MOST ANTICIPATED '09: Blurt CD & Film Guide

Our annual preview of
a hundred-odd first quarter (or thereabouts…) albums and films you’d be a
putz to
pass up.

 

BY RANDY HARWARD AND FRED MILLS

 

As good as 2008 was, the year just started stands to be even
better, judging by some of the entries below. From the energized/mature pop,
whacked-out sampladelica and ethereally atmospheric folk of, respectively,
Bruce Springsteen, the Bran Flakes and Marissa Nadler (all pictured, above), to
under-the-radar offerings from the likes of the Heartless Bastards, Mirah and
Mr. Oizo, to sure-to-be-blockbusters by U2, Antony & the Johnsons and the
Decemberists, it looks like 2009 is going to be berry, berry good to you.

 

What follows is hardly comprehensive, of course; this CD list
barely scratches the surface of all the worthy upcoming releases. But we think
among this wildly diverse selection, you’ll find more than enough to keep your
iPod humming. And this is just for the first three months…

 

And don’t forget the raft of incoming films that might make
you scratch your head and mutter, “What writers’
strike?” When you can get the X-Men, the Terminator and Spike Jonze doing
Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild
Things Are
all in one offering, you know it’s gonna be a fun ride. We’ve
got a selected sampling of key titles that have been announced through the
summer.

 

 

***

 

JANUARY:

 

 

The Gourds

Haymaker (Yep Roc, Jan. 6)

The twangy Texas
troublemakers guzzle some gin and juice and return with more of their twisted
tales and charismatic character studies.

 

Toubab Krewe

Live at the Orange Peel
(Upstream, Jan. 6)

Official national rollout for what was originally a regional
’08 release from this acclaimed (and recently featured on NPR)
Appalachia-meets-Africa in this worldbeat-cum-jamband Asheville outfit.

 

Fires of Rome

You Kingdom You (The Hours, Jan. 13)

From glam to punk to throwback disco, these blogger-approved
New Yorkers are guaranteed to make you shake yo azz, and then some. Watch for a
raft of remixes coming down the pike too – TV ad placement execs, are you
listening?

 

Franz Nicolay

Major General (Fistolo,
Jan. 13)

You know Nicolay from The Hold Steady and World/Inferno
Friendship Society-he looks like erstwhile MLB pitcher Rollie Fingers and plays
(and sings) his waxy ‘stache off in both bands, and the two solo songs on his
MySpace page show this one oughta be a dandy. 

 

Gris Gris

Live at the Creamery (Birdman, Jan. 13)

Reportedly the swan song for this mighty band of San Fran
psychedelicists, it’s Greg Ashley’s finest recorded hour, full of “ferocity and
sonic mayhem… bright, swirling, gnarly, electric.’ ‘Nuf said.

 

MV & EE With the Golden Road

Drone
Trailer
(DiCristina, Jan. 13)

Ya gotta love those Wikipedia entries: “They use Western and
Eastern acoustic instruments amplified and augmented with effects such as reverb,
delay, and flange. Their compositions occasionally feature vocals, which are
off-kilter and rambling, while seeming drugged.” Whoah!

 

Superchunk [archival]

The
Clambakes Vol. 4 — Sur la Bouche — Live in Montreal 1993
(Merge, Jan. 13)

From the dawn of the alterna-nation: “Recorded on a cold
March night at the club Backstreet by Howard Bilerman (later of the Arcade Fire
and current engineer and operator of Hotel 2 Tango Studios in Montreal),  Sur
La Bouche
captures Superchunk in the midst of touring for On the Mouth,
out on Matador a few months previous.”

 

Animal Collective

Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino, Jan. 20; vinyl on Jan.
6)

AC’s kitchen sink ethos is alive and well here, as they hit
every sound they’ve hit before and a few new ones while they’re at it. And if
their wild-kingdom musical eclecticism isn’t enough for ya, MPP thrums with AC’s usual cirque du olé
whimsy.

 

Antony & the Johnsons

The Crying Light (Secretly Canadian, Jan. 20)

In the Another World EP,
specifically the titular single and video, we got a taste of the third album
from Antony
& the Johnsons-and it’s a doozy, eh? That one, quiet song was so
emotionally loaded (as per usual w/Antony Hegarty’s work) and heart-rending
that we gotta hear more.

 

Andrew Bird

Noble Beast (Fat Possum, Jan. 20)

This time around, a double disc from the man who fiddles
around while Rome
(that would be Amerika…) burns. The bonus CD comprises original instrumental
works featuring collaborations with Glenn Kotche and Todd Sickafoose.

 

Fiction Family

Fiction Family (ATO, Jan. 20)

Holy cow! Strange bedfellows in a San Diego summit, Fiction Family is the
unlikely pairing of Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek) and Jon Foreman (Switchfoot),
swapping vocals, instruments and sensibilities.

