The new Dan Deacon album, Bromst (out March 24th on Carpark), one release I'm very much looking forward to this year, has been revealed to have this rather beautifully - and unconventionally - autumnal cover art. Given that Dan Deacon is part of a multimedia art collective, I guess it's no surprise that it looks good (see the cover to the previous album, Spiderman of the Rings, here). While speaking of the new album's "promise of a thematic and aesthetic shift", Stereogum sums it up rather nicely:
"The Bromst stuff offered hip-hop glints with scratched vocal-samples in the mix and deeper, more deliberate dance beats than Spiderman, while retaining some of the album's quirk and whimsy at its core. This album cover is very true to that."
It also reminds me of the secret Skins episode, but that's probably just me. And no, that's not a bad thing.
UPDATE (via Thrill Pier): A track - the last - from the album is now streaming on Pitchfork. It's very, very good. Key phrase from their description: "Deacon somehow manages to keep the densely packed midrange just this side of a headache"; but read (and listen) to the whole thing, it's great. I think it sounds oddly and momentarily quite like U2 at around the 5-minute mark, but apart from that it's a really interesting denser, slightly darker reprise of the Spiderman of the Rings sound.*
What is curious, though, is that I can't think of anything from 2008 that made a major impact on me - or appeared to have impacted on the wider critical consciousness - in the same way that Spiderman of the Rings (and to a lesser degree, Battles' Mirrored) did. I'm not one of those people who say 'this year was disappointing in music' because, well, it wasn't, and I don't see how you couldn't find some stimulating art somewhere in the world - but at the same time I don't recall meeting anything as interesting-sounding as Dan Deacon in 2008.
Potential candidates? Vampire Weekend or Fucked Up, to take two oddly connected groups: both interesting and accessible sounds, and although I react to the hype(/backlash) surrounding each band quite differently, I still don't see either as revolutionarily novel. I'm talking popular non-mainstream albums here, aka 'indie' - the stuff that gets picked up by Pitchfork and other, worthier publications, and not obscure post-hardcore/screamo/regional artists that actually made my Best of 2008 list ahead of, or nearby, the aforementioned Vampire Weekend.
Also, 'ahead' of Spiderman of the Rings in 2007 I placed Arcade Fire's Neon Bible and Dinosaur Jr.'s Crumble, not because I though either were particularly challenging and new-sounding, but just because I liked them so much. However, I still rate Dan Deacon as an artist who opened my ears and eyes that year to fantastically good music, as well as joyously action-packed live show. Perhaps it is too much to expect that every year, but why not be ambitious about living in a global network of music enjoyment and discussion?
Of course, I already have a few areas of interest in retrospectively exploring the 'new' music of 2008 via some of the Best of 2008 lists spread across the internet, particularly those featured in this earlier post. Fennesz's Black Sea, as noted in josephlovesit's Best of 2008: Pop Art list and in several other locations, seems an interesting, intriguing, out-of-my-usual-listening-orbit choice, but then again that's probably why I haven't actually listened to any of it yet. Dan Deacon also originally appeared to lie at a similar distance from my usual listening habits, but crucially it had - in 'Crystal Cat' at least - a certain punky aesthetic and accessibility.
On that last basis, I'd nominate So Cow's very accessible, very - if tangentially - punk rock, and very interesting album I'm Siding With My Captors - plus a great live show, even if only as a supporting act - as my Dan Deacon of 2008. Especially as Karl of Those Geese Were Stupified has written a brilliant review of it for the latest instalment of his year-end list (#7 of 10-7). A more novel or worthy album to fill the 2008-shaped mental gap in Dan Deacon-like indie music excitement, I can't think of.
* Now, I just need a translation for "8-bit euphoria" into the frantic, ska-happy sound of the So Cow album.