Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Albums we can't wait to hear: Winter 2013 Edition

Dear DJs, readers, listeners, et. al.,

Welcome to J-Term! Whether you're living the Admissions-brochure dream (sledding on dining hall trays, partying every night, leaving the Snow Bowl only once a week to attend your workshop "The Lost Art of Italian Cupcake Decoration"), opting to "challenge yourself" by taking Orgo or a foreign language (, or putting your career first by taking an internship at Goldman-Sachs/an "internship" at your hometown's local cafe, you're gonna need some music to soundtrack those dreary, minus-10-degrees-Fahrenheit-and-that's-not-even-with-windchill days which, do not forget, are THE BEST OF OUR LIVES. Played good kid, MAAD city and Celebration Rock ad nauseam lately? Hoping for some new sounds on your winter playlist? Fortunately, unlike the film industry, January is as prime an album-release time as any other. Below, learn which albums due out in January, as well as February and March, you can anticipate brightening up your seasonal-affective-disorder-ified VT winter. Stream them online, pick 'em up on iTunes or at a record store (...), or just tune into WRMC 91.1 FM, where they'll likely be in Rotation. Happy J-Term!

A$AP Rocky, Long.Live.A$AP [1/15, RCA]
The second full-length from increasingly hip rapper A$AP Rocky has been in development hell for some time; here's hoping it actually gets released at all, let alone on time. RIYL: Danny Brown, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Danny Brown, SpaceGhostPurrp.

Atoms For Peace, Amok [2/26, XL]
Thom Yorke named his new supergroup, featuring legendary producer Nigel Godrich and members of R.E.M. and Red Hot Chili Peppers, after one of his own songs (from the Godrich-produced solo album The Eraser). Which, I think, tells you a fair amount about what this album will sound like, and even more about Thom Yorke. RIYL: Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich, Radiohead.

Autre Ne Veut, Anxiety [2/26, Software]
This Brooklyn R&B singer-songwriter's amazing 2010 effort went unregarded, but as that genres gained more traction in his home borough, anticipation is rightly building for his follow-up. If mind-blowing lead single "Counting" is anything to judge by, this one's gonna be a knockout. RIYL: AlunaGeorge, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Ford & Lopatin, Grimes, How To Dress Well, that one Usher song.

Beach Fossils, Clashing The Truth [2/19, Captured Tracks]
The Captured Tracks flagship is back with, we assume, more spindly guitars, wistful emotions, and lovely album artwork. RIYL: the Cure, Craft Spells, DIIV, Minks, the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Veronica Falls, Wild Nothing.

Blue Hawaii, Untogether  [1/22, Arbutus]
A side project for Raphaelle Standell-Preston, frontwoman of the Montreal band Braids -- who were responsible for this writer's favorite album of 2011, the stunning Native Speaker -- Blue Hawaii channels that band's eccentric vocals, spacey keyboards, aquatic found sounds, and bracingly intelligent lyrics about the ecstasies and, mostly, agonies of sexuality into shorter, more distilled pop form. RIYL: Bjork, Braids, Eleanor Friedberger, Grimes, Purity Ring, Twin Sister.

Broadcast, Berberian Sound Studio (Original Film Soundtrack) [1/4, Warp]
If your tastes run to the psychedelic, the spooky, and the sophisticated, this horror film soundtrack by legendary British duo Broadcast -- completed after the untimely death in 2011 of frontwoman Trish Keenan -- should fit the bill. RIYL: Animal Collective, Bell Orchestre, the Focus Group, Goblin, Nico, Stereolab, Twin Sister, the United States of America.

Christopher Owens, Lysandre [1/15, Fat Possum]
The Girls frontman is back following that band's recent breakup, with what we can expect to be another batch of instant-classic pop-rock gems. RIYL: The Beach Boys, Best Coast, Big Star, Elvis Costello, Girls, Mac DeMarco.

David Bowie, The Next Day [3/12, Columbia]
The glam-rock god's return from retirement is most definitely the biggest music-related event of the season. Do I need to qualify why? RIYL: David Bowie!!!!!!!!!

Destiny's Child, Lovesong [1/19, Columbia]
The only record that can challenge the claim I just made about David Bowie. RIYL: Destiny's Child!!!!!!

Devendra Banhart, Mala [3/12, Nonesuch]
Back when "freak-folk" was a thing, Devendra Banhart was its Christ figure (no, seriously, look at pictures). Since "freak-folk" ceased to be a thing, no one has mourned the loss of yet another dumb sub-genre tag, but many have mourned Banhart's lovely, lightly psychedelic, T. Rex-aping folk music, which took a turn for the worse around the same time. Mala presents a chance for Banhart to get back in the good graces of critics and fans alike. Alas, however, former lover and partner-in-peacoats Natalie Portman ( has moved on and gotten married to someone else. :( RIP Hip Couple Of The Millennium. RIYL: Bert Jansch, Fleet Foxes, Joanna Newsom, T. Rex, Vetiver.

