Bowie Beats Lady Gaga, Strokes, Adam Ant’s Rock Comeback
David Bowie’s dreamy single is the first of many rock comebacks this spring.
Here’s a look at what’s coming up.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are set to have one of the best albums -- with one of the worst covers. “Mosquito,” due April 16, sports a picture of a baby gripped by a giant insect.
It’s been four years since the trio led by Karen O delivered “It’s Blitz!” -- my top CD of 2009. The new material is a mix of Siouxsie Sioux punk and electronic disco.
Fellow New Yorkers the Strokes will be back, starting with a single, “All the Time.” The band has never matched the urgent economy of its 2001 debut. We can but hope.
Lady Gaga has also lost some of her momentum. The cynics are sneering that she isn’t a long-term Madonna-size superstar, just a famous-for-a-few-years phenomenon like Cyndi Lauper.
While the lady herself is forecasting great things for her “Artpop” CD, sources say it has a lot of work to be done and it may slip back for some months. Watch this space.
On Feb. 5, Ron Sexsmith gives us an exceptional record with a terrible punning title. “Forever Endeavour” follows the likeable “Long Player Late Bloomer.” That title was a dry comment on the Canadian singer-songwriter’s slow build since 1991. Rating: ****.
Johnny Marr has been playing guitar for even longer. After rumors were shot down of a reunion of his 1980’s act, the Smiths, he has got around to making a solo CD.
“The Messenger” is out on Feb. 26. A single, “Upstarts,” shows he’s trying hard as a front man, if lacking any of Morrissey’s charisma. Rating: ***.
Atoms for Peace, a “supergroup” of members of Radiohead and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, releases “Amok” on Feb. 26 after several years working together. An edgy taster track, “Default,” is graced by Thom Yorke’s distinctive whine. The best thing to say is that it will appeal to fans of Thom Yorke. Rating: **.
No need to wait for the best new thing so far in 2013, from the British band Everything Everything. “Arc” is an impressive piece of indie-pop, warning darkly of the dangers of technology and “something not right” with the world. Rating: ****.
Like Bowie, Adam Ant is another singer we thought we’d never hear from again. His low point came when he was sent to a psychiatric hospital in 2002 after an incident involving an imitation firearm.
He’s back, not exactly madder than ever, and as eccentric as they come. The title gives some idea: “Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter.” Starting with the demented “Cool Zombie,” the 17 tracks are strewn with tribal drums and glam-rock fireworks. It’s all too cool for school and makes no sense at all. Rating: **.
Bowie made some of the best rock of the 1970s. He doesn’t need to do any more, so it’s good to have him back after years of speculation of ill health. The downbeat 66th-birthday single “Where Are We Now?” (rating ***) got his highest chart placing since “Absolute Beginners” in 1986.
The warm reaction has more to do with affection for Bowie than enthusiasm for this song, which has quiet beauty though it’s hardly a match for “Life on Mars.”
The album “The Next Day,” out on March 12, was two years in the making. Its producer Tony Visconti has been talking it up and he’s not the sort of guy to do so if it wasn’t good. With a retrospective at London’s V&A, we can expect Bowie mania for months.
What the Stars Mean: ***** Exceptional **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)