Vampire Weekend – Contra (XL) Are these Ivy League golden boys immune to the curse of the sophomore slump? We’ll find out early in the new year, when Vampire Weekend trade African-inspired rhythms for an album that keyboard/guitar whiz Rostam Batmanglij describes as full of songs that “would be perfect for driving up the Pacific coast.” Download “Horchata” Watch the video for “Cousins”:
Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM (Because) Fresh off of her role in Lars von Trier’s international scandal of a film Antichrist, Gainsbourg teams up with a significantly less controversial collaborator: Beck. Mr. Hansen both produced and wrote for IRM (the French abbreviation for “MRI”), along with chiming in on backing vocals. Download “IRM” Watch the video for “Heaven Can Wait” (featuring Beck):
Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop) So far, Baltimore’s Beach House are on a roll, turning out two flawless albums of atmospheric dream-pop. And we have every reason to believe that Teen Dream, the band’s first full-length for new label Sub Pop, will live up to its predecessors. In a Premature Evaluation, Stereogum offered the following high praise: “At first listen, the songs feel like simple lullabies. There isn’t a shiny facade, really. It’s only after you take your time with it and let the songs sink in that you realize you’ll likely never see the bottom.” Download “Norway” and “Lover of Mine”
Spoon – Transference (Merge) Veteran indie rockers Spoon rarely disappoint, which is why we’re counting down the minutes until the release of their seventh album. And, as frontman Britt Daniel told fans on the band’s MySpace blog, something special sets Transference apart: “This is the first record we’ve made without a producer or heavy of any kind, and I don’t know for sure because I’ll never hear this record in the same way that someone who didn’t make it will, but I think you can tell. I can. When I listen to it, I think, hey, that’s how I woulda done it!” Download “Written in Reverse”
The Magnetic Fields – Realism (Nonesuch) Magnetic Fields mastermind Stephin Merritt has always been a fan of concepts and tributes. He’s written 69 Love Songs and, most recently, an entire album (2008’s Distortion) inspired by the Jesus and Mary Chain. Now, on his band’s ninth full-length, Merritt is taking his cues from psychedelic ’60s and ’70s pop.
Hot Chip – One Life Stand (EMI) Is One Life Stand really Hot Chip’s fourth album? These electro-pop standbys are sure to provide fodder for the sweatiest dance parties of 2009. And their promising new record even features contributions from a bona fide ’70s rock legend: This Heat drummer Charles Hayward. Stream “One Life Stand” and “Taking It In”
Massive Attack – Heligoland (Virgin) Trip-hop trailblazers Massive Attack are back with their fifth album. And if you can think of a high-profile singer in the US or Britain, chances are he or she is contributing guest vocals to a Heligoland track: The record includes appearances by Damon Albarn, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, Hope Sandoval, and Martina Topley-Bird, among others.
Yeasayer – Odd Blood (Secretly Canadian) Fans of Animal Collective fell madly in love with Yeasayer’s spiritually inclined 2007 debut, All Hour Cymbals. Now, the band has intimated that it’s changed its sound drastically for the follow up — and the futuristic pop of debut single “Ambling Alp” proves it. Watch the (NSFW) video for “Ambling Alp”:
The Game – The R.E.D. Album (Geffen/Interscope) Like Das Racist, we vociferously disagreed with Sasha Frere-Jones‘ (and Simon Reynolds‘ subsequent) pronouncements that hip-hop is dead. That said, we don’t see many forthcoming records in the genre that genuinely interest us. But perhaps the Game’s fourth album — which features collaborations with both Lil’ Wayne and Gucci Mane — will set a high bar for the rest of the year’s releases. “R.E.D.” is supposed to stand for “rededicated,” after all.
Xiu Xiu – Dear God, I Hate Myself (Kill Rock Stars) Of all the reasons we love Xiu Xiu (and there are many), our favorite is that they keep indie rock weird. This album will be the art-damaged experimentalists’ first without the versatile Caralee McElroy, but here’s hoping new addition Angela Seo can pick up the slack. If not, well, hey — at least the cheery-sounding title track was composed on a Nintendo DS.
Goldfrapp – Head First (Mute) Goldfrapp pissed off fans and critics alike with their most recent album, last year’s scaled-back Seventh Tree. So will we be hearing the old Goldfrapp, the new Goldfrapp, or something complete different on Head First? The label is selling the new material as optimistic and fantastical, which sounds promising. We’ll get our first hint of whether it’s right on March 8, when the band releases Head First‘s lead single, “Rocket.”
The Arcade Fire – [TBA] (Merge) Okay, we don’t actually know anything about this album yet. In fact, it’s still officially a rumor, as no one from the Arcade Fire camp has confirmed it. But we’re hoping that by continuing to talk about it, we’ll force the band to release its first new music since 2007.
So what did we miss? What’s your most anticipated album of 2010?