A brand spanking new year has begun which means another chance to start over and to possibly get it right, especially in entertainment. 2005 saw an amalgam of Brit bands filtering the airwaves with respectable debuts (see Bloc Party and Maximo Park) and the British Invasion will continue early on in the year. A few female artists are looking to breakout this year with respectable debuts and New York will once again rule the music scene. The beginning of the year can be a sluggish time, so the following is a list of artists and bands to look forward to along with some long-awaited albums from a plethora of our favorite artists.
10 Bands/Artist to Watch in 2006
1. Arctic Monkeys - Primate quartet Arctic Monkeys is the biggest band you have yet to hear, but with the release of their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, they won't be obscure in America anymore. Comprised of youngsters Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Andy Nicholson and Matt Helders, the group already has had a #1 single in the UK with the propulsive/dance/Brit pop song "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor." If this infectious track is any indication, there will be more hits to follow. The band begin their U.S imperialism with a full-fledged tour and a coveted spot at SXSW in March where they will blow up the scene.
2. Lady Sovereign - This 19 year-old Londoner grime rapper has something to prove this year: that white, female rappers can be taken seriously and in an Eminem way. With two EPs already released, Bitchin and Vertically Challenged, her major label full-length Public Warning will hit the streets in the spring. The hype machine has been revved up since last year when her bouncy single "Random" clicked with fans and critics alike. Barely five feet tall, this hoodie wearing chick packs a powerful punch ready to spread her tempestuous songs to the world who will be listening with abated breath.
3. We Are Scientists - New York has always been the epicenter for overhyped bands (see the Strokes), but Brooklynites We Are Scientists live up to the brouhaha. After a couple of EPs, the trio make their major label debut with With Love and Squalor, a rowdy rock n’ roll album redolent of Definitely Maybe era Oasis, Interpol guitar chords and a splash of that other aforementioned band. Already a success in the UK, the band hopes to ride the wave in their home country. Mustached lead singer Keith Murray may have an atypical look for a rocker, but his catchy as hell songs “Inaction" and "Nobody Moves, Nobody Gets Hurt" will play well throughout the year.
4. Jenny Lewis
- Rilo Kiley frontwoman makes her solo debut with the forthcoming Rabbit Furcoat
, a collection of alt-country ballads and ruminations on everything from love, mother/daughter relationships, religion and politics. Sounding a bit like country chanteuse Patsy Cline, Lewis’ solo effort is devoid of the more polished arrangements from her Rilo Kiley songs, which works for her heart-on-her sleeve approach. Lewis will record a new Rilo Kiley album soon continuing her ubiquity in 2006. So can Lewis pull a Gwen Stefani and find mainstream success on her own? Here's hoping she does, at least on a smaller and artier scale.
5. The Subways
- With their debut album Young for Eternity
not even slated to be released until Valentine's Day, the UK trio have already made the necessary Bait Shop appearance on the O.C like other hit makers the Killers and Modest Mouse. Brothers Billy Lunn and Josh Morgan and lone female Charlotte Cooper create gritty and loud alt-rock as heard on their debut single "Rock N Roll Queen." Expect some softer fare from the band as well with tracks "No Goodbyes" and "Lines of Light." The Subways are ready to rock your iPod.
6. Serena Maneesh
- The late '80s and '90s innovated the genre of shoegaze with significant contributions from now legendary bands Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. With a dearth of shoegazing in the 00's, the Norwegian Serena Maneesh quartet prepare to contribute their blend of dreamy, rock songs to the genre. Their songs waver between slow and fast with pounding guitars, synths, minimal lyrics and distortion to create hypnotizing sonic explorations. The group head out on their first U.S tour this March to promote their self-titled album becoming the first remarkable shoegazer band of the nascent century.
7. The Boy Least Likely To - The band's debut album The Best Party Ever was released last year abroad, but finally sees its much anticipated Stateside debut in April. The album is indescribable because of its childlike tunes about monsters and spiders, yet their is a maturity to it with darker material. "Be Gentle with Me" could be the most contagious song this year with a fusion of banjo, piano, bells, flute and merry wonderment. Songs like "I'm Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon to Your Star" exudes Beatles whimsy combined with a “Barney” like theme. Trust me, it's good.
8. Clearlake - Clearlake is an under the radar band who just released their third album, Amber. The UK group made their debut in 2001 with Lido and followed it up with 2003's Cedars containing the impeccable single "Almost the Same." Hopefully third time will be the charm for the British band who channels Blur and even Dandy Warhols on the more rock-centric Amber’s songs crisscross between succulent harmonies, psychedelic inclinations and softer thought-provoking songs about death and lost love. 2006 may be Clearlake's opportunity to arrive and kick some musical ass.
9. Love is All - At the end of 2005, barometer website Pitchfork gave this Swedish band's debut, Nine Times that Same Song a glowing review stirring up a buzz. Lead singer Josephine Olausson could be classified as the Swedish Karen O with her fragmented and shouty pop music. Their debut has compelling new wave beats, fast trumpets and is simply something to get excited about. Their Myspace page says they "sound like confusion," and indeed they do–beautiful chaos. "Make Out Fall Out Make Up" is already in contention for one of the best singles of year with effusive guitar/horn charisma that builds and combusts into danceable pop melodies.
