New York’s cool kids have been keeping busy: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Fiery Furnaces, the Walkmen (who are saying goodbye to their Harlem studio) and Liars (who relocated to Berlin to work on their latest) are all getting ready to grace us with new records throughout the spring, while TV on the Radio’s sophomore album, still without a release date, shouldn’t be too far beyond the horizon.
Don’t let the Rogers Sisters’ The Invisible Deck (Too Pure), out next week, get lost in the shuffle. Perhaps because of a refreshing lack of preening and posturing, this Brooklyn three-piece tends to draw just a little less ink than some of those other scenesters. And while garage and new wave are now well past their second generation, the Sisters’ spiky rhythms, simple hooks and high-energy vocals are earnest and infectious enough to avoid sounding like mere facsimiles.
Also next week, Mogwai unleash their fifth full-length, Mr. Beast (Matador). An entire fleet of bands has followed in the turbulent wake of this Scottish band’s mostly instrumental explorations. A reliance on abrupt dynamic shifts and unexpected time signatures has earned them a dubious association with the often snoozy, over-intellectual “post-rock” genre, but any music that starts with a simple chord progression and then builds until it feels like a hammer is splitting your head apart is still rock ’n’ roll to me. They’re also just as good at breaking your heart the next moment with a shimmery, pastoral ballad.
Despite having more than two decades to get acquainted with them, it’s still never easy to guess what the Flaming Lips might bring us next. Their latest, At War with the Mystics (Warner Bros.), is out the first week of April, and it follows a couple of lushly arranged, electronic-influenced pop masterpieces. Mad-scientist bandleader Wayne Coyne has been describing the new record as a return to rock guitars, but don’t bet on anything too stripped-down or unimaginative. One track is called “My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion (The Inner Life as Blazing Shield of Defiance and Optimism as Celestial Spear of Action).” Multi-instrumentalist member Steven Drozd refers to another song, sensibly titled “Pompeii am Götterdämmerung,” as “the one with the Pink Floyd/ Doctor Who thing going on.”
Of course, no one ever forgot the one-named, celibate vegetarian from Manchester who helped countless art-school students through lost love and feelings of alienation. Still, Morrissey surprised everyone a couple of years ago by breaking a long silence with a record that people actually wanted to hear. Ringleader of the Tormentors (Sanctuary) is the follow-up to that comeback. It’s notable not only because of who’s behind the microphone, but also because of the man on the other side of the mixing board: veteran producer Tony Visconti, best known for his classic work with David Bowie and T. Rex.
In May, another follow-up to an unexpected return: Mission of Burma brings us The Obliterati (Matador). Part of Boston’s indie scene in the early 1980’s, Burma originally helped define the dark, bristly post-punk sound that’s so familiar again these days. The band specialized in literate angst backed by intense bursts of guitar noise, producing only one full-length studio album before calling it quits. They reunited in 2002 to general acclaim, releasing ONoffON more than 20 years after their debut. The new record is supposed to be their rawest, most relentless to date, which is really saying a lot.