With 2011 nothing but a memory, it is time to start looking forward to the musical prospects of the new year.
There are some highly anticipated new releases on the horizon. In 2012 we can expect D’Angelo’s first record since 2000’s landmark neo-soul masterpiece Voodoo; cut-and-paste electronic group The Avalanches is set to release its first record since the turn of the millennium as well; and barring any disasters, we should get a follow-up to The xx’s masterful 2009 debut, xx.
Following is a list of a few soon-to-be-released records that will get you looking forward to what should be another fruitful year of music.
Cloud Nothings, Attack on Memory, Jan. 24 (Carpark)
Almost one year since the release of its self-titled album, Cleveland low-fi fuzz rockers Cloud Nothings are prepping a new release. This one should be louder and harder than previous efforts, with Steve Albini behind the mixing board. Lead singles “Stay Useless” and “No Future/No Past,” point to a substantially reworked sound, with Dylan Baldi’s vocals exposed rather than inundated in fuzz, and a sound that isn’t smoothed over with reverb, but roughed-up around the edges with brittle guitar work.
Leonard Cohen, Old Ideas, Jan. 31 (Columbia)
At the age of 77, poet/novelist/musician Leonard Cohen may not have the saintly voice of his earlier years, but his writing skills are as sharp and evocative as ever. Releasing his first album of new material since 2004’s Dear Heather, and his widely publicized bankruptcy in 2005, this album is sure to be full of musings on recurring Cohen themes like social justice, depression, isolation and growing old in a rapidly evolving world.
Air, Le Voyage Dans La Lune, Feb. 7 (Astralwerks)
Georges Melies' 1902 silent short film, Le Voyage Dans La Lune (Journey To The Moon) was groundbreaking for its time. It was one of the first science fiction films ever made, and featured innovative special effects, like a giant rocket launched into the eye of the moon. In 2011, French electro duo Air scored music for an updated color version of the film, and is set to release an expanded version of the score this February. The song "Seven Stars" features guest vocals from Beach House's Victoria Legrand. For film and music fans alike, this is a perfect collaboration and is sure to yield exciting results.
Dr. Dog, Be the Void, Feb. 7 (Anti-Records)
Dr. Dog is a band that’s easy to love. With its late-'60s rock sound, big vocal harmonies and warm guitar melodies, it's about as familiar and inviting as your parents' old vinyl collection. On the upcoming album, don’t expect the band to do a 180, but instead emphasize its strengths and hone its aesthetic with a charming set of psychedelic pop tunes. With any luck, Dr. Dog will bring its impressive live show back to Boise during this album cycle.
Of Montreal, Paralytic Stalks, Feb. 7 (Polyvinyl)
Of Montreal is about as unpredictable as a band can get. Listen to the band’s first album, compare it to the latest, and you’ll get the idea. The last few records from the Georgia collective have been exercises in excess. With lots of horns, beats, effects, costumes and just about everything else thrown in the mix, Kevin Barnes and company have come up with some pretty weird stuff. Paralytic Stilts should continue this trend, and lucky for us, these freaks will be on full display at the upcoming Treefort Music Fest in March.
Sharon Van Etten, Tramp, Feb. 7 (Jagjaguwar)
Brooklyn songstress Sharon Van Etten will release the follow-up to 2010’s set of earnest folk tunes, Epic, in February. This time around, the singer/songwriter brought her friends along—members of The National, Wye Oak, Beirut and The Walkmen all contribute on various tracks, with The National’s Aaron Dessner doing production. Based on Tramp's first single “Serpents,” it seems that Van Etten is adding some layers to her tunes, with big drums, extra guitars and backing vocalists. With the additional resources at her disposal, this album is sure to be a step above the last.
Islands, A Sleep & A Forgetting, Feb 14 (Anti-Records)
On Islands last record, 2009’s Vapours, bandleader Nick Thorburn (The Unicorns, Mister Heavenly) scaled back his sound substantially. Instead of using the grandiose arrangements that he was previously known for, Thorburn opted for minimalist sequencing and programming. This approach paid off, as Vapours was widely hailed as one of the best albums that year. Islands' upcoming release, A Sleep & A Forgetting, was written by Thorburn mostly on the piano in the wake of a breakup. Expect an introspective and personal affair that might not be as fun as Vapours, but will showcase Thorburn’s skills as a singer/songwriter.
Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror, Feb. 21 (Mom + Pop Music)
Thrash-pop duo Sleigh Bells was set to release its sophomore album, the dauntingly titled Reign of Terror, on Valentine’s Day, but the record got pushed back a week to Feb. 21. The band’s publicist described the record as, “the sonic equivalent of a beautiful shotgun to the head.” Meaning this one will probably be even heavier than the last, with even harder crushing guitar riffs, and more of Alexis Krauss’ head-splitting vocals.