Kicking off 2013 with Jake Robinson

Posted on February 12, 2013

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2013 has already kicked off with the surprise announcement of David Bowie’s first new music in ten years. On top of that, seminal shoe-gazers My Bloody Valentine have taken the time to release their third long-player after a gap of 22 years; despite their prodigious absence from the airwaves, the band’s website server still crashed under the weight of fans eager to get their ears wrapped around m.b.v. Slightly closer to home, Australia’s favourite mustachioed Lothario of darkness, Nick Cave, has summoned the Bad Seeds to accompany him on Push the Sky Away (released this week).

And while there are increasing rumours of new music coming later in the year from the likes of music luminaries Arcade Fire, the National and Arctic Monkeys, it seems 2013 is already guaranteed to be interesting, with a slew of bumper releases set for the first half of the year.

Atoms for Peace – AMOK (February 25)

AMOK – Atoms for Peace.

Radiohead’s creative weather vane Thom Yorke continues his musical explorations beyond the perimeters of his day job. Originally formed to act as his backing band during his solo tours, Atoms For Peace is notable as a band that not only features super-producer Nigel Godrich, but also everyone’s favorite bass-slapping megastar, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The tastes we’ve been granted so far of AMOK have hinted towards a more “dance-y” feel, compared to previous album The Eraser’s tendency for laptop introspection. “Default” features a punchy staccato synth line, while “Judge, Jury and Executioner” sounds about as close to Radiohead as a solo Yorke project could. All will soon be revealed . . .

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City (May 6)

Modern Vampires of the City – Vampire Weekend.

Little is currently known about Vampire Weekend’s forthcoming third album—though, after a coded internet campaign, the title and release date were revealed, along with a track list containing such names as “Obvious Bicycle”, “Everlasting Arms” and “Young Lion”. Frontman Ezra Koenig has apparently described the album as the end of a trilogy for the band, so don’t expect a vigorous reworking of their extremely popular sound.

Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience (March 19)

The 20/20 Experience – Justin Timberlake.

Justin Timberlake seems to be the most reluctant global pop megastar of our generation. While his two solo albums produced countless worldwide smash hits and turned him into a household heartthrob, since the wind up of his FutureSex/LoveShow tour JT has been more focused on forging a Hollywood career. So it was with great relief that he finally announced the release of The 20/20 Experience.

What makes JT so fascinating as a musical artist is his endeavour to push the boundaries of what pop music should be. Not content to churn out bubblegum radio filler, JT and his collaborator Timbaland have inverted the notion of a  pop album convention, attempting to insert artistry and raw creativity into the popular.

The Strokes – Comedown Machine (March 26)

Comedown Machine – The Strokes.

It is simply the nature of The Strokes that the announcement of every new album feels like a major surprise. Few other bands emerge as a complete envelopment of a particular time, fashion and sound and manage to make any significant subsequent artistic impact. 2001’s release Is This It was such a milestone for The Strokes, a benchmark album whose reverberations continue to influence the alternative music scene as we progress through the new millennium.

After the post-First Impression of Earth hiatus, 2011’s Angels was a welcome return that many never thought would come, and Comedown Machine will hopefully build on the occasional inconsistencies and tensions of the former release. If the first teaser, “One Way Trigger”, is any indication, the band has continued to develop the complexities of their sound while still retaining an indefinable sonic core.

James Blake – Overgrown (April 8)

Overgrown – James Blake.

One of the most intriguing musicians in the current musical landscape, James Blake came to prominence through his work producing a series of electronic EPs. After rapidly building his reputation on the back of these mainly instrumental electronic tracks, he showcased his own vocals on a cover of Feist’s ‘Limit to Your Love’. His subsequent eponymous album continued this vein of post dub-step, singer-songwriter talents. The centerpiece of the album, ‘The Wilhelm Scream’, was a musical tour de force that was one of the best songs of 2011.

With the musical paths at his disposal, and the various directions hinted at in the Enough Thunder EP, it will be very interesting to track the progression of Blake’s sound. When he emerged through 2010–11, his keynote tactics of minimal electronic production and subtle melodies were revelatory. The first single, “Retrograde”, hints that, while we may not see a re-imagination of Blake’s aural print, his talents as a songwriter continue to expand.

Jake Robinson is You’re Dripping Egg’s elusive music writer. His column, Stereo in a Forest, is released every second Tuesday. 

How do we feel about what 2013 is shaping up to be for music? Are we excited? Sing out in the comments! 

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