Top Ten - Forthcoming 2009 Albums

Ten of our favourites from the months to come...
Jay-Z
ClashMusic has guided you through our favourite albums of the year so far – click HERE to read last week’s content, provided by our key editorial players. Now, we’re looking ahead: to the album releases that may well matter most over the coming months.

Here’s ten that spring fairly immediately to mind. Of course there’ll be more – many more – that tickle our fancy parts between now and the year’s end. But we’ve not heard them yet, so…

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The Big Pink
‘A Brief History Of Love’
(4AD, expected September 14)
The London-based duo of Milo Cordell and Robbie Furze are hitting the festivals hard this summer, treating the sweaty throngs to waves of soul-trembling sonic might – it’s shoegaze gone gooey, at times blistering of brutal beat but always warming of atmospheric wash. Their flirtations with unsettling electronic aggression shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as Furze was once a member of Alec Empire’s band, but The Big Pink’s sensitive appreciation of pop dynamics ensures that never do they alienate via excess confrontation. Indeed, at times this is as close as one can come to being hugged tight by sound.

The Big Pink – ‘Velvet’


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The Twilight Sad
‘Forget The Night Ahead’
(FatCat, expected October)
Already identified in our in-depth preview article as a potential UK album of the year – well, that was until we’d heard the new Wild Beasts album for the fourth or fifth time (although we need more time with this, too) – the second album from Scottish masters of ear-bleeding volume is a triumphant progression, a record that sees them stepping out from the shadow of Mogwai and Arab Strap to emerge as a seriously influential creative force from north of the border on their own terms. Full of dramatic tension and build-and-release arrangements that leave the listener numbed into admiration, ‘Forget The Night Ahead’ is a powerful statement of intent from a hungry young band perhaps yet to peak.

The Twilight Sad – ‘I Became A Prostitute’


