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10:54 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

What are the big albums of 2009?

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

MGMT, Vampire Weekend, The Ting Tings, Elbow, Duffy - the album highlights of 2008 were abundant. But 2009 will do its best to eclipse it - here are the top 10 early runners Newsbeat expects will be the most talked about...


Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3 - February [TBC]

Jay-Z owned 2008 and he hardly released a note of new music. All the Noel baiting was a smart move on his part and now anticipation surrounding new material is bigger than ever.

In fact, the third instalment of Shaun Carter's Blueprint series could already be the most blogged about release of 2009, fuelled by mystery and unconfirmed rumours of appearances from the likes of Lil Wayne, Santogold and Eminem. As well as whispers of a song called Oasis.

Kanye West and Timbaland are reportedly in charge of controls. Next year the world's biggest rapper and hip hop's canniest businessman will hit the grand old age of 40 - don't bet against him celebrating in style with an incredible record.

Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand - 26 January

Franz Ferdinand

This time out, the more sullen moments of You Could Have Had It So Much Better have been steam rolled, spun in a circle and re-sprayed with hi-camp disco, 70s glam and a toothy grin the width of the Channel. Think T-Rex meets Boney M.

Last year with a handful of festival appearances and low-key club tours they promised to bring organs and campness. And they've delivered - by the glitter gun load.

Biffy Clyro - TBC - Summer

Biffy Clyro

After a decade of unrewarded slogging the threesome looked like they had type-cast themselves as one of Britain's best-loved, but ultimately underachieving groups.

Then came Puzzle, reaching a whole new fan base. Now they've retreated to their countryside farmhouse to work on their fifth album tentatively scheduled for the summer.

"We feel pressure to follow it up because we want to make a great album," said bassist James just before Christmas. "Commercially I'm sure the record company would like us to repeat that success. But I'm so sure we'd be disappointed if we didn't shift the same amount of units in the first week - it doesn't really work like that for us.

"We've got a couple of songs with synthesiser and keyboards - a lot of people will get scared hearing that but it's just a case of mixing it up."

Empire Of The Sun - Walking On A Dream - 16 February

Empire Of The Sun

On our first meeting with Nick Littlemore [one half of Australian spiritualist pop tribe EOTS, Luke Steele is the other] he read us a five-minute diary entry he'd penned about the ecological and spiritual flora and fauna of Mexico's dry lands and then proceeded to tell us that the pair had met on a plane they'd mistakenly boarded for outer space.

And he was only drinking orange juice.

Not such a surprise to learn then that the twosome's debut Walking On A Dream is a ten track voyage of Fleetwood Mac meets Daft Punk pop discovery. Real discovery - where the two face-painted warriors are now recording a feature film where individual clips are being shot for a handful of songs across the world's continents. It's credit crunch trampling decadent pop at its finest.

Like Littlemore said: "We're going to Iceland to meet the Vikings and then were going to Africa to meet the nomads. It's just going to continue…"

Lily Allen - It's Not Me It's You - 9 February

lily allen

You get the sense Lily Allen is finally reaching some kind of peace with just who she is.

Completed last summer It's Not Me It's You [originally rumoured to be titled Stuck On The Naughty Step] tackles her own fame-related brushes and bruises while introducing a broader, electronic sound.

It sees her on new, tougher form. All the tabloid harassment, public make-up/break-ups haven't blunted any of her trademark cheekiness and lust for life.

"It's a bit more dancey," said Lily. "The the idea was to make something that would translate better in a live environment - that meant making it a bit more dark and dancier."

Klaxons - TBC - Summer


The reason we haven't already heard the follow up to 2007's Mercury-bagging Myths Of The Near Future is probably as much to do with producer James Ford's own crammed diary [Simian Mobile Disco and Last Shadow Puppets dominating his time in 2008] as it had to do with Klaxons' own creativity.

But 2008 was the year the band began knuckling down - deliberately staying off the radar and concentrating on the music. Even ditching the cyber chainmail for sensible jumpers.

