byMATT CONOVER, GENEVIEVE OLIVER + LUIS TOVAR
This spring is especially packed with exciting releases – just this month we were treated with great new albums from pop culture juggernauts (David Bowie and Justin Timberlake) and singular, buzzy newcomers (Youth Lagoon and Rhye) alike – and it doesn't seem like it's about to let up. There's literally a dizzying amount of new music coming out over the next couple months (and that's not even counting Record Store Day releases) and it's even hard for us to make sense of the release schedule, so we thought we'd share our 11 most anticipated albums of the season. While we cannot yet attest to these albums' musical merits, we can confirm that it is with pants-wetting excitement that we anticipate their inevitable leak.
11 MS MR - Secondhand Rapture
MS MR may only have a four-track EP to their name, but the impression they've left on folks was made evident when PMA readers voted the duo's Candy Bar Creep Show the 24th best release of 2012. Pair that momentum with a bombastic art-pop single that would make Florence Welch jealous and you've got one of the year's most anticipated pop records. Street Date: May 14.
10 Phoenix - Bankrupt!
Phoenix will release Bankrupt! after nearly four years of silence. In that time, their last effort Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix went from insane levels of ubiquity to induction into the pantheon of modern indie music. Basically, it's a tough act to follow...but Phoenix have been doing this for 14 years and are proven stalwart veterans with nearly unparalleled hook-writing talents. Take, for instance, Bankrupt!'s sugar rush lead single, "Entertainment." A "1901" or "Lisztomania" it definitely is not, but the song hits enough of the right marks to make you feel like you've known that synth hook your whole life. That right there is the definition of a good pop song, and Phoenix is sending 10 of them our way. Street Date: April 23.
09 Charli XCX - True Romance
Charli XCX has been on pretty much everyone's radar since the summer of 2011 when she put out "Nuclear Seasons," a song that effortlessly balanced huge splashy synth whips, Kate Bush-meets-Fever Ray guttural cries and a buzzing bass backbone that invoked the nuclear annihilation the song title referred to. In the near-two years since then, Charli has all but kept a steady stream of music flowing through her Soundcloud account. She has taken the best bits and wrote a few new songs and is stuffing them into a neat packaged called True Romance. In other words, this rookie's debut album already harbors bonafide jams like "Nuclear Seasons," "You're The One," "You (Ha Ha Ha)," "Grins," "Stay Away" and "Cloud Aura." Street Date: April 16.
08 Tyler The Creator - Wolf
In a rap landscape full of strange characters, Tyler The Creator remains one of the most unique, and the most divisive. We didn't think his sophomore album, Wolf, would evoke the youthful vitality of OFWGKTA's breakthrough material, but the album's first single, "Domo23" more or less disproves our thesis. No longer shocking or particularly disruptive – not to say it's PC – Wolf probably won't incite furious think-pieces that made Goblin feel like an event, but instead it seems the album will give Tyler the opportunity to make the silly and fun music 22 year olds are supposed to make. Finally. Street Date: April 2.
07 James Blake - Overgrown
James Blake is not so much the inventive post-dubstep producer he used to be, nor a trendy EDM-melding pop star, but instead more of a traditionalist indie troubadour with a beaming solid gold, digital heart. His warbling croon notably oozes emotion and is just as affecting surrounded by swirling, twinkly-eyed synths as it is piercing dead silence. This versatility was on full display on his self-titled debut in 2011, and next month he'll bring it out again on Overgrown. If James Blake was a mission statement, then Overgrown ought to be making good on the promise. Tracks like "Retrograde" make us feel like it very well might be. Street Date: April 9.
06 Savages - Silence Yourself
The first time I heard Savages, I had no idea what I was in for. I was at CMJ, had seen their name on a couple of lineups, and happened to be at a showcase where they played at 2:30 in the afternoon. The band took the stage dressed mostly in black (except for frontwoman Jehnny Beth, in a jean jacket buttoned all the way up) and proceeded to unleash a thunderous twenty-minute set of the chilliest, most brutal industrial post-punk I’d ever seen not in grainy YouTube videos of 1980s Manchester. Savages are one of the most intense live bands I’ve seen, and that intensity easily translates to their recorded material – “Husbands,” “Flying to Berlin,” and “She Will,” the only three studio-recorded tracks they’ve released, sound like pounding on locked doors – so you should be very excited for their debut record Silence Yourself, even if only to figure out how it’s possible that anyone could summon and then forcibly restrain such harsh, ruthless energy. Street Date: May 7.
