One Thirty BPM’s Guide to Second Half of 2011 Albums

Male Bonding – Endless Now
(August 30th)

The first taste of Male Bonding’s sophomore record, Endless Now, was a a track almost three times as long as anything on the London punk trio’s excellent 2010 debut, Nothing Hurts. Clocking in at over 6 minutes, “Bones” still carries that charging sound – if not a bit clearer this time around – that made Male Bonding such a breath of fresh air last year; and even though the band hopes that this record will shake-off that “lo-fi” label, the sloppy, raging hooks will certainly still be there, if “Bones” is any indication. Endless Now was recorded at Dreamland Studios, a converted church in Woodstock, New York, with Dinosaur Jr./Sonic Youth producer, John Agnello, and will feature harmonies from Frankie Rose (Dum Dum Girls, Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls).

– Jon Blistein


Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Mirror Traffic
(August 23rd)

As if the man needed any sort of introduction. After a wildly successful reunion tour with Pavement, indie rock deity Stephen Malkmus and is set to release Mirror Traffic with his band the Jicks, their first record since 2008’s Real Emotional Trash. The record was produced by Beck (who’s been keeping himself busy with other luminaries this year, also producing Thurston Moore’s Demolished Thoughts) and though the band had started recording last year, they had to put it on hold as Malkmus left for the Pavement tour. And, as Matador reports, it’ll be the last Jicks record to feature former-Sleater Kinney drummer Janet Weiss, who’s now focused on her new project, Wild Flag. The first release from the album, “Senator,” which has been played live over the past few years, features that classic Malkmus snark (“I know what the Senator wants / What the senator wants is a blow job”) and of course plenty of hooks.

– Jon Blistein

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – “Senator”


Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
(September 12th)

A few years ago, Laura Marling was denied entry to her own show for being underage. Casual listeners of her first two albums might be surprised to learn that, since Marling sings with wisdom way beyond her years. Both records sound like an experienced woman’s diary entries distilled into heartbreaking poetry. But now, at the ripe old age of 21, she will have no problem getting into venues to play songs from her upcoming third release. And if this effort produces more precious folk melodies and confessional lyricism, it will most definitely be an act worth catching. Plans to release this album shortly after last year’s I Speak Because I Can were shelved when Marling said it was “becoming different from the last album,” so it’ll be interesting to see whether Marling continues to tread darker, more adult territory or goes in a new direction altogether.

Watch the teaser trailer below.

– Deanna McLafferty


Mastodon – The Hunter

We’ve already had trickles of information regarding Mastodon’s new album. It’s going to be called The Hunter, it’s named in honour of Brett Hinds’ late brother, and it isn’t as prog-orientated as previous releases. I don’t know why, but I’m actually looking forward to it. Part of the appeal of Mastodon has been the conceptual nature of the lyrics and the stretched-out song structures, but there were times on the previous two albums that killer riffs weren’t as prominent because there was so much else going on in a song. If The Hunter is going to sound like a “super-heavy Led Zeppelin,” as described by Brann Dailor, we’re looking at a riff-heavy affair with more emphasis on groove and feel rather than time signatures and song length, which will be very refreshing.

Now they’re free of the elemental album concepts, Mastodon are free to do as they please, and even if that means having only one album dedicated to music rather than lyrics then I’m all for it. No-one does riffs nowadays like Mastodon.

Recently released “Deathbound” won’t be on The Hunter, but it has an awesome video. Check it out below.

– Daniel Griffiths


Memory Tapes – Player Piano
(July 5th)

Memory Tapes’ 2009 debut Seek Magic is a personal favorite of mine, so at least for me, the anticipation for Player Piano is built right in. So far, all signs point to expectations being either met or exceeded. Memory Tapes have already released “Today Is Our Life,” “Wait in the Dark,” and “Yes I Know” off the new album. Each of those tracks takes the formula laid out on Seek Magic and builds upon it, adding in even more live instrumentation and what seems to be an enhanced sense of pop structures. These things considered, it’s not difficult to imagine Player Piano being even more endearing than its predecessor.

