Hello! Welcome back!
I hope you all had a great break, and a happy new year. My usual trip back east was relaxing, and even though I was sick in bed for New Year’s Eve, the rest of my vacation was delightful. I’m not quite ready to go back to work, but by the time you read this, I will have gotten over that, because I will have had to. I’ve been spending the last few days of my vacation catching up on reading and listening to records I didn’t get to last year. I missed some pretty good ones.
And of course, I’m spending them writing this, the first new Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. column of the new year. This is year 18 of this silly music column. My own age doesn’t freak me out, but other people’s ages certainly do – my sister is 40, for example, which doesn’t seem possible. The fact that there are 17 years of archived weekly columns I can look at whenever I choose (which is very rarely) means that I’m much older than I feel.
But hey, this column isn’t about feeling down, it’s about looking ahead and finding joy and wonder. I usually begin the year this way, with a list of reasons that the upcoming 12 months will be awesome, music-wise. I never have any trouble making the case, even if I only have the first couple months of confirmed releases and a bunch of rumors to make it. This year is no exception. So without further ado, here are 18 reasons to love 2018.
- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Wrong Creatures (Jan. 12)
The first major release of the year hits in a few days, kicking us off right. BRMC sounds like the Jesus and Mary Chain with an extra helping of biker grease, and I’m very much looking forward to this new one. I should also mention that Jan. 12 sees new ones from Joe Satriani and Ty Tabor, for all you guitar lovers out there, and from indie-rock collective Typhoon. Not a bad way to start.
- They Might Be Giants, I Like Fun (Jan. 19)
For me, though, this is the real start of the year. They Might Be Giants have consistently plied their unique trade for more than 30 years, and they have carved out a niche of their own. They’ve never been a novelty band, though they are wrongly lumped in with jokesters and pun merchants. Their brand of cleverness is much more askew, much more interesting. I Like Fun is John and John’s 20th, and they’ve celebrated by re-igniting Dial-a-Song, their call-in music service. Long live TMBG.
- Tune-Yards, I Can Feel You Creep into My Private Life (Jan. 19)
As if that weren’t enough, next week will also bring us the latest from Merrill Garbus, her follow-up to the absolutely killer Nikki Nack. Expect more quirky brilliance from this one-woman show. You can also expect new records from First Aid Kit, Glen Hansard, No Age and (if you like that kind of thing) Fall Out Boy next week, along with one other that deserves its own entry.
- The Shins, The Worm’s Heart (Jan. 19)
Last one from next week, but this one is so weird. The Shins have reworked their entire 2017 album, Heartworms, flipping each song – the faster ones are now more contemplative, the slower ones more hard-hitting. Heartworms was not a favorite of mine, so if this flipped version makes me appreciate these songs more, I’m all for that.
- Justin Timberlake, Man of the Woods (Feb. 2)
Finally we’ve moved out of January. JT will kickstart February with this fascinatingly titled new album, his follow-up to the two 20/20 Experience albums from a few years ago. The cover art and track list have me intrigued, and while the first single (“Filthy”) deflated that somewhat, I’m still down for whatever Timberlake does. Man of the Woods. For real, that’s the title. That’s fascinating.
- Frank Zappa, The Roxy Performances (Feb. 2)
In addition to Timberlake and new things from Field Music and Simple Minds, the second of February will bring this mammoth 7-CD box set containing every show Frank Zappa’s best-ever band performed at the Roxy in December of 1973. Some of this material has seen the light of day before, between Zappa’s 1974 opus Roxy and Elsewhere and the posthumous Roxy by Proxy and Roxy: The Movie releases, but there are literally hours of no doubt amazing performances here, all in one place. It’s worth it just to hear Ruth Underwood play mallet percussion. She’s astounding. This will be worth every penny.
- Franz Ferdinand, Always Ascending (Feb. 9)
I’m pretty glad that Franz Ferdinand has proven to be a survivor. Alex Kapranos and his comrades have been making danceable rock and roll for nearly 15 years at this point, and they haven’t given us a bad record, including 2015’s once-in-a-lifetime collaboration with Sparks called FFS. This new one evidently works in more electronic soundscapes, which is sort of a cliché at this point in a band’s career, but I have faith.
- Belle and Sebastian, How to Solve Our Human Problems (Feb. 16)
If you like the digital music that the kids are into, you can hear the first third of Belle and Sebastian’s new album right now. The long-running, venerable Scottish group is issuing their new songs as a trilogy of EPs, one a month from December to February, and collecting them on CD and vinyl on Feb. 16. It’s novel, and I hope it brings them some attention, but the bottom line is we get a new set of tunes from a band that has been at it for more than 20 years, and that’s worth celebrating all by itself.
- I’m with Her – See You Around (Feb. 16)
On that same day, we get this debut full-length from the trio of Sarah Jarosz, Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan, and if you know your folksy singer-songwriters, you’re salivating over this right now. They’ve been touring for years, but finally we get to hear those voices intertwining over brand new songs. Can. Not. Wait.
