Flavorpill's 25 Most Anticipated Albums, End-of-Year 2010 Edition

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As of October 1st, we will be three-quarters of the way through 2010. And while the year has already brought more incredible albums than we can count, there are still plenty more promising releases yet to come before December, when critics will begin tabulating their best-of lists and the entire cycle will halt in preparation for 2011. In the next few months, expect some buzzy debuts (Nicki Minaj, Gold Panda, Braids), triumphant comebacks (Sufjan Stevens, Kanye West, Brian Eno, Corin Tucker), and new material from consistent favorites (Marnie Stern, Antony and the Johnsons, Rihanna). We preview all those and more — with streams, downloads, and videos — after the jump.

October 5

Corin Tucker Band – 1,000 Years (Kill Rock Stars) Why: This is the debut solo album from the frontwoman of Sleater-Kinney, and though she’s spent the past few years as a full-time mom, her signature wail is still firmly intact. No one should ever need more reason than that. Download: “Doubt”

Marnie Stern – s/t (Kill Rock Stars) Why: One of the wildest guitar players in the business, and a true original, Marnie Stern fills out her sound a little more with each new release. But if this third full-length is more expansive on a sonic level, it also delves deeper into its creator’s personal life. The first track, “For Ash,” is a memorial to Stern’s former boyfriend, who killed himself last year. And yet, this serious album is not without its witty moments: Consider “Female Guitar Players Are the New Black,” the ultimate in-your-face to all those critics who keep writing that same “Whoa, it’s a lady who can shred!” article. Download: “Transformer”

October 12

Antony and the Johnsons – Swanlights (Secretly Canadian) Why: Antony Hegarty has always been pretty high-concept, but he ups the ante with Swanlights, which can be bought on its own or packaged with a beautiful, hardcover art book by the same name. Through collage, drawings, snippets of text, and his band’s operatic pop, Hegary examines nature and his place in it. There’s also a Björk duet! Watch: “Thank You For Your Love”

Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love (Matador) Why: This is another no-brainer. We’ve waited four years for a new album from these Scottish indie-pop standbys. And the opening track, featuring surprising, lovely, and surprisingly lovely vocals from actress Carey Mulligan, certainly bodes well. Stream or download: “Write About Love”

Blue Water White Death – s/t (Graveface) Why: The collaboration between Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart and Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater promises to be dark stuff — especially considering that, as Stewart told us in a recent interview, the duo created the album during a lonely week between Christmas and New Year’s, with the help of talented producer John Congleton. Download: “Song for the Greater Jihad”

October 12 (continued)

Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner (Ghostly International) Why: Folks in the know have been waiting ages for British producer Gold Panda’s debut album. He specializes in truly eclectic electronic music, incorporating both hip-hop influences and orchestral flourishes. We dig Gold Panda so much, we hand-picked him to play Flavorpill and Pop Mondial’s unofficial CMJ day party, October 23rd at Brooklyn’s Southpaw. Stream: Lucky Shiner in full

Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty) Why: Because he nearly had a nervous breakdown and stopped making music completely, we have suffered without a new Sufjan Stevens album since 2005, the year Illinois won the hearts of pop nerds the world over. The Age of Adz drops the grand themes to focus on the personal, resulting in more delicate, intimate (but no less captivating) sounds than we’ve heard from Stevens in ages. Stream: The Age of Adz in full here

The Fresh & Onlys – Play It Strange (In the Red) Why: Play It Strange is one of the warmest albums we’ve heard this year, both in sound and sentiment. And the Fresh & Onlys are a band that has no qualms about stacking an album with ear-pleasing retro rock hits. This one is an utter joy to listen to, perfect for pre-party car rides. Download: “Waterfall”

Zola Jesus – Valusia EP (Sacred Bones) Why: Although we wish she’d stop teasing us with EPs and release a new full-length already, we guess we can’t complain when up and coming chanteuse Zola Jesus keeps putting out consistently great, moody music. Watch: “Sea Talk” music video

October 19

The Extra Lens – Undercard (Merge) Why: Once known as The Extra Glenns, this Mountain Goats side project comprised of John Darnielle and Franklin Bruno, releases its first album since 2002. Honestly and unsurprisingly, it sounds a whole lot like the Mountain Goats to us, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Stream: Undercard in full here

October 26

Avey Tare – Down There (Paw Tracks) Why: Animal Collective may be a consensus favorite, but Avey Tare’s side projects remain far more controversial. Many critics panned his famously “backwards” collaboration with wife Kría Brekkan, 2007’s Pullhair Rubeye, and others virulently defended it. So it should be interesting to see what he comes up with left entirely to his own devices.

