Looking ahead: January 2009-March 2009

I really went down the rabbit hole this past holiday, so I missed mentioning a number of new releases coming up. In fact, enough news came down the proverbial pipe to warrant an actual round-up of upcoming albums. I usually bad mouth first quarter releases, but as the recording industry continues to get clobbered — and thus become chickenshit about actually releasing stuff — the first quarter is almost becoming the hidden treasure trove of the release year.

Antony and the Johnsons, The Crying Light, Jan. 20

No, I can’t say I was much impressed by the Another Town EP. I’m hoping it’s not an indication of The Crying Light because I Am a Bird Now was really, really good.


Pretty much one year since the release of its debut mini-album, MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS return with another mini-album. Not a full album yet? Former NUMBER GIRL bassist Nakao Kentaro co-produces.


A live DVD from the band’s appearance on the TV show FACTORY. Does this cover strike you as being very Mukai-like? On some level, yes, but I kind of miss those faceless, scratchy manga he would draw for the artwork.

Port of Notes, Live at Liquid Room, Jan. 30

Hatakeyama Miyuki and Kojima Daisuke are joined by bassist Suzuki Masahito, keyboardist Nakashima Nobuyuki, drummer Matsukichi and singer Maki Megumi for a two-disc live set recorded at the Ebisu Liquid Room. A limited edition pressing includes a DVD.

STRAIGHTENER, Nexus, Feb. 11

This album features former ART-SCHOOL guitarist Ooyama Jun, who joins former ART-SCHOOL bassist Hinata Hidekazu as a full-time member.

… And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, The Century of Self, Feb. 17

I’m not sure why I didn’t think Festival Thyme hit hard the first few times I listened to it. I think I just like … Trail of Dead when they focus on guitars, guitars, guitars, and even hints of piano seem counterintuitive. But the band does get its noise on in the four tracks of that preview EP, so I’m still cautiously optimistic about The Century of Self. I’m still getting it anyway.

Tommy heavenly6, Strawberry Cream Soda Pop "Daydream", Feb. 25

Tommy february6, Gothic Melting Ice Cream’s Darkness "Nightmare", Feb. 25

Each of these projects by the brilliant green’s Kawase Tomoko released two albums each, and unless you’re Neutral Milk Hotel, do two albums really constitute enough repertoire to warrant retrospection? OK, on the whole, four albums from one solo artist — even if she’s got two gimmicks going on — is impressive, and a collection sporting both artists on one disc would be a monumental clash of aesthetics. Still, Sony is releasing two special editions for each release, the premium of which includes a Blu-ray disc.

I might just get the Tommy february6 collection since I never got around to getting those albums, and I already have the Tommy heavenly6 stuff.

U2, No Line in the Horizon, March 3 (US)

After overdosing on the early album reissues in 2008, I’ve come to the conclusion that U2 started to get less good right around The Unforgettable Fire and downright sucked after Achtung Baby. All You Can Leave Behind did a lot to wash out the suckitude of Pop, but those early albums had a simplicity and a purity that a seasoned U2 can’t bring themselves to go back to.

mono, Hymn to the Immortal World, March 4 (Japan), March 24, US)

There was a time when mono released albums at a productive clip, about one a year from 2001-2005. So it’s kind of shocking to realize it’s been three years since the release of You Are There. I’m hoping the time away has given them pause to do something more with their sound. As much as I love to feel the ground shake under a crush of distortion, the gradual build of their pieces started to follow a predictable template.

Utada, TBD, March 4 (Japan), March 24 (US)

I’m curious to see how the writing which informed her two most recent and very excellent Japanese albums affects this next English-language album, which follows four years after her US debut. Part of me is crass enough to wish for a localized ULTRA BLUE — heck, even a localized HEART STATION would be spiffy — but Utada in the US is not Utada Hikaru in Japan. But I’m hoping Utada Hikaru has more sway on how Utada sounds.