Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Upcoming 2008 album releases

Well, it's about that time of the year when music geeks like me start to get pretty excited about the upcoming scheduled music releases of the year. Unlike last year's post where I listed all of the artists who were potentially releasing albums that year, I'll instead talk about a select few artists who have confirmed that they will definitely be releasing an album in 2008 and what they have told the press about the albums.

Michael Jackson - Tabloid junkie
In what has to be one of the biggest publicity stunts of his career, Wacko Jacko's latest was apparently heavily influenced by O.J. Simpson's ultra-controversial book If I did it. This album takes its title from one of his lesser-known songs from double album HIStory, but where that song was against the media in all of its forms, this is a "hypothetical concept album" about what Jacko's life would really have been like if he had really committed all of the acts that he has been accused of in the media. Whether you believe him or not is beside the point; this is a gutsy move from a man who we had all pretty much given up on.

Weird 'Al' Yankovic - I'd like to be serious now

Mr Yankovic has built a career on writing parodies of songs by other artists. Which makes his upcoming 2008 release I'd like to be serious now even stranger: Al has decided to release the first serious album of his career. Tackling all sorts of topics from the Iraq war to climate change, this is Weird Al as you have never heard him before. Which is not very weird at all.

Spinal Tap - Shark sandwich
These guys started out as stars of the brilliant mockumentary movie This is Spinal Tap. Ironically, they wrote songs and performed better than many of the artists they were satirising! They followed their 1984 soundtrack album (the one with the cover that couldn't get any blacker) with the disappointing 1992 reunion album Break like the wind. But now they are doing the unthinkable: they have decided to start releasing albums with the same fictional titles as those mentioned in the original 1984 movie. This is the funniest blurring of fiction and reality I have heard about in a long time; I look forward to many reviews consisting entirely of those immortal words: Shit sandwich.

Radiohead - Out of rainbows
The sister album to 2007's infamously-released In rainbows, Out is reportedly the yang to In's yin (whatever that means). Either way, let's hope this one is better than Amnesiac, which was always Kid A's less talented little brother. Early reports suggest that they will be taking the "choose how much you pay" thing even further with this release. Maybe they'll pay us to download it, and include subliminal ads throughout the music?

Metallica - Scrapbooking
The title of this album suggests that this would be an "odds and sods" collection collecting all of the B-sides and other unreleased tracks from their 25-plus year career. At least that's what the fans were hoping for. Unfortunately, the reality is much more scary. Apparently this is their much awaited "middle age" album, where they have mellowed their sound down to Counting Crows-esque soft rock. And the title? Apparently that was coined by drummer Lars Ulrich, who has discovered the joy of cutting out frilly bits of fabric and sticking them in a scrapbook. I wish I was joking.

Bob Dylan - In the 'hood
He started out as a folkie (Freewheelin'), then went electric (Highway 61 revisited). He dabbled a bit in country in the late 60's (Nashville skyline), become a born-again Christian in the late 70's (Slow train coming), released some pretty forgettable stuff in the 80's (too many to mention) before finally discovering his form again in the late 90's (Time out of mind). For a man who is now in his 5th decade of recorded music, where can he go from here?

Hip-hop apparently. Yes, the man with the "love it or loathe it" voice has decided to try his hand at rapping. Reports about this album are still a bit vague, so it's a bit too early to determine whether the guy who was once dubbed "the voice of his generation" will rap his way into a 4-album winning streak.

Robert Smith vs. The Smiths - Frail spool
Robert Smith, lead singer of gothic rockers The Cure, never had many nice things to say about Morrissey, lead singer of the brilliant 80's band The Smiths (even though they had the whole name thing in common). He was famously quoted as saying (of vegan Morrissey) "if Morrissey says don't eat meat, then I'll eat meat because I hate Morrissey". Nasty stuff indeed.

Which makes this album all the more surprising, as the former enemies have decided to collaborate on their new album. Frail spool has been described by its creators as "campy gothic folk". Which pretty much sounds like what you'd get if you threw Disintegration and The queen is dead in a blender.

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