10 Albums You Need to Hear In January

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A few days ago, we posted our selection of the albums we’re most looking forward to in 2012. As it happens, most of these are due for release a little later in the year — but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s nothing worth hearing due out in January. We’ve pored over the release schedules for our regular monthly round-up of the 10 records that we we reckon everyone needs to hear over the next month, and the results await you after the jump — including a couple that we missed last week, and would definitely have included in our most anticipated records of 2012 if we’d know about them. (Note: this does not include She Who Shall Not Be Named, so don’t ask.)

Symmetry — Themes for an Imaginary Film (some time in January)

We waxed lyrical in our post on most anticipated 2012 albums about how much we were looking forward to the Chromatics record. We’re still waiting on a concrete release date, but in the meantime, it seems that it’s suddenly a prolific time of year in Italians Do It Better land, because we’ve just discovered this bumper double album of music by Chromatics/Glass Candy producer Johnny Jewel, which was announced with relatively little fanfare a couple of weeks back. Interestingly enough, Jewel was apparently commissioned at some point to create a soundtrack for Drive, a soundtrack that never saw the light of day — and although the press release that accompanied Themes for an Imaginary Film made it clear that this isn’t that soundtrack… well, it does sound awfully like what did get released with Drive, doesn’t it? If you want to make up your own mind, the album’s streaming in its entirety at Jewel’s Soundcloud page — it’s out on iTunes now, and an LP and CD release is coming sometime this month, although again, we’re not sure exactly when.

Various Artists — We Are the Works in Progress (January 10)

This is a fund-raising compilation for Japanese earthquake victims, which is laudable enough in its own right — but even better, it’s curated by Blonde Redhead, released via the band’s own label Asa Wa Kurui, and features new music from Fever Ray, Four Tet, Pantha du Prince, Deerhunter, Liars and John Maus, amongst others. Excellent. There’s more information here, if you’re interested.

The Big Pink — Future This (January 17)

The next big things of 2009 return with their second album, which apparently involves a strong hip hop influence — the band’s Milo Cordell told NME about this time last year, “A lot of white, middle class bands say, ‘We’re going to make a hip-hop record’, but we’re actually going to do it.” He’s since backtracked somewhat from this claim, and new single “Stay Gold” sounds suspiciously like, well, The Big Pink — which isn’t an altogether bad thing.

Matthew Dear — Headcage EP (January 17)

Dear has an album due out later this year — it’s called Beams, and as far as we know, it doesn’t have a release date as yet. It’s preceded by this EP, which features contributions from producers Von Rivers and The Subliminal Kid (who worked on the Fever Ray album, which makes them A-OK in our book). Dear told Fact a couple of weeks back that the two releases don’t share a great deal in common — “[The title track] is on Beams,” he said, “[and] that’s about it for the relationship.”

Gonjasufi — MU.ZZ.LE (January 24)

This is a mini-album, rather than a full-length release, which is why we didn’t include it in our “Most Anticipated Albums of 2012” post, but we’re still most definitely looking forward to hearing it. Flying Lotus’s favorite yoga teacher is one of the more idiosyncratic and interesting figures in music today, and we loved his rightly acclaimed 2010 debut album A Sufi and a Killer — while he’s not been idle since (he’s released a remix LP and the Ninth Inning EP), this is the closest we’ve come to a new album proper.

Craig Finn — Clear Heart Full Eyes (January 24)

In her excellent list of cultural resolutions for 2012, our own Judy Berman lamented indie rock’s return to “belabored, faux-rustic, quasi-literary troubadour stuff that we thought had passed its expiration date,” lamenting that, “The Bruce Springsteen impressions are getting tired.” She certainly has a point, but this writer, at least, is willing to make an exception for the man who’s probably done more to bring Springsteen-esque blue-collar character-based lyrics back to the world of indie rock than anyone. We remain huge fans of Hold Steady singer Craig Finn’s sharply observed and unrepentantly literate lyricism — and we’re looking forward to hearing this solo record, which Finn describes as “a little quieter and perhaps more narrative” than his work with his band. Watch a clip of him playing and discussing one of the album’s tracks, “Jackson,” here.

Leila — U & i (January 24)

We’ve already got an advance copy of this, and it’s basically as eclectic as you might expect from Leila Arab, a lady who’s forged a career out of making strange and occasionally wonderful records. If we’ve got one criticism of U & i, it’s that it’s almost too wide-ranging for its own good — it crams a surfeit of musical ideas into barely half an hour, but when it works, it’s fascinating listening.

Grimes — Visions (January 31)

We’ve raved about Grimes a fair bit already, so suffice it to say that this is definitely on our shopping list. Also, apparently Grimes has just signed to 4AD, which rather lends credence to our notion that this’ll be the record that brings her genuine crossover success.

Yuksek — Living on the Edge of Time (January 31)

A belated US release for the second record by French producer Pierre-Alexandre Busson. Living on the Edge of Time was released in Busson’s native land last year, so if you’re a fan, you’ve probably already got yourself a copy — but if not, and you’re a fan of Gallic electro sounds, this may well be worth investigating.

Leonard Cohen — Old Ideas (January 31)

Cannot wait. That’s all.