10. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Push the Sky Away
Nick Cave and his gang return after 2008’s beloved Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, marking the influential alt-rock outfit’s 15th studio album. After the pulsing, insane energy of Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, one struggles to hazard a guess as to what Push the Sky Away has in store for listeners. Cave attempts to explain it in a press release, telling fans that, “Push the Sky Away is the ghost-baby in the incubator and Warren’s [Ellis] loops are its tiny, trembling heart-beat,” a description that makes it literally impossible to deny this album a spot on our list.
9. James Blake: TBA
The electronic producer’s sophomore effort comes after fairly recent acclaim for his 2011 self-titled studio debut. Yet after a flurry of EPs, it’s safe to say that we know Blake and his music fairly well, and we’re keenly aware of the young producer’s vast potential. Beyond the exciting prospect of Blake asserting himself as the new face of electronic music, his latest album will also be interesting to watch in terms of style. His EPs were largely dubstep, while his studio album was far more soulful and vocally focused. Both approaches worked in their own ways, so I’m eager to see how he works to further make sense of his varied skill set.
8. M.I.A.: Matangi
2013 should be a great year for female rappers, with new albums expected from M.I.A., Azealia Banks, Missy Elliott and Nicki Minaj. Though all are exciting, M.I.A. has had the highest highs and lowest lows of any of those artists (see: Kala to … last year’s Super Bowl). Though the musical direction of Matangi is unclear, it’s undeniable that this LP could serve as a crucial point (and potential comeback) for an artist stuck at something of a crossroads.
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7. Deerhunter: TBA
Reliable can become boring at times, especially when your music is as consistently good as Bradford Cox’s. Yet, as either Deerhunter or Atlas Sound, Cox finds a way to grow and expand with each record, propelled by an admirable desire to keep experimenting. Cox mentioned that the new album will be more lyrics-heavy and have “an American narrative. I think our next record is going to be our early ‘50s one.” Whatever, man. You’ve earned our trust.
6. Christopher Owens: Lysandre
Listen to any of his music for a minute and you can tell that Girls former frontman, Christopher Owens, is something of an old-timey romantic. With his albums doubling as rich tapestries that proudly wear their many historical influences like a badge, Owens has a flair for the dramatic. Lysandre appears no different. Named for a girl he met on tour in France, Lysandre is a coming-of-age narrative about Owens’s early days in the industry (which were as recent as 2008). If his solo work can approach the heights of his debut with Girls, listeners are certainly in for something special.
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5. The Knife: Shaking the Habitual
Like many of the artists on this list, The Knife is a band giving us a long-awaited follow-up to a critical smash. In this case, it’s 2006’s much-beloved Silent Shout. Unsurprisingly, there’s little information as to the direction the album is going to take, yet I’ll guess it’s going to feature some synth. And some vocal fireworks from Fever Ray. And, really, that’s pretty much all I need to be satisfied.
4. Phoenix: TBA
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was a phenomenon that, amazingly, occurred a full four years ago. The French rockers return after years of work with a more “experimental” approach and a departure from the infectious pop sounds of WAP. Hearing about any sort of departure from the bright memories of “Lisztomania” and “1901” is a little sad, but the band’s willingness to avoid the easy tried-and-true pop route is the type of artistry that makes a band great.
3. Earl Sweatshirt: Doris
Like much of Odd Future, Earl Sweatshirt’s been shrouded in goofy mystique for a while now. Earl had a supremely successful 2012, releasing “Chum,” a legitimately great single, and collaborating on some high-profile albums, such as Channel Orange. Most importantly, he finally came back from Samoa. The 18-year old is saddled with admittedly unfair expectations, and his heightened self-awareness can be seen in his proclamation that he expects “a loss of fans” with the release of Doris.
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2. Atoms for Peace: Amok
Thom Yorke could announce he was releasing a three-hour album full of birdcalls and the music blogosphere would come to an anticipatory standstill nonetheless. After the uncharacteristically muted critical response to 2011’s The King of Limbs, Yorke is teaming up with Flea and a group of other notable producers and instrumentalists to create a nine-track album that, by the looks of it, may resemble Yorke’s solo work on The Eraser. But the fact that this album could go in about a thousand different directions makes it a record worth watching.
1. Arcade Fire: TBA
I can accept that Arcade Fire will never make Funeral again. That isn’t to say the band will fail to make another album of such substantial quality again, but rather that the circumstances no longer allow it. With Funeral came a sense of surprise and boundless potential. As of 2013, the Grammys, The Hunger Games and general mainstream acceptance have turned surprise into expectation. With that said, these Canadian indie rockers have yet to make an album that’s less than “very good” and, fit with the novel reputation as notable arena rockers, their artistic evolution with will be intriguing to watch.
New material from: Foals, Yo La Tengo, Jay-Z‘s Great Gatsby score, Azealia Banks, Beyonce, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Jay Electronica, Frightened Rabbit, Tegan and Sara, A$AP Rocky, Kurt Vile