Ducktails, The Flower Lane [1/29, Domino]
Matt Mondanile is better known as a member of Real Estate, but his fourth album as Ducktails is being released on high-profile indie label Domino suggests he poised for a big break as a solo artist. RIYL: Atlas Sound, Avey Tare, Julian Lynch, Mac DeMarco, Real Estate.

Eels, Wonderful Glorious [2/5, Vagrant]
I have no idea if this band is still any good, but man they used to be great so cross your fingers. RIYL: Badly Drawn Boy, Big Star, Elliott Smith, Sparklehorse.

Ellen Allien, LISm [3/12, BPitch Control]
The stone-cold maven of Berlin minimalist techno is back, so dig out your black leather pants. RIYL: Bjork, Daphni, Felix Da Housecat, Pantha Du Prince, Simian Mobile Disco.

Esben And The Witch, Wash The Sins Not Only The Face [1/22, Matador]
In 2011, British goth-rock trio Esben And The Witch released one of the least pleasant music videos in recent memory, for their track "Marching Song," in which the band members' faces became increasingly battered and bloody as the stark, forbidding, absolutely fearsome post-punk tune slowly built to an earsplitting climax. The track and the video both made for powerful art. The album that spawned them, Violet Cries, unfortunately did not live up to that standard, instead delivering "Marching Song" and ten derivatives of its elegant formula of minimalism and aggression. Especially given the cultural currency of goth rock in the pop scene since 2010 or so, the reviews were understandably lukewarm and audiences failed to latch on. However, hopefully the band have learned from their missteps and corrected them on their sophomore album; their live show, at any rate, is supposed to be phenomenal, terrifying, and cathartic, so even if this album isn't your cup of tea, see if you can't get a ticket. RIYL: Tamaryn, Zola Jesus.

FIDLAR, FIDLAR [1/22, Mom and Pop]
Really loud, scrappy, high-energy punk rock about drinking in basements? We'll take it. RIYL: Black Flag, Japandroids, Nirvana.

Foals, Holy Fire [2/12, Transgressive]
This band consistently puts out albums of mediocre post-punk revivalism touted as "experimental," "genre-bending," and, least explicably of all, "math-rock." But, ok, we'll hold out for Foals; maybe they'll make good this time. RIYL: allegedly, Battles; actually, Bloc Party.

Grouper, The Man Who Died In His Boat [2/4, Kranky]
Oregon-based Liz Harris, aka Grouper, makes haunting, reverb-soaked drone-folk about dragging dead deer up hills (among other things); it's more mesmerizing and lovely than that might make it sound to the uninitiated, I promise. RIYL: Belong, the Caretaker, Julianna Barwick, Mount Eerie, Sleep-Over.

How to destroy angels_, Welcome oblivion [3/5, Columbia]
The latest effort from Trent Reznor's post-Nine Inch Nails group will hopefully sound a little less like NIN with a different singer than their two EPs. RIYL: The idea of NIN with a female lead singer.

Iceage, You're Nothing [2/19, Matador]
Danish band continues to blend punk, post-punk, hardcore, goth, and doom metal into a bracing, at times grueling, but successfully accessible pop package. Meanwhile, presumably, noses (and guitars) will continue to be regularly broken at their shows. Allegedly, these barely-legal Danes incorporate piano into their new material and even wrote a "ballad"; I'll believe it when I read a report of a keyboard smashing someone in the face at an Iceage concert. RIYL: Ceremony, Cult of Youth, Holograms, Fucked Up, Joy Division, Wire.

Jamie Liddell, Jamie Liddell [2/19, Warp]
While critics were heaping praise on James Blake's elegant cut-and-pasted R&B aesthetic in 2010, longtime fans of Jamie Liddell everywhere sneered collectively, "Yeah, and...?" Now, they're wondering if this album from glitch-happy '70s/'80s soul devotee Liddell will put those upstarts in their place, or at least validate Liddell in the context of a trend he prefigured years ago. RIYL: Autre Ne Veut, James Blake, Junior Boys, Max Tundra, Moby.

Javelin, Hi Beams [3/5, Luaka Bop]
Javelin are the world's answer to the Avalanches after Avalanches went on indefinite hiatus. Javelin's sample-based grooves hew close to the earlier band's territory but are a little more relaxed and have a more pronounced hip-hop bent. RIYL: Air France, Avalanches, Delicate Steve, Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Jim James, Regions Of Light And Sounds Of God [2/5, AMO]
This man, who you may know as the frontman of My Morning Jacket, has a voice like honey AND the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, at the same time! RIYL: Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Cat Power, Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket, Phosphorescent.

Johnny Marr, The Messenger [2/26, RCA]
LEGENDARY SMITHS* GUITARIST RELASES SOLO ALBUM OMG. RIYL: The Smiths, except not Morrissey. *Also Modest Mouse, but I'm not about to all-caps that.

Lisa Germano, no elephants [2/12, Badman]
The high-art stalwart gives us what is, presumably, another collection of lovely orchestral pop. RIYL: Julia Holter, Kate Bush, Nico.

