wears the trousers magazine

30 albums you need to hear this spring (III)

part one | part two

January is a month for looking forward as well as back. So while we are in the process of revealing our top 100 albums of the 2000s, this week we’ll also be taking a look at the 30 albums we are most excited about this Spring, in release date order. The new decade is getting off to a solid start as some familiar faces return and new ones jostle for recognition.

In this third and final part, we look at new releases from Ellie Goulding, The Knife, Laura Marling, Natalie Merchant, Emma Pollock, White Hinterland, Lou Rhodes, Goldfrapp, Dum Dum Girls and The Living Sisters, which brings us up to the end of March.

With April releases on the cards from Peggy Sue, She & Him and Sally Seltmann (formerly New Buffalo), there’s plenty more to look forward to then.

* * *

Ellie Goulding

As the winner of the BBC’s Sound Of 2010 poll and already in line to pick up the Critics’ Choice award (previously given to Adele and Florence + The Machine) at this year’s Brits, Ellie Goulding needs to pull out a debut album that justifies the hype. With top-notch singles like ‘Under The Sheets’ and ‘Starry Eyed’ – the official first single, to be released in February – things look pretty promising for Lights.

What the BBC says: “If Kate Bush, Bjork and Stevie Nicks shared a flat in trendy Shoreditch in 2010, this noise would emerge.”

Lights is released through Polydor on March 1

FREE MP3: Ellie Goulding, ‘Under The Sheets’ [via Neon Gold Beat Company]

* * *

The Knife
Tomorrow, In A Year

A collaboration with Bolton-born, Berlin-based electro artist Planningtorock, German DJ Mount Sims, and Danish theatre group Hotel Pro Forma, Tomorrow, In A Year, is the music from the Charles Darwin-inspired opera of the same name which made its stage debut in Copenhagen last September. Involving extensive research, including a field-recording trip to the Amazon for Olof Dreijer, the project challenges conventional notions of opera in virtually every way. Preview track ‘Colouring Of Pigeons’ sounds as exotic, surreal and disturbing as anything they’ve done in the past.

What Olof says: “At first it was very difficult as we really didn’t know anything about opera. We’d never been to one. I didn’t even know what the word libretto meant. But after some studying, and just getting used to opera’s essence of pretentious and dramatic gestures, I found that there is a lot to learn and play with. In fact, our ignorance gave us a positive respectless approach to making opera. It took me about a year to become emotionally moved by an opera singer and now I really do. I really like the basic theatrical values of opera and the easy way it brings forward a narrative. We’ve approached this before in The Knife but never in such a clear way.”

Tomorrow, In A Year is released through Rabid on March 1.

FREE MP3: The Knife, ‘Colouring Of Pigeons’ [email subscription required]

* * *

Laura Marling
I Speak Because I Can

[not final artwork]

Laura Marling’s debut Alas I Cannot Swim, recorded when she was just 17 years old, was voted as the #1 album of 2008 by Wears The Trousers readers, so the follow-up I Speak Because I Can has us all excited. The 10-track album, produced by Ethan Johns (Rufus Wainwright, Ray LaMontagne, Ryan Adams), includes new versions of old B-sides ‘Blackberry Stone’ and ‘Alpha Shallows’, plus recent single ‘Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)’. From what we’ve heard so far, the songs sound pretty rootsy and nothing that jars too heavily with the debut, though Laura promises some “lumps and bumps”.

What Laura says: “It’s a very different approach to the first album. An approach that I prefer. I think it’s setting up a new sound for the future.”

I Speak Because I Can is released through EMI on March 1.

* * *

Natalie Merchant
Leave Your Sleep

[not final artwork]

For her first album in 7 years, Natalie Merchant returns with a hugely diverse collection of songs based on the work of various poets, some famous, like e.e. cummings, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Edward Lear, and some not so famous, such as Nathalie Crane, a 10 year old girl from Brooklyn who wrote a poem about falling in love with the janitor’s boy. Recorded with a total of 130 musicians spanning genres that include Balkan and Celtic folk, Dixieland jazz and klezmer, Leave Your Sleep promises to be an odyssean listen as it reportedly spans two discs (a tracklist has yet to be announced).

What the label says: Album trailer

Leave Your Sleep is released through Nonesuch on March 1.

* * *

Emma Pollock
The Law Of Large Numbers

[higher res artwork unavailable]

With her second solo album The Law Of Large Numbers, former Delgados frontwoman Emma Pollock looks to have expanded the sonic palette of her 2007 debut, Watch The Fireworks. Produced by Paul Savage, the album was recorded at various stages in 2009 at the studio of Chemikal Underground Records with Jamie Savage returning on keyboards and guitar and a guest vocal from Adem.

What the label says: “We’re quietly (though not that quietly) confident that people will be as delighted with how great it is as we are.”

The Law Of Large Numbers is released through Chemikal Underground on March 1.

FREE MP3: Emma Pollock, ‘Hug The Harbour’

* * *

White Hinterland

For the full-length follow-up to their 2008 debut Phylactery Factory, Casey Dienel and Shawn Creeden have taken on a wholly different sound, spurred by a move to Portland, Oregon that forced them to change their writing process after they lost regular access to a piano. What we have on Kairos has already been described as ‘Art & B’, which is a rather handy way of saying that White Hinterland have upped the stakes with songs built around electronics, programming and acoustic percussion, recorded using just one mic, and loops upon layers of Dienel’s ecstatic, swooping voice.

