So the answer to my rhetorical question from February 10 was Portishead. Based on the two songs from their mySpace page and the advance single Machine Gun, my excitement levels for Third are pretty high.
(Billy Bragg will always have a special place in my heart for Spy vs. Spy, Brewing up, Talking with the Taxman, the politics, his live shows and the endless argument I had with and ex-girlfriend about the lyrics of Great Leap Forwards. I still think his lyrics are great, but the middle-of-the road, pub rock which seems to be their standard accompaniment these days really bores my tits off.
I still consider R.E.M. to be one of the greatest bands ever and the Green World Tour concert at Glasgow Barrowlands is probably the best gig I have ever been to. And Accelerate is supposed to be a return to the glory days of Green and Document. But much as I desperately want it to be as good as either of those albums (or even half as good...) I somehow know that Stipe, Buck and Berry just don't really have it in them anymore.
And finally the smokescreen. I like the Breeders a lot, but come on, not that much.)
Light in the West from February 17's Observer Music Magazine also helped to fuel the anticipation. Fascinating on the history of the band, the dynamics of the personalities and also the construction processes the music goes through. I can't find a date for the Australian release, but most of the signs point to late April. I hope so ...