Spring is now less than one week away, and I think I speak for most of our readers when I say: Hooray. Those of us in the Northeast and Midwest in particular have spent the last three months buried beneath God’s fluffy white vomit, only to emerge to sunny skies and chirping birds in the last week. Spring is a time that excites us all because of the fullness of the air, saturated with life, romance, and pollen. And of course music.
The winter of 2011 has been something of desolate tundra when it comes to new music. While many excellent new records have been released (and reviewed on these pages), few new releases have caught the interest and imagination of the culture at large. That promises this change this spring, with a cache of big names and future stars bringing us exciting new work. It’s enough to overwhelm even the most learned listener; luckily, we’re here to plan things out for you. So grab a mimosa, throw on your blue skirts and chinos, and dig in to Frontier Psychiatrist’s Spring Preview:
March 22 – The Strokes, Angles
Those of you who read Rolling Stone circa 2001 remember The Strokes as the band who saved rock ‘n roll. Those who did not, remember them as a band who released a very good record, recorded two mediocre records, and then imploded. Either way, it’s good to have them back. The new record is a hodgepodge of classic Strokes revivalism and New-Wave-bordering-on-industrial experiments. Expect a full review next week; in the meantime, listen to the full record here and send us your thoughts.
March 29 – Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Belong; Mountain Goats, All Eternals Deck; Broken Bells, Meyrin Fields EP
Much like Surfer Blood re-invented the slacker fuzz-pop of 90’s megaband Weezer on last year’s Astro Coast, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are re-inventing the bombastic arena rock of 90’s megaband The Smashing Pumpkins. Whether that sentence makes you giddy or nauseous, you’ll be hearing plenty about the band’s sophomore record Belong in the months to come. There’s nothing bombastic about John Darnielle and The Mountain Goats, whose 13th (!) LP All Eternals Deck is full of literate yet rootsy folk. As for Broken Bells, the supergroup consisting of Danger Mouse and Shins’ frontman James Mercer, their music has underwhelmed my ears in the past. But, given their obvious talent, their upcoming EP warrants a listen.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – “Belong”
The Mountain Goats – “Damn These Vampires”
Broken Bells – “Windows”
April 5 – Holy Ghost!, Holy Ghost!; The Kills, Blood Pressures
Opposite ends of the spectrum on this day. Holy Ghost! are a disco-pop duo from New York whose eponymous DFA Records debut is highly anticipated in dance circles. The Kills, on the other hand, are a transcontinental dirty-blues duo whose lead vocalist Allison Mosshart also fronts Jack White’s Dead Weather; Blood Pressures will be their fourth release. Both records will likely fly under the radar, but both are deserving of your time.
Holy Ghost – “Jam For Jerry”
April 12 – Panda Bear, Tomboy; TV on the Radio, Nine Type of Light; Vivian Girls, Share The Joy Crystal Stilts, In Love With Oblivion; Ponytail, Do Whatever You Want All The Time
This is probably the biggest day for music this spring, with two of the year’s most highly anticipated releases. Panda Bear (of Animal Collective fame) achieved instant classic status with his 2007 effort Person Pitch; that record used sampling technology to re-shape the pop sounds of the early 1960s. Expectations are high for the follow-up. As for TV on the Radio, expectations for their 4th full-length are a bit more muted; they were one of the great bands of the 2000s, but historical precedent says they may soon begin their decline. As for the rest: Crystal Stilts and Vivian Girls are kindred spirits who produce post-punk-inspired noise pop similar to FP favorite Dum Dum Girls; they will be releasing their 2nd and 3rd LPs respectively. Ponytail is a wild and energetic four-piece from Baltimore, a city that, with the likes of Animal Collective, Wye Oak, and Dan Deacon, has produced some of the young century’s most adventurous new music.
Panda Bear – Last Night at the Jetty
TV on the Radio – Caffeinated Consciousness
April 19 – tUnE-yArDs, w h o k i l l; Tyler The Creator, Goblin
These are two of the three most anticipated releases of Spring in the FP offices, and so, although we do not have an official release date for Goblin (so far only “April 2011” is known), it makes sense to group them together. tUnE-yArDs is the alias of Oakland based Merrill Garbus, a young woman whose stunning 2009 debut Bird-Brains was among the most eclectic and innovative releases of the last 5 years. Her follow-up w h o k i l l promises to bring some studio polish to her typical mix of found sounds, ukulele, odd percussion, and inspiring vocals.
tUnE-yArDs – “Bizness”
Tyler, The Creator is the chief executive of the brash young 9-member hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, or just OFWGKTA, or just Odd Future. The group has already made 11 full-length releases available for free on their Tumblr (not to mention Frank Ocean’s recently reviewed mixtape), but Goblin will be the group’s first label-backed enterprise, and Tyler is set to be 2011’s breakout star (whether he likes it our not). His disturbing but star-turning performance in the video for lead single “Yonkers” was featured last month on this site; below, enjoy both that and his disturbing but star-turning performance of “Sandwiches” with collective-mate Hodgy Beats on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
April 26 – Julian Lynch, Terra; Of Montreal, thecontrollershere EP
Julian Lynch’s 2010 LP Mare was light enough to slip through your fingers; although excellent, without repeated listens its beauty was likely to pass you by. Perhaps this is why he has chosen to release follow-up Terra so quickly. Like Lynch, Kevin Barnes’ Of Montreal is nothing if not prolific; 2010’s False Priest was a bit of a disappointment, but Barnes has earned the benefit of the doubt.
Julian Lynch – “Terra”
Of Montreal – “Black Lion Massacre”
May 3 – Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues
This would be the third of those three most-anticipated records in our offices. Despite all of the ink spilled on the Foxes’ 2008 Sun Giant EP and eponymous LP, the group is not re-inventing or even updating folk music for the modern age. They are simply carrying on the tradition of great American folk acts from The Band to Harvest-era Neil Young, and they are doing so in spectacular fashion. If lead single and title-track “Helplessness Blues” is any indication, this record may end up ranking among the year’s best.
Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”
May 10 – Wild Beasts, Smother; Okkervil River, I Am Very Far; Gang Gang Dance, Eye Contact
Wow, this preview is getting pretty long. So, we’ll end things right here. Wild Beasts’ 2009 record Two Dancers struck the FP co-editors as pleasant and forgettable until the bland rattled our internal organs with a stunning show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Our hopes are high for Smother. Okkervil River straddles the line between alt-country and straight up indie rock; that description is terrible but they are actually quite excellent. Gang Gang Dance are the foremost experimental band of this era, in the tradition of The Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, and Tortoise. Seriously, they are. And what better time than Spring to experiment.
Wild Beasts – “Albatross”
Okkervil River – “Wake and Be Fine”
Gang Gang Dance – “Glass Jar”
Elisabeth Nicholson is a contributing writer for Frontier Psychiatrist.