Looking ahead: April 2006-May 2006

It seemed to have taken a while for announcements about upcoming albums to pop up. Perhaps that’s indicative of a slow build-up to the summer touring season. Maybe it’ll get better the closer we get to June.

Hatakeyama Miyuki, Reflection, April 5

Wild and Gentle was a bit too steeped in the ’70s, and the songwriting didn’t have that consistent strength as Diving Into Your Mind. The pre-release single, "Ai ni Melody", sounds very promising, and Hatakeyama’s voice is as lusturous as ever. Reflection will be Hatakeyama’s first album for the Rhythm Zone label, after her management company Chor Diary changed its licensing arrangement with Toshiba-EMI.

P.S. I’m still frustrated that YesAsia is not listing this album for pre-order. I guess they’re passing on it. Pity.

Bleach, Migi mo Hidari mo Shihaisuru Atama wa Kyoo mo Niku wo Kui Yodare wo Tarasu, May 5

Bleach or Bleach03 or Bleachmobile is back with a new album. The band’s previous self-titled third album was its most accessible and its best. It was even issued in the US on the Austin-based Australian Cattle God label. I’m not even going to try to make sense of that title, but it mentions something about left and right, a dominant head, today, eating meat and drool dribbling.

The Flaming Lips, At War with the Mystics, April 4

Previously mentioned, but after hearing a few songs at one of the band’s special guest spots at SXSW, I have to say I’m really interested in hearing how this album turns out. The guitar riffs of the new songs were a lot more jagged, and I want to be able to make out the words better than I did at the show. Is Wayne Coyne any closer to finishing his Christmas on Mars movie?

Boom Boom Satellites, On, May 17

I ought to pay more attention to Tofu Records. I’ve been thinking about ordering Boom Boom Satellites’ previous album, Full of Elevating Pleasures, from YesAsia, but then Tofu released it in the States in early March, making the decision much easier. Full of Elevating Pleasures found the band shoring up the rock half of its electronica/rock sound. It seems with each album, the electronic portions take more of a backseat.

mono, You are There, April 17

If you’ve heard one mono album, you’ve heard just about all of them. And yet it’s still a wonderful listen. You are There has an obvious Chicago imprint on it — members of Poi Dog Pondering show up in the string section and Steve Albini recorded the album.

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, All the Road Running, April 25

Well, that’s a nice birthday gift — a new Emmylou Harris album! I was never a fan of Dire Straits, and I was annoyed how everyone wet themselves over the "Money for Nothing" video back in the ’80s. It’s looks pretty crude now, next to the stuff by Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze. So I’m not sure how Knopfler and Harris will sound together, but if they enjoyed the collaboration, it’ll show through.

hyde, Faith, April 26

When L’Arc~en~Ciel returned from a three-year break during which each member did solo projects, the resulting work was anti-climactic. Or perhaps in the three years between 2000’s Real and 2003’s Smile, my tastes leaned more toward Number Girl and Shiina Ringo. hyde, however, recorded the haunting Roentgen but rushed the misaimed 666 shortly afterward. Not sure how interested I am in Faith.

Bruce Robison, Eleven Stories, April 4

Bruce Robison recorded albums only as a way to showcase his songwriting for Nashville publishers. He eventually scored some coups, when the Dixie Chicks recorded "Travelling Soldier" and Tim McGraw and Fatih Hill turned "Angry All the Time" into a hit. I’ve never heard that version, nor am I interested since Robison’s own rendition with wife Kelley Willis on 1998’s Wrapped is electric enough. Robison doesn’t really need to release Eleven Stories, but it’s nice that he is.

Morrissey, Ringleader of the Tormentors, April 4

I’m not enough of a Smiths expert to know whether to anticipate this album, but it seems as if Steven Patrick M. is on a roll. I have You Are the Quarry somewhere on Em-Pee-Three. I might have to check that one out again …

Eagles of Death Metal, Death By Sexy, April 17

I just love that title.

Bonnie Pink, "Love Is Bubble", May 10

I admire Bonnie Pink for having the guts to push the boundaries of her singer-songwriter style. Thing is, those boundaries push back, and when they do, the results get scattered, as demonstrated on Just a Girl and Golden Tears. "Love Is Bubble" is Bonnie Pink’s newest single since commemorating the 10th anniversary of her debut in 2005.