We haven’t even put the new calendars up yet, but already the release schedules for the first quarter of 2012 are filling up nicely. This year has produced a veritable embarrassment of musical riches, and if the below lists are anything to go by the following twelve months are going to be just as busy. Here are the 12 albums that I am currently most looking forward to:
Cloud Nothings Attack On Memory (Carpark/ Wichita) – Dylan Baldi’s full band-assisted second album proper is, by all accounts, darker and heavier than its brattish, pop/punk-fuelled predecessor. Inspired by Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and the Wipers, the album – released on January 24 – also benefits from typically raw production from Big Black/ Shellac’s Steve Albini.
Leonard Cohen Old Ideas (Columbia) – The septuagenarian legend’s forthcoming album – his first in eight years, featuring partner Anjani Thomas and singer Jennifer Warnes – promises “overtly spiritual” songs about “Love, sexuality, loss & death”. Pretty standard Cohen fare, then, but if that isn’t reason enough to get psyched I don’t know what is.
Disappears Pre Language (Kranky ) – Chicago psych-rockers release their third long-player in the space of two years on March 1; further refining their reverb-soaked Kraut-punk sound, Pre Language was recorded with John Congleton at Sonic Youth’s New Jersey studio and sees (former?) SY drummer Steve Shelley promoted from live collaborator to full-time member.
Grimes Visions (Arbutus) – Vancouver-born, Montreal-based Claire Boucher – recently profiled in Vogue and named one of the coolest people in music – is slowly moving away from her DIY art-punk roots and showcasing a pop sensibility inspired by R&B and avant-electronica; her fourth album in two years – out January 31 – looks set to propel her into the indie “big time”.
Lindstrom Six Cups Of Rebel (Smalltown Supersound) – Hans Peter Lindstrom’s 2010 disco-pop collaboration with singer Christabelle, Real Life Is No Cool, was the Norwegian producer’s most popular release to date. His reaction? Record an album of tough, twisted funk grooves featuring his own digitally warped vocals. Colour me excited.
The Men Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones) – Brooklyn post-hardcore outfit offer a swift follow up to their surprise 2011 AOTY list fixture Leave Home; their third full-length in as many years, out in March, promises more of the same – ragged riffola, pummelling cosmic Krautrock and blissful noise – with an added country kick.
Nite Jewel One Second Of Love (Secretly Canadian) – Los Angeleno Ramona Gonzalez has been twisting lo-fi synth funk, disco and R&B into new, poppy shapes for the past four years, on acclaimed debut album Good Evening and a string of singles for ultra-hip labels like Italians Do It Better and Mexican Summer; her sophomore set, recorded with Ariel Pink cohort Cole MGN, is already inviting comparison with Eurythmics-era Annie Lennox, Sade and Tracy Thorn, as well as more urban girl-groups like TLC and SWV.
Of Montreal Paralytic Stalks (Polyvinyl) – For that tricky eleventh album, Kevin Barnes drops the characters and adopted personas in favour of more intimate, confessional lyrics; meanwhile, new arrivals Kishi Bashi and Zachary Cowell add strings and brass/ woodwind arrangements, hinting at Barnes’ most ambitious musical vision to date.
Rick Ross God Forgives, I Don’t (Def Jam/ Maybach Music) – The follow-up to 2010’s best rap album (Teflon Don) was originally due out around now, but ill-health forced hip-hop’s current Boss to postpone its release until he was well enough to promote it; let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, a mixtape made up of entirely new material is promised very soon, with a full-length Drake collaboration scheduled for later in the year.
Sleigh Bells Reign Of Terror (Mom & Pop) – Over the past eighteen months, it seemed as though every time you switched on the TV a different track from Sleigh Bells’ debut Treats was being used on an advert: it’s what’s known as “the Moby effect”. Sophomore album Reign Of Terror, out Valentine’s Day, offers eleven more booming, shredding songs for you to gradually get sick to death of; luckily they seem every bit as enduring as the last batch.
Sharon Van Etten Tramp (Jagjaguwar) – If the other ladies on this list are a bit too poppy for your tastes, then Ms. Van Etten’s sultry, soulful tones might be just up your street. With members of Beirut and the National lending a hand (and some additional indie street cred), SVE’s Jagjaguwar debut will appeal to fans of Feist and Cat Power, and in an ideal world would make her as big a star as Adele.
Dustin Wong Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads (Thrill Jockey) – Anyone who heard 2010’s spellbinding double LP Infinite Love could be forgiven for thinking the Ponytail guitarist was the future of experimental music; his latest offering – another free-flowing stream of interlocking, repetitive patterns and sunburst psychedelia – is sure to convince a few more.
January: The Big Pink Future This (4AD) / Black Bananas Rad Times Express IV (Drag City) / Lana Del Rey Born To Die (Interscope) / Francois & The Atlas Mountains E Volo Love (Domino) / Guided By Voices Let’s Go Eat The Factory (Fire) / Eyvind Kang The Narrow Garden (Ipecac) / Neal Morgan In The Yard (self-released) / Pop. 1280 The Horror (Sacred Bones) / Prinzhorn Dance School Clay Class (DFA) / Rhyton Rhyton (Thrill Jockey) / Trailer Trash Tracys Ester (Double Six/ Domino) / Jason Urick I Love You (Thrill Jockey / 2 Bears Be Strong (DFA)
February: Blondes Blondes (RVNG. INTL.) / Bright Moments Natives (Luaka Bop) / Field Music Plumb (Memphis Industries) / Heartless Bastards Arrow (Partisan) / Damien Jurado Maraqopa (Secretly Canadian) / Perfume Genius Put Your Back N 2 It (Organs/ Turnstile) / Pontiak Echo Ono (Thrill Jockey) / Shearwater Animal Joy (Sub Pop) / White Car Everyday Grace (Hippos In Tanks)
March: Kindness World, You Need A Change Of Mind (Female Energy/ Polydor) / Magnetic Fields Love At The Bottom Of The Sea (Domino/ Merge) / The Shins Port Of Morrow (Columbia/ Aural Apothecary) / Spiritualized Sweet Heart, Sweet Light (Double Six/ Spaceman)