June 3, 2010

Summer Is Sink Or Swim Time for Several New Releases

At the mid-year mark, 2010 is already on track to be a monster of a year for great music. This summer, several acts that have been hotter than the sun over the past few years are set to release new work that comes with high anticipation and heavy expectations. From a hip-hopper who's star is rising faster than the mercury in your thermometer, an abrasive accidental pop star and a couple of indie rock bands teetering on cementing lasting legacies, AwkwardSound gives its predictions on several upcoming releases that should prove to be sink or swim time for these fledgling artists.

Against Me! - White Crosses
Release date: June 8, 2010

Tom Gabel and co. are through being punk. Ever since someone decided to slash the tires of the The Gainesville, FL rockers tour bus a few years back, things haven't sat well between AM! and the scene they once helped nourish. Their glossy 2007 major label debut, New Wave, produced by Butch Vig (Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins) didn't help the matter, as Gabel cooed a pop rock love song into a microphone alongside one half of Tegan and Sara. So where do Against Me! go from here? They've found themselves at the point of no return, and AM! isn't interested in keeping any punk cred that might be left over. While the album's first single has Gabel proclaiming he was a "Teenage Anarchist," its clear that Against Me! are career musicians now.

Prediction: In 2002, Against Me! was Reinventing Axl Rose. In 2010, they'll reinvent selling out.

Drake - Thank Me Later
Release date: June 15, 2010

Hip-hop's new golden boy has a lot of hype to live up to. Since he arrived on the scene over a year ago, Aubrey "Drake" Graham has been singing about the perils of super stardom without officially achieving yet it with a proper album. Degrassi High School's most infamous alumni has the backing of the scenes biggest players such as Jay-Z and Lil' Wayne (Who both guest on Thank Me Later) and his refreshing 2009 So Far Gone mix tape (The full length version, not the much too brief EP) showed a lot a promise from the man they call Drizzy.

Prediction: Don't forget to thank him.

The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang
Release date: June 15, 2010

These New Jersey boys broke through on their sophomore album, The '59 Sound with stories of Americana, meat and potatoes punk rock and a health dose of Springsteen-esque anthems. American Slang picks up right where the The '59 Sound left off with those same songs about blue collar lovers and the American dream. Expect lead singer, Brian Fallon, to tug at your heart strings a bit more and make this album less about the catchy melodies and more about what's to be said about who the songs are about.

Prediction: The '59 Sound : Born In the U.S.A. :: American Slang : Darkness On the Edge of Town

Wolf Parade - Expo 86
Release date: June 26, 2010

Considering that their debut album, Apologies to the Queen Mary, instantaneously catapulted the Canadian quartet into the indie rock spotlight, the band's 2008 follow-up, At Mount Zoomer came with high expectations attached. What we got was just an okay album from a band going through some growing pains, making for a classic case of the "sophomore slump." Many of Wolf Parade's members have been tied to other side projects along the way (Sunset Rubdown, Handsome Furs, Frog Eyes) which may have contributed to the album's multi-polar effect. Yet, early listens of Expo 86 indicate the band's many personalities have worked out those kinks, are on the same page, and albeit, bringing their absolute best to the table.

Prediction: This could be Wolf Parade's defining album.

M.I.A. - / \ / \ / \ Y / \
Release date: July 13, 2010

The always provacative M.I.A. returns with her third album, / \ / \ / \ Y / \, this July. While the singer has often been a source of controversy over the years, it seems she's already begun to wear out her return before the album has been officially released. So far, Maya Arulpragasam has unleashed her sharp tongue on a New York Times journalist after deeming a feature story on her unflattering, hated on Lady Gaga in that same interview and stated that Justin Beiber is a larger threat of violence to society than her music video for the track, "Born Free." And here you were expecting to read something about her music...

Prediction: M.I.A. needs to avoid becoming another pop star gossip blog target to ensure her creative peaks don't come in second to her antics.

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Release date: August 2, 2010

The moody, high-energy Canadian rock act that helped define the Pitchfork hype machine during the mid-2000s and make indie a part of the mainstream is back with their third album, The Suburbs. When the band offered up two very short snippets of the first single and title track, "The Suburbs," alongside b-side, "Month of May," many listeners were still quick to notice at how ordinary the two songs sounded. When both songs dropped officially, the full length versions didn't do much to dispel early criticism: "The Suburbs" is a rather generic, jangly indie pop track that would otherwise go unnoticed if it weren't for the Arcade Fire brand name, while "Month of May" is basically a retooling of Neon Bible's "Antichrist Television Blues" but played in the vein of rockabilly. Much like they can do to people in real life, have The Suburbs made Arcade Fire boring?

Prediction: A commercial success, but a transitional album at best.

Interpol - Interpol
Release date: Pushed back to mid-September

The big news with Interpol is that longtime bassist and the man who more or less gave the band their signature deep bass sound, Carlos D, has left to pursue other projects. When the heart of your band jumps ship right after recording your fourth album and before you're scheduled to take in a nice paycheck as the opening act for U2, that can never be a good sign. So far, Interpol has released one song off the self-titled album called "Lights". The track could easily pass for one of the many forgettable tracks off their disappointed major label debut, Our Love to Admire.

Prediction: Let's hope if this one is a belly flop, they'll each know to follow Carlos D out the door.

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