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Arctic Monkeys
‘Humbug’
(Domino, expected August 24)
With a greater psychedelic vibe to their third studio album, it seems Sheffield’s most stupidly-named pop successes have embraced the weirdness present on some of their parents’ records – that, and recording in the desert with Josh Homme can’t have kept them entirely on the straight and narrow in a mental sense. Frontman Alex Turner told Clash earlier this year that the band had been listening to Cream and Hendrix while writing ‘Humbug’, and while those influences aren’t exactly obvious on the end product, there’s no doubt the Arctics’ palette has been broadened considerably. Read our first impression piece on the album HERE.
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Jay-Z
‘The Blueprint 3’
(Roc Nation, expected September 11)
Shawn Carter hasn’t let his various concerns not immediately related to music stand in the way of him delivering another studio album – this, his eleventh, is the third in his Blueprint series, following on from 2001’s initial collection and the following year’s sequel, ‘The Gift & The Curse’. Carter – known to millions as Jay-Z (pictured), of course – has stated his intent to make this release the definitive piece of his record-releasing puzzle, saying: “I wanna make it beyond and above. I'm gonna take my time with it. I don't have any quotas, and that's a good thing. It may be too freeing. It's a good thing and a bad thing. You know, I think I need some restrictions.” With no boundary considered too daunting to traverse, this new release could well elevate Jay-Z to a level he’s not yet reached… although the very thought of that is pretty terrifying. Lead single ‘Death Of Auto-Tune’ is very, very tasty – confrontational but perfectly assured.
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Vampire Weekend
Title TBA
(XL, expected October/November)
There’s not much to say on this second album from the celebrated New Yorkers just yet, but Clash heard a couple of new songs at a special XL showcase ahead of the band’s support slot with Blur at Hyde Park, and we can safely say there’s a more ambitious percussive edge to Vampire Weekend’s forthcoming material, alongside familiar guitar passages. One of the two tracks we heard – played live by the band, no less – sounded a lot like something Animal Collective might have concocted around their ‘Feels’ period, certainly with regard to the dizzying drum patterns. Songs are said to include ‘Little Giant’, ‘California English’ and ‘White Sky’, although we’re not ruling out the chance that those are just working titles.
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Muse
‘The Resistance’
(Warner Bros., expected September 14)
Muse show no signs of slowing down their progression into areas distinctly proggy, with their fifth album allegedly likely to contain plenty of orchestral flourishes beside its adventures in electronic sound. There’s a three-part, 15-minute track called ‘Exogenesis’ set to close ‘The Resistance’ – have they gone Mastodon, or what? – and the first confirmed song title was ‘United States Of Eurasia’, which was soon followed by the likes of ‘Guiding Light’ and ‘Unnatural Selection’. They’re smiling all the way to the bank while also pushing into the outer limits of the public’s rock tastes… the bastards. Be afraid: the prog is coming in a big way.
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Antipop Consortium
‘Fluorescent Black’
(Big Dada, expected September)
Reformed bands rarely deliver the goods so far as new material goes – that’s Dinosaur Jr. one, Pixies nil (and please, let’s try to not think about the Smashing Pumpkins) – but acclaimed hip-hop crew Antipop Consortium’s first non-collaborative studio LP since 2002’s Warp-released ‘Arrhythmia’ finds the reunited foursome in fine form. At least, the free download single of ‘Apparently’ suggests they’re hitting all the right notes – the proverbial proof will be in the equally proverbial pudding as and when we wrap our ears around its forthcoming parent LP. That said, when have APC disappointed in the past? Exactly. When they got back together in 2007 they stated their intention to create a mighty fine new album, and one gets the feeling they’ve probably succeeded.
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The Flaming Lips
‘Embroyonic’
(Warner Bros., expected September 29)
The Wayne Coyne-fronted experimental indie-popsters’ twelfth (twelfth!) studio LP is their first double album – although they have, of course, previously issued a brain-befuddling four-discs-at-once set (‘Zaireeka’ – don’t try it unless you’re feeling brave). Guests are said to include MGMT and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O, and the album was largely recorded at the home of member Steven Drozd’s house. Dare we suggest that this is an album without any label restraint, a record that’s been crafted to a singular sound free of external interference? Like the band in question would have it any other way. It promises to be quite the adventure, and if it doesn’t recapture the commercial highs of ‘The Soft Bulletin’, who cares!?
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Beastie Boys
‘Hot Sauce Committee’
(Capitol, expected September 15)
The New York rap trio’s eighth LP is, on first listen, a close cousin of catalogue classics ‘Ill Communication’ and ‘Check Your Head’, mixing live punk and funk sounds with rough-edged rhymes sweetly entwined as only the Beasties can. The group’s first vocal release since 2004’s comparatively introspective ‘To The 5 Boroughs’, ‘Hot Sauce Committee’ sounds more playful than its predecessor, as if the fun’s returned to the threesome’s studio sessions. One thing that’s certain is that they got the most out of their time recording, with an album’s worth of material beside this release ready to be unleashed whenever the powers that be decide the time’s right. Look out for a full feature on the Beastie Boys in a future issue of Clash Magazine – they were in mischievous mood when we spoke to them, and that’s an air exuded by this new long-player.

Beastie Boys – ‘Lee Majors Come Again’



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Wild Beasts
‘Two Dancers’
(Domino, expected August 3)
Maybe – just maybe – we’ve saved the best for last here; personally at least, I don’t think a forthcoming album has made half the impact of this on my current listening habits. While Wild Beasts’ debut of last year, ‘Limbo, Panto’, was a fine album indeed, its idiosyncrasies were also its undoing, as certain listeners couldn’t hear past the peculiar vocals to discover the pop perfection within the Kendal band’s arrangements. These hearts beat faster and swell bigger on ‘Two Dancers’ though, a fairly lusty-of-lyric offering with punchy beats and itchy guitar lines coming to the fore and carrying the listener into a skewed reality where music like this is the mainstream and Svengali-controlled girl groups reside in the margins. From the album’s very beginning one is immersed in intoxicating melody of a very singular fashion, and it’s sequenced so wonderfully well – pace managed and tone balanced – that the whole piece demands your fullest attention. Sensual, suggestive and just the right kind of strange, it’s not ridiculous to imagine this named as the album of the year in some quarters when December rolls around. It’s escapist pop at its most bewitching. (ALBUM REVIEW NOW LIVE)

Wild Beasts – ‘Hooting And Howling’


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We’ll also be keeping our ears open for new album releases from the likes of Andrew Weatherall, Jamie T, Maps, Foals, Fiery Furnaces, Klaxons, HEALTH, Missy Elliott, Why?, Calories, Lovvers, Johnny Foreigner, Crookers, Amy Winehahaha, and many more besides. It seems set to be a great second half to the year.

Read our best albums of the year so far HERE.

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