 

Otis Gibbs

Grandpa Walked a Picketline (Wanamaker, Jan. 20)

Gibbs picks up the torch handed to him by Billy Bragg (and
before that, by Woody Guthrie), with an Americana
supergroup – producer Chris Stamey, plus Don Dixon, Al Perkins Will Rigby,
Chris Carmichael and Tim Easton – backing him up.

 

Heartless Bastards

The Mountain (Fat Possum, Jan. 20)

After frontperson Erika Wennerstrom moved from Dayton to Austin
last year, she hooked up with producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Trail of Dead) and,
upon fleshing out the trove of tunes she’d accumulated, crafted a blazing,
swamp, twangysexycool masterpiece. Picture a summit between the Stones and the
Band with a distaff twist and you might come partially close to divining this
outfit’s heady sound.

 

Elliott Murphy

Notes From the Underground (Elliott Murphy Music, Jan. 20)

Finally, a U.S.
release from this legendary troubadour (and Springsteen pal) who, despite
relocating to France
ages ago, has long been an integral part of our singer-songwriter dialogue. How
integral? It’s his 30th album since 1973.

 

Robert Pollard

The Crawling Distance (Guided By Voices, Inc., Jan. 20)

Songs by Saint Bob, instruments and production by Todd
Tobias; from powerpop to Krautrock to oddball ballads, a devilish, circus-like
atmosphere prevails.

 

Swervedriver
[archival]

Raise + Mezcal Head (Second Motion/Hi-Speed Soul, Jan. 20)

Shoe-gazin’ psychedelic pharmacists and contemporaries of My
Bloody Valentine and Spacemen 3 finally get the full-on expanded reissue
treatment of these two epochal, essential documents of the era.

 

Telefon Tel Aviv

Immolate Yourself (BPitch Control, Jan. 20)

Critics and fans already privy to advances from the Chicago (via New
Orleans) duo are unanimous: a very, very early entry
in the “most sonically breathtaking, emotionally abundant record of the year”
sweepstakes. Like an exotic old album found in a thrift store, broken up into
digital clues.

 

The Bird and the Bee

Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future (Blue Note, Jan. 27)

Where do you go after you hit with a tune called “Fucking
Boyfriend”? Why, to “You’re A Cad,” a key track from these jazzy
electropoppers’ (Inara George and Greg Kurstin) followup to 2007’s The Bird and the Bee.

 

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash Remixed (Compadre, Jan. 27)

Though the thought of a drive-by wedding between The Man In
Black and a slew of hip-hop and dance producers – including Snoop Dogg, Pete
Rock, Kennedy and Sonny J – makes our skin crawl, the involvement of executive
producer John Carter Cash just may (might…)
keep things from getting too heretical.

 

Goblin Cock

Come With Me If You Want to Live (Robcore, Jan. 27)

Metallers Lord Phallus, Bane Ass-Pounder and the rest of the
Cock Crüe essay such sensitive topics as gloryholes, mylar, Tom Of Finland,
Billy Jack and more. What does Rob Crow of Pinback have to do with all this,
hmmm?

 

Loney Dear

Dear John (Polyvinyl, Jan. 27)

Hey, what happened to the comma? At any rate, the Swedish
invasion continues apace, and Loney Dear’s sweet brand of jazzy quietcore
remains among the most beloved. Here, Andrew Bird guests, and there’s even a
quasi-techno track. Watch ‘em burn up the stage live as a full ensemble, too.

 

Omar Rodriguez Lopez

Old Money (Stones Throw, Jan. 27)

Issued digitally in Nov. but finally being made available on
CD to we lowly meatspace residents, the Mars Volta guitarist makes a (duh)
Volta-esque noise. On Peanut Butter Wolf’s label, no less.

 

Kylie Minogue

Boombox:
The Remix Album
(Parlophone, Jan. 20)

Believe it or not, La Minogue’s remixes are consistently
intriguing – candy coated at times, but there’s nothing wrong with the
occasional sugar high, right? Wow!

 

Mr. Oizo

Lambs Anger (Ed Banger, Jan. 27)

France’s
Quentin Dupieux serves up an oddball platterful of club anthems, transsexual
electro and just plain inscrutable samplefests. That’s pronounced Wah-zoh, pal.

 

Nickel Eye (aka the
Strokes’ Nikolai Fraiture)

The Time of the Assassins (Rykodisc, Jan. 27)

Although the Strokes’ currency these days falls roughly in
between Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, bassist Fraiture, backed by UK band South
and assisted by guests Nick Zinner and Regina Spektor, gets the proverbial
musical bailout.

 

Mark Olson and Gary
Louris

Ready For the Flood (New West, Jan. 27)

Speaking to BLURT in our December digital magazine, Olson
said, of his summit with erstwhile Jayhawks partner, “I really really like it.
It’s a challenge and that’s what I like about music in general, anytime you go
in it’s a challenge to get something you really like and have it sound good
down the road; and this is one of them.” Indeed!