- Ministry – AmeriKKKant (March 9)
At the exact opposite end of the musical spectrum, it’s the return of Al Jourgensen and his flagship industrial metal project. Ministry has died so many times now that it’s almost comical, but of course it was the election and presidency of Donald Trump that brought Uncle Al out of retirement once again. Expect a powerhouse of political rage. I should also mention that March will bring us new records from Andrew W.K., Moby and Titus Andronicus, and that’s just what we know about now.
- Derri Daugherty, The Color of Dreams (April)
I helped crowd-fund this first proper solo album from the lead singer and guitarist of The Choir last year, and I’m so happy to see it coming to fruition. Derri’s solo album has been a long-running joke among Choir fans – he’s technically been working on solo material for decades – but we’re mere months away from hearing what he’s come up with. And given that he was working on this record while taking care of his ailing (and now deceased) father, I expect some emotional stuff indeed. In a lot of ways, it’s a warm-up for…
- The Choir, Bloodshot (Summer/Fall)
…the 15th album by Daugherty’s band, one of my favorites of all time. I also helped crowd-fund this, and I’m beyond pleased to play a small part in the surprising and gratifying longevity of one of the best bands on the planet. The Choir creates widescreen atmospheric rock, and with their last few records they’ve been on a serious roll. I’m extremely excited to hear what they’ve come up with, and to (hopefully) see them live again.
- Belly, Dove (April 6)
Twenty-three years after their second album, Tanya Donnelly has reunited Belly to round out the trilogy. This comes along with news that her other band, the Breeders, will release new music in 2018 as well. It’s starting to feel like the ‘90s are back forever, and I’m glad Donnelly is getting in on the action. Quite looking forward to new music from her in the new year.
- New records from Tool and A Perfect Circle
We’re in rumor territory now, but these are some pretty strong rumors. Maynard James Keenan’s two bands have been gearing up to release new stuff for a while now, with A Perfect Circle first out of the gate with two new songs and a tour announcement, which means an album shouldn’t be too far behind. Tool is another story, of course, but they’ve been working on their (believe it or not, only) fifth album for years now, and the buzz is that it’s close to completion. Will we see it in 2018? Who knows? I hope so, though.
- A new My Bloody Valentine album
Another strong rumor, since Kevin Shields says there will definitely be a new MBV record in 2018. Of course, Shields says a lot of things, but since he actually came through in 2013 with the follow-up to Loveless, he has a lot more credibility. And given how good that follow-up actually was, I have high hopes for the new one. Shields has proven that he can continue My Bloody Valentine beyond the iconic Loveless, and continue to reinvent his sound in the process.
- Bryan Scary’s Birds
Bryan Scary is a genius. His work has never been anything less than jaw-dropping, whether he’s going it alone (as on the awesome Daffy’s Elixir) or playing as part of a team (as on all five stunning Evil Arrows EPs). That’s the main reason I’m still being as patient as possible as this project wends its way toward the three-year anniversary of its crowd-funding campaign. I have no doubt that when Birds finally comes out, it will be worth every minute of the wait. Here’s hoping the wait ends in 2018.
- A new Sleep album
I know this is happening, but I still feel like I need to will it into existence. Sleep was and forever will be the finest stoner metal band to walk the earth. It’s been almost 20 years since Dopesmoker, their 63-minute single-track magnum opus, still the greatest stoner metal song ever recorded. It’s been two and a half years since “The Clarity,” the first new Sleep song since Dopesmoker. I know there’s a new High on Fire coming, and Matt Pike is probably busy. But I hope this year brings us more Sleep. They’re the best there is at what they do.
- Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor
Not music, but I’m beyond jazzed to see Jodie Whittaker take up the mantle of the world’s most famous Time Lord this fall. I’m still not quite ready to let Peter Capaldi go – he was amazing in the role, growing and changing over three seasons into the kindest of Doctors, and he bid goodbye at Christmas with a strange little epilogue of a special. It was so anticlimactic that it still doesn’t feel like he’s gone. But at the end we got our first glimpse of Whittaker, who already feels like she owns the role. My reservations about Season 11 are all about the writing team, led by Chris Chibnall, whose Who work hasn’t been of particularly high quality. But I have no such reservations about Whittaker, a top-notch actor with an obvious enthusiasm and reverence for the role. We’ve only heard her say two words (“Aw, brilliant”), and already I’m impatient for her era to begin. In the words of a former incarnation, she’s going to be fantastic.
There’s plenty more where these came from, of course, so if I missed something you are anticipating, never fear. I probably know about it, and if not, please feel free to tell me. It’s gonna be a good year, and I’d be ever so grateful if you’d spend part of it with me, talking about the music we love. It’s one way that we’re going to shine a light in the darkness.
Year 18. Here we go. Follow Tuesday Morning 3 A.M. on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tm3am.
See you in line Tuesday morning.