The 10 Albums You Need to Hear in January


With the end of the long, strange trip that was 2012 almost upon us, it’s time to turn our attention to the year to come. January has historically been a bit of a fallow month for album releases, but that’s changed in recent years with some notable records (most memorably Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion ) dropping early in the year, and the first month of 2013 is certainly looking reasonably well stocked for worthy new records. As we do at the start of every month, we’ve selected the ten records we’re most looking forward to hearing, along with a roundup of all the other stuff — good and bad — that’s due out over the next four weeks. And, as ever, we’re interested to hear what’s on your radar, so do let us know in the comments section.

Solange — True (January 8)

The more interesting Knowles sibling may never reach the globe-destroying heights of fame enjoyed by big sister Beyoncé, but she has a habit of finding intriguing musical niches for herself. This EP finds her working with ex-Test Icicle Dev Hynes (you may also know him as Lightspeed Champion and/or Blood Orange), and should be well worth hearing.

Broadcast — Berbarian Sound Studio (January 8)

This was one of the albums that we raved about in our most anticipated albums of 2013 feature, and we’ve had it on pretty constant rotation here at Flavorpill central over the last couple of weeks. It’s creepy as hell — has anyone managed to track down a copy of the film yet?

Christopher Owens — Lysandre (January 15)

Owens’ debut solo release is a concept album based around a real-life girl called Lysandre, who he apparently met when on tour in France with his former band Girls. According to Owens, the album “could easily be mistaken as an album about a love affair… but it’s much more than that,” although he doesn’t go on to specify exactly how. Remarkably, the entire album was apparently written in one night in 2009, with the exception of the epilogue, in which Owens reflects back on the affair with Lysandre several years later. (If you’re wondering why Owens is solo now, by the way, he discusses the demise of Girls at length here.)

Pantha du Prince and the Bell Laboratory — Elements of Light (January 14)

We only just heard the confirmed release date for this, and we’re very much looking forward to it, because Black Noise, the debut album from Hendrik Weber — aka Pantha du Prince — was one of our favorite electronic records of the last few years, and it’s well overdue a follow-up. This is said follow-up, and it sounds like a fascinating project — according to Weber’s label Rough Trade, Elements of Light is “a symphony for electronics, percussion and bell carillon, a three-tonne instrument comprising 50 bronze bells.” Ye gods.

Yo La Tengo — Fade (January 15)

Ever since they started their prolific career with Ride the Tiger back in 1986, four years is the longest the world’s ever had to wait for a new album from Yo La Tengo, so we think it’s fair to see that this album really does deserve the oft-abused music industry clichés “long-awaited” and “highly-anticipated.” Fade was produced by Tortoise’s John McIntire, and promises to make for a fine start to the year for anyone into scuzzy indie-pop.

Toro Y Moi — Anything in Return (January 22)

Chas Bundick discussed this record briefly with Interviewrecently, describing how he “[tried] to make a pop record” containing “sincere pop music that’s not all processed and bubblegum.” As Interview’s writer pointed out, this isn’t exactly a startling direction for Bundick to take, but still, we’ll await the results with interest.

Hilly Eye — Reasons to Live (January 22)

Brooklyn label Don Giovanni has quietly grown into one of NYC’s more solid up-and-coming indie imprints, with a focus on pleasantly raucous female-fronted acts like Screaming Females and Waxahatchee. It means they’re a perfect home for Amy Klein’s Hilly Eye project, which was another of the albums we’re really looking forward to in 2013, and we look forward to hearing more from them in the New Year.

Widowspeak — Almanac (January 22)

Another of the albums that we’re really looking forward to in the new year, especially since all this snow means that it’s pretty much perfect for listening to Widowspeak’s beautifully melancholy mid-winter compositions. (Although, having said that, this record is somewhat more upbeat than we’ve heard from them in the past.)

Ducktails — The Flower Lane (January 29)

A midwinter release date makes less sense for this record, from what we’ve heard of it so far (viz. the title track, above). Still, a little taste of summery goodness in the middle of a frigid winter can’t hurt any, can it?

Tegan and Sara — Heartthrob (January 29)

In which Tegan and Sara swap their guitars for synths and in the process get angstier than ever. No doubt their fans will be delighted.

Also out this month:

Dropkick Murphys — Signed and Sealed in Blood (January 8) Celtic punk: the worst genre ever? Discuss.

Black Veil Brides — Wretched And Divine: The Story Of The Wild Ones (January 8) If you can’t afford Mötley Crüe tickets…

A$AP Rocky — LongLiveA$ap (January 15) Follow-up to LiveLoveA$ap. Next year: LongLoveA$ap. Possibly.

Sean Lennon — Alter Egos (January 15) New album from the more interesting scion to the Lennon legacy. Judging by the work he did on his mother Yoko Ono’s rather great Between My Head and the Sky a few years back, this could be interesting listening.

The Joy Formidable — Wolf’s Law (January 22) New album from UK press-approved Welsh rockers (above), who sound like a slightly less paint-shredding JJ72.

Foxygen — We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic (January 22) An early contender for Silliest Album Title of 2013.

Local Natives — Hummingbird (January 29) Lovers of utilitarian Silver Lake indie, rejoice.

Buke and Gass — General Dome (January 29) Pitchfork-approved crustpunks prepare for world domination. They make their own instruments, y’know. One’s called a “buke.” You’ll never guess what the other’s called. Sigh.