PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey, rock wraith

Welcome to 2011. It's always great fun near the start of the year because a slew of really great new music comes out along with some big releases.

I am quite excited about London's The Vaccines. Their debut, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? hits the shops in the UK this March.

Let England Shake is the volatile new release form PJ Harvey. It's good to see her angry again. Her songwriting skills however have not diminished!

They had a pretty good run, but finally The White Stripes have split up. White recently made a lovely album with Wanda Jackson, The Party Ain't Over.

Grizzly Bear has done a bang up job scoring the soundtrack for the feel good film of the winter, Blue Valentine.

British Sea Power is back with Valhalla Dancehall, a dense and loud record that picks up where Do You Like Rock Music? left off.

I really like the funky harmonics and odd quirkiness of Kaputt, the new album from Destroyer.

Echo & The Bunnymen is touring the States this spring. They will be performing Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here in their entirety.

The Psychedelic Furs are touring the West Coast to commemorate the release of Talk Talk Talk thirty years ago. They will play that album in its entirety during the very brief tour.

Trashcan Sinatras are mounting a twenty-one date acoustic American tour next month.

OMD are touring the States in March for the first time since 1988.

Vivian Girls will release their third album, Share The Joy this April.

Sweden's The Radio Department is touring to support the release of their new compilation CD, Passive Aggressive: Singles 2007-2010.

Another Swedish band, Peter, Bjorn & John are touring in the next few months in support of their new album Gimme Some which is due out on March 28th.

John Barry

John Barry

Grammy award winning composer John Barry has died at 77. Barry is known for composing several of the Bond films (Goldfinger, Dr. No, From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice and Thunderball). I love his scores for Body Heat and The Lion In Winter, the latter of which won him an Academy Award. His compositions had a profound effect on the trip hop movement of the 1990s. Even Barry's music remains a huge influence on contemporary British bands.

Ringo Deathstarr are a very loud trio from Texas that sounds like a Ballardesque car collision between The Dandy Warhols and My Bloody Valentine. Their new record, Color Trip, is due out on March 8th via Sonic Onyun Records. They are about to tour Europe in support of Dean Wareham.

Another very noisy band on the road is San Francisco's Weekend. These masters of reverb released Sports this past November and are currently on the road with Wire.

April sees the release of In Love with Oblivion, the newie from The Crystal Stilts. On this record the band shows signs of progression by featuring a more expansive sound.

A band I really love, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, has released a new single, "Heart In Your Heartbreak," on Slumberland Records. The band will hit the road this spring.

Brazil's Some Community is making a Carnivale of their own by touring the US in support of their debut EP, Rino Rino.

If you like hooky dance grooves mixed with songs about the end of the world, then check out Reptilians from Portland's very feisty Strfkr.

Totally Wired by Simon Reynolds

Boy George is back with his first new solo record in ages, Invisible Alien. George will also make a new album and tour with Culture Club in 2012.

Patti Smith is penning a detective novel.

Author Simon Reynolds has released Totally Wired: Post Punk Interviews And Overviews. The book serves as a companion piece to his wonderful chronicle of post punk, Rip it Up & Start Again.

If you are obsessed with all things Morrissey and The Smiths then you may want to investigate an obsessively comprehensive book titled Mozipedia: The Encyclopedia Of Morrissey and The Smiths by Simon Goddard.

Kele Okereke of Bloc Party is also writing a book.

Richard Ayoade (Moss of The IT Crowd) has a film coming out entitled Submarine. Since Ayoade has directed several videos for the Arctic Monkeys, it only makes sense that their vocalist, Alex Turner, has reciprocated by composing the soundtrack for the film.

Direct link for the feedreaders.

The Foo Fighters are the subject of a new documentary by James Moll. The film premies at SXSW and should be in wide distribution by spring. The new Foo Fighters record is due this spring as well.

Hans Christian Andersen's The Most Incredible Thing has been adapted as a narrative ballet by Pet Shop Boys and choreographer Javier De Frutos. The soundtrack to the ballet is due out next month.

Discodeine are French producers Pentile & Pelooski. They have a nifty new single out called "Synchronize" featuring Mr. Jarvis Cocker on DFA Records. The duo plans to release a full-length record this spring. Cocker's band, Pulp, is reforming this year for some festival dates.

About Group is a side project from Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip and John Coxon of Spiritualized. Their second album, Start & Complete is due out this April.

Edwyn Collins

Edwyn Collins

After suffering a stroke, Edwyn Collins has rebounded rather nicely. He's getting ready to tour again this spring in support of his seventh studio record, Losing Sleep, that is due out this March. The album features "Do it Again" with special guest Alex Kopranos of Franz Ferdinand. Other songs on the record were co-written by Roddy Frame and Johnny Marr. Collins fans are also thrilled because there is a nifty box set out of Collins' old band, Orange Juice, entitled Coals To Newcastle. Orange Juice was one of the most significant post punk bands around. They were an important influence for bands like Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys and The Futureheads.

The highly touted Brooklyn twosome, Acrylics, have signed to Friendly Fire Records. They are releasing their full-length debut, Lives and Treasure on March 1st.

"Take Me Over" is the fist single form Australia's Cut Copy. Their third studio album, Zonoscope, is out now on Modular Records. They are touring through March.

The Scaramanga Six have begun work on their sixth album, Cursed.

I love Portlandia and must admit that I am greatly surprised by Carrie Brownstein's comedic timing and execution. Brownstein is a former member of Excuse 17 and Sleater Kinney.

After several years off, The Strokes are back this March with their third album, Angles.

Suede is reissuing all five of their studio albums. Each album will feature extensive liner notes and lots of extra tracks.

Kate Bush is hinting at releasing new material this year. In the meantime her fans can get excited about reissues of The Dreaming, Hounds Of Love, The Sensual World and The Red Shoes . Each record will have extra tracks and extensive liner notes.

Ride is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their debut, Nowhere, by releasing it as a multidisc set with twelve live tracks, b-sides and unreleased material.

The Charlatans are reissuing Us & Us Only with nineteen extra tracks.

Further proving the point that the USA finally understands and embraces the traditionally European culture of the music festival, Coachella 2011 sold out in just six days.

Ladytron is releasing a new record later this year. In the meantime they are whetting our appetites with Ladytron: Best of 00-10, a collection of singles along with a second disc of tasty extra tracks.

The Godfathers have returned with an American tour and a new single, "Back Into The Future." A new album is planned for release this year.

Finally, don't let the winter blahs keep you away from listening to some of the interesting and wonderful new records coming out. This is the time of year when most of the new music for the year is released so don't slack off or you'll miss out.