Some bands just can’t stop making music. There are many who will release a new album every 18 months or so, and sometimes every year. But there are a lot of bands who take their time making each record, who may have other things to do once they’ve finished promoting and touring an album. In 2012, it seems like there are a lot of acts set to make come backs after extended periods away from the spotlight. Here’s 10 that I am particularly excited about.
Muse: In 2011, Muse seemed like a band that were moving on. Headlining the Reading and Leeds festivals by playing their 2001 album Origin of Symmetry in full, they suggested that it would be the last time they played some of those songs live. In a Kerrang Interview, bass player Chris Wolstenholme said that the new album would be ‘radically different’, with the band ‘drawing a line under a certain period’ of their career. Matt Bellamy said that the new album would be a ‘christian gangsta rap jazz odyssey, with some ambient rebellious dubstep and face melting metal flamenco cowboy psychedelia’, which sound amazing, but seems at least a little bit unlikely. Whatever the album finally sounds like, there will be big riffs and vocal histrionics, comparisons with Queen and blistering live shows.
Tool: To say that Tool are a band that are prolific would in fact be a terrible lie. They formed in 1990, but have released just three albums since their debut, Undertow, in 1993. Their last album was 2006’s 10,000 Days, but it seems that their 5th album will be released in May this year. Tool have a reputation for making massive sounding albums, with long tracks and heavy riffs. Maynard James Keenan’s voice is one of the most distinctive in metal, and compliments the music in a way that few others can match. They don’t sound like anyone else, and their album artwork and overall attitude sets them apart too. There will be many metal albums released in 2012, but Tool’s will probably tower over the rest.
The Prodigy: If Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned was something of a disappointment, 2009’s Invaders Must Die was a spectacular return to form for The Prodigy. Liam Howlett went old-school, with a sound more like their debut album than anything they’d released since. They toured the album throughout 2010, and last year released World’s On Fire, a new live album. They also debuted two new songs at their final show of the year, and have promised new tracks when they headline this year’s Download Festival.
Franz Ferdinand: It’s almost three years since Franz Ferdinand released their third album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. It was something of a departure for them, with lead single Ulysses being a darker, more brooding track than the kind of art-punk music that made them famous. They gave a brilliant headline performance at Glastonbury in 2009, but have been relatively quiet for the last two years, contributing a new track to the soundtrack for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and releasing a covers EP last year. They’ve been deliberately secretive about work on their fourth album, but its due this year and it will be interesting to see what new directions they explore.
Queens Of The Stone Age: Queens of the Stone Age are perhaps one of the last real rock ‘n’ roll bands. The kind of band that will show up in your town, play a great show, steal your beer and your girlfriend, kick your ass and make you thank them for it. They haven’t released anything new for a long time though, with leader Joshua Homme forming Them Crooked Vultures with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones, and various other members doing their own thing, although they have reunited to perform their classic album Rated R and celebrate its 10th anniversary, as well as playing shows to promote the re-release of their debut album. They have been in the studio recently though, and it seems like 2012 will be the year when you’ll be thanking them for ruining your life all over again.
The Stone Roses: They said it would never happen, and for the longest time it seemed like it never would. The Stone Roses had begun imploding shortly after the release of their second album, and they crumbled meekly at the Reading festival in 1996, apparently never to be seen again. Reni disappeared altogether, John Squire released a couple of solo albums and worked on his art, while Mani joined Primal Scream, making a few brilliant albums, and Ian Brown enjoyed a successful solo career. But in 2011, the impossible happened, and they reformed to great excitement. There will be triumphant return shows in 2012, but they’ve also promised new music. It’s hard to know if they should return to the sound of their classic debut album, or move in a new direction, but it will be interesting to see if their next release can come close to matching what came before.
Black Star: Mos Def and Talib Kweli are two of the best rappers alive. You might know Mos Def better because of his acting career, with roles in movies like 16 Blocks and Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, but he and Kweli have released a string of brilliant solo albums, rapping about really things rather than women, guns, and partying. They released an album together under the name of Black Star in 1998 to critical acclaim. They’ve been releasing albums separately ever since, but new tracks Fix Up, and You Already Knew were released on iTunes in November, and a new album is due for this year. It’s probably optimistic to hope that real hip hop acts like Black Star will save people from listening to pretend hip-hop like Black Eyed Peas, but I can but dream.
Spiritualized: Spiritualized have always existed in their own little bubble. The brainchild of Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman), Spiritualized appeared from the ashes of his previous band Spacemen 3 with Lazer Guided Melodies in 1992. There’s been another 5 albums since then, with an ever rotating line-up, but the highlight of their career was undoubtedly 1997’s Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. It is a string-drenched epic masterpiece, and it stands out as a unique album released in a year when Britpop was on its last legs. The band performed the full album at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in 2009, and Pierce has been working on a new album for the last two years. It is called Sweet Heart Sweet Light and will be released in March.
Air: Air are French duo Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel, and they have been working together since 1995. Their debut album Moon Safari was lumped in that ugly genre known as ‘chill out’ but it was so much more than that. But since then, they’ve never been afraid to try out new things, and their music has constantly evolved through the five albums they’ve released since. It’s been almost three years since they released Love 2, but they are back in 2012 with a new album entitled Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon). They have composed the score for a restore and hand coloured version of the classic 1902 Georges Méliès film of the same name. A digital version of the album along with the restored movie is set for release some time this year, and will likely mark a new chapter in Air’s musical journey.
Deltron Event II: In 2000, an album called Deltron 3030 was released. Described as a ‘rap opera concept album, set in a dystopian year 3030’, it was a collaboration between Dan The Automator, Kid Koala and Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and featured a host of guest stars, including Damon Albarn, Sean Lennon and Prince Paul. It is a hip hop masterclass, with brilliant production from Automator and Kid Koala, and a great vocal narrative from rapper Del. The sequel has been a long time coming, with work starting as far back as 2006. A mooted 2007 release never happened, and there have been conflicting stories from the three key players about its progress in the years since. But momentum seems to be building, with Kid Koala and Dan The Automator both apparently confirming its completion in late 2011. A release date has yet to be announced, but it could be one of the hip hop events of the year if it finally does see the light of day in 2012.