Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top 5>>Reunions for 2012

1. Afghan Whigs//Their announcement was rather under the radar, filing in for Guided By Voices who had cancelled their slot at I'll Be Your Mirror Festival. Playing their first show in 13 years, the Ohio quartet will headline the final night of the London ATP festival in May. One of the most underrated bands of an impressive and creative 90s decade, they were noted for the terrific live shows and their soul-influenced rock always stood out amongst others. Hopefully this will lead to a longer tour too.

2. Soundgarden//Their reunion already started in 2010, where they headlined the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, but it won't be until 2012 that Chris Cornell and co return to the UK. The Seattle grunge legends are scheduled to play Rock am Ring and PinkPop and are expected to appear at UK festivals too. A new album is also on the way.

3. Black Sabbath//Headlining the final night of Download's 10 anniversary, Black Sabbath's reunion is one of the biggest stories of 2012. The highly-influencial quartet from Birmingham, who are credited with creating heavy metal, are expected to release a new album as well, so it looks as though they're in it for the long haul.

4. No Doubt//A fake poster has shown them as one of the Coachella headliners, but although that wasn't real, No Doubt will be back in 2012 after 10 years away. Gwen Stefani's Californian ska band were huge in the 90s, where they had a number one single in "Don't Speak", and a few UK shows wouldn't go amiss.

5. The Stone Roses//Probably the biggest reunion/story of the year, they managed to sell out three huge homecoming shows in Manchester in just a few hours. Pioneers of the UK rave era in the late 80s, they are sure to make up for their last show, which was their disastrous headline appearance at Reading Festival in 1996. Expect to see many middle-aged men in tears at their shows.

Features//2012 will rock because....

Reunions//The Stone Roses, Afghan Whigs, Soundgarden, Verse, Beach Boys, Black Sabbath, Garbage, Mansun, Bloc Party, No Doubt, Marion. Rumoured: Blur, Refused, At the Drive-In, Happy Mondays, Queen + Others.

New Albums//Sigur Ros, The Shins, Metric, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Silversun Pickups, Titus Andronicus, The XX, Lana Del Ray, Smith Westerns, The Gaslight Anthem, Rush, Phoenix, Pearl Jam, No Doubt, Rivers Cuomo, Weezer, Guided By Voices, The Lemonheads, The Bouncing Souls, Billy Talent, Rancid, How to Destroy Angels, Muse, The Killers, MGMT, Garbage, Franz Ferdinand, Best Coast, Of Montreal, Vampire Weekend, Public Enemy, The Maccabees, The Stone Roses, QOTSA, Tool, The Strokes, The Walkmen, Bloc Party and countless others.

Festival Headliners//Black Sabbath, Stone Roses, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, are just a few of the big names already announced for festivals in 2012, and we are still awaiting news from plenty others. It looks to be an exciting year ahead.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Best of 2011: The Albums

Mastodon - The Hunter (Roadrunner)//The Atlanta quartet took another quantam leap in 2011, with the excellent The Hunter. Brann Daillor's powerful percussion are the album's driving force, alongside the heavy guitar work, that even the most Mastodon novice can head-bang to. You don't even have to be a metal fan to enjoy this.

Fucked Up - David Comes to Life (Matador)//Described as a "rock opera", the Canadian punks' concept record was one of the years' highlights. It's catchy, it's fun, it's hardcore, but it's also downright brilliant. The ambition of the record pays off and gives the six-piece a deserved masterpiece.

The Antlers - Burst Apart (Transgressive)//When mentioning The Antler's Burst Apart, it's hard to see a review that doesn't mention ther previous masterpiece, Hospice. Whilst this album probably isn't on the same level, it is still a terrific album which shows why the New Yorkers are one of the most underrated bands around at the moment. It's heartbreaking atmosphere yet elegant production, will break your heart, yet still requires repeated listens.

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (Island)//Album of the year from 13 different publications and Mercury Music Prize winner, it was hard to argue against the success and critical praise that Polly Jean Harvey received. Written through emotions of anger and passion, it is Harvey's best work to date of an impressive back catalogue. Powerful and deeply layered, bloody and bruised, it tells of England being built on bloodshed and battles.

M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming (naïve)//A double album is always a shaky ground to tread; it could either be a grim prospect of a twin dose of boredom or a generous extended reward for the listener. Thankfully, Anthony Gonzalez (aka M83) gives us the latter. It's breathtaking force and grace travels through a dreamy experience, which is gradually culminating to a resounding climax. It's an ambitious album and one that will put Gonzalez on a much grander pedestal.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Best of 2011: The Singles

Does exactly what it says on the tin: The best singles of 2011.

Cold War Kids - Royal Blue (Cooperative Music)//Cold War Kids returned with their third album Mine Is Yours in February, and the standout track from that record was this scorcher. Nathan Willett's soaring vocals mixed in with groovy basslines and hand-clapping percussions, showed the Kids at their damned good best.

The Horrors - Still Life (XL)//The Southend band's transition from goth rock to shoegaze continued in 2011, with their critically accliamed ablum Skying. The atmospheric basslines are evident of Joy Division influences, plus the dream pop vocals of Faris Badwan will help you drift off into the sunset.

Arctic Monkeys - Don't Sit Down, 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair (Domino)//The Sheffield band dropped the casual lad rock to a deeper grunge/psychedelia sound for their fourth album, Suck It and See. Alice In Chains would be proud of those kind of basslines that Nick O'Malley sported in this song. A definite return to form after the mixed Humbug.

Foster the People - Pumped Up Kicks (Columbia)//You couldn't escape this song in the summer. After being used in a mobile commercial, the LA trio scored the catchiest hit of the year, with the re-release of "Pumped up Kicks." Despite it's catchy chorus and dancefloor vibe, the song had much darker connotations, written from the point of view of a high schooler wanting to go on a killing spree. Yikes.

The Antlers - I Don't Want Love (Transgressive Records)//From it's opening chords, you can feel the tears beginning to fall and this track doesn't get any happier after that. Peter Silberman's voice will break your heart, yet remains beautiful and poignant. A great song that makes you look back on past regrets.

The Black Keys - Little Black Submarines (Nonesuch)//The Akron duo's El Camino became an eleventh hour contender to the "album of the year" ranks. With tracks such as this, you can see why. Starting off with a "Stairway to Heaven"-style riff, the blues rock number gradually builds up pace and noise levels, before launching into a psychedelica-garage rock chorus and excellent solo from Dan Auerbach.