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Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Into The Chaos

Howling Bells and other anticipated 2009 releases

Photo By Ian WhentIan WhentCruising back over some of my past late-December posts, I found this one from 2006 wherein I made an appendix to the year-end list and enumerated some of the records that I thought had been unjustly ignored. And interesting, three of the four are getting ready to take another shot at getting some attention in 2009.

First, we’ve got the release of Radio Wars, the long-awaited (by me, anyways) second album from Aussies now based in the UK, Howling Bells. Their 2006 self-titled debut wrapped radio-ready rock in a widescreen dream-pop sweater, topped it off with some judicious twang and delivered it in Juanita Stein’s gorgeous croon. This is a woman who could sing the ingredients off a cereal box and make it sound sexy.

Needless to say, I have high expectations for record number two, the first taste of which the band are offering in the form of lead single “Into The Chaos”. It’s a bit too compact to be the grandiose return statement that I’d have liked, but the the way the punchy verses set up the swoony and woozy chorus is delicious. It’s being released as a 7″ and also as a free MP3 which you can get by signing up to their mailing list. Which you obviously should do.

The album was initially set for a February 9 release but that appears to have been pushed back to March 3, and even though they’re on a new label in Europe (Independiente versus Bell Union), there again appear to be no plans for a domestic North America release. Repeat talked to Juanita Stein back in September about a range of topics including their plans for album number two. And looking back at album number one for a moment, I had no idea they’d made so many videos from it.

Video: Howling Bells – “Low Happening”
Video: Howling Bells – “Setting Sun”
Video: Howling Bells – “Broken Bones”
Video: Howling Bells – “Blessed Night”
Video: Howling Bells – “Wishing Stone”
MySpace: Howling Bells

After a year marked mainly by solo projects, Trespassers William have regrouped and are planning to release album number four sometime in 2009. Details on the full-length are yet to emerge, but an EP entitled The Natural Order Of Things is due out in “late Winter”. They’re currently streaming a track off of it, “Sparrow”, on their MySpace and it manages to sound exactly like and unlike Trespassers William at the same time, which is really just what you want.

Far less promising in terms of concrete release details are The Radio Dept, who went from a hard release date of September 10 for album number three, Clinging To A Scheme, to a broad and vague target of sometime in 2009. Though I suppose I should be thankful we were at least able to get a single out of them this year.

MP3: The Radio Dept – “Freddie & The Trojan Horse”

There’s also a firm-ish release date for The Golden Spike, the debut from Leeds’ Sky Larkin – February 2. They’ve got a video full of shopping cart hijinks for their latest single, which Q made their track of the day and was released in the form of a wristwatch. Sort of. Not really.

Video: Sky Larkin – “Beeline”

I knew her as frontperson for Australian electronic-pop outfit Decoder Ring, but Lenka Kripac has since been putting together a surname-less solo career as Lenka. It’s pleasant and peppy pop stuff, and her voice still sounds sublime, but it doesn’t make me tingly the way that the title track off the last Decoder Ring album did… and still does. Lenka is hitting the road this Winter and will be at the Drake Underground on February 2, tickets $10.50. Decoder Ring are planning a new album for 2009.

MP3: Decoder Ring – “Fractions”
Video: Decoder Ring – “Fractions”
Video: Lenka – “The Show”
Video: Lenka – “Trouble Is A Friend”

Daytrotter has a session and Clash an interview with Noah & The Whale. I find it interesting in all the recent sessions with the band I’ve heard, they seem to be recasting all their songs in a decidedly different sonic space than the recorded versions on Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down – less shiny, more hazy. Either they’re moving in a different direction or they were completely stoned on their last North American tour.

They Shoot Music sessions up with The Futureheads.

Frightened Rabbit visit NPR’s World Cafe.

Spinner’s Interface has a session with Neil Halstead.

You can understand why I’ve been expecting Magnet, long one of my favourite music magazines, to go the way of Harp and No Depression and fold. After all – they used to be a bi-monthly but then went quarterly and have only put out two issues this year. Not really signs of life. But there’ll be at least one more issue – their Nick Cave-adorned 15th anniversary issue is out now, and more excitingly, they’ve updated their website to 21st century standards. Not only is it actually navigable, but they’re finally making content from the magazine available online (including RSS – paying attention, Blurt?). Of course, a cynic might suggest that they’re just preparing the groundwork to abandon the physical media realm, but for now I’m happy to not only have another website to poke around and waste time at, but a nice glossy magazine to accompany me on the subway. Okay Under The Radar, now it’s your turn to get your shit together.

By : Frank Yang at 8:21 am
Category: General

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  1. Vanessa says:

    Love the Howling Bells – saw them at the Viper Room in L.A. a few years back – shame those songs have never been released here…I have a girl-crush on Juanita :)

    OOOOH! Speaking of girl-crushes, have you heard of MEIKO? I absolutely LOVE her!!! She’s a more indie-credible less-sugary Lenka. http://www.myspace.com/meiko – check it out!