As with my 2006 movies list, this list is far from exhaustive. But it’s nice to at least have a rough idea of what to look out for — and how much money you need to start saving now. The releases are listed in rough chronological order, with releases that don’t have a firm release date or are speculative are down at the bottom.
- Ester Drang — Rocinate — Although the Drang is often tagged with the “shoegazer” label, their music is much more diverse than that if you really listen. And based on the tracks they’ve posted on their MySpace page, Rocinate might be their most diverse album yet. Release date: 1/24/2006.
- Saint Etienne — Tales From Turnpike House — What can I say about Saint Etienne that hasn’t been said before? Everyone knows that noone writes better electronic pop than these guys, pop that is intelligent, warm, sensual, nostalgic, and above all, incredible catchy. The American release will feature 3 bonus tracks. Release date: 1/24/2006.
- Durutti Column — Keep Breathing — Vini Reilly has one of the most consistent, reliable, and recognizable sounds out there — a testament to his pursuit of a unique artistic vision all of these years. Release date: 1/30/2006.
- Depth Affect — Arche-Lymb — Alias (Anticon) proclaimed that Depth Affect one of the best bands he’s played with. Alias, along with several others, make guest appearances on Arche-Lymb, an album that Darla describes as “Hip Hop beats set on dislocated springs, magnetic keyboards, cut up vocals, bits of acoustic guitars, miscellaneous noises…”. More music from the Autres Directions crowd is always good news, so this sounds all good to me. Plus, it comes out on my birthday! Release date: 2/1/2006.
- Steve Roach — Immersion: One — Steve Roach is one the greatest living practioners of “ambient” music today. Immersion: One is the first in a series of recordings that attempt to create “long form, steady state ‘zones’ created specifically as tone meditations for the living space”. Futhermore, “this music brings steve’s years as a sound painter of deep subtlety to a point where the “brush” has only a few bristles and nothing more is needed.” Could be incredibly boring, or endlessly fascinating à la Structures From Silence. Release date: 2/21/2006.
- The Cure — Reissues/TBA — Robert Smith and Co. are busy boys. They released an album in 2004 that contained some of the best songs the band has recorded in a decade. They re-released Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and Pornography earlier this year. And now they’re planning to record a new album to release in the summer of 2006. Plus they’re re-releasing The Top, Head On The Door, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, and The Glove’s Blue Sunshine (a collaboration between Smith and Siouxsie And The Banshee’s Steve Severin). The Cure is about the only major band whose records I will still buy on the basis of their name alone — which means I will be a poor boy come this summer. Release date: Spring/Summer 2006.
- July Skies — The Weather Clock — Not too much has come out about this, just a couple of notes on Make Mine Music’s website and the band’s homepage. Apparently, it’s two EPs that will be released at the same time. What do you want to bet that they’ll be full of shimmering guitar textures, haunting vocals, and drifting, nostalgia-ridden atmospherics? And I can’t wait to hear each and every one of them. Release date: Spring 2006.
- Mogwai — The Great Beast — It’s been several years since Mogwai’s last full-length, 2003’s Happy Songs For Happy People. So it’s good to see them back in action. Advanced word on this one has been very positive, with the band’s manager, Alan McGee, even going so far as to say it might be better than My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. That’s some mighty brave talk there, and we’ll be able to decide for ourselves in March. Release date: 3/6/2006.
- Unwed Sailor — The White Ox/Circle — I don’t know much about these, but it’s been a long time since the Sailor has hit the high seas. I was unable to make it to their recent Omaha shows, so I have no clue as to if/how their sound has changed. But the band has gained a fond place in my heart over all the years, and I’m eager to see what’s become of them. Release date: March, 2006.
- The Flaming Lips — At War With The Mystics — I’ll admit, Yoshimi just didn’t do a whole lot for me, perhaps because The Soft Bulletin was absolutely devastating. But it doesn’t mean I won’t check this one out. Release date: 4/4/2006.
