What would a hopelessly belabored look back be without a giddy and optimistic look forward? Well, giddy might be too strong a word—looking at the next three months, there’s not a lot that looks totally essential. For me, I’ll be at the record store on a Tuesday for just one release, the New Pornographers’ Challengers. (I know, I know, I can get it now—but as I understand it it’s only as a stream, which is not a convenient format for me; and I’m also fighting my own battle against the need for bands to unleash their b-sides and demos upon the world; I find it unnecessary and often debilitating). The rest look good and I’ll be paying attention to the advance word on all of them. If the time and money is right, they’ll come home with me from Amoeba. What are you looking forward to? Whether I’ve got it listed or not—especially if I don’t—tell me what’s coming down the pike that’s got you camped outside your local record shop come Monday night.
I should say first that there’s one other album I’m eager to hear, and it just came out last week: Tied & Tickled Trio’s Aelita. I’ve been listening to their last album, 2003’s Observing Systems, pretty regularly since it came out—yes, regularly for a full four years. I just never tire of it. Most people paying attention to the German indie scene have been eagerly awaiting the next Notwist album; I am too, sure, but in fact I find this side project to be much more satisfying. You can expect me to go into more detail once I’ve tracked down a copy.
Interpol, Our Love to Admire (7/10)
Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (7/10)
Two veteran bands that are likely to put out records that don’t travel too far afield from there previous albums. I’ve heard one song from Interpol so far and it’s disappointingly too similar to all they’ve done before. Spoon, meanwhile, have been getting all the internet buzz lately and I do love the three albums I have by them. I’ll probably pick this up and I’ll probably like it.
Tegan & Sara, The Con (7/24)
So Jealous turned out to be one of my singalong albums of 2006, so I’m looking forward to hearing their new stuff to see if they’ve continued in that direction. Earlier material from these sisters is largely insufferable, so I am the tiniest bit wary; but So Jealous was such an unequivocal departure that I can’t imagine they’ll regress.
Okkervil River, The Stage Names (8/7)
Never did buy Black Sheep Boy, nor any other albums by these critics’ darlings. I’ve nevertheless accumulated five or six songs without even trying, and I find a couple of them simply outstanding. The rest occupy territory I mined pretty well in the 90s when I bought everything on Drag City. Okkervil River can often sound like the also-rans of that era—Appendix Out, Royal City, Lullaby for the Working Class, early Songs: Ohia, et al. Sometimes a little melodramatic, sometimes a little cliché. But when it’s on it’s great, and it seems like these guys are more than capable of being on. So I’m paying attention.
New Pornographers, Challengers (8/21)
My brilliant wife inexplicably cannot get into the New Pornographers. She tries, because she knows I love them. Occasionally a song from one of their other three albums will come on and she’ll pipe up, “I like this one!” but play two tracks in a row and she starts to get a pained look on her face. I am cautiously optimistic about the fact that she is all over “My Rights vs. Yours.” I am irresponsibly optimistic about the fact that I am all over this song too.
Shout Out Louds, Our Ill Wills (9/11)
I saw the video for their song “Tonight I Have to Leave It” and thought it was okay—not terribly different from the songs on their debut, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff. That turned out to be a pretty fun album, if a touch samey. I’ll keep my ears open for more songs from this album and may plunk down some cash. I got into these guys at the same time I got into the Futureheads and the Kaiser Chiefs, neither of whom were able to replicate the fun of their debuts. Fingers crossed for the Shout Out Louds. At least they're from Northern Europe; they’re drinking the right water (see Peter Bjorn & John, Radio Dept., Jose Gonzalez, Kings of Convenience, Sondre Lerche, et al.)
Kevin Drew, Spirit If… (9/18)
I fucking love the last Broken Social Scene album, way more than it seems a lot of other people do, even. (I for one think it towers over You Forgot it in People.) I also liked Drew’s cameo on The Reminder. Why then am I wary of this album? I have no legitimate reason to be.
Iron & Wine, Shepherd’s Dog (9/25)
Jose Gonzalez, In Our Nature (9/25)
Taken in small doses, Gonzalez’s debut album was a moody gem—it sounds almost like James Taylor covering the entirety of Pink Moon. But too many similar songs in a row made that record too dour for me. I’ll likely only be interested in his next album if he brings some variety to his arrangements and dynamics. As for Sam Beam’s Iron & Wine, I only have his wonderfully spare first album (also a very samey record), which I like. I never got around to picking up his later material so I don’t really know that I’ll get this one either, unless someone comes around and convinces me otherwise.