13 could be a lucky number for alt rock fans with a slew of heavyweight releases due this year. Here’s a possible Top 10 of skewed and inventive guitar goodness coming your way.
Eels – Wonderful, Glorious
Eels’ first album in four years is out February, after Mark Everett was busy with numerous other projects, including the Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives documentary movie about his quantum physicist father, Hugh Everett III.
“Every time I branch out and try something else, I think it will be some kind of relief to take a break from music, says Everett. “But I always come back with my tail between my legs, because there’s nothing I enjoy more than making music.” “New Alphabet” (streamed on eelstheband.com) is a fuzzy bluesy rocker with arc-ing guitar bends.
“Calling for your Love” is another promising Eels song from recent sessions.
Atoms for Peace – Amok
A union of Radiohead mitherer Thom Yorke and Chili Peppers’ punk-funk bassist Flea is a curveball in itself, but it’s shaping up well. Don’t expect axe-hero solos, just eerie melody, delicate guitar “washes” underpinned by metronomic Flea bass and electronica beats.
BBC Radio 1 recently asked Yorke if fans would ever hear the songs Radiohead recorded at Jack White's studio in Nashville in 2012. Yorke said yes, but that: “It's in the mountain of stuff that I've got to finish... first I've got to get the kids from school.”
Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound Of God
This is My Morning Jacket’s Jim James’ full-length solo debut. He plays every instrument and engineered the album himself, for a true solo album. Single “Know Til Now” suggests his trademark echoing/hymnal vocals, stabbing bass and rhythmic invention. Let’s hope James also busts out his Gibson Flying V elsewhere for some soloing, as he’s a talented guitarist.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away
Recorded at La Fabrique, a recording studio based in a 19th century mansion in southern France, The Bad Seeds’ 15th album is as weird as usual. In many ways, it will be interesting to hear how the Bad Seeds cope without cult-hero guitarist Mick Harvey, who is not involved this time. Single “We No Who UR” is piano-led, but guttural neo-blues guitar will surely play a part.
Trent Reznor – titles tbc
Trent Reznor has a busy 2013 planned. After a few years working on movie/gaming soundtracks, he will release tracks by his side project, How to Destroy Angels, and complete new Nine Inch Nails tracks for a “best-of” album. And, then, a whole new NIN album. Scratchy industrial grooves are central to Angels’ tunes, but “Ice Age” boasts wonky folk guitars. It’s going to be a weird trip.
Johnny Marr – The Messenger
Manchester’s alt rock guitar legend releases his second self-sung album in February. 100% more focussed than Johnny Marr and The Healers’ Boomslang (2003), it’s brimming with sharp new wave-ish guitar riffs and sumptuous melody. “New Town Velocity” even recalls the melancholic grandeur of The Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” At 49 years of age, Marr just might have made one of his best-ever albums.
Biffy Clyro – Opposites
The Scottish guitar trio are going epic in 2013. Sixth album Opposites is released late January, and will feature 20 tracks over two discs, subtitled The Sand at the Core of Our Bones and The Land at the End of Our Toes. Lead track “Black Chandelier” is full of crunching guitars, quiet/loud dynamics and strong melodies. Kazoos, bagpipes and church organs also feature on other tracks. Think Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, but with a Celtic accent.
The Black Keys – title tbc
Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are busy plotting the follow-up to 2011's hit album El Camino. The duo are nominated for five 2013 Grammys but ain’t slacking on success – drummer Carney recently told BBC’s 6 Music that they “had to make an album”, while guitarist/frontman Auerbach added, “That's just how we've operated for 12 years. We’re just doing what we do. It will just be the two of us in a studio in North Michigan during the winter – it's going to be awesome.”
Auerbach also revealed that the Black Keys may continue their recording sessions in Nashville later in 2013 and plan to "hook-up" with Danger Mouse (Brian Burton), who co-produced El Camino, for a couple of new tracks. Expect big things once more from The Black Keys in 2013.
Stereophonics - Graffiti On The Train
Durable Welsh rockers Stereophonics release their eighth studio album Graffiti on the Train on March 4. It’s a lavish release. A deluxe edition will feature the full album as well as a second CD full of acoustic and alternative versions of tracks from the record, plus a remix of first single “In a Moment.” The deluxe Graffiti on the Train also features a 20-page hardback book.
Gibson SG-playing singer/guitarist/writer Kelly Jones also scripted and directed the video for “In a Moment.” Before forming Stereophonics, Jones studied scriptwriting and film as a student, so it’s no surprise his own video direction is dark and dramatic.
My Bloody Valentine - title tbc
MBV’s last album, Loveless, came out in 1991. The new album has taken so long even the possible sleeve design has become a topic of web debate. Designer Anthony Peters did not win the job… yet even he’s blogged about his pitches for a My Bloody Valentine sleeve design. After all this, the music better be good.