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A look back at the music of 2006 and ahead to 2007

By ameyers

Section: Arts

January 19, 2007

2007 seems to be a promising year for fans of the increasingly popular indie rock and college radio music scenes. A warning to music fans: Be prepared to buy (or if you must, burn) a significant amount of albums if this years offerings are as strong as last years, a highly likely scenario.

Last year featured noteworthy albums by a plethora of talented artists, many of whom released breakout debuts or important follow-up albums, while longtime rock staples offered albums that featured innovative changes. Significant debut albums were released by artists such as soul and hip hop masters Gnarls Barkley, post- punk Pixies sound-a-likes Tapes n Tapes, Black Sabbath- and Led Zeppelin-influenced Wolfmother, the Raconteurs (Jack White of the White Stripes side project), experimental rockers Man Man, and MySpace darlings and British rockers the Arctic Monkeys. Other new pop artists like Paris Hilton and Taylor Hicks were moderately successful in 2006, while the disgraced K-Fed toured to crowds of no more than a few hundred.

As for 2007, there are several young artists to watch out for. Another MySpace darling has been the U.K.s Lily Allen, a 21- year old whose debut single Smile has garnered heavy airplay and already hit number one in the U.K. Her album Alright, Still is finally being released in the U.S. Jan. 30 after months of anticipated buildup.

Another highly touted band from overseas is the Scottish group the View, who draw on recent alternative groups like Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party. Their album, Hats off to the Buskers, is set for a Jan. 22 release. Also hailing from the U.K. are the Long Blondes, who possess a Blondie meets 70s punk type flavor. Finally, to round out the overseas talent, a supergroup called The Good, the Bad and the Queen featuring Gorillaz and Blur frontman Damon Albarn, former Clash bassist Paul Simonon and former Verve guitarist Simon Tong will release their eponymous debut album next Tuesday.

In the U.S., Jay-Z has been raving about dance rocker Young Love, while hip hop artist Rich Boy has already made waves with a debut single, with both artists set to release their debuts in 2007. Other albums to look out for include the solo debut of Stephen Marley, son of legendary Bob Marley, and the Aliens, a fusion of funk and electronica with former members of the highly respected cult group the Beta Band.

At the same time, many groups both failed and succeeded in releasing critically acclaimed and/or successful follow-up albums in 2006, while others will face the same pressure in 2007. Justin Timberlake, Matisyahu, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Decemberists and Muse were among the many groups to release relatively successful albums in 2006 to help cement their staying power. On the other hand, artists like the Strokes, the Streets, the Killers, Outkast, and Gwen Stefani released albums that did not fare as well as had been anticipated or were plagued with mixed reviews.

2007 will be an important year for many groups, particularly for the band that will change your life, the Shins. Their hotly anticipated and grossly important third album, Wincing the Night Away, will hit the shelves Jan. 23. The group has described it as their effort to stretch out. Another popular indie band whose release will most likely be overshadowed by the Shins, Of Montreal, is also releasing a new album on the same day.

Other anticipated new releases in the next couple of months include a laundry list of big names, including: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Talib Kweli, Bloc Party, Modest Mouse (with the addition of Smiths guitar legend Johnny Marr), Fall Out Boy, LCD Soundsystem, the Arcade Fire, and Nine Inch Nails. Not only that, but Radiohead, Coldplay, Kanye West, Franz Ferdinand, Oasis, and the White Stripes are all rumored to be releasing new material in the upcoming year. Perhaps the most unexpected stories in 2007 will surround several rock and roll Dinosaurs that were thought to be extinct, such as the Smashing Pumpkins, the Pixies, Alice in Chains, Sisqo (in all seriousness), Michael Jackson, the Eagles and an utterly-impossible-to-fathom release of a new Guns N Roses album. After plenty of temper tantrums and lineup changes, GNR are slated to release their album Chinese Democracy in March, a much-ridiculed 16 years since their last release of original material.

Finally, 2006 was an important time for established groups to take a big step forward. Perhaps the best example of this was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose double album Stadium Arcadium is still eating up the charts and has again put them at the forefront of American popular music. Longtime staples Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam, Tom Petty, Sonic Youth, Neil Young and even Weird Al Yankovic all contributed what most fans and critics agreed were their best albums in years. In fact, Rolling Stone declared Dylan, the Chili Peppers, and Sonic Youth as their three top albums of the year. Artists like AC/DC, Bon Jovi, the Cure, Aerosmith, and Metallica will attempt to achieve the same kind of newfound success in 2007.

The new year should certainly provide a surprise or two for music fans, just as 2006 did. Just make sure to save a few extra dollars or leave some extra room on your mp3 player for what is in store.

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