05 Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito
"Fans of Yeah Yeah Yeahs are questioning the band's taste, and even their sanity, following the unveiling of their new album cover." So opens this January piece from the Guardian. It's supposed to be a piece about the supposed outrage felt by fans at the unveiling of the striking but undeniably weird album cover of Mosquito, but really it's more of a testament to exactly why we all still love Karen O and company. Nine years after Fever To Tell, they're still challenging us, finding new ways to make us uncomfortable while at the same time fall ever more in love with the band.
That said, it isn't the album cover has us including Mosquito in this feature. That credit goes to their music, be it their four excellent albums, their electric set at SXSW or the choir-powered single to the album, "Sacrilege." It's always on point, and I doubt this is the last time you'll see words of praise for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Street Date: April 16.
04 Deerhunter - Monomania
It’s been almost three years since Deerhunter released Halcyon Digest, so we’ve been waiting a new album from them for a while, and Monomania, the band’s fifth record, is finally almost here. The band’s made a couple lineup changes since Halcyon – Josh McKay has taken over on bass duties, and Frankie Broyles, formerly of Balkans, is now the band’s third (!) guitarist. We’re psyched to hear what the record sounds like with these new members, and early reports from the Black Lips’ twitter that it might just be Deerhunter’s best record yet, only adds fuel to the flame. We don't have a first single to go off of yet, but in a typically cryptic statement, Bradford Cox calls the record “nocturnal garage,” which sounds pretty good to us. Street Date: May 7.
03 Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
The run-up to Vampire Weekend’s third LP Modern Vampires of the City, by the numbers: three years since the January 2010 release of Contra, two tracks (“Everlasting Arms” and “Unbelievers”) premiered live in 2012, seemingly infinite tantalizing teaser interviews, two (very different, very excellent) singles, “Diane Young” and “Step,” released on a double-A-side 7” earlier this month, and now, one extra week to wait for the record’s new release date, May 14. It’s been a slow process for the band getting this record to our ears, but so far it sounds like their labors are bearing fruit – from the rockabilly-tinged, sludgy drive of “Diane Young” to the alt-country saunter of “Unbelievers” to verbose, orchestral balladry like “Step,” Vampire Weekend keep churning out great songs that refuse to be pigeonholed. If the rest of Modern Vampires keeps that up – and we have faith that it will – it’ll be a testament to the fact that Vampire Weekend just might be one of the best rock bands in the world right now. Street Date: May 14.
02 The National - Trouble Will Find Me
Has it really been three years since High Violet? Every time I play that album, it shows me a side it hadn't before, and then somehow evokes to ever stronger emotional reactions to it. (Recently it was a Wasteland-esque line from "Anyone's Ghost" that wormed its way into my head one night as I was about to go out: "walk through the Manhattan valleys of the dead." It colored the whole evening.) The National are the kind of band that I feel bad writing up in any sort of short-form article as there's just so much depth and nuance to their music; the loquacious music nerd in me could go on for pages exploring and explaining the excellence of any one of their songs. In brief though, it's the kind of arresting, thoughtful rock music that is likely to kick you back to the time and place where you first heard it. So of course we're excited for Trouble Will Find Me. Street Date: May 21.
01 The Knife - Shake The Habitual
No other act out today quite sounds as specific and intense as The Knife, yet the first two songs released off their forthcoming Shake The Habitual hardly resemble anything off their first two albums. That's just the kind of artists that Olof and Karin Dreijer Andersson are, and why it's so incomplete to say we're "excited" about their upcoming album. People get "excited" about a good burrito. Waiting to spin Shaking The Habitual is much more like standing in the door of an airplane waiting to jump after just having found out that your jump instructor also majored in Sociology and English but only got his skydiving license last week. You have no idea what it's going to be like, why you enjoy putting yourself in such situations, but you were bored enough before to get up here, so, fuck it, you're suddenly in free fall screaming "down with the patriarchy!"
Or maybe that's just how one feels after reading the album's manifesto/press release aloud to one's cat, but I just couldn't bring myself to use my normal set of impressionistic, safely vague descriptors to talk about what The Knife sound like. They deserve more than words, they deserve your full attention. Street Date: April 9.
UN-LISTABLE: Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
It goes without saying that Daft Punk's mythic follow-up to Human After All was one of the most anticipated albums of the last decade and this one. It's real. It's finally happening. We're not quite sure if we're supposed to be excited or scared shitless. Probably both? Street Date: May 21.
ALSO worth your anticipation: Iron & Wine'sGhost on Ghost (April 16), Ghostface Killah'sTwelve Reasons To Die (April 16), Akron/Family'sSub Verses (April 30), !!!'sTHR!!!ER (April 30), Little Boots'Nocturnes (May 7), The-Dream'sIV Play (May 28).
+download the wallpaper version of the cover photo (desktop, iPhone and iPad) here.