Yo La Tengo... Still got it...(get it?)
Most Anticipated LPs of 2013: Theo’s picks…
Published on January 4th, 2013 | Theo Gorst
In the big screen adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel High Fidelity, Rob Gordon – played by John Cusack – embodies an image of ‘the modern music fan’ that’s now become an archetype. Gordon glamorously surrounds himself with vinyl and sonic quips, yet beneath all this there’s a desperation to his character; he’s let his love of music flourish and take over, to the detriment of his social life. It’s a risk all music lovers take, one brought on by the drop of a needle, when one’s dependency on music takes over and the prospect of staying in with the Velvets becomes more attractive than going out with friends. Gordon asks himself: “Am I miserable because I listen to pop music? Or do I listen to pop music because I’m miserable?”
Hornby’s protagonist isn’t the sort of character one aspires to replicate, making it all the more alarming when Gordon’s trademark pessimism and nihilism begins to rub off. Since I started paying serious heed to music, gradually I too have acquired such an outlook; it lies dormant for eleven months and then around January it rears its ugly head and suddenly I’m filled with negativity towards pending releases of the coming Year. It’s futile, I’ll admit that. By December I always concede that a number of terrific LPs have been released while fearing that the coming year won’t spoil us so lavishly…and yet it always seems to. By contrast, January 2013 marks a change in my mindset; just a brief look at a list of expected albums fills me with great optimism.
Over previous years, White Lies released records in January hoping to capitalise upon vouchers and the post-Christmas sales drop; good musicians they aren’t but fine business men they are having scored number 1’s with each of their two long players. It’s hard to look upon Yo La Tengo with such cynicism though, their fourteenth studio LP Fade pencilled in for a January 15th release on longtime label Matador. Early indications suggest it’s business as usual for the Hoboken trio, which is as good news as you’re likely to hear.
Whilse Yo La Tengo’s gradual ascent to indie-rock stardom can be credited to a once patient music industry – arguably it took them thirteen years to properly find their feet – there’s undoubtedly more pressure on emerging artists. The History of Apple Pie make scuzzed up alt-rock in the vein of Sonic Youth and Blur-era Blur, and after a string of terrific singles will hope to transport their winning formula to the wider scope of an album. After the slow-building hype afforded to them by tracks such as “Tug” and “Malorie”, they’ll hope to produce an LP immune from the fickle music industry.
Much like Yo La Tengo, The Pastels have defiantly marched to the beat of their own drum over the course of their 31-year career. The imminent release of their 5th studio album Slow Summits is likely to provide distinctively magnificent, melancholic, melodic pop music. This recently released trailer for the LP confirms as much and has positively drenched this writer’s appetite. Equally excellent and un-prolific are previous collaborators and shoegaze behemoths My Bloody Valentine; having confirmed the completion of their new record’s mastering, the follow up to Loveless will surely be with us soon enough to provide sufficient time for you to free up your calendar in preparation.
Equally it’s hard not to get excited by the selection of eagerly anticipated sophomore LPs that are soon to be released: Veronica Falls, Dutch Uncles and Beach Fossils all have albums coming out in the first quarter of 2013. The prize for the best lead single released thus far goes to Veronica Falls’s “Teenage”, dropped at the tail end of last year, all wistful three-part harmonies, beautifully romantic lyrics and irresistible jangle. “Teenage” shows the band to have honed their craft while bringing hope unexpectedly on board, thus broadening their already vibrant pallet. Beach Fossils meanwhile ply their trade with a dreamer sound, whereas Dutch Uncles will leave listeners jiving to their jittery idiosyncrasies.
Debut LPs are primed to drop from practitioners of post-punk Savages and ethereal Londoners Daughter. A great deal of pressure rests on the shoulders of recent 4AD acquisitions Daughter, especially due to their label’s high-quality 2012 albums from Canadians Grimes and Purity Ring. Savages remain unsigned, an indication towards the band’s attitude being as uncompromising as their sound, a brutal and intoxicating mix of Joy Division bass lines and the ferocity of Wire. Add to this the icy yelp of Jenny Beth’s vocals and a very exciting prospect is formed.
Unfortunately cynicism returns when faced with the customary New Year NME hype band. This year the music weekly has assigned Palma Violets with the ‘bringing guitar music back’ moniker. Whether the magazine’s awful failure rate for hype bands will affect Palma Violets remains to be seen; they certainly don’t equal Viva Brother on the awful scale, yet the hysteria with which they’re surrounded does remain somewhat baffling. They aren’t dreadful yet neither are they that good.
Thankfully all negativity abates when faced with the heart-warming prospect of a new Edwyn Collins album. Collins’s reputation as chief songwriter with seminal Glaswegians Orange Juice would ensure a predictably excellent long-player, yet with his recovery from a double brain haemorrhage in mind it’s hard not to view his continued songwriting as a miracle. It would be enough for Collins to simply write any music; that it remains incredible is a testament to one of the greatest living songwriters. His new album Understand is expected on 25th March.
With forthcoming efforts also scheduled for release from no less than Arcade Fire, The Knife, Ducktails, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Deerhunter, Low and The Mary Onettes, 2013 looks to be a very promising year indeed. Were Rob Gordon here to see it, a more apt question would be: “Am I jubilant because I listen to pop music? Or do I listen to pop music because I’m jubilant?” All signs point to the former.