2012 may already be upon us but the freezing chill of January has seen the music industry grind to halt. Bands are only just beginning to emerge from their Christmas hibernation, live dates are few and far between, and the first big albums are barely beginning to trickle out, two weeks into the New Year.
So as the music worlds shakes off the holiday stasis, rather than succumbing to the winter slumber, Guitar Planet has decided to spend this last week of inactivity focusing on the excitement that’s waiting right around the corner. The dramatic comebacks, the world conquering albums, the bright shining new stars and those spectacular live dates that will occupy our undivided attention in 2012.
Despite announcing their reformation and their intention to headline Download Festival the legendary inventors of heavy metal have started 2012 on the bleakest of possible notes. Monolithic riffing lead guitarist Tony Iommi announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer and faces lymphoma treatment in the coming year.
Far from derailing the comeback Black Sabbath have continued work on their first album with Ozzy Osbourne since 1978, recently moving their recording sessions from LA to London. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic however, Iommi’s final recording with Ronnie James Dio, Heaven & Hell, was both a commercial and critical triumph, while Ozzy’s recent release Scream, while far from a classic, showed that the jittery front man can still write irresistible choruses with little or no thought. Iommi’s health will rightly take precedence over any commercial concerns, but 2012 looks set to be a vintage year for the on-again off-again legends.
So after all the speculation, after being told that Sonisphere was a certainty, and having been forced to sit back and watch fuzzy YouTube footage of American fans screaming at the top of their lungs, Soundgarden are finally coming back to Europe in 2012. Soundgarden will play Download Festival ninety minutes before the mighty Black Sabbath take to the stage. Who could have asked for more?
More dates are expected but after Chris Cornell’s abortive solo project it’s a relief to see one of Grunge’s big three acts return, not only live, but on record as a new album is already scheduled for release in late-2012. Will the old chemistry remain in tact, does Chris Cornell still have that voice, and do contemporary audiences still know and love Soundgarden? Those are the tough questions, and at long last, we’re all going to find out, first hand.
By combining the romance of 80s indie with the rapidly expanding acid rave culture The Stone Roses captured a moment in time; a drug fuelled renaissance that would inextricably alter the British guitar rock landscape. John Squire remains one of the deftest guitarists of the last thirty years. Effortlessly swirling atop a series of locked-in, layered rhythms, Squire’s guitar would be as light as a feather one moment, dark and murky the next, before suddenly exploding into a warped psychedelic blues solo.
The Stone Roses may have garnered two generations worth of admiration for their on record output but their live swansong only served to tarnish an otherwise spotless legacy. A shambolic break up, typified by a laughable performance at Reading Festival in 1996, has left a dark cloud hanging over this reunion. If The Roses were notoriously sloppy and dysfunctional in their prime, what hope is there for their middle-aged incarnation? Ian Brown has already delivered two notoriously shoddy performances at both Isle of Wight and Reading Festivals in the last five years, but that didn’t stop fans snapping up over 200,000 tickets in just thirty minutes!
The world hardly needed further evidence of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys’ brilliance but in 2011 the troubled star finally agreed to officially release the Smile Sessions. We will never truly hear the great lost record of 60s social revolution, but over the course of a delightful double album we were able to snatch a glance at a group of artists at the peak of their abilities, and at the height of Brian’s substance abuse, coming together to make some of the most confounding and beautiful pop music ever penned.
2012 will see Wilson, Love, Jardine, Johnston and Marks join forces for what could well be the last time. Wilson is understandably shaky, but after proving at Glastonbury that he still got it, The Beach Boys will be bringing nothing but the hits to help celebrate their 50th anniversary in style.
Few records can be considered more pivotal in the last 15 years than Refused’s The Shape Of Punk To Come. As much as guitar rock was crying out for a saviour in 2001, The Strokes’ Is This It and The Libertines Up The Bracket, couldn’t hope to match the seismic statement that Refused unleashed in 1998.