 

Caroline Peyton
[archival]

Intuition + Mock Up (Asterisk/Numero
Group, Jan. 27)

Peyton’s a cult artist who issued this pair of records in
the mid ‘70s, both of which gained in stature over the years among collectors
and even sample-seeking DJs. Elements of freak-folk, twisted blues, disco and
“farm-soaked cocktail napkin torch songs” can be found herein. The Peyton
revival starts now!

 

Doug Randle
[archival]

Songs for the New
Industrial State
(Light In The Attic, Jan. 27)

From the label that brought you the acclaimed Rodriguez
reissue, this 1970 classic has been likened to a cross between David Axlerod
and Free Design. Randle, a mainstay of the Canadian jazz scene, should enjoy a
much-deserved revival.

 

Six Organs of
Admittance [archival]

RTZ (Drag
City, Jan. 27)

Double CD (or triple LP) set from the Ben Chasny players
chronicling a handful of lengthy rarities dating as far back as 1999.
“Spiritual shit,” we are advised.

 

Bruce Springsteen

Working on a Dream (Columbia,
Jan. 27)

Arriving two weeks after a Wal-mart exclusive greatest hits
album probably spells winter overkill, but hey, it’s the Boss! Produced, again,
by Brendan O’Brien, and featuring the E Street Band (natch), it’s been
described by Springsteen himself as overtly pop, and the title track, already
peaking at radio, would seem to confirm that assessment.

 

Volcano Suns
[archival]

All Night Lotus Party + Bright Orange
Years (Merge, Jan. 27)

Neither of these Beantown classics from Peter Prescott’s post-Mission
of Burma
project have ever been issued on CD. You want an all night party? Each disc
comes with a bonus disc! Paint the town orange!

 

 

***

 

 

FEBRUARY:

 

 

The BPA (aka Norman
Cook & friends)

I Think We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat (+1, Feb. 3)

Fatboy Slim picks toe jam from David Byrne and Dizzee
Rascal, among other looniness. Also along for the funhouse ride: Iggy Pop,
Martha Wainwright, Ashley Beedle, Emmy the Great, and more.

 

Benjy Ferree

Come Back to the Five and Dime, Bobby Dee, Bobby Dee
(Domino, Feb. 3)

Pretentious title (and potentially pretentious concept)
aside, this should be the record to push D.C. singer-songwriter Americana (with a touch
of glam) artist Ferree’s talents into the mainstream.

 

Iran

Dissolver (Narnack, Feb. 3)

Catch ‘em before the bloggers disown ‘em! Seriously, though,
despite the unfortunate band name – wait, it’s actually a Philip K. Dick
reference! –  this sometimes-lo-fi,
sometimes-hi-fi indiepop band of mavericks has a shot at lasting past, say, the
first quarter.

 

Ben Kweller

Changing Horses (ATO, Feb. 3)

The BLURT-approved BK has already generated ink on our end.
To wit: “brings his rural roots firmly to the fore… steel guitars, homespun
sentiment and easy, ambling tempos [plus a] giddy pop perspective.”

 

Marykate O’Neil

Underground (Nettwerk, Feb. 3)

Piewackit ex-pat and friend to Mary Lou Lord, Juliana
Hatfield and Elliott Smith, O’Neil been putting out solo recs since 2002 of
uncommon delicacy and delight. This is her “underground” album, we are advised.

 

Von Bondies

Love, Hate and Then There’s You (Majordomo, Feb. 3)

Mainman Jason Stollsteimer of the Detroit garage topcats speaks: “The songs are
kind of sinister-sounding but there’s this overall lift feeling to them.
There’s always going to be bad days but hopefully you’re not going to have a
cynical person that only remembers the bad. And you need bad days to realize
what’s good in life. I try to put that in lyrics.” Produced by Butch Walker and
Rick Parker.

 

Wavves

Wavves (De Stijl, Feb. 3)

Blogger-approved 22-year old from San Diego, he’s rumored to be “the sound of
today’s American youth… exemplifying every pastiche of what anyone in their mid
20s has been through musically.” Uh-huh.

 

Zero Boys [archival]

Vicious Circle + History Of (Secretly Canadian, Feb. 3)

Straight outta the Midwest
was this early ‘80s hardcore phenomenon, issuing manifestos with titles like
“New Generation,” “Civilization’s Dying” and “Down the Drain.” Peers of the
Dead Kennedys and Minor Threat, they were the real deal, lasting from 1979 to
1983 and issuing 1982’s Vicious Circle prior to their demise.

 

Lily Allen

It’s
Not Me, It’s You
(Capitol, Feb. 10)

“Most anticipated” in some quarters, yes (although it might
be hard for Lils to top those, uh, topless photos of recent vintage). The Queen
Of MySpace has reportedly grown and matured in her quest to indulge a broad
range of musical styles. Uh-huh.

 

Dan Auerbach

Keep It Hid (Nonesuch, Feb. 10)

Black Keys guitarist steps out for the proverbial solo
side-project, produced and engineered all by his lonesome. Will it spell doom
for the Keys? Will it be one of those misguided missteps? Or will it just make
the man stronger (if it doesn’t kill him)? We’ll find out this spring….

