for 2014... "Well, we don't really have too much to say about the new album just yet. As he did with our first album, Scott Knapper is engineering and mixing it. No release date is set yet, but we will be previewing quite a few of the new songs at upcoming gigs in the near future. Before we release our second album, though, we're looking to put out a split 7" with another band so we'll let you know about that nearer the time!" Their Facebook page can be found HERE.

Delta Mainline are another new band from last year that are due to release new material in 2014. Their debut was reviewed on this site, and described as a record that never becomes a bore", where "every listen reveals something different, providing rewards for the patient". A seven piece band led by frontman and songwriter David McLachlan, 'Oh! Enlightened' was a fine introduction to the group, with more promised this year... "The second album is taking shape nicely and we can’t wait to record and release it in 2014" the band said. Their Facebook page can be found HERE, and my review of their first album HERE

Morrissey had quite an eventful 2013: illness, hospital stays, meat-free arenas, cancelled tours, and finally the release and huge success of his 'Autobiography'. But the saga of his new album has also been rumbling on... Moz originally confirmed in May 2011 that he had finished work on a new LP, but the current state of the shallow, money-grabbing music industry has prevented him from getting a new record deal: "The follow-up to 'Years Of Refusal' is ready and fluttering wildly against the bars," he explained. "There is still no record label and the years shuffle like cards. My talents do not lie in DIY." 

His guitarist Jesse Tobias has told the press that Morrissey has a huge wealth of material ready to record and release. “We’re long overdue for the studio,” he says. “There are two albums’ worth of songs ready. I’ve heard almost everything and feel it’s some of the strongest material to date. Musically diverse. Anthemic. Even in their infant stages the songs excite me." Meanwhile, guitarist and co-writer Boz Boorer recently told God Is In The TV that "Morrissey is unable to secure a record deal so we haven't made a record in a few years, despite having an arsenal of new material." I find it hard to believe that a figure like this man can't get a record deal, and I expect many independent labels have shown interest and made offers. It's more likely that he feels that he deserves a major label deal on HIS terms and is holding out for a more lucrative offer. Hopefully the success of his book has raised his profile once again, enough to generate interest in a new LP. Morrissey's last album 'Years Of Refusal' was released in 2009...

Dodgy impressed many when they returned with their superb 2012 comeback LP 'Stand Upright In A Cool Place', and following on from their recently released and highly recommended live album comes news that the band have secured a deal with the Cherry Red label. Work has begun on what will be the trio's fifth studio LP. The group have promised brand new songs in "the Autumn, maybe sooner, there's just the small matter of recording the thing first." It's also the 20th anniversary of their 1994 'Homegrown album, and they will apparently be marking this with "a few special shows over the Summer"... 

Following 2012's magnificent comeback LP 'Play For Today', Ultrasound have been busy recording their third album. Over Christmas the band released a wonderful Winter Solstice single 'Modranicht', and in an exclusive interview with the band, frontman Tiny told me: "I like what Robert Plant once said about their records being a statement of the moment, almost like a diary. This is where we are right now and this is what we're doing. The making of music is a continual process and since putting the final touches to the last one we are looking forward to the next one. The only frustrating thing is finding the time and the money to make it, otherwise we'd be making them faster..." The LP will feature a song cycle dealing with themes of childhood and nostalgia, titled 'Blue Remembered Hills' after the Dennis Potter film/play, with the album being hailed by the band as "the most Ultrasound album so far, no rules, no compromise, nothing held back." The group will be previewing new material at The 100 Club on March 20, more details HERE. The full interview I did with the band can be found HERE, and the band's Facebook page HERE.

According to Billboard, U2 are aiming for an April 2014 release for their new album, which the band is rumoured to be announcing during the Super Bowl. The band worked on the album with producer Danger Mouse, which included sessions at Electric Lady Studios in NYC. Bassist Adam Clayton described the record as “a bit of a return to U2 of old, but with the maturity, if you like, of the U2 of the last 10 years.”