What the label says: “On Kairos, we find [White Hinterland] exploring the edges of minimal pop, accomplishing a delicate but lively seduction through deep, patient bass throbs, prismatic synth textures, and direct, intimate songs sung with an empowered gravitas. Here, Dienel tailors the acrobatics of her former songwriting into a slender focus, folding it into deeper grooves. Beneath the baroque arrangements and intellectual lean of her previous musical efforts was a sexiness that Kairos exposes, showing the artist for what she is: powerful and comfortable in her own skin, with a glittery voice weaned on pop R&B. With a sound so modern, so contemporary, Kairos fixes White Hinterland’s gaze firmly on the future.”

Kairos is released through Dead Oceans on March 8.

FREE MP3: White Hinterland, ‘Icarus’

* * *

Lou Rhodes
One Good Thing

[not final artwork]

The first release to come from Jason Swinscoe of The Cinematic Orchestra’s new imprint Motion Audio, a partnership with distributors Ninja Tune, One Good Thing is the third solo album from Lamb frontwoman Lou Rhodes, and the successor to the Mercury Prize nominated Beloved One. In the intervening years, Rhodes has endured some perspective-altering hardships that manifest themselves in these songs, most notably the grief following the death of her sister which pours into ‘Janey’, but the album has moments of levity too; the title track is about looking for the incidental happenings that can raise a smile even when things look unremittingly bleak.

What Lou says: “Most of the music I’m inspired by was either recorded years ago or uses similar old-school analogue techniques. I guess if I had a reference point for the recording of this record it’d be stuff like Nick Drake’s Five Leaves Left or Nico’s Chelsea Girl. Basically guitar and voice recorded together as it’s played, with the sound of a room rather than a deadened vocal booth. Then the addition of beautiful, simple strings and the odd frame drum…”

One Good Thing is released through Motion Audio on March 15

FREE MP3: Lou Rhodes, ‘There For The Taking’ [email signup required]

* * *

Head First

For their fifth album, Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory look to be headed right back to the dancefloor they so dramatically exited with the pastoral wyrd-folk of 2008’s Seventh Tree. But rather than the retro glam-rock stomps that characterised much of the hit albums Black Cherry and Supernature, Head First is being heralded as a much more inventive affair, relying less on sequinned homage and more on challenging the preconceptions of what a Goldfrapp dance record should sound like.

What the label says: “[Goldfrapp’s] most powerful trip to date, a speedy rush of synth optimism, euphoria, fantasy and romance. With life affirming lyrics and stellar production it lifts off at full tilt and takes us on a journey to the heart of 2010.”

Head First is released through Mute Records on March 22.

* * *

Dum Dum Girls
I Will Be

The deceptively plural Dum Dum Girls (essentially the solo project of Kristin Gundred, or Dee Dee as she likes to be known) signed to legendary Seattle-based label Sub Pop back in July following a pair of acclaimed EPs and a tasty 7″ vinyl. The band’s debut album promises to be a short, fuzz-laden thrill, cramming in 11 songs (including a cover of Sonny & Cher’s ‘Baby Don’t Go’) into less than half an hour.

What the label says: “Produced by Dee Dee and Richard Gottehrer (Strangeloves, Voidoids, Blondie, The Go-Gos and, more recently, The Raveonettes), I Will Be is neither lo-fi nor too polished. Just under thirty minutes with eleven songs, it’s a short tribute to love, fun and the classic pop form of the ’60’s girl groups and early punk rockers.”

I Will Be is released through Sub Pop on March 29.

FREE MP3: Dum Dum Girls, ‘Baby Don’t Go’

* * *

The Living Sisters
Love To Live

[not final artwork]

This debut has been several years in the making and one that we’ve looked forward to for what seems like forever. Why the anticipation? Well, The Living Sisters are not a band of inexperienced hopefuls; instead, they’re as close to an all-female West Coast singer-songwriter supergroup as we’re likely ever to see. Formed by Eleni Mandell – an artist famous for her versatility as a vocalist and musician – and Lavender Diamond frontwoman Becky Stark as a close-harmony duo in 2005, third member Inara George (most famously of The Bird & The Bee) was recruited a year later, and this stylistically diverse collection has been in the works ever since. “There’s something about us three singing harmony that is almost like religion,” says Mandell. “It makes me think, ‘Oh yeah. This is why people talk about God,’ because when your voices are resonating together, it’s a very spiritual feeling.”

What the label says: “Produced by the songwriters themselves with co-production by Sheldon Gomberg, [Love To Live] nods to classic country harmony groups like The Louvin Brothers and The Delmore Brothers, but also showcases the singers’ roots in gospel (‘How Glad I Am’), soul (‘Good Old Wagon’) and doo-wop (‘Double Knots’). Connecting and anchoring these disparate styles are the trio’s harmonies themselves, which, depending on the track, can be subtly suggestive, childishly playful, or earnestly heartfelt.”

Love To Live is released through Vanguard Records on March 29.


5 Comments so far
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I hope you’re aware that Lauren Hoffman has a new album coming out (Jan.12.). That’s all.

Comment by Anni

Yes, we are! The review will go up either tomorrow or Thursday.

Comment by Wears The Trousers magazine

I have to admit to only knowing around 30% of the names listed. So, having now spent a fortune on iTunes it is a pleasure to say thanks for the great selection. There’s still a few not yet released in the UK.

Comment by Kompani

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