By Mike Mehalick, Staff Columnist
Workers are taking down displays; TV’s are beginning to stop airing pleading-to-the-point-of-suicide commercials, and someone, somewhere has just ripped open a fresh shipment of Peeps in a supermarket freight area. That’s right boys and girls! The dregs of the annual slow crawl towards the New Year have left us and in its place we have a slew of new releases still to look forward to before Peter Cottontail starts…before I inundate you with another ridiculously distant holiday here’s a list of the ten albums we’re most looking forward to in winter 2012.
10. Born to Die by Lana Del Ray
Love her, hate her, shit, you may even be indifferent on the subject of Internet songstress sensation Lana Del Ray. But one thing is for sure, after an upcoming musical guest gig on Saturday Night Live and the requisite, additional media push by her label her first full length Born to Die will be the most buzzed about debut of early 2012. Not so much authentic in persona, but certainly the sum of her considerable Winehouse-in-America vocals, Lana Del Ray could very easily be this year’s Adele and your Mom’s next facebook status (shudders).
9. Be the Void by Dr. Dog
When we last left our psychedelic, Pennsylvanian friends from Dr. Dog they were enjoying their biggest commercial success in their history with Shame, Shame. Now onto 7th album Be the Void, due in February, where the band may or may not expand upon the foray into more emotional lyrical content as with their last LP. If first taste “That Old Black Hole” serves as an indicator then expect an increased focus on the rhythm section. Regardless, a new Dr. Dog album means the road warrior group will be on tour again this summer and that’s…just…like so great, man.
8. Paralytic Stalks by of Montreal
Active since 97, Kevin Barnes’ of Montreal is now onto its 11th(!) album with Paralytic Stalks. Continuing onward in the proud pseudo Bowie psych-glam tradition that has comprised the general sound of the band’s discography thus far Paralytic Stalks promises “confessions of an infinitely more personal nature than anything Kevin Barnes has written since 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?” With engineer Drew Vandenberg (Deerhunter, Toro y Moi), Stalks further promises spatial continuity between tracks, something that any discernible fan can get behind. Also the album cover has flying bird mouths on it or something.
7. Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded by Nicki Minaj
Can I get an encore, do you want more? Different rapper, but same idea applies to the self proclaimed “female Weezy” and the sequel to her debut full length Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. So what do we know about the Cash Money queen’s second stab? Well for one thing one of Minaj’s alter egos Roman Zolanski gets most of the focus on this one making us wish him and Lady Gaga’s Jo Calderone would get together over a couple glasses of whiskey and just have a good cry already. With an as-yet-to-be-released track list and an on purpose on sale date of February 14th looming, the hip hop world’s eyes and ears will be all over Pink Friday 2: Roman’s Electric Bugaloo (we can name our album titles whatever we want in iTunes thank you very much). Here’s a clap happy, dub heavy insight to what lies ahead in “Stupid Hoe”.
6. Reign of Terror by Sleigh Bells
So…can they do it again? That will be the question on the tip of the indie-sphere tongue on February 21st when power-noise rock duo Sleigh Bells return with hopeful sophomore slump buster Reign of Terror. Not unlike MGMT’s Congratulations in 2010, Terror will be speculated upon and criticized from every angle upon its release (or leak, let’s be real here), and will be hailed and reviled for its “new directions”. Do Sleigh Bells have more car commercial licensing deal, simultaneous dance and mosh anthems in the pot? Or was their debut more of a trick without the follow up Treat (see what I did there?) First taste
“Born to Lose” seems to indicate the former in more ways than one.
5. Ghostory by School of Seven Bells
Alejandra de la Deheza & Benjamin Curtis, better known as dream pop outfit School of Seven Bells, look to build off of the breakout success of Disconnect from Desire with their third album Ghostory due for release in late February. After the departure of Alejandra’s identical twin Claudia in 2010 this will be the first SoSB’s record as a two-piece. Will the complex layering that made their second album such a critical darling suffer going forward with a new approach to recording? Or will Deheza’s haunting vocal and Curtis’ multi-instrumentalism find new, exciting avenues to explore? Lead single “The Night” seems to indicate a more straightforward washed-out rock sound with a hint of former tour mate Bat For Lashes sprinkled in. No complaints here.
4. Break It Yourself by Andrew Bird
Suzuki method trained baroque folk-pop gypsy Andrew Bird returns with Break it Yourself, his seventh solo album and his second under the Bella Union label. Not much has been released in the way of insights into the new record, but Bird stays pretty consistent with his rustic swing style. There will be violin and I’ll be god damned if there isn’t a glockenspiel floating around somewhere too. Either way it will likely be as detail oriented and gorgeously arranged as Bird’s previous efforts. Here’s a classic example.
3. Love at the Bottom of the Sea by The Magnetic Fields
After 2010’s Realism, which bandleader/ukulele enthusiast Stephin Merritt referred to as his “folk album”, The Magnetic Fields return to their 90’s synth roots with Love at the Bottom of the Sea. The band’s first release on Merge Records since their classic 69 Love Songs sees Merrit utilizing “synthesizers on the record that didn’t exist when were last using synthesizers”. With an early March release date set, The Magnetic Fields’ 10th full length marks a return to the band’s most successful approach and the end of the self imposed “no synth trilogy” that started with 2004’s i. Expect songs under three minutes in length and a nice acoustic/synth blend, like this (seriously how many times can you say ‘synth’ in the same fucking write up?):
2. Port of Morrow by The Shins
James Mercer has certainly kept busy since the roughly five years that have passed since The Shins last release Wincing the Night Away. After touring behind the band’s highest charting album to date Mercer went on to found and record an album with producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse as Broken Bells and even turn up in an acting role on his adoptive city’s sketch send up “Portlandia”. So it was no surprise that in 2011 when The Shins began to pop up on a lucky few festival posters that speculation over a new album would run rampant. Lo and behold the band’s fourth album Port of Morrow. Freed from their Sub Pop label three album contract shackles The Shins are releasing Morrow on Mercer’s own Aural Apothecary label. So how will the passing of time and new freedoms impact Morrow in ways that other The Shins releases haven’t? We’ll find out soon as their web site promises new content on the way in early January.
1. TBA by The xx
Following up the runaway success of their eponymous debut the Mercury Prize winning, goth-dub-pop English trio The xx are currently finishing up their as-yet-to-be-titled sophomore effort. Little to no information has on the prospective album has been formally released, but at the end of 2011 producer and remix artist Jamie xx told British site Digital Spy that the band looks to have to record out before their ‘festival appearances’. With Coachella falling in early April it isn’t unreasonable to think that The xx could be on the bill with a new record in tow. Jamie goes on discussing his new found appreciation of club music saying that it ‘has definitely had an influence on the next record.” Here’s hoping The xx part deux is just as innovative and spacious in sound-scapes as its predecessor.
What do you think? Did we miss anything? Sound off in the comments below.