Of all the things I expected 2019 to bring, an electronic Stephen Malkmus solo album wasn't one of them. But sure enough, Groove Denied - whose existence has apparently been the subject of rumour for some time and which was influenced by his time spent living in Berlin a few years ago - is set for release via Matador in March.
First taster 'Viktor Borgia' has a nice early 80s primitive synth-pop froideur to it musically, but I remain to be convinced that his trademark vocal style works over the top. Still, credit to him for having the guts to step outside the indie rock ghetto/comfort zone and try his hand at something completely different at the age of 52. I wonder whether it might prompt fellow alt-rock elder statesman Thurston Moore into putting out his own foray into synthetic sound?
Malkmus isn't the only musician to spring a surprise in the last few days. Just as we were giving up hope of it ever happening, Mackem new-wave punksters The Futureheads are back together. An poorly received a capella album (2012's Rant) had seemed like a sad way to bow out, so the announcement that there's a new album on the way is very welcome. The fact that their tour will call in in Cardiff (28th May at the Globe) made me particularly happy too.