Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Is this an alternatively timed creative charge coming from EMI?

Good news for EMI and good news for us. The Pet Shop Boys are back with a good single and generally good album reviews. Depeche Mode will soon join them with their new album due next month (and released as part of the shiny new iTunes Pass format). Old guard they may be (both released their first records roughly 25 years ago) but you need your old generals leading the front line.

Next, you need your experienced, reliable corporals – the ones who can really carry it for you if you let them. New albums from Starsailor (wipe that smirk off your face & grab a cup of coffee for tomorrow’s post) and Doves could potentially do better than any previous releases by those bands, if the campaigns are good and all the suns align with the planets. Both have great lead singles. Could this be the Doves year? It’s a question Guy Garvey posed on his Finest Hour radio show on 6 Music. All that would be required is for Doves to do ‘An Elbow’ – namely emerge from an underwhelmingly slow-burn career to be not only be more widely appreciated, but revered and then, actually popular. Note that this doesn’t just happen because the band has made a great record (see Juggernaut Brew post on Elbow for details). If only that was the world we're all living in!

But the slew of recent & forthcoming releases by new talent could certainly help the sales curve at EMI wake from its recent slumber (Coldplay aside). Empire Of The Sun and Lonely Dear have both been well received critically, especially the latter, with its easy on the ear sound-scapes and nicely lilting tunes. Julian Velard might struggle to differentiate himself from a crowded space of male troubadours, but the songs I’ve heard have real strength.

Bat For Lashes has no such problems standing out from the crowd. Every bit battier (it’s all in the name) than the very recent parade of solo female pop artists and with a point to prove in taking on the ever-more difficult second-album-syndrome, I’m especially looking forward to hearing this record. However, it maybe that Polly Scattergood is actually even battier. It’s too early to judge her success on this debut perhaps, but one to watch for the future.

Add to these the small media industries of Lily Allen and Pete(r) Doherty and it seems like quarter two 2009 is looking like the most active period of music marketing EMI has had for roughly two years – since their new owners took over, essentially.

Quite what impact Terra Firma has had on the schedule is hard to tell. Several albums mentioned above come delayed by the various corporate meanderings but perhaps that’s no bad thing. As a result, EMI is unusually, piling a lot of new product into what is usually a quiet quarter – which might well give some of these artists an edge - or at the very least, some breathing space to be heard. As an alternative to the fourth quarter pile-up in which many big releases effectively crowd each other out, it’ll be interesting to see if the timing of this combination of releases gives EMI a noticeable hike.

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