Looking ahead: March 2008-May 2008

Since the demise of ICE Magazine, I’ve not yet found a new release resource that really fills the void. I visit Pause & Play regularly, and while the site lists release dates months in advanced, there are a lot of holes in its coverage. I had to find out the hard way — i.e. by visiting the music shop — that Molotov and Atercipelados had new releases. The accuracy of their information can also be spotty. The new Madonna album was listed as Licorice, even though Madonna’s publicist chided the radio announcer who mistakenly assumed that was the title.

So I’ve tried AllMusic and New Music Tipsheet. Both are very thorough, but neither has the longer view as Pause & Play.

Even after exploring all those options, it was disheartening to find the very packed first quarter of 2008 would give way to a slimmer second quarter. Personally, I didn’t find much in the next three months that would really draw me into the store on release day.

Utada Hikaru, HEART STATION, March 19

I hate to admit it, but I’m already looking ahead to her next English-language album. Utada posted in her blog many, many months ago that she was talking to people about the direction of that album. Most of HEART STATION has already been released as singles, and I’ve been listening to them as they’re listed on the album. I like how well they flow, and I’m very curious to see how the other tracks flesh out the album. I just hope the direction Utada has taken with HEART STATION and ULTRA BLUE influences how she approaches the next English project.

In other words, please let’s not have Exodus, Part the Second.

(DVD) Cocco, Kira Kira Live Tour 2007/2008: Final at Nippon Budokan 2 Days, March 26

I may not have liked Kira Kira all that much, but one of my favorite videos from the Evil Sharing Networks is Cocco’s Spaceshower TV concert. If the two nights at Budokan are anything like that performance, this two-disc concert DVD should be a keeper.

Gnarls Barkley, The Odd Couple, April 8

My taste in music is so far removed from what reaches the US charts, it’s amazing when the two overlap. If I were less charitable, I would say the success of St. Elsewhere was a lapse in judgment by the American listening public, who opted for once to demonstrate some intelligence in its choice of music. (Wow did I have a hard time writing that last participle.)

Furukawa Miki, Bondage Heart, April 23

In my mind, a new album from Miki is a suitable substitute for a new album by Supercar.

Madonna, Hard Candy, April 29

Confessions on a Dance Floor went a long way in distancing Madonna from the failure that was her tenure with Mirwais. (Man did that guy suck.) I don’t think she’s going to create another Ray of Light any time soon, but so long as she doesn’t make another American Life or Erotica, we’ll be OK.

Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs, May 13

I have this nagging feeling Chris Walla’s Field Manual, which is becoming one of my favorite albums of the first quarter, will be far more interesting than this album.

U2, Boy (Deluxe Edition), May 20

U2, October (Deluxe Edition), May 20

U2, War (Deluxe Edition), May 20

I never warmed up to War. So many critics piss all over themselves to praise this album, and I just find it the most unmelodic of U2’s ’80s-era albums. I like "New Year’s Day", "Clocks" and "Sunday Bloody Sunday", but the rest of the album is just forgettable.

I’m far more partial to Boy and October, the underdogs of the U2 ouvre. Some part of me wishes the band would unlearn all the musicianship they acquired in the last 25+ years so they could create albums as visceral as these two.