So far, two low-key tours have heard them debut a beefy pair of new songs Moonhead and Valley Of The Calm Trees.

Both of which would suggest a fuller, more direct sound for their new record. Less of The Bouncer, more of Golden Skans then.

And, if all is going to schedule the finishing touches should be taking place right about now.

Florence And The Machine - TBC - Summer

Florence And The Machine

If Camberwell's Florence Welch were entirely with it you'd imagine she'd be feeling the pressure of expectation by now.

Everyone's 2009 tip, she's already won a Brit and graced magazine covers before the turkey's gone cold.

Nervier folk would be feeling the heat, yet she's too busy being away with the fairies to really give three hoots. And good on her.

Conducting her life in a kind of appealing haze, she's just begun working on her fantasy-pop debut record [neither of first two singles Kiss With A Fist and Dog Days Are Over are yet confirmed to appear, but are likely too] inspired by ghost stories and Meg White's ramshackle drumming.

"There are lots of characters and weird reoccurring vocal themes," Florence explained. "Hopefully it'll be entertaining.

"Nothing's finished it's all little starts there's no whole, just a lot of beginnings."

Green Day - TBC - Summer TBC

Green Day

Green Day's muscular 'concept' record American Idiot catapulted the Californian mischief-makers to brand new heights in 2004. They'd finally left their peers in the dust and joined Foo Fighters as the US's biggest contemporary export.

Since then, Billy Joel and co have deliberately bunkered down appearing only sporadically as their aliases Foxboro Hot Tubs in a series of sweaty club gigs and viral video clips.

Exciting for us then that they love shattering expectations almost as much as they like dousing crowds at their gigs with pneumatic water pistols so expectation levels for their Butch Vig [Nirvana's Nevermind] produced eighth effort couldn't be higher.

Hardly American Idiots at all then.

U2 - No Line On The Horizon - 2 March


The return of the biggest band in the world. Simple as. Again, Bono, The Edge and co have taken their time. It seems somewhat unbelievable that it's been half a decade since How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.

Typically tight-lipped news surrounding their 12th album is scarce. Except for the fact that it was recorded in Morocco, Dublin, New York and London with production team Brian Eno and Danny Lanois.

Arcade Fire - TBC - Winter

Arcade Fire

Chances are you wouldn't have put your mortgage [if you've still got one] on Arcade Fire recording a album about hope in a new world.

Previous efforts Funeral and Neon Bible were deep-filled with more than a modicum gloomy epics. After the intense touring schedule which followed the release of the latter it appeared we'd seen the last of them for a while. Apparently not.

"The guys have been calling me up and coming over of their own free will and we're just playing again and getting excited about songs," said Win Butler.

"For us I think that when we actually get some time to think and not staring out of a bus window you really get to reconnect.

"So much has happened in the world in the past year and it's a really exciting time. We've all got a lot of songs on the go - you play a song for the first time there's really no better feeling."

Instead of dissecting his own personal demons this time they'll instead focus on the broader global outlook - the post-Obama euphoria mixed with economic dread.

"It's these two opposite extremes at the same time," he explained. "It's like optimism tempered by financial holocaust - I'm hopeful.

"We have the church and we have the tape machine in our house so you could write a song one day and record it the next - so we'll see."

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Arcade Fire turn home movies into film (Thursday, 18 December 2008, 11:49 GMT |  Music )
Florence & The Machine win a Brit (Friday, 12 December 2008, 11:44 GMT |  Music )
Introducing...Skint & Demoralised (Friday, 19 December 2008, 10:59 GMT |  Music )
Introducing... Flashguns (Monday, 1 December 2008, 12:00 GMT |  Music )
Introducing... Baddies (Tuesday, 25 November 2008, 10:12 GMT |  Music )
Introducing... Empire Of The Sun (Tuesday, 18 November 2008, 13:22 GMT |  Music )

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