After bouts of touring, decade long hiatuses and total creative revitalization – some of the industry’s biggest names and most anticipated releases are finally in reach. In no particular order, here are some of 2013’s biggest comeback stories, tour stops and albums to look out for, as well as some of the greatest albums that came before them:
My Bloody Valentine: Ding, Ding, Ding! We have a winner for one of the most astonishing comebacks of the deca – err, I mean – past two decades, in the form of influential shoegaze group My Bloody Valentine’s return to the studio, 22 years later. Twenty-two years! After releasing the seminal Loveless in 1991 – an album that’s rightfully been credited by some of the world’s greatest rock musicians as forever changing the alternative rock landscape with its woozy grunge guitars and inaudibly fuzzy vocals – the band reunited three weeks ago to release mbv on their website after decades in hibernation. . .and they broke the internet.
The National: If I could shout my reaction to this comeback from a rooftop, I would. It is about time. As one of my very, very favourite bands – and one that has just been announced as the free Dundas Square headliner at June’s North by Northeast festival (hooray!) – I have been thinking, tweeting and impatiently toe-tapping about when the anticipated follow-up to the Brooklyn indie rock quintet’s breathtaking 2010 album High Violet would finally drop. Although no exact date has been set, I can sleep well knowing it’s finally on its way.
Iron and Wine: If you’re expecting the same sleepy drifts from indie lullaby balladeer Sam Beam, you might be fated for disappointment with this latest release. Continuing on the experimental, pop-influenced path first explored with 2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog and 2011’s Kiss Each Other Clean, Ghost on Ghost’s first single “Grace for Saints and Ramblers” toys with peppy vocals and bouts of sunny brass and strings.
Nine Inch Nails: Trent Reznor is just all sorts of back in 2013. Other than recently releasing a debut LP with his side project How to Destroy Angels (side note: it’s fantastic), on Monday he announced the return of our beloved NIN to the touring landscape in 2013/14 – claiming the crew would be “reinventing from scratch.” Well, that’s dandy; everyone was a little forlorn when we saw off the industrial rock group on their Wave Goodbye Tour four years ago, and we’re ready to see what kind of experiments this reinvention boils down to.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: When It’s Blitz was released to easily become one of the best albums of 2009, alt-rock bands everywhere realized some of the tickets to mainstream indie success without sacrificing quality – diverse mixes of danceable, punky and heartfelt rock music that translated from an infectious studio album to a sweltering live show. A wildly likable nutcase of a ringleader, in the form of Karen O and her famous yelp, doesn’t hurt either. With the leak of this week’s darkly triumphant, gospel-backed first single “Sacrilege” – it’s quite visible that YYY are ready for round two of industry takeover with Mosquito.
Iggy Pop and the Stooges: While dear old Iggy hardly wandered too far or ever put his shirt on, this April 30 release will mark the first time Pop, guitarist James Williamson and drummer Scott Asheton have teamed up in 40 years – their last album together being 1973’s punk classic Raw Power.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Last week, a younger man I know casually scoffed at the Coachella line-up, citing his frustration at all of the bolded headlining acts that he hadn’t even heard of. A product of the Skrillex and Foster the People dayz, this young pup had no idea who Lou Reed, The Stone Roses and Nick Cave were. In fact, many people (appallingly) still don’t know who the 15 album deep Australian rock legend is. Releasing the highly anticipated and brilliantly assembled Push The Sky Away this past month before embarking on a world tour – it’s plain to see that the timeless, 55 year-old Cave has outdone himself yet again. Proof is at 5:30 of this song:
Phoenix: With the first single named “Entertainment,” that’s exactly what this predictable morsel of the French alt-rockers’ new release is. Bouncy chords, exotic synth loops and. . .everything else we got out of Phoenix the first Grammy-winning time around. The boys have certainly sided with the safe sound, but four years later, it still works for radio and a living room dance party.
Major Lazer: Diplo, one half of electronic dance music superstars Major Lazer, nearly had dual citizenship in Toronto in 2012; with over four stops in the Big Smoke, it began to feel like he was downtown’s resident DJ. After Major Lazer’s breakout album and 2011 farewell to co-founder Switch (due to “creative differences”) – Diplo is back and teamed up with DJ/Producer Jillionaire and Walshy Fire to bring back their second release and a worldwide Free The Universe tour. First stop? Surprise, surprise – the group plays Toronto tonight.
Daft Punk: As one of electronic music’s groundbreaking veteran duos, the French Chevaliers (Knights) have mixed, covered, and been covered beyond belief since their official last studio album in 2005, Human After All. When this week the band’s website confirmed they officially signed on to Columbia Records for what promises to be an explosive 2013 new release, waves of EDM excitement were cast around the world at the thought of what they’ll mix up next.
David Bowie: Already named one of his best ever by critics, the Starman’s incredible mid-March comeback album The Stars (Are out Tonight) is the first we’ve heard from him in over a decade. Without mouthing hints of a tour, this long-time trusted messenger of rock ‘n roll will undoubtedly wow with whatever he decides to do next – something evident from this week’s title-track accompanying new music video, featuring the enchanting Tilda Swinton as his wife.
The Replacements: A heavily cited influence on many modern day alt-rockers, two members of the 1971-founded American rock band have reunited to release their own version of Canadian folk legend Gordon Lightfoot’s “I’m Not Saying” as part of an EP, Song for Slim. The EP is part of a Songs for Slim project to benefit the medical bills of former guitarist Slim Dunlap, who is now partially paralyzed from a stroke last year – and they haven’t ruled out a tour to pair with the cause. I can’t think of a more noble reason for a reunion.
The Postal Service: While these major pioneers of emo-pop won’t necessarily be returning with a full-length of newly over-enunciated, keyboard-savvy ditties – they will be re-releasing a tenth anniversary (well then, we are officially getting old) of Give Up – adding a handful of new tunes and an extended world tour into the mix. Make us dance-cry again, Postal Service. . . make us dance-cry.