11 February 2006

The most anticipated spring releases of 2006

After a traditionally quiet start of the year in terms of album releases, we are gearing up for more pace as we move into the spring. There are quite a few interesting releases on the way and the next 6 months already look very good music-wise.

I want to mention six of the ones I'm mostly looking forward to. They are all by artists I already know very well, so my anticipation is probably based on the knowledge that I'll be getting something quite good but also without too many surprises. But what the hell, I expect at least a couple of these six albums to be on the list when I collect the top ten for 2006 at the end of the year.

First up is the new PLACEBO album called 'Meds'. I actually already have this (promo copy) and it is quite simply brilliant! I'm thinking that it may even be their best yet, so if you're into Placebo you will have a lot to look forward to when it comes out in March.

Next up is the new CHARLATANS album 'Simpatico'. The last couple of albums have been really really great and I hope they can keep this up. I guess the biggest shame is that way too few people know about the band. You really should care less about bands like Coldplay and turn your attention to overlooked bands like The Charlatans. I'm quite sure you'll like it...Try out their fine albums 'Wonderland' and 'Up At The Lake'.

Another big favourite of mine is LIVE. Their new album 'Songs From Black Mountain' should enrich us with another set of fairly traditional rock anthems of high quality. There was a time when Live could serve up new and refreshing ideas on the alternative rock scene. They don't really do this so much any more and rely mostly on a decent fan base. But their music always has a distinct sense of urgency and substance.

Sad neurotic MORRISSEY is also back with a very melodic and string-driven album. It's called 'Ringleader Of The Tormentors' and the title alone indicates that we're in for yet another journey into melodic depression. Well, at least Morrissey has a cunning ability to make tristesse rather appealing and somehow positive. Prepare to rip out the Prozac...

One of my all-time favourite artists, PET SHOP BOYS, return with what has been rumoured to be a really great album. It's called 'Fundamental' and it is probably the release I'm looking most forward to (now that I already know the brilliance of the Placebo album). A Pet Shop Boys in form just cannot be beaten!

Finally, there's some quality lounge/chillout music on the way from ZERO 7 who return with 'The Garden'.

So I guess there's something for most corners of my music taste. 2005 was a pretty good year with many great releases. 2006 is shaping up to follow that high quality level.

Le Mec

5 February 2006

British overhype watering down good music journalism!

The British music media have always been extremely good at building up the hype surrounding upcomings bands....and then breaking it all down again once the band has reached a level where both the creative flood and public recognition start to wither.

This hype is sometimes justified and does have the very important function of making sure that some upcoming bands are handed a chance for the fasttrack to super stardom. However, often there just seems to be so much of a pattern in how the hype is constructed and blown out of proportion in the British media that it comes across rather calculated.

Take for example the worst of the lot - British music paper NME. And let's take an example: newcomer Arctic Monkeys. The band has just released its debut album 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' to immense praise from the critics. NME is hailing the band as nothing short of the saviours of British rock music (at least this year's saviours...). The last 3-4 months have been packed with media focus on the band and a paper like NME has spoken absolutely nothing negative about the phenomenon Arctic Monkeys. The album is given a 10/10 review and everything the band does is pure genius.

I'm sorry NME, but something just stinks here. I know that hype is most often more interesting than realism but every now and then it just gets too much. Yes, the Arctic Monkeys make quite good music, but no, they are really not that special and contribute little to an already well-developed and covered music scene.

But I guess you need your heroes to keep finding your jobs interesting enough... But what happened to all the other saviours? I mean, where are

- Starsailor

- Travis
- The Libertines
- Pete Doherty


These artists were all at one time hailed as something quite incredible and turned out to be just one of the bunch. And relatively ordinary.

Hype is good when it's justified. In the UK, most often it is not and it has simply watered down the concept for me. So the next time NME hypes a band, they will have to scream REALLY LOUD for me to pay attention or even care...

Le Mec