Kasabian's fifth studio album is currently expected to be released in June 2014. The album was produced by the band, with help from Mark 'Spike' Stent and Steve McLaughlin, who produced the strings on previous LP 'Velociraptor!'. Serge has described the new material as "future psychedelia" and "a very tribal thing", adding that their new material is a "secret weapon" that would help the band start a new era. "The new album will change everything," he said...

Radiohead may have some new material for us this year, or maybe not... Early last year Colin Greenwood told BBC 6 Music: "We’re taking some time out whilst people are doing some other stuff, doing their own things, and the plan is to get back together again at the end of the summer..." While on tour in the US in 2013 the group spent a day Jack White's studio and recorded two new songs. In April 2013, Thom Yorke said the recordings were "unfinished homework", also stating that their hiatus would "probably be slightly longer than that, 'cause I am actually going to have to have a break... I really haven't got a clue, which I quite like. We didn't, like, say, 'Fuck you, I'll see you whenever.' But it was quite exciting to actually finally decide to take a proper, proper break. We'd never really done that, not by choice."

Damon Albarn has a solo album lined up, which he has described as 'folk-soul' music. The album has been produced by XL Records boss Richard Russell. "Making a solo record can be such a disaster, so I thought if we're going to make a record with my name on it, I should get someone to really produce it – take that responsibility away from myself," Damon said. "Richard does the kind of rhythmic side of it and I do everything else." He said that he had finished the record in July, adding that "It's quite intimate". Albarn also revealed plans to tour the record, and he intends to use the shows as an opportunity to play songs from across his catalogue, including those of Gorillaz, Blur and The Good, The Bad And The Queen

Black Submarine are a five piece band, with two particular members going by the names ofNick McCabe and Simon Jones. Do those names sound familiar? If so, that would be because the aforementioned gentlemen were once members of The Verve. And judging by this new material of theirs, they seem to have more fuel in their tank than their former bandmate Richard Ashcroft, who seems to gone to ground after the poor attempt at reinvention that was his United Nations Of Sound album. McCabe and Jones formed the group in 2008, originally going by the name Black Ships before a legal threat by an American electronic duo changed that. As well as the ex Verve pair, the group also includes Davide Rossi(multi-instrumentalist/string arranger for Goldfrapp/Coldplay who did work on The Verve's final album 'Forth'),Michele ‘Mig’ Schillace (ex-drummer with Portishead/Santa Cruz) and Bristol-based vocalist Amelia Tucker.

'Black Submarine' is the first taste of their upcoming debut LP New Shores', set for release on February 3 2014. It's atmospheric and weird, and I certainly didn't expect them to sound this electronic, but it's undoubtedly more song based than material from the 'Kurofune' EP they released in 2011 under their former moniker. You can listen to the new track below and download for it free from the band's website HERE. The press release describes their sound as being made up "of spaced-out vocals, deep beats, rolling bass-lines, molten soundscapes, meditative chord sequences and explosive string-arrangements."

The original line up of the Happy Mondays have been talking about recording an album for a while, so we could see that in 2014, as well as some new stuff from Ash, who haven't released anything in a couple of years. What about Pulp? Jarvis Cocker is taking a year off from his BBC 6Music show, so he must have some sort if other activities planned. A new Pulp album would be amazing, but would it happen 13 years after their last LP? The Stone Roses are another reunited band who haven't given us any new material since their return. Who knows when or if that third album will see the light of day, but I'm not counting on hearing anything this year.

Another Britpop band make a comeback this year, in a rather different form than before. After Menswear broke up in the late 90's, it was to be 15 long years until frontman Johnny Dean performed live again, with The Nuisance Band last year. He enjoyed it so much that he decided to rename the group menswe@r, and play a charity gig with an all new line up playing the old hits. “Technically this would be menswe@r v3.0, but to me it's menswe@r. It’s what we should have been" says Johnny. In what he describes as more of a "reformation" than a reunion, the move has been criticised by some... "I’ve had people I don’t even know tell me that I can’t do that... Why is anyone telling me what I can and cannot do with my own band? This band is menswe@r. We sound better. We were so young then and it happened very suddenly. I mean, we played 2 or 3 gigs and got signed. I think some members of the band took that ease to mean that we wouldn’t ever have to put any effort into it. People fell asleep at rehearsals because they were too fucked up. It was like they wanted to participate in the drugs and partying aspects but not in actual work. Truthfully, I never felt like I even knew those guys, except for Stuart.”