- Mahogany — Connectivity! — It’s being described as possible the loudest record ever made. You know I need to verify that for myself! Release date: 4/13/2006.
- Don Peris — TBA — Peris is one half of The Innocence Mission (who are also releasing a new album in 2006), and though the vocals of his wife Karin often get centerstage when folks discuss the Mission, his delicate and gorgeous guitar is equally important. Peris could also be heard on Denison Witmer’s last album, lending his lush playing and production skills. Release date: 4/25/2006.
- Danielson — Ships — Release date: 5/9/2006.
- Soul Whirling Somewhere — Almost — It’s been a long time since I listened to Soul Whirling Somewhere’s music regularly, and yet it left such a strong impact on me that I can’t help but take notice everytime news of Michael Plaster’s work comes around. Some clips from the new album can be found on the band’s MySpace page, and they sound as lovely and lonely as ever — nice to hear those synth washes make a return. Release date: TBA.
- lovesliescrushing — Chorus — This album represents a departure from past LLC works. Rather than use layer upon layer of fuzzed out guitars, Chorus is composed entirely of human voices, processed beyond recognition for a ghostly effect (clips can be heard on the band’s MySpace page). This album was supposed to come out earlier in 2005, but then got pushed back. Or maybe it is out. Who knows? Who Knows?!? Release date: ??????.
- STAR — Devastator — In the time it’s taken to release Chorus, lovesliescrushing’s Scott Cortez has gone and formed another band, STAR (mind the all caps). And he’s pretty excited about it, calling it “the best band i have been in for sheer ass kicking and musical pop perfection”. You can hear for yourself at the band’s MySpace page. As expected, there plenty of fuzzed-out guitars and dreamy female vocals. All in all, it strikes me existing somewhere between lovesliescrushing and Astrobrite (another Cortez project). Release date: TBA.
- The Arcade Fire — TBA — I have no idea if this will hit in 2006 or not, but I’ve seen it mentioned on some 2006 schedules, so I’m putting it here for good measure because nothing will stop me from getting this album the day it comes out. If you haven’t heard the Arcade Fire’s debut Funeral, you’re missing one of the most vital records of the last 5, nay 10 years. The band is recording their sophomore album in a Quebec church, and like Funeral, death will be a major theme, specifically the aftermath of tsunamis and hurricanes. Release date: TBA.
- Epic45 — Drakelow EP — This sounds very promising: “Drakelow is an entirely instrumental 7 track CDEP and is the work of just two of the members of the band. The release is intended as a document of when Rob and Ben of Epic45, Ant Harding of July Skies and Dan Thompson of Ruraline ventured into the massive underground ex-nuclear complex ‘Drakelow’.” Plus, a new album is in the works. Release date: TBA.
- Feist — TBA — Nothing definitive on this one yet, just a short post on Feist’s website about going back into the studio, etc. Release date: TBA.
- Massive Attack — TBA — While 100th Window is not up to par with their earlier recordings, it has grown on me in the ensuing years. The band, which is basically Robert Del Naja right now, are holed up in the studio and are working on a new album, which Del Naja described in an interview as having a “new gothic soul direction”. Some of the guest vocalists on this album may include Dot Allison, Liz Frazier, Horace Andy, and Mos Def. Release date: TBA.
- Portishead — TBA — After 8 years of inactivity, something began stirring in the Portishead camp. Last January, they played a charity show with Massive Attack for tsunami relief, and then word came out that they were working on a new album. Of course, this has been said before, but there seems to be more truth to this news than before — after all, it comes right from the band’s own Geoff Barrow. Of course, one wonders whether or not any album is worth nearly a decade’s wait. Release date: TBA.
- Woven Hand — TBA — This one is total speculation, but David Eugene Edwards has mentioned he’s writing new material, so one can only hope. Release date: TBA.
So… what are you looking forward to?
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.