 

The Lonely Island

Incredibad (Universal Republic, Feb. 10)

This is the band of SNL‘s Andy Samberg, the trio responsible for
the oft played and replayed viral videos “Jizz In My Pants,” “Dick In A Box,”
and “Lazy Sunday.” Expect more of the same wacky wackness on “Who Said We’re
Wack,” “Shrooms,” and “We Like Sportz” and look out for guests Jack Black,
Norah Jones, Julian Casablancas, Natalie Portman (“Natalie Raps”), Justin
Timberlake, E-40, T-Pain, and Adam Levine.

 

Nashville Pussy

From Hell to Texas
(Spitfire, Feb. 10 )

Don’t tell us, readers, that you ever don’t look forward to Pussy, especially when it’s as loud and proud
as this particular breed. Expect more wild, wooly, boozy southern-fried rock
with amps crackling and popping from so much spilled beer.

 

Dex Romweber Duo

Ruins of Berlin
(Bloodshot, Feb. 10)

Joined by sis Sara plus guests Neko Case, Cat Power, Exene
Cervenka and Rick Miller, the erstwhile Flat Duo Jets frontman shows all you
White Stripes and Black Keys fans how it’s supposed to be done.

 

… and you will know
us by the trail of dead

Century of Self (Richter Scale, Feb. 17)

Speaking to BLURT, drummer Jason Reece cited a “more
organic, natural sound” for the Texas
tornados’ sixth studio album, issued on their own label following a split from
major label schnooks Interscope. Added vocalist Conrad Keely, “It’s also more
guitar-driven. We’ve been experimenting with a lot more guitar sounds, whereas
the last two records have been based around piano.”

 

Bloodkin

Baby, They Told Us We’d Rise Again (SCI Fidelity, Feb. 17)

Produced by David Barbe, approved by Patterson Hood, Allan
Ginsburg and Moe Tucker, pals with Widespread Panic – need we day more about
these skilled Southern (Athens) musos? Chart a direct line to Bonnaroo….

 

Boston Spaceships

The Planets are Dissed (Guided By Voices, Inc., Feb. 17)

Yet another Robert Pollard-spearheaded project, indulging
(on their sophomore release) a serious classic rock jones.

 

Death [archival]

… For the Whole World to See (Drag City,
Feb. 17)

Possibly the original Black Rockers, these Detroit protopunks were early ‘70s
contemporaries of the Stooges and MC5. Only one single, and they were outta
there  – but they left behind tapes of a
full album.

 

Drones

Havilah (ATP, Feb. 17)

Blogger-approved Australian combo (and not the legendary
‘70s punk outfit), currently on their fourth album and aiming for a
vague-but-promising amalgam of Neil Young overdrive-meets-Velvets drone. For
once, trust in the bloggers.

 

Here We Go Magic

Here We Go Magic (Western Vinyl, Feb. 17)

The mighty Luke Temple resurfaces under a new band moniker,
and the followup to his own Snowbeast is “magic” indeed. From psychedelia to Afro-beat to serene Krautrock, it’s all
here – including Temple’s
signature soulful, soaring vocals.

 

Robyn Hitchcock and
the Venus 3

Goodnight
Oslo
(Yep Roc, Feb. 17)

With the Venus 3 –  R.E.M.’s Peter Buck
on guitar, Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows,
R.E.M.) on bass and drummer Bill Rieflin
(Ministry, R.E.M.) – in tow, the other St. Bob also presses Colin Meloy, Sean
Nelson and Terry Edwards into service. The results are his purest pop compositions
since his Soft Boys days.

 

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

 Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (Lightning Rod,
Feb. 17)

As the title implies, this
is a full-on band album, compared to
Isbell’s Sirens of the Ditch solo
debut. It’s biting, it’s loud, it’s unruly – yet it’s also drenched in Isbell’s
signature pop and soul sensibilities, and it’s one of the most honest records
you’ll hear all year.

 

Living Things

Habeas Corpus (Jive/Zomba,
Feb. 17)

More than three years after their long-awaited debut finally
came out, the brothers Berlin
have new music for us. If the debut single “Let It Rain” is any indication, Habeas Corpus isn’t so much the intense,
rare rock assault they kicked out on Ahead
of the Lions
. It’s a moodier more atmospheric affair, which seems like a
sell-out-or maybe singer Lillian Berlin has finally relented in his fight
against pharmaceuticals. Then again, here’s what he had to say about the song:
“I’ve always looked at rain as being divine semen.” Then he quoted Mark Twain.
Hmmm.

 

Eleni Mandell

Artificial Fire (Zedtone,
Feb. 17)

We at BLURT would buy anything Eleni Mandell recorded,
‘cause she can make even morning-after-New-Year’s dry heaves sound bewitching.
Not that she’d be reduced to that; she’s an ace songwriter who’ll never run dry.