"I do feel like I've ‘gone rogue’ with this whole thing. But that appeals to me, makes the whole thing seem new. Over the last ten years or so I've been contacted in various ways, usually email, by Simon asking me if I'd like to do a reunion. A couple of times we'd meet up-- the whole band. But I always felt like there was something they weren't telling me. I'll lay my cards on the table and admit I don't trust Chris and Simon. This menswe@r is older (although younger than the original members), nicer and there are no ulterior motives. A few of them were teenage menswe@r fans and I get a massive kick out of that. I am so much more relaxed now. I feel like I communicate better with people while I’m on stage than with them one-on-one." The new Menswear have lined up more activity for 2014.

Other releases are expected from Embrace, Gaz Coombes, Elbow, Death In Vegas, The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, The Heartbreaks, Merrymouth, and following their recent EPs, maybe a full album from Pixies.

One of the most underrated bands of the 1990's, London-based foursome Gene are one such group who probably won't be reforming any time soon. Since there won't be any new Gene material coming our way, the next best thing would be to hear some unreleased and rare stuff from the now defunct group... and our prayers have been answered... On February 4, Edsel Records presents deluxe 2CD editions of the much loved Gene catalogue, including ‘Olympian’, ‘To See The Lights’ ‘Revelations’, ‘Drawn To The Deep End’ and ‘Libertine’. Presented in 2CD casebound editions, and featuring a host of bonus tracks, rarities, and contributions from the band, these are the definitive re-issues of the bands much loved catalogue. Their final album 'Libertine' will be getting a vinyl release for the first time. More details can be found HERE, and on the band's Facebook fan page HERE. On February 6th, there will be a launch party for the reissues at The Barfly in Camden, where Steve Lamacq will be interviewing three of the four members of the band.

On the same day Edsel Records will also release deluxe and remastered, 2CD editions of the first three Cast albums, with their 4th 'Beetroot' being released as a CD/DVD. Undoubtedly the definitive editions of the band’s catalogue, each release will come with all the B sides from the singles, original artwork, high-quality new packaging, exclusive bonus audio, extra tracks plus new sleevenotes. These superb packages will also include new interviews with frontman John Power. Labelled "The Who of the 90’s", Noel Gallagher once described watching Cast play live as “a religious experience.”  Formed in 1992 from the ashes of two of the most lauded guitar bands of recent times (The La’s and Shack) Cast released four albums ('All Change', 'Mother Nature Calls', 'Magic Hour' and 'Beetroot'  between 1995 and 2001, before splitting and returning in 2012 with 'Troubled Times'. More info on the Cast reissues can be found HERE.

Ocean Colour Scene see two of their key albums reissued as deluxe packages on February 17th. The self titled debut album 'Ocean Colour Scene' and their No 1 album 'Marchin Already' from 1997 are both reissued as 2CD sets, with the latter also available as a 3CD/DVD. The deluxe version of the 1992 debut is newly remastered from the original tapes with updated artwork featuring many rare photos and memorabilia. New sleeve notes have been written by Mojo’s Lois Wilson and feature a new interview with the band.  A bonus disc of rare b-sides and sessions is included. The excellent 'Marchin' Already' has also been given the same treatment, with a bonus disc featuring high quality b-side from the album's singles, as well as demos and sessions. Also featured in the 3CD/DVD version is a rare live recording from Manchester Apollo from the 22/2/98 and a DVD featuring the Live At Stirling Castle gig from August 1998.  As well as additional sleeve notes from Lois Wilson and another new interview with the band, updated artwork, rare pics and memorabilia, this package also comes with a concert poster. 

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