Not everything was completely hopeless in 2016. In a year that will be remembered for “post-truth”s, good music was actually put out, some of it even by artists who didn’t die over the past 12 months. Contrary to rumours of rock going the way of the dodo, it somehow has the ability to continually enthuse and produce awesomeness in the face of overwhelming despair. To put a twist on a biblical proverb, it always seems darkest…before things get louder. Rather than dwell on the past and who we’ve unfortunately lost, what’s say we turn the record over as to what our ears eagerly have to gain?
After a too-long 4+ year hiatus between albums, Vancouver’s noisiest male guitar-and-drums duo will finally return with Near to the Wild Heart of Life on January 27th. If the anthemic-feeling title track about following one’s dreams despite temptations and the potential for corruption is any indication, cancel all future “Rock Is Dead” obituaries. Anyone who has been fortunate enough to experience their no-gimmicks-needed, balls to the wall live show would wholeheartedly agree. Never mind being Canada’s next great audio export, championed by one of our country’s most important indie record labels in Arts & Crafts. How about the lofty title of Best Two-Piece Rock Band, period?
If the name is slightly obscure, all this California beach blond does is make music. So much in fact that his self-titled 2017 release (also on January 27th) will mark Segall’s ninth full-length effort since 2008. To say nothing of numerous other collaborations and side projects that range from introspective acoustic to hardcore metal. Oh, and he tours incessantly, most recently wearing a baby mask under the persona of a character christened “Sloppo”; it’s a wonder there’s ever time to record. Segall’s work harks back to rock’s freer, longhaired days while continually propelling it forward in strange new ways that Ziggy Stardust himself would be proud of.
THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
Chalk this one up to the Recency Effect. Scottish siblings and college radio legends Jim and William Reid unleashed their electronica-meets-alternative single “Amputation” on December 9th, with the promise of new album Damage and Joy in March, their first in eighteen years. Let’s just say familial infighting had a lot to do with J.A.M.C.’s dearth of productivity. They’re trying to make up for lost time by returning under father figure Alan McGee’s management, the founder of Creation Records and the vinyl visionary who also discovered a little band called Oasis. Hope those equally belligerent Gallagher brothers are paying attention to how blood is indeed thicker than water.
Leave it to Trent Reznor to do his best Santa impersonation in the form of Nine Inch Nails EP Not the Actual Events on December 23rd. Who cares if it may not be yuletide log-friendly, this is precisely what music fans need to cast off bad tidings and bring in the new! “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)” has risen like a guiding star for meandering goths and rivetheads looking to refind their way.