Traded MP3 files, burns of advance CDs and the Internet's ability to keep constant tabs on bands who are writing, recording and thinking about releasing new music might have taken the thump out of official release schedules. Still, when it comes to your favourite artists, anticipation can be a glorious thing.
A few weeks after assessing the year that was, thoughts immediately turn to what records will be rocking Discmans and iPods in 2002. Delays are to be expected, but here are some of the hottest prospects for the next 12 months.
The big-beat duo were virtually silent in 2001, their only release the unofficial white label It Began In Afrika. That skull-cracking, surprisingly hard track turned out to be a foreshadowing of what's to come on the Chemicals' Come With Us disc. Due out January 28, the album eschews the occasionally poppy melodies of past Chemical Brothers records for a massive wall of beats engineered for clubs. There are no big Noel Gallagher singalongs, although Richard Ashcroft does appear.
Having upped the space-rock ante on their breakthrough The Soft Bulleting disc, Oklahoma's finest return in June with another slab of Dave Fridmann-produced psychedelia. At last count, one-third of the as-yet-untitled album was instrumental, though that could change. Equally intriguing is the Lips' first DVD, due by Christmas 2002 and featuring frontman Wayne Coyne's debut film, Xmas On Mars, with soundtrack by the band. Minds should be blown.
Tjinder Singh's vindaloo-hot London duo return in late February with the wildly anticipated follow-up to 1997's When I Was Born For The 7th Time. There is no title yet, but tracks like the 15-minute epic Spectral Mornings, featuring Noel Gallagher, and the first single, Lessons Learned From Rocky I To Rocky III, are already leaking out on the Net. If the shuddering dub rhythm of Motion The Eleven, a kind of Prince track mixed with I Roy-style chatter, is anything to go on, this will be massive.
Speaking of Oasis, the Gallaghers will drop their own new album by the summer of 2002. Admittedly, given the disaster that was 2000's Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants, expectations are low, though Noel claims to have learned his lessons. There are strings on only two tracks, songs are apparently shorter and faster, and, most notably, Noel's let the rest of the band contribute songs. "Liam's songs are really fucking good, man," Noel insisted recently. "He's got lyrics that'll make your head spin." Given the crayon scribble that accompanied Liam's last song, Little James, we won't hold our breath.
Even around the release of 1999's Underground Tapes, the Toronto producer/MC admitted that the long-overdue disc wasn't so much a proper album as simply a way to make good for years of label-imposed silence. Now signed to Def Jam via major fan Redman, Sauks has been working on his proper solo album for nearly two years between producing tracks for Choclair, Kardinal and others. There is no release date yet, and the white label Comin' Up is the only official tune to appear so far. Stay tuned.
DO MAKE SAY THINK
The Toronto space rockers check back in in early 2002 with more sprawling instrumental rock. Recorded last summer and over the winter, the sessions are described by guitarist Justin Small as "the same, but heavier." Epics previewed during recent sets at Wavelength and the Church at Berkeley justify that description.
RED HOT + RIOT
The latest in the Red Hot series focuses on AIDS in Africa, bringing together a stunning list of new-school artists to pay tribute to Afrobeat giant Fela Anikulapo Kuti. Musicians reinterpreting Fela's languid funk include D'Angelo, the Roots, Erykah Badu, Dead Prez, Macy Gray, Les Nubiens, Mos Def, Baaba Maal, the RZA and Fela's son Femi. The throbbing group cut, a cover of Fela's Water No Get Enemy, should be the song of the summer.
other 2002 releases worth noting:
THIEVERY CORPORATION Songs From The Verve Hi-Fi
CHOCLAIR The Memoirs Of Blake Savage