Pop dominated punk, guitar playing had been dumbed down to bare bones - power chords or relentless hardcore, but Refused were set to turn an entire genre on its head. Jazz influenced breakdowns, huge multi-part structures, choppy rhythms, menacing cords, huge crescendos and a revolutionary zeal all merged seamlessly to single handedly change what it meant to be in a punk band. Listening to “Worms Of The Senses / Faculties Of The Skull” for the first time represented an incredible rush that can only be compared (in punk terms) to hearing Pink Flag, 154 and Chairs Missing upon their release in the late seventies. Refused are back in 2012, do not let them pass you by.
Tommy Petty never tours Europe. That’s an exaggeration of course, but if you’re a fan in the EU it has certainly felt that way. Despite releasing three albums in the 21st century Mr. Petty hasn’t felt particularly inclined to support them in the UK, but that’s about to change. John Giddings, at great cost, has finally lured The Heartbreakers back to England to headline the Isle Of Wight Festival where they will be joined by Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Biffy Clyro, Elbow and Noel Gallagher. After an interminable wait, European audiences will finally be treated to the Heartbreakers’ divine blend of The Ramones, Stones and Byrds.
Hotly tipped to be returning to the festival circuit in 2012, Rammstein will be bringing their greatest hits to the O2 Arena on February 24th for their most high profile, and mainstream, UK appearance to date. It’s testament to just how far these German industrial giants have come that they can sell out shows alongside the old aristocracy (Paul McCartney) and pop’s bright young things (Rihanna). 2012 will be a huge year for Rammstein, and with a reported 7 million pound pyrotechnic budget, we are guaranteed a show like no other.
In one of the most surreal experiments of recent times Elvis Costello’s Revolver Tour will continue in 2012. Yes it’s true, the legendary new-wave songwriter is touring his entire catalogue, but rather than, you know, actually playing his greatest hits, he’s employing a giant fan spun wheel to pick the tracks. “Radio Radio”, “Pump It Up”, “Mystery Dance” and “Allison” will all make the cut, but the entire mid portion of the set will be decided by the spin of a wheel. It doesn’t come much more surreal or gimmicky but in spite of the inherent cynicism, Mr. Costello will be the talk of London town when his mystery wheel rolls into The Royal Albert Hall this May.
Muse’s new album may be lacking a title but Devon’s own intergalactic rockers have been promising a more restrained approach after the free wheeling excess of The Resistance. The idea of a gig in space suggests Muse won’t be scaling back anytime soon, but honestly, at this point, who cares? Whether Muse self indulge or strip down, the result will be the biggest rock album of 2012. (Expected in Autumn)
After reforming in 2009 No Doubt have promised their fans a new album but having spent the best part of three years working in the studio and on demos the release date for the still untitled LP has simply slipped. However 2012 appears to be their year, they have ten working titles for the new LP and Gwen Stefani has been discussing evolving the band’s signature Ska-rock sound. (Expected in Spring)
After winning the Mercury Music Prize for their starkly minimal but astoundingly affecting debut, all eyes are on The xx in 2012. Their forthcoming live return at Primavera has already created an intense weight of expectation, but the real intrigue remains on record. How will they evolve a signature sound that has become one of the most influential in all of music. (Expected Before The Festival Season)
After suffering from throat granuloma John Mayer had to delay the release of Born & Raised from September 2011 to an unspecified date in 2012. Mayer may just be the most divisive guitarist in the world right now. Despite unquestionable fame and a wealth of celebrity fans, Mayer continues to draw the ire of hardcore fans and his every release is greeted with both shrill screams and bitter backlash. 2012 will be no different, bring it on. (Exact Release Date Unknown Due To Mayer’s Condition)
Returning from a hiatus with some stunning live dates in 2011 (yes they finally sorted those nagging sound issues), The Killers will have their sights set on claiming the biggest band in the world crown in 2012. Recording in Nashville Brandon Flowers has promised an album of “great stories told through real rock music” leading many fans to predict a return to the crunchier sounds of Sam’s Town and “When You Were Young”. (No Solid Word On A Release Date Yet)
Hampered by ill health, but never ones to retire shyly, The Who continue celebrating their 50th anniversary as they contemplate retirement.
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