With end-of-year listomania receding and release schedules starting to get locked down for the coming year, it’s time to stop looking back and start looking forward at the the most exciting albums due out next year. We’ve started with a selection of 15 records that have definite (or pretty much definite) release dates, titles, etc. — mostly in the first three months of the year — and also included a more speculative look further forward at a selection of albums that are rumored to be dropping at some point in 2012. So far, we have to say that it’s shaping up to be an excellent year — bring on January!
Chromatics — Kill for Love (January, exact date TBD)
Chromatics are one of those bands who just haven’t released enough music — since their 2007 full-length album Night Drive, there’s been a trickle of singles and EPs, but fans (like us) have been thirsting for another proper record. Happily, it looks like our will be fulfilled with the promised release of Kill for Love — a double album, no less! The band’s Facebook page promises 13 tracks and 67 minutes, although the release date is yet to be finalized. Also: how much would She Who Shall Not Be Named like to be Ruth Radelet?
Leonard Cohen — Old Ideas (January 31)
The album title is characteristically wry and self-effacing, but honestly, we don’t care if these are ideas from about 1965, we’re still dying to hear them. And, of course, we’re crossing fingers that Cohen tours again too, because seeing him live is a pleasure and a privilege.
Grimes — Visions (January 31)
The renaissance of synthpop has been one of the enduring pleasures of the last few year, and Claire Boucher’s candy-coated songwriting definitely puts the “pop” into “synthpop.” The insanely catchy “Oblivion” would have been the Flavorpill Single of the Year if we were in the habit of dispensing such honors, and “Vanessa” probably would have been in the running, too. She actually released two albums last year — Geidi Primes and Halfaxa — but we have a feeling that this could be her real breakthrough, and a leap forward toward genuine crossover appeal.
Lindstrøm — Six Cups of Rebel (February 6)
Does it contain another half-hour space disco opus? We hope so!
Mark Lanegan Band — Blues Funeral (February 7)
The man with a voice that’s gravelly and emotive enough to rival Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits put together. “Long-awaited” is one of those music industry clichés that’s generally best avoided, but it’s been eight years since the release of the hugely underrated Bubblegum, which was his last album under the Mark Lanegan Band banner. While Lanegan’s not been idle in the intervening years — he’s worked Greg Dulli as Gutter Twins, and released a couple of excellent albums with Isobel Campbell, amongst other things — we’re very glad to see he’s making another solo record, and very much looking forward to hearing it.
Of Montreal — Paralytic Stalks (February 7)
The pre-release info at the band’s record company promises “dark ruminations on human existence, revenge, self-hatred, and [Kevin Barnes’s] relationship with wife Nina,” while song titles include “We Will Commit Wolf Murder,” “Spiteful Intervention,” and “Exorcismic Breeding Knife.” Yikes.
Air — La Voyage dans la Lune (February 7)
What can we say? Even after a decade of relatively uninteresting records (the last Air album that we really loved was the underrated 10,000 Hz Legend way back in 2001), we’re still such suckers for Moon Safari and The Virgin Suicides that we keep looking forward to every new release from Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel. This is apparently an original score for a restored version of 1902 silent film La Voyage dans la Lune (which translates as A Journey to the Moon), and given how good their work on soundtracks has been in the past, perhaps this will be worth waiting for.
Earth — Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light, Vol II (February 14)
Yes, it is indeed the follow-up to Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light, Vol I, which was released earlier this year (there’s no taste of the second installment to be had yet, so we’ve embedded the title track of Vol I above). If you were a fan of that album, you can most likely expect more of the same — music that unfolds at the pace of glaciers moving, and with the same stately, tectonic grandeur. Excellent.
Sleigh Bells — Reign of Terror (February 14)
It’s a measure of how transitory the world of the Internet is that it seems an age ago that Sleigh Bells were the new hype band that everyone had to hear (in fact, it was about 18 months ago.) But with the hype having abated somewhat, it’s perhaps easier to appreciate Sleigh Bells on their own merits alone — and new single “Born to Lose” bodes rather well for this record.
Dirty Three — Towards the Low Sun (February 28)
Warren Ellis is promising that this will be “the definitive album from the Dirty Three,” which, considering the brooding intensity of Horse Stories and the grandeur of Ocean Songs, is quite a statement. Given the relatively lackluster nature of Cinder, the band’s last album, we’ll be content with anything that approaches the heights of their best moments — fingers crossed, and all that. (In the meantime, in the absence of anything from Towards the Low Sun, we’ve revisited our favorite Horse Stories track above.)
