10 Albums to Look Forward to in 2012

It’s an exciting year for music. We’ve begun very well with some brilliance already reaching our airwaves, including some great offerings from Field Music, Air and Bombay Bicycle Club.

Sometimes such expectations come with huge disappointment, such as the much anticipated debut from the hugely promising Lana Del Rey. Born to Die was weak and predictable and was torn to shreds in most every media outlet.

While she is shy and nervous live, there is something endearing about her. Or was, before the album tanked and ruined all potential in the eyes of many.

Look at her before the release:

Although we’ll always have some who fall by the wayside with expectation getting the better of them. Hopefully none of the following albums will fall victim to the same ailment.

These are the ten albums you should be excited to hear this year:

The XX

Their as of yet untitled follow-up to the successful 2009 debut, xx, this upcoming album has been long-awaited. Generally a one or two year gap is normal between albums, but in this case perhaps the group wanted to make sure to not fall victim to second album syndrome, which claims many bands.

Talking about the new album, the band has said that dance music has been a bigger influence on them, and they expect it to be more a floor-filler. While this is a little surprising, considering the low-key nightscape that xx was, the three-piece often played their versions of dance songs live, if even as an intro, such as at Lollapalooza in 2010:

Since the album made such great strides, bringing behind it the likes of James Blake (who said his album would have received little of the attention it got if not for the XX), it’s very exciting to imagine how the follow up will be. Here’s hoping it’s a knockout.

Also curious is what they might name it. XXX? Hardly…

Queens of the Stone Age

It’s been a whopping five years since the last Queens of the Stone Age album, Era Vulgaris, was released. How time flies. Stranger is the fact that they’ve waited this long, with no longer than a three year gap in between previous albums, and that’s including various other musical excursions, such as The Desert Sessions.

While there have been no official release dates, or even an obscure one, Alain Johannes was talking about QOTSA sessions as far back as November, and all human reason will put the album in a 2012 release. As far back as March of last year, Homme was talking about the record in exciting ways; “What we were doing was kind of bluesy, and now it’s turned into this trancey, broken thing. The robots are back.”

If it’s anything like their previous album’s opener, you can count me in:

Dirty Projectors

In 2009 Dirty Projectors were becoming more than the band that Yeasayer were talking about. They have a whopping ten albums to their name since 2003, but got little acclaim until Bitte Orca exploded on the scene, garnering festival spots and a step up to Domino Records. And with such intricate production and pure vocals from Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian, who back up the long-standing front man David Longstreth.

While little information on the upcoming Spring release is available, it’s exciting to see what we’ll get from the ever ethereal group after their shared EP with Björk.

The Avalanches

Finally, the wait is over. Our worlds were sufficiently rocked in 2000 by the debut from the new and relatively known Australian outfit The Avalanches. The sample utopia that came from the two singles, Frontier Psychiatrist and Since I Left You, not to mention that the whole album is dazzling, has created a void in the market since, that is awaiting their return.

The only things to emerge about the new album, being worked on since 2005, are some lyrics to an upcoming track “The Stepkids”, and some descriptions from their official website, stating; “it’s so fucking party you will die… one day when you least expect it you’ll wake up and the sample fairy will will have left it under your pillow”.

Well, come on sample fairy. I cannot wait.

The Knife

The Knife have been at the pinnacle of electro-dance in my eyes, and discounting their experimental soundtrack to the Darwinian tale (with co-collaborators Mt. Sims and Planningtorock) they have knocked out great album after great album. Considering I could do with a few more floor-fillers on my playlists, I’m excited to hear more about the album, but since Karin and Olaf have a complicated relationship with the media (putting it mildly) I wouldn’t be surprised if they hold their cards close to their chests until this album ends up on shelves.

Let’s hope it contains some hardcore pulse-pumpers like the 2006 title track:

Soundgarden

It seems like every band is reforming these days, for another shot at stardom, or more likely than not to make some more money before returning to inevitable anonymity. There have been a few — to the rule, and one of them are the grunge gods, Soundgarden. On hiatus since Down on the Upside in 1996, they came back to headline Lollapalooza in 2010. Suddenly, the new album is upcoming, and headline slots have been confirmed for the summer. Spring should see the release, and if Kim Thayil is correct in saying that they’ll be “picking up where (they) left off” then we’re in for an exciting ride.

Sigur Rós

Sigur Rós are one of those bands that haven’t ever put a foot wrong. Looking back at any of their albums, it’s easy to relate them to certain periods of your life. With so many emotions underpinning every Sigur Rós album, it’s hard not to get completely captivated. The less than convincing solo departures from Jónsi (both solo and with his boyfriend Alex for Riceboy Sleeps), it’s built the hope for the upcoming release from the Icelandic post-rockers. After some recordings in 2009 were completely scrapped, and after the live DVD Inni, the new untitled album has been described as “introverted” and “floaty and minimal”, so be excited for what is sure to be a big year for Sigur Rós.

Jack White

Jack White has been incredibly prolific in recent years, moving from his regular White Stripes post to broader horizons. He combined with Brendan Benson to form the Raconteurs who have provided us with two albums of top-quality modern blues material. He has also switched roles within bands, and converted to drums in forming the Dead Weather with Alison Mosshart of the Kills. He’s collaborated with Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi for the

Not only this, but he’s been keeping an eye out for some new and emerging talent, discovering the all-girl garage goth band, the Black Belles, who reek of White’s production and dirty style. He also directs their music videos:

Talk about multi-talented.

Now, White is coming out with his first solo album, called Blunderbuss. With his prolific back-catalogue and his reputation as a song-machine will certainly bring the April release to the fore of our record collections. Check out the lead single from the album, called Love Interruption:

The Mars Volta

The eccentric alt-rockers are prolific and known for their wild and imaginative and guitar riffs and their non-stop drumming, and any At The Drive-In fan will be all the more excited to hear that The Mars Volta have new material while the former, although back together, are not to release any more. While some heat the Volta as a bunch of convincing mistakes, and that point of view is understandable, their talent is undeniable on certain songs, including their Grammy winning song Wax Simulacra.

Noctourniquet, the band’s sixth ablum, is available at the end of March, and the single from the album, The Malkin Jewel, has just been released:

OFWGKTA

Another band not for the faint-hearted are OFWGKTA, or in full Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, who are a group of twenty year olds from Los Angeles. Their lyrical content are not for everyone, with extremely graphic lyrics, but the troupe are beyond prolific, with four albums already to their name and with their front man Tyler, the Creator in charge of their artwork, merchandise and clothing. Their material is hardcore and they have some of the best beats in rap. Even the all-but-established UK rapper, Scroobius Pip steals from them:

The Odd Future Tape Vol. 2 is due out in March and is the first release to be studio recorded. But that doesn’t really matter, the material has been merciless, and there’s no reason for them to stop now.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros also have an album out in May, but who the hell cares?

By Conor O'Hagan

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