 

Morrissey

Years of Refusal (Attack/Lost
Highway, Feb. 17)

Morrissey on Lost
Highway? Say what? Well, playing against type is as good for Moz as it is the
once all-alt.country, all the time label. On the cover, he holds a baby-and on
the record, he sings us some hard-rockin’ lullabies like “All You Need Is Me”
and “That’s How People Grow Up.”

 

The Soul of John
Black

Black John (Eclecto
Groove, Feb. 17)

John Bigham’s first two albums as The Soul of John Black
redefined soul music to the point of borrowing liberally from folk and
country-kinda like Whitey stole the blues for rock n’ roll. You recall what
happened then? Well, Bigham has created the next big sound.

 

M. Ward

Hold Time (Merge, Feb. 17)

In an upcoming BLURT interview Ward holds forth on his next
solo album, which features guests Zooey Deschanel, Jason Lytle, Lucinda
Williams and others. “I wanted to combine really expensive sounds with really
cheap sounds,” said Ward. “A cheap sound would be a cheap microphone on a $50
guitar, and an expensive sound would be a 12-piece orchestra. That was one of
the guiding factors of the production.” We can’t wait to hear it.

 

Randy Weeks

Going My Way (Certifiable, Feb. 17)

Recently transplanted from L.A.
to Austin, Lucinda Williams’ favorite songwriter
(and a founding member of the Lonesome Strangers) hooked up with Will Sexton,
Tony Gilkyson, Eliza Gilkyson and other local stalwarts to craft one of the
first quarter’s most anticipated Americana
releases.

 

William Elliott
Whitmore

Animals In The Dark (Anti- Records, Feb. 17)

Ramping up the production this time while retaining his
signature DIY Americana
sound, Whitmore, for his Anti- debut, picks up where his earlier Southern
trilogy left off, infusing politics into his blues and populism into his
country. Guitar and banjo never sounded so sweet in the darkness.

 

Beirut

March of the Zapotec and Realpeople Holland (Pompeii Recordings, Feb.
24)

Whattaya do on a vacation to Oaxaca? Well, aside from (ahem) sample the
indigenous weed, if you’re Zach Condon you hook up with a 19-member Mexican
band and record the results. Bonus beats: a slew of home recordings, aka
“Realpeople Holland.”

 

Black Lips

200 Million Thousand (Vice, Feb. 24)

More drunken, howling chaos per capita than a block party in
a third world nation’s ghetto, the Lips recently put a disclaimer on their
MySpace page which read, in part, that the album is “a time capsule rife with
nods to simple pleasures and a world of worry. It’s a modern, mature reflection
on life and the world traveled.” Righty-o, lads.

 

Bran Flakes

I Have Hands (Illegal Art, Feb. 24)

Somewhere in Scrumpdillyishus Land, USA, reside the
sampladelic Bran Flakes, who record for Girl Talk’s label and indulge all
manner of snark, kiddie-culture (Mousketeers, unite!), remixology and just plain
annoying pop culture references. In short, a whale of a lot of fun.

 

Clem Snide [archival]

Hungry Bird (429, Feb. 24)

Though recorded in 2006, the album was derailed by a messy
breakup, and in recent years band founder Eef Barzelay has been spotted as a
solo act. Reportedly, however, the members have stitched things back together
and will be touring behind Hungry Bird.

 

Japanese Popstars

We Just Are (Gun-Ho, Feb. 24)

Looking at one of those proverbial RIYL tags that reads:
Chemical Brothers, Orbital, Soulwax, Underworld. In this instance, its dead-on.
Acclaimed by every DJ mag on the planet and steadily crossing over to the pop
press, they’re not Japanese – they’re from Northern
Ireland, and destined to be at the forefront of the UK live
electronic music scene.

 

Steven Wilson

Insurgentes (K Scope, Feb. 24)

Solo debut from the Porcupine Tree mainman goes all
experimental on our asses, reportedly touching down on turf occupied at various
points by Thom Yorke, Portishead and Nine Inch Nails.

 

Mastodon

Crack The Skye (Reprise, Feb/March /wp-content/photos)

Produced by Brendan O’Brien and reportedly a departure from
the band’s singular bonecrunching Prog style and more in a classic rock vein.
Concept album alert! There’s a “four-part centerpiece” called “The Czar” that
deals with a lyrical theme of Czarist Russia. Be very, very afraid.

 

 

 

***

 

 

MARCH:

 

 

 

Neko Case

Middle Cyclone (Anti- Records, March 3)

Overdue, eagerly awaited followup to 2006’s Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, it’s
frontloaded with guests – among them, M. Ward, Garth Hudson, Sarah Harmer and
members of Calexico, Giant Sand, the Sadies and the New Pornographers. With
covers of Sparks
and Harry Nilsson nestled among the Case originals, it’s sure to be one of the
more talked-about records this spring.

 

Coheed and Cambria

Neverender (Columbia,
March 3)

Holy helium, Batman! Four CDs, four DVDs, massive book – the
works for this box set documenting the band’s Oct. 22-25 stand at NYC’s
Terminal 5.