Bryan Ferry – Olympia (Astralwerks) Why: Bryan Ferry’s recent releases may not live up to his Roxy Music heyday, but there’s reason to believe this new outing will be a welcome return to form. For one thing, it finally reunites Ferry with the whole Roxy crew, Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay, and (miraculously) Brian Eno. Other highlights on a long list of guests include Scissor Sisters, Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead, Primal Scream bassist Mani. Watch: “You Can Dance”

The War on Drugs – Future Weather EP (Secretly Canadian) Why: Sometimes you just want to listen to some solid, sprawling indie rock with a vaguely ’90s feel, and then it is time to put on The War on Drugs. The band has always been Adam Granduciel’s baby, so don’t let former guitarist/current rising star Kurt Vile’s departure dampen your interest. Download: “Comin’ Through”

Wooden Wand – Death Seat (Young God) Why: Cult lo-fi favorite James Jackson Toth is just plain Wooden Wand again (let’s not review his long list of aka’s and say we did), with the backing of brand-new label boss Michael Gira. If you haven’t given this great storyteller and compelling singer a shot yet, you’ll want to do so ASAP. Stream: samples from Death Seat here

October 28

Braids – Native Speaker (Kanine) Why: Among our most anticipated debut albums of the year is this one from ethereal Montreal quartet Braids. The members have been friends since high school, which may explain why they sound so natural together. Check them out, along with Gold Panda (and the wonderful Lower Dens) at Flavorpill and Pop Mondial’s unofficial CMJ day party, October 23rd at Southpaw in Brooklyn. Download: “Lemonade”

November 2

Brian Eno – Small Craft on a Milk Sea (Warp) Why: Eno’s first solo album in over half a decade and the follow-up to his exciting David Byrne collaboration, 2008’s Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, Small Craft on a Milk Sea is actually a collaboration with kindred spirits Jon Hopkins and Leo Abrahams. As Eno wrote in a statement, the album was created through improvisation rather than more formal composition, and “there is no singer, no narrator, no guide as to what you ought to be feeling. If these pieces had been used in films, the film would complete the picture.” We’re certainly intrigued. Also, the limited-edition box sets look gorgeous. Stream: “2 Forms of Anger”

Elvis Costello – National Ransom (Hear Music/Concord Music Group) Why: National Ransom finds Costello re-teaming with producer T-Bone Burnett for their second collaboration in as many years. And while we may normally be wary of taking current events as a major inspiration, we are actually looking forward to what the always canny Costello has to say about the financial crisis. Watch: The eight-minute album trailer

November 9

Cee Lo Green – Lady Killer (Atlantic) Why: As though the success of his massively popular duo, Gnarls Barkley, weren’t enough reason to look forward to the first Cee-Lo solo effort since 2004, he blew our minds with lead single “Fuck You.” We can’t wait for Cee-Lo to continue telling us how he really feels. Watch: “Fuck You” music video (NSFW, duh)

Orange Juice – Coals to Newcastle (Domino) Why: There’s nothing new on this collection, but it’s high time these Scottish post-punk/indie-pop pioneers got the anthology treatment. Coals to Newcastle is a six-CD box set that collects all of Orange Juice’s studio recordings (including the B-sides and unreleased stuff), plus BBC sessions. It also includes a DVD of performances and music videos. Stream: “Moscow” and “Wan Light” here

Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr. Rager (GOOD/ Universal Motown) Why: Billed as the dark twin to Cudi’s impressive debut, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, Man On The Moon II also promises contributions from Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, Cee-Lo, and even indie electronic wizards Ratatat. Download: “Mr. Rager” and “Wylin’ Cuz I’m Young” here

November 9 (continued)

The Tallest Man on Earth – Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird (Dead Oceans) Why: It would have been enough to get The Wild Hunt out of this Swedish folkie this year, but only a few months later, he returns with a bonus EP recorded during a break in touring. Download: “Like the Wheel”

November 12

Rihanna – Loud (Def Jam) Why: Loud is how Rihanna describes herself, and loud is how we plan to play the feisty pop star’s new album. Has she let us down yet? Watch: “Only Girl (in the World)” teaser video

November 16

Stereolab – Not Music (Drag City) Why: It may collect unreleased material from Stereolab’s Chemical Chords (2008) era, but it’s still a new Stereolab album, dammit. Since they’re technically on hiatus, this is especially welcome news.

November 23

Kanye West – Dark Twisted Fantasy (Roc-A-Fella/GOOD/Def Jam) Why: Kanye’s comeback album keeps getting pushed back, but we’ve been told November 23rd really is the real Dark Twisted Fantasy release date. While we preferred the working title Good Ass Job, the early singles, featuring collabs with everyone from Beyoncé to Bon Iver. Stream: “Runaway” (feat. Pusha T)

Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday (Young Money) Why: One of the most anticipated hip-hop debuts of the year comes from a flamboyant and original lady. She’s only released two singles, and she’s already one of 2010’s biggest new stars. Watch: “Your Love” music video