Nite Jewel — One Second of Love (March 3)
The fact that we’re salivating over the Chromatics album means that it should probably surprise no one that we’re also looking forward to the latest instalment of Ramona Gonzalez’s ongoing love affair with icy narcodisco sounds. The relatively upbeat title track is all that’s to be heard so far — and on its evidence, this will definitely be worth a listen.
The Magnetic Fields — Love at the Bottom of the Sea (March 6)
In which Stephin Merritt re-embraces the synthesizer, apparently (Merritt told Pitchfork recently that “most of the synthesizers on the record didn’t exist when we were last using synthesizers”). There aren’t any new songs to hear as yet, unfortunately (hence the presence of 69 Love Songs‘ “The Book of Love” above), but song titles from the album include “All She Cares About Is Mariachi,” “Infatuation (With Your Gyration),” “Andrew in Drag,” and “God Wants Us to Wait,” all of which suggest that Merritt’s dry wit is as arid as ever, synths or no synths.
Spiritualized — Sweet Heart Sweet Light (March 19)
Honestly, Jason Pierce could record his shopping list and we’d listen with rabid interest — we are slavering Spritualized fanboys and not ashamed to admit it. Having said that, The Guardian previewed two of the new songs (the above “Mary” and “Hey Jane”) recently, and although we very much liked the former, we weren’t overwhelmed by the latter. But still, we’re gonna be pulling out all stops to get a hold of this as quickly as we can.
Lee Ranaldo — Between the Times and the Tides (March 20)
Since there may well never be another Sonic Youth album to look forward to — a fact that is still as devastatingly sad as it was when the news about Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore broke — we will have to settle for keeping an eye out for solo albums and new collaborations. Lee Ranaldo’s solo work is always interesting, and this album involves contributions from Nels Cline, John Medeski, Jim O’Rourke, and various others who you might expect to see of an evening down at The Stone, and according to the Sonic Youth website, “will amaze even the most ardent followers of Ranaldo’s work.” In the absence of any amazement just yet, listen to “Teen Age Riot” and try not to weep.
The Shins — Port of Morrow (some time in spring)
By the sounds of it, this is basically a James Mercer solo album — he’s the only original member of The Shins left, and plays most of the instruments. Beyond that, all we know are the song titles (which are here) — although if you’ve seen any of Mercer’s recent appearances (like the gentleman/lady who shot the video above), you’ve probably heard some of them already.
Bonus list: rumored/unconfirmed albums that we’re hoping for in 2012…
Black Star — Black Star Aretha Yes, Mos Def and Talib Kweli are making a new album — a mixtape inspired by Aretha Franklin, according to this report in the Guardian. Apparently Madlib is on production duties throughout, which pleases us greatly.
The Knife — TBA The reclusive Swedish duo caused quite a stir when they slipped the news that they were “recording a new album for 2012” into a post on their website about rights for Romani people. So far, that’s all that’s been said.
Evangelicals — TBA The band promised a new album soon via their Facebook page a couple of months back. No more information, though.
Mazzy Star — TBA No title or release date, but there is a new single, and the album is coming some time next year.
Grizzly Bear — TBA Again, there’s no release date or anything definite confirmed, but whichever member of Grizzly Bear it us that updates the band’s Facebook logged on last week to proclaim that “with all my hear [sic] and soul, I promise a new album in 2012”. Excellent.
Xiu Xiu — TBA Having fired his entire band, Jamie Stewart is apparently still on track to release a new record “early in 2012,” as was reported in various places earlier this year.
MGMT — MGMT They’re recording in April, apparently, and the album will be their “stereotypical third album.”
Janelle Monáe — TBA x 2 According to this report, Monáe is planning on releasing two new albums in 2012, which is very good news indeed. The less encouraging news is that she plans to release them “according to my soul clock,” which means that no-one has any idea when they’ll appear.
Boards of Canada — TBA There’s a nice new empty space in the discography section on Boards of Canada’s website where a new album would fit beautifully. Does this mean there’s a new record coming to fill the hole? We shall see.
Titus Andronicus — TBA Are the now Amy Klein-less Jersey neo-punks releasing a new album next year? They say: yes.
D’Angelo — TBA No, really. This will make our Music Editor Judy Berman very happy indeed.
The Avalanches — TBA We’ll believe it when we see it.