– Andrew Bailey

Memory Tapes – “Today is Our Life”


Metallica and Lou Reed

In one of the stranger announcements of the year, independent rock icon Lou Reed and metal gods Metallica are apparently teaming up for a new album this fall. The songs will be written by Reed and arranged and performed by Metallica, and according to a recent interview with Rolling Stone, “the effort is a combination Reed’s Berlin and Metallica’s Master of Puppets.” Sound confusing enough yet? What if I told you the songs were written for the German play Lulu, a story adapted from author Frank Wedekind’s work? And how does Reed feel about the project? “It’s maybe the best thing done by anyone, ever.” Good one Lou, a real knee slapper. “I’m not joking,” Reed clarified in an interview with Vulture, “and I’m not being egotistical.” Well I guess we have our album of the century. Don’t let us down Lou, it’s not like you’ve set the bar high or anything.

– Erik Burg

Lou Reed – “Berlin”


Modest Mouse

One thing that’s constant is change. Of all of the laws of nature that music is capable of breaking, Modest Mouse have grabbed this one and given it the hardest throttling. Lineup changes notwithstanding, their 15-year career has been built upon sounds synthesized from the same basic elements. Drums, bass, a guitar and Isaac Brock’s plucky tenor comprise the vast majority of their catalogue. Brock has gone on record saying he and his boys aren’t even sure if anything they are writing is still any good. But, based on what we’ve heard from the album so far (link?) we have reason to believe that his claims are ungrounded. And now we have less than six months before we find out if the group’s middle three albums truly represent their peak output, or if We Were Dead was just an anomaly in an otherwise sterling career. Either way, colour me excited.

– Brendan Frank

Modest Mouse – “Lampshades On Fire” (Live at Sasquatch 2011)


Moonface – Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped
(August 2nd)

While the latter half of the upcoming Moonface album title is honest, there’ll always be a part of me pining for the vibraphone album that never was. Still, Organ Music should be interesting and you can always count on Spencer Krug to keep things that way. If there’s anything to be sure of about then it’s that Krug will be splaying himself out across the five tracks as he done on his Dreamland EP (and, to a lesser extent, on Wolf Parade’s last album Expo 86), which, again, will be interesting. Krug’s a man with a busy head and by giving himself a big canvas the opportunity arises for him to be indulgent but also – and perhaps more importantly – thorough. Consider “Fast Peter” which can come across a bit of a psychedelic mess at first, but much like Dreamland has a great deal going on and rewards a some close listening, if not just to make sense of Krug’s considered and evocative lyrics, but to dissect all the looping melodies layering up on top of each other. Organ Music might not be the album Krug started out and intended to make but I still have hope that it’s a satisfying and worthy alternative to those lost vibraphone songs.

– Ray Finlayson

Moonface – “Fast Peter”


Nas – Life Is Good

Based on the principle that new music from any legendary artist is always worth checking out, Nas’ forthcoming album Life is Good has always been an album worth looking out for. But with the recent release of “Nasty,” the album’s first single, the whole waiting game has changed. “Nasty” doesn’t so much reinvent the Queensbridge figurehead as it does return him to a form that at one point placed his name in discussions amongst the all-time greats. If the song is a fair representation of what’s to come on the album, it also lifts Life is Good into must-hear, can’t-wait territory.

– Andrew Bailey


Neon Indian

Chillwave set on quick and appeared to die quicker, but the kings are using 2011 to kick out their sophomore efforts. Toro Y Moi’s Underneath The Pine certainly did not disappoint, even if it was a bit of a move away from the established electro-nostalgia that he set up. Washed Out’s much anticipated debut full length album sees release within the next month, and based on early singles seems to be a similar move toward higher fidelity. All we’ve heard from Alan Palomo’s upcoming sophomore LP is a teaser video entitled “Heart: Attack,” which is the first from a three part instrumental to be featured on this yet to be titled album. If this is any indication, this album won’t mirror the moves made by Toro Y Moi and Washed Out but will instead delve further into the tape warped 80s pastiche of his previous work. If you’re a fan of Psychic Chasms, it appears that this new work will be sure to please.

– Colin Joyce

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