The curse of the Mercury Prize strikes again!
Arcade Fire's first album catapulted the unconventional Canadian outfit into the rock stratosphere, drawing eulogies from Springsteen, Bowie, Byrne and more. Six years later, their third album is awaited with bated breath. Andy Gill sets the scene for the release of the year
Some nights of the soul are obviously darker than others. During the year-long dispute with EMI that held up this album's release, two of the musicians involved have taken their own lives, the disabled songwriter Vic Chesnutt by an overdose of muscle-relaxant drugs last Christmas Day, while Mark "Sparklehorse" Linkous shot himself earlier this year.
Recording a cover version of an entire classic album is the sort of prank normally associated with Laibach, but Oklahoman eccentric Wayne Coyne is perhaps the only other artist mad enough to try it.
This Danish quintet don't wear their influences on their sleeves so much as tattoo them on to their foreheads. Emotive alt-rock remains their schtick on this second LP, concocted from two parts Arcade Fire to one part Flaming Lips, and with the co-frontmen's wistful, in one case Wayne Coyne-esque vocals pitched against driving, ever-swelling arrangements.
An anatomy of a break-up by one slippery customer
Christmas is no time for messing with the formula, but just because that happens to be the case doesn't mean you have to start reaching for the Cliff Richard records.
Miike Snow is not a man. Miike Snow is, in fact, two men: the band alias of Swedish duo Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg, whose CD sleeves are annoyingly damage-prone cut-outs of the mythical jackalope.
Advancing age clearly poses less of a barrier to pop success than in previous eras, as the recent chart placings of Bob Dylan and the Beatles can confirm.
You could call it the alt-folk answer to the 80s supergroup Traveling Wilburys. Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, M Ward and the much-in-demand producer Mike Mogis have teamed up to form a new band called (with collective tongue in cheek) Monsters of Folk (left). The quartet's self-titled debut album arrives in late September. In advance of that, their first roar has arrived. Called 'Say Please', it largely dispenses with the folk and goes for more of a mid-tempo country rock feel. They're giving it away for free at www.monstersoffolk.com – all you have to do is say please, or more accurately, type "please". Granted, the Traveling Wilburys comparison is glib, but to compound it a little, consider this: for the group, Jim James is calling himself Yim Yames, for reasons unclear. It's a pseudonym he has also used for another recent project – 'Tribute To', a six-track EP of George Harrison covers, he of Traveling Wilburys among others. It gets a physical release on 4 August, but a digital version of it can be found at www.yimyames.com.
Sam Beam's output as Iron And Wine has been so scattered across various formats that he's the exception that proves the rule about mop-up compilations of outtakes and B-sides not being worth the bytes bitten off to burn them.
A woman incubating a foetus in a yolk sac? A marching band with vaginas for heads? It could only be the Flaming Lips' movie debut. It's Christmas Eve, and the crew of a Mars research base are going slowly mad.
Seattle quintet Fleet Foxes were the surprise hit of this year's SXSW Festival – and no wonder, if this sublime debut is anything to go by.
For their first release on Thrill Jockey, the legendary "Japanoise" band Boredoms present the latest in their Super Roots series, a single 40-minute piece in their signature tribal-drone style, called "Livwe!", recorded at a Christmas Eve 2004 concert in Japan.
MGMT are, along with Vampire Weekend, the most droppable name out of New York City right now, and have been heralded with the loudest buzz of advance hyperbole of any NYC band since the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, if not the Strokes.
Critical acclaim, who needs it? Making pop with a bit of substance is doing wonders for The Hoosiers, says chris mugan