Music News Round Up, Jan 13

The death of Ron Asheton of The Stooges gave the year a mournful start, with precious little else to cheer up fans of good music (that’s you, right?).

While we can wonder at Bono writing a column for the New York Times, and feign interest in the latest Amy Winehouse gossip, Kanye rant or Babyshambles guest, surely there is something actually newsworthy out there?

Here’s what’s piqued my interest in the first two weeks of ’09.

The release of Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion would have been reason to get excited at any time of year but has been enhanced by the dearth of other quality records coming out and the fact that My Girls borrows a synth line from Frankie Knuckles.

Various people are spouting forth on best new music for 2009 lists, with most agreeing that, love it or hate it, electro-pop will be BIG. After great releases from Ladyhawke, Friendly Fires, Hot Chip and Cut Copy in 2008, Little Boots, La Roux and Lady Ga Ga head up this year’s electro-assault while Pet Shop Boys have a track on the Girls Aloud album and are getting Outstanding Contribution award at The Brits.

At the spookier end of the spectrum, how about this little beauty from Fever Ray (Karin from The Knife’s new project).

Norman Cook prepares to release his Brighton Port Authority album. The project he’s been working on for a few years features Iggy Pop, David Byrne, Jamie T and Dizzee Rascal and others. Speaking of Byrne and Cook, whatever happened to the Imelda Marcos musical they were working on?

Motown celebrates it’s 50th birthday this year. Richard Williams, the Guardian’s chief sports writer get’s all fanboy about it.

Nice to see Xfm, despite having the worst post-Capital buy out year ever! are again running with the Xfm New Music Award for the best debut album by a UK act. Last year’s event was excellent John Leckie is already lined up as one of the industry panel judges, but you can vote for the shortlist.

Oh, and iconic London venue The Astoria closes this week not with a bang but with a whimper. Yes, it’s terrible to lose a venue in the heart of town, but despite all the great acts that have played there, the sound was always shit upstairs, it was dirty and it smelled. God, I’ll miss it!

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