 

Justin Townes Earle

Midnight at the Movies (Bloodshot, March 3)

With last year’s The
Good Life
still being talked about, Steve’s kid Justin risks the proverbial
sophomore slump effect, but our Magic 8 Ball indicates that all signs point to “yes”
for another success. Produced by RS Field, it’s got folk, blues, countrypolitan
and more all bubbling around in the mix, not to mention Earle’s DNA-spawned
gift for lyrical detail.

 

Raul Malo

Lucky One (Fantasy, March 3)

Expectations may not be too high for the erstwhile Mavericks
vocalist considering his last two albums were uninspired covers collections. This
is a return to form, however, and Steve Berlin co-produces to give Malo’s first
collection of originals in 7 years. extra sizzle.

 

Buddy and Julie
Miller

Written In Chalk (New West, March 3)

With guest spots from Robert Plant, Emmylou Harris, Patty
Griffin and others, this surely ranks as the most anticipated Americana/roots release for the first quarter. Both husband
and wife have a slew of solo records out and have guested on each other’s, but
this is, remarkably enough, only their second “true” collaboration, moniker-wise.
It’s country-soul with an equal emphasis on each component, infused with a
deep, spiritual grasp of the human condition.

 

Marisa Nadler

Little Hells (Kemado, March 3)

One of our most astonishing indie chanteuses currently
operating, Boston’s
Nadler observes, “In terms of songwriting, I think I’ve reached my most honest
point ever. It’s not that I’m being overly confessional, but I feel like the
songs on this album are more emotionally bare than anything I’ve done before.” Trust
us, this will be the year that Nadler goes overground. You can say you heard
her back when.

 

Prodigy

Invaders Must Die (Take Me To the Hospital, March 3)

Howlett and Flint
reunite, and Dave Grohl even drops in digitally for the summit, contributing a
boatload of drum samples for Howlett to fuck around with.

 

The Soundtrack of Our
Lives

Communion (Yep Roc, March 3)

Double CD extravaganza from Sweden’s roving band of psychedelic
Argonauts. The band describes it as “a large scale
mood piece based on the concepts of day and night-a song for each hour.” Hey,
that makes 24 songs!

 

U2

No Line on the Horizon (Interscope, March 3)

Are we really looking
forward to this? Or is it just the legions of fans who’ll listen to anything U2
does? Q Magazine says we should
expect something like Achtung Baby:
“…a bolder, more testing collection.” Well, as long as it ain’t Pop or Zooropa, we’re cool.

 

Wild Light

Adult Nights (Almost Gold/StarTime International, March 3)

Arcade Fire-approved, buzzed-about New
Hampshire quartet under the tutelage of producer Rob Schnapf
making lush, harmony rich pop wit an Americana
edge.

 

Julie Doiron

I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day (Jagjaguwar, March 10)

From her ‘90s tenure with Eric’s Trip to here
Polaris-nominated Woke Myself Up to a
recent collaboration with Mt.
Eerie, songbird Doiron
has never been less than inspiring. Here, she’s set to “plug in” all the way
with a full-on electric rock album.

 

Handsome Furs

Face Control (Sub Pop, March 10)

Recorded and mixed at Mount Zoomer,
mastered at Hotel2Tango, so you know these Montrealers know what’s up. Eagerly
awaited followup to their acclaimed 2007 rec Plague Park.

 

Mexican Institute of
Sound

Soy Sauce (Nacional, March 10)

The band writes: “Hey you all!!! Hope you have a lovely
2009. Mine looks amazing. Soy Sauce, the new album is ready and I am very happy with it. It’s crazy… full of hip
hop, cumbia, soul and punk rock. Hope you enjoy it.”

 

Mirah

(a)spera (K, March 10)

Fourth solo album and long-overdue (C’mon Miracle was way back in ’04), (a)spera finds the indie chanteuse hooking up with Phil Elverum,
Tucker Martine, Adam Selzer, Chris Funk, Tara Jane O’Neil and Lori Goldston for
a strings-laden, exotic percussion-fueled study in shadows and light.

 

Azita

How Will You (Drag
City, March 17)

Running without scissors once again, avant-vocalist Azita
goes pop on her third solo LP. She’s backed by members of Tortoise, Iron &
Wine and Bonnie “Prince” Billy.

 

John Wesley Harding

Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead (Popover, March 17)

A powerhouse effort from one of our most beloved bards –
that’s the Minus Five backing him up, kids, helping Wes craft a tight-but-loose
epic. Hold out for the version with the bonus live disc, recorded in Brooklyn.

 

Black Joe Lewis &
the Honeybears

Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears (Lost Highway, March
17)

Based on the teaser EP released on January 27, this new
artist on an old school beat – think James Brown and Otis Redding meet
Lightning Hopkins and Howlin’ Wolf – just might be the most exciting thing
currently outta Austin. Extra points for titling a song “Bitch, I Love You.”