10. Dirty on Purpose - The group's Sleep for a Better Tomorrow EP released last year includes five songs sounding like Sonic Youth and Low. One of the uniquely name band’s songs, “Spider Eyes,” integrates oscillating guitars and pounding riffs, while "Monument" hits darker, instrumental territory and "Mind Blindness" is filled with lush dreaminess. The band have been incessantly touring and prepare of their April still untitled full-length release.
Other bands: Test Icicles, Film School, the Elected, 9 Black Alps, Editors
10 Anticipated Follow Ups for 2006
1. Cat Power, The Greatest
In 2003, Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) released the mesmerizing You are Free
depicting earnest and incisive narrations from her own life. It's difficult to follow that up, but she’s attempting to do so. The Greatest
captures Marshall's southern roots with Memphis soul ballads that give the listener vivid descriptions of the places and people she's encountered. The first track, "The Greatest," swells with unbridled emotion leading into more bluesy songs. Cat Power demonstrates once again why she's one of the best modern singer/songwriters around.
2. The Strokes
, First Impressions of Earth
It's been over four years since these New York hipsters resuscitated rock n' roll on Is This It? and this year they try to do it again. The group’s first two albums are parallel to one another, but their latest rocks a little harder with a glossier production quality. The band has perfected the three-minute gnarling pop song, and although their return to the scene may have some people sighing with disapproval, the Stokes definitely liven things up when they are around.
3. Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit
It's been three years since the Scottish aggregate have released an album of new material. 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitresses
is a satisfactory album, but not as spectacular as some of their earlier projects. But on the new record, the band progress into 70s soul/blues territory, reducing the preciousness and blending in more pop and funk. They're heading out on the road with fellow record label-mates the New Pornographers for what will be a can’t miss experience.
4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones
It seems like forever since the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Fever to Tell
came out, but finally these art-rockers have a new album on the horizon. March 28th to be exact. Sensual lead singer Karen O commented on the new record on the band's website: Show Your Bones
is what happens when you put your finger in a light socket...maybe there is some of that electric current flowing through the tracks of our album illuminating us from the inside out for you to laugh at and cry to or fry to. Or not." This cryptic explanation doesn't give much insight, but with an upcoming tour, it's nice to know these rockers are back in form.
5. The Shins (still untitled)
The Shins have been omnipresent since their sophomore release Chutes too Narrow thanks to auteur Zach Braff who used a couple of their songs in the Generation X hit Garden State. Despite their soundtrack work, James Mercer and band have projected to be one of the best bands around. Their third album title has yet to be decided: it's between Wincing the Night Away or Sleeping Lessons. Either way, the Shins new record will be a must have and will probably change your life like Oh, Inverted World did.
6. Radiohead (still untitled)
Thom Yorke and outfit haven't released any new material since 2003's epic Hail the Thief
, but supposedly as I write this, they are in the studio recording yet another brilliant album. The new record is due sometime this spring and reportedly will be in the vein of Kid A,
which sounds promising. The band also will be embarking on a tour sometime this year, so start saving your money. All hail the return of the kings!
7. Morrissey,Ringleader of the Tormentors
With a sinister title, Moz may have finally recorded a jovial, pop album. Well, probably not considering song titles like “You Have Killed Me,” “Life is a Pigsty” and “The Father Must be Killed.” This will be the follow up his most successful solo album yet, 2004's satirical and political You are the Quarry
where he blasted Americans for their hamburger eating ways. One thing is for sure, not matter what kind of album Steven Patrick Morrissey records, it will nonetheless spark conversation.
8. Elefant, Black Magic Show
This NYC group consisting of lead singer Diego Garcia released their affable debut, Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid three years ago to critical acclaim. Finally the band is slated to release their sophomore record Black Magic Show in April. Garcia uncannily sounds like Moby or Bowie as he sings washed out synth rock/pop tunes. From their electrifying classic rock inspired new single "Lolita," Elefant may be on the cusp of stardom. Their first record had potential, but the second time around may have the band living up to expectations.
9. The Walkmen (still untitled)
The Walkmen's 2002 Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me is Gone
is a good album, but the band upped the ante with 2004's Bows + Arrows,
an intense and tight second album. Since becoming popular, the band has made a gratuitous appearance on the O.C and at last year's Lollapalooza fete. Now, these New Yorkers are ready to release their third album in April, which hopefully will be as good if not better than their previous effort. Plus the group has a book they wrote together entitled John's Journey coming soon as well. Finally, I think I can forgive them for the O.C.
10. Built to Spill, You in Reverse
Built to Spill has been around for 13 years, yet they might be indie rock's best kept secret. The more renowned Modest Mouse has been heavily influenced by them, but now it's time for BTS to shine. You in Reverse
will be Built to Spill's first new album since 2000's Ancient Melodies of the Future
. The just released track, "Goin' Against Your Mind," is a reeling, classic rock song containing perpetuating riffs and instrumental rockin’ interludes. The lead single is so good the rest of the album should be as astounding.
Other upcoming releases: Grandaddy, the Killers, the Stills, the Flaming Lips, Stephin Merritt
Least Anticipated Release of 2006 or of all time
Kevin Federline, Off the Record
It goes without saying that nothing Kevin "Mr. Britney Spears" Federline does will be good. Nothing. So it's no surprise K-Fed (his moniker) recorded a rap album due out this year. Yes, I said rap. From an early mp3 leak on the internet, Off The Record
will definitely be the most unintentionally funny album of the year. For example: "You're jealous of the styles I create/straight 2008". Well, at least he can rhyme. Sorta. Here's hoping he can keep his tunes entirely in the trailer park community.