It seems like a recent trend for singers of big huge bands to want to go off and make a solo album! I guess it always happens at some point but it seems like there have been more than normal the last couple of years. Thom Yorke from Radiohead went off and made a solo album called The Eraser in 2006. Julian Casablancas from The Strokes put out Phrazes For the Young last year. Sometimes is a just a new collaboration that ends up coming out. James Mercer from The Shins just put out an album as The Broken Bells with Dangermouse. Alex Turner from The Arctic Monkeys also went this direction and started a new band called The Last Shadow Puppets. Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley has put out two solo albums. Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes has put out solo albums and is a member of the super group Monsters of Folk. Singers need breaks from their bands. Or maybe the bands actually need breaks from their singers! Maybe the singers just have big egos and want to go off on their own and show their fans that they can be just as good as a solo artist. Billy Corgan should just really be going by BIlly Corgan now. As far as I am concerned, Smashing Pumpkins broke up a long time ago! It is basically just him and a bunch of teenagers in the band now! Doug Martsch from Built To Spill even went solo in 2002 with Now You Know. Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star has put out a couple of solo albums as well. Even Tracey Thorn from Everything But The Girl is getting in on the solo action with a new album out next month on Merge. And Kele from Bloc Party also has a new solo album around the corner! I am sure we will soon see solo albums from Beth Ditto, Karen O, Brian Molko, and Caleb Followill from Kings of Leon. It's just the way the industry goes, I guess.
Most of the artists in the adult contemporary genre were once in bands as well -- they have just been solo for so long that we might have forgotten! Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Sting, Glen Frey, Robert Wyatt, Bryan Ferry, Peter Gabriel, and of course Paul McCartney all came from big bands. I guess Thom Yorke and James Mercer will become the adult contemporary artists of the future. Maybe the radio station KOST will have to change their format or just adapt to the time. Phil Collins and Sting will then be played on the oldies stations. And Jenny Lewis and Conor Oberst with be soft rock!
Jonsi from Sigur Ros has now joined the solo bandwagon and put out an album of his own. You can see him perform live at Amoeba San Francisco on Record Store Day, this Saturday! With this new record, he is following the footsteps of his fellow Icelandic native Bjork. Bjork was once in The Sugarcubes, in case you forgot. Jonsi has been hugely successful as the lead singer in Sigur Ros. They have made some amazing albums and I am sure they will make some more. This solo album just seems to be another outlet for Jonsi. He writes a lot of songs and I am sure he just had a bunch extra that he thought made more sense as a solo album. It still sounds like Sigur Ros -- he has not drastically changed anything. More of these songs are in English but it is not really that easy to tell the difference. The songs are still big and dreamy and the album will easily fill the room. It is atomospheric and beautiful just like any Sigur Ros record. The music and lyrics are dramatic. Some of my favorite concerts have been Sigur Ros shows so I really hope that I will get to see some more, but I am also sure he will not disappoint with his solo tour. I will always love Jonsi and I love the album too! It makes me happy but it does have me missing Sigur Ros a bit. It is just hard to improve on something as magical as that band. I guess it is probably how Glenn Frey fans feel.
Listen to "Go Do" by Jonsi from the new album Go...
Buy the new album Go by Jonsi.
Another one of my recent favorites is the new album by Manual. Azure Vista from 2005 remains one of my favorite albums. This new album is called Drowned In Light. He has put out an album nearly ever year of this past decade. He fits into a genre somewhere in between IDM and shoegaze, two of my favorite genres. Just imagine shoegaze without the vocals. His albums are beautiful and I can't get enough of them. He is obviously influenced by Brian Eno, My Bloody Valentine, and The Cocteau Twins. He is also similar to Syntaks, B. Fleischmann and Ulrich Schnauss. His first couple of albums were on the label Morr Music. Darla has released his last couple of albums. Drowned in Light is a pretty good name for the album, but you are not blinded by the light. You are not hit over the head with it. Instead, you are sort of soothed and comforted by it. This music calms me down and makes me happy. It is my new age music. Manual is really Jonas Munk from Denmark. It reminds me of the reasons I love the Cocteau Twins. Jonas should really get together with Elizabeth Fraser from the Cocteau Twins and put out an album. It would be amazing.
Listen to "Summer of Freedom" from the album Azure Vista by Manual...
free download of the track "Warm Circuits" by Manual from the new album Drowned In Light from Amoeba.com.
Buy the new album Drowned In Light by Manual.
I also have a new favorite this week -- I had not even heard of them until a couple of days ago. They are called The School. Loveless Unbeliever is their debut album on Elefant Records. They are a new twee pop band from Wales who occupy the same musical space as Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura. Their record is for people who are not afraid of pop music or of the adorable and cute! The music sort of sounds like a 60's girl group. I always need to balance out my musical life with a group like this. They make me happy! You should let them into you life too!
Watch the video for "Is He Really Coming Home?" by The School....
Buy the new album Loveless Unbeliever by The School.
also out 4/6...
Pumps by Growing
Hippies by Harlem
I Learned the Hard Way by Sharon Jones
Sticky & Sweet Tour by Madonna
Steal Your Face by Mi Ami
Extra Wow by Nice Nice
Fear Is Excruciating But Therein Lies the Answer by Red Sparowes
And Then We Saw Land by Tunng
also out 4/13...
Little Window by Harold Budd & Clive Wright
And In the Endless Pause There Came the Sound of Bees
by Johann Johannsson
Drowned In Light by Manual
Congratulations by MGMT
The Wild Hunt by The Tallest Man On Earth
Loveless Unbeliever by The School