 

Bonnie
“Prince” Billy

Beware! (Drag
City, Mar 17)

Followup to last year’s critically hosanna’d Lie Down in the Light, but as usual
there’s no advance music or press info being distributed. Still, like the rest
of you, we can wait until March.

 

Burnt Sugar The
Arkestra Chamber

Makin Love to the Dark Ages (LiveWired Music, March 17)

Greg Tate & Co. get back in the Ark, this time expanding to nearly 20
players, bringing jazz improv, funk, hip-hop and Afro-fusion to the table and
slapping it all down like a fresh catch of catfish.

 

Sarah Borges &
the Broken Singles

The Stars Are Out (Sugar Hill, March 24)

One of BLURT’s absolute faves, Borges can straddle the pop,
garage and roots worlds like virtually no other femme vocalist we know of.
2007’s Diamonds in the Dark was an
across-the-board winner, and as a result this Paul Kolderie-produced platter
will have a big mountain to climb, but we’re confident Borges and her crackin’
band can do it. There’s even a Smokey Robinson cover – how cool is that?

 

Dan Deacon

Bromst (Carpark, March 24)

Greg Gillis’ buddy D.D. goes straight from his manic live
performances to create an intense, 70-minute journey via keyboards, vibes,
woodwinds, brass, samples and electronics. We’ll give it a 95, Dan, and yeah,
you can dance your ass off to it.

 

Decemberists

Hazards
of Love
(Capitol, March 24)

Check the guest appearances: Jim James, Robyn Hitchcock, the
Spinanes’ Rebecca Gates, Lavendar Diamond’ Becky Stark and My Brightest
Diamond’s Shara Worden. Don’t expect more in the relatively subdued vein of the
Always the Bridesmaid singles series,
however – it’s a sure bet to be an overblown extravaganza.

 

Indigo Girls

Poseidon
and the Bitter Bug
(IG Recordings/Vanguard, March 24)

Mitchell Froom-produced double-CD set featuring electric and
acoustic takes on the same material. “It’s basically like two perspectives
of the same song,” Amy Ray told Billboard.
It gives everybody both sides of the equation.”

 

Seeland

Tomorrow Today (Loaf, March 24)

Retro Futurist Electronic auteurs Tim Felton and Billy
Bainbridge are as beholden to Joe Meek and Stereolab as they are to Can and Syd
Barrett. The result is a blend of abstract electronica and heady psychedelia,
awash in melody yet unsettling like a tipped-over canoe.

 

Various Artists

Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm (Vanguard, March 24)

Unbelievable that it took this long for a Sahm tribute to
arrive, but we’re finally getting it, and it just might become the exception to
prove the rule that tribute albums are pointless. Among those contributing
songs: Alejandro Escovedo, Delbert McClinton, Dave Alvin, Greg Dulli, Los Lobos
and Sahm’s son Shawn w/Augie Myers – the latter doing, naturally, Sir Doug’s
great classic “Mendocino.”

 

PJ Harvey and John
Parish

A
Woman A Man Walked By
(Island,
March 31)

You just can’t keep two ace collaborators apart. With mixing
by Flood and contributions from Eric Drew Feldman, Carla Azar (Autolux) and
Giovanni Ferrario, one can only hope it’s a return to the To Bring You My Love glory days and not a reprise of the abysmal White Chalk.

 

The Answer

Everyday Demons (The End Records,
March 31)

These Irishmen and current openers for AC/DC dropped a rock
n’ roll atom bomb with their debut, Rise,
in 2006. As a cock rock revival band, they easily could’ve remained a US novelty while rocking legit in the UK and Europe,
but they’re squeaking Stateside with SXSW showcases and a small but growing
toehold. We welcome their balls-out rockin’ with open arms. Gentlemen, welcome
to the USA.
Please help yourselves to our sluts.

 

 

***

 

 

… and onward into
April….

 

 

Art Brut

Art Brut Versus Satan (Downtown, March/April /wp-content/photos)

With Frank Black manning the control knobs, Eddie Argos
& Co. settle in at an Oregon
recording studio to craft the followup to 2007’s It’s A Bit Complicated. “It’s been a little scary, but also fun,” Argos told Pitchfork, of his NW sojourn. “A man
gave me a note, he was on crystal meth, and he thought maybe I’d like to try
it.” Well, all right then! The title must allude to the band’s recent split
with EMI and, since the last two records were so artsy-brutal and good, and
Frank Black is producing, and hell hath no fury like a band scorned, we’re
eager to hear this one.

 

OK Go

TBA (Capitol, /wp-content/photos?)

Still one of the few “legit” major label bands, OK Go is
aiming for additional cred by going with über-indie producer David Fridmann
(Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips) for this, their third full-length. What Fridmann
will add to the band’s bouncy arena rock/power-pop, we can only guess-but as
for predictions, we’re thinkin’ two great tastes will taste great together.

 

 

***

 

Films

(diligently yet cautiously compiled by Randy Harward, who
knows of what he geeks)

 

 

Monsters vs. Aliens

DreamWorks Animation

Mar. 27

It’s fun for the whole family-assuming Mom or Dad are
B-movie geeks-with this ultimate animated B-flick, which incorporates a 50-Foot
Woman and an array of monsters, most of ‘em based on bugs, with Stephen
Colbert, Seth Rogen, Rainn Wilson, Will Arnett, Kiefer Sutherland and Paul Rudd
providing the voices. And it’s in 3-D, and the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like A Hurricane”
is on the soundtrack. 

 

X-Men Origins:
Wolverine

20th Century Fox

May 1

If there’s one comic book film other than Watchmen to look forward to, it’s this
one, the X-Men film we’ve been waiting for: ‘Cause it’s all about Wolverine.
Shnicky-shnicky!

 

Bruno

Universal

May 15

Sacha Baron Cohen’s follow-up to Borat stars his third best (out of three) character, the flaming fashionista
Bruno. It’s a dicey move, since Bruno’s bits on Da Ali G show were hit-and-miss, and Borat was all homers. But it
makes sense if the idea is to provide a stopgap while Baron Cohen prepares the
inevitable Ali G film-a sure hit. 

 

Terminator Salvation

Warner Bros.

May 22

Okay, so we’re only cautiously anticipating this one. First,
there’s no Ahnuld. No Linda Hamilton, either. Not even Robert Fuckin’ Patrick.
Instead we get Christian Bale, which could be great-and hottie Moon Bloodgood.
It’s a crapshoot, but we’re buying a ticket just the same.

 

Drag Me to Hell

Universal

May 29

Sam Raimi’s return to horror at least has an auspiciously
creepy title. We won’t expect another Evil
Dead
, but this tale of an evil curse (starring Alison Lohman and Justin
Long) could be just what the witchdoctor prescribed for horror fans.

 

Land of the Lost

Universal

June 5

Will Ferrell played “Marshall Willenholly” in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, now he’s
playing Marshall (father of Will and Holly) in this update of the legendary Sid
and Marty Krofft Saturday morning show about a family trapped in prehistoric
times while battling super sci-fi Sleestaks (and we can’t wait to see how they
render these creatures). 

 

The Hangover

Warner Bros.

June 12

Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms (The Office, The Daily Show
with Jon Stewart
), Zach Galifianakis and Heather Graham star in this comedy
where a bachelor party loses its bachelor and tries to locate him the morning
after. They find a tiger in the bathroom and a baby in a closet, but not… Well,
you get it. But it can’t be worse than What
Happened In Vegas
.

 

Year One

Columbia
Pictures

June 19

Jack Black, David Cross and Michael Cera play cavemen forced
from their village (after which, they embark on a journey through the ancient
world) in this Harold Ramis film co-written by The Office‘s Lee Eisenberg, with Judd Apatow producing. It has to be hilarious. Or at least better
than Night at the Museum.

 

Taking Woodstock

Focus Features

August 14

Emile Hersch, Liev Schrieber, Eugene Levy and Demetri Martin
star in this adaptation of Elliot Tiber’s memoir Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, A Concert, and A Life, in
which Tiber invites half a million people to his neighbor’s farm for the storied
1969 Woodstock festival.   

 

The Goods: The Don
Ready Story

Paramount

Aug. 21

Will Ferrell’s producing this Jeremy Piven (who was so good
in PCU, and as Ari, the a-hole you
hate to love on HBO’s Entourage)
vehicle. Piven plays the head of a group of ice-to-Eskimos salesmen on a beer-drinkin’
and hellraisin’ trip.

 

The Crazies

Overture Films

Sept. 25

Only loosely based on George Romero’s beloved 1973 film,
this bioweapon/outbreak/psycho townspeople scare flick stars Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood). As Romero remakes go, even
loosely based ones, it could suck big time. And with Breck Eisner (son of
Disney’s Michael and director of the Matthew McConaughey stinker Sahara) at the
helm, it doesn’t sound good. What can we say? We’re suckers.

 

Zombieland

Columbia
Pictures

Oct. 9

Don’t even act like you don’t wanna see Woody Harrelson in a
zombie comedy, playing a zombie hunter called Albuquerque. This is exactly the role for his
crazy stoner ass and we smell an Oscar.  

 

Where the Wild Things
Are

Warner Bros.

Oct. 16

Writer Dave Eggers adapted Maurice Sendak’s adored
children’s book for this live action film directed by Spike Jonze. Frankly,
anyone who loves the book will consider this a must-see, and in Eggers’ and
Jonze’s hands, it smells like money in the bank (for the filmmakers and the
viewers).    

 

H2

Dimension/Weinstein Co.

Aug. 28

Rob Zombie’s horror films are spotty. The Devil’s Rejects was great according to horror fans, and they
even seem to forgive his reworking of John Carpenter’s venerated Halloween, which was critically panned.
Since Rejects’ precursor, House of 1000 Corpses, sucked so hard,
maybe H2 won’t. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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