Local Natives, Hummingbird [1/29, Frenchkiss]
Well this'll be fun. RIYL: Born Ruffians, Fang Island, Male Bonding, Port O'Brien.

Major Lazer, Free The Universe [Mad Decent]
Destined for never-ending rotation at Brooker dance parties. RIYL: Diplo.

Mark Kozelek, Like Rats [2/19, Caldo Verde]
Mark Kozelek is maybe getting to prolific for his own good, since the late '00s/early '10s have seen each successive record diluting his once-devastating brand of sluggishly-paced angst into an unhealthy mixture of laid-back acoustic noodling and, like, Dashboard Confessional. RIYL: Cat Power, Red House Painters, Smog, Sun Kil Moon.

Marnie Stern, The Chronicles of Marnia [3/19, Kill Rock Stars]
It is bewildering that Marnie Stern is not a superstar. She certainly has the talent, the pedigree, the verve, and the singularity. She's like a cheerleader with anger issues who can, by the way, play the electric guitar more skillfully (and, perhaps, more strangely) than anyone else in existence -- if you're unfamiliar with her work, think power-metal meets high school pep rally meets Abstract Epxressionism. Or, if you prefer, Sleigh Bells with fewer amps and a LOT more technical ability. Prepare to be dazzled and confused (and also, maybe, emotionally wrecked). RIYL: Death Grips, Sleigh Bells.

MillionYoung, Variable [2/12, Old Flame]
Getting a head start on beach season, I see. RIYL: 2009.

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Push The Sky Away [2/19, Anti-]
After his time in the brash, crass side project Grinderman -- which found Cave recovering the swagger and snarl of his early records with backing band the Seeds as well as his early-1980s days fronting the Birthday Party -- fans everywhere are crossing their fingers for a new album that puts the "Bad" back in  "Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds" (and, yeah, the "Nick Cave," too). From the appropriately vicious sound of early singles, be careful what you wish for! RIYL: Pixies, Swans, Tom Waits.

Phosphorescent, Muchacho [3/19, Dead Oceans]
Sad, bearded man with acoustic guitar writes bleak, lushly arranged folk-rock. There's a lot of that in the world, but few of those bearded men are as sad as Phosphorescent, and few of their songs are as bleak or lushly arranged as his. RIYL: Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Mark Kozelek, Sigur Ros, Willie Nelson.

Pissed Jeans, Honeys [2/12, Sub Pop]
Sub Pop gets back to its original business of releasing wild, abrasive, and wildly, abrasively fun rock. RIYL: Black Flag, the Jesus Lizard, Nirvana, Pixies, Slint.

The Ruby Suns, Christopher [1/29, Sub Pop]
All I know about this is that it's more from the pleasant, '60s-worshipping, Afro-inflected group. RIYL: The Dodos, Here We Go Magic, the Morning Benders, Vampire Weekend, the Very Best.

Shout Out Louds, Optica [2/26, Merge]
This Swedish sextet has always had trouble finding an audience, and their critical reception has tended toward the lukewarm. However, they've got some absolute gems in their back catalog -- especially the 2010 anthem about overcoming depression, "Walls" -- and perhaps Optica is the release where their impeccable taste, rich arrangements, and knack for melody coalesce. RIYL: Jens Lekman, Peter Bjorn and John, The Shins.

Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob [1/29, Warner]
I can't talk about this band without insulting them or their target audience. But they have a new album out... RIYL: I can't. I'm sorry. I just can't. I don't want to be mean.

Toro Y Moi, Anything in Return [1/22, Carpark]
It's been interesting to see what the figureheads of the much-maligned "chillwave" trend c. summer 2009 have done with their careers since their signature sound became deeply unfashionable. Where Washed Out went Air, Neon Indian went M83, and Memory Tapes went to shit, Toro Y Moi has had by far the most interesting career arc. His last album, Underneath the Pines, naturally extended his original sound into a collection of digitally warped, New Age-y soul-funk; he claims that Anything in Return is his most full-on "pop"-oriented collection yet. RIYL: Gnarls Barkley, Jamie Liddell, Memory Tapes, Neon Indian, Washed Out.

Ulrich Schnauss, A Long Way To Fall [2/12, Domino]
The ever-dependable Schnauss can be expected to deliver another swoon-inducing batch of lush, shoegaze-indebted instrumental electronica expertly calibrated to make driving through the wintry VT landscape ten times more glacially epic. RIYL: Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Caribou, M83, Sigur Ros.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, II [2/5, Jagjaguwar]
These guys kicked 2011's butt and now they're back for more. Their second LP contains more of the weird melodies, psychedelic vibes, instant sing-along-ability, and fuzzed-out speaker-shredding beats as their first, so mind your eardrums and buckle up. RIYL: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Sleigh Bells.

Veronica Falls, Waiting For Something To Happen [2/12, Slumberland]
UK indie poppers blend studied/studious early-'90s twee mannerisms, white-hot shoegaze guitars, and a goth-y lyrical outlook; their 2011 debut was a non-starter due to lack of inspiration, but the band's singles are strong and suggest a more mature album awaits us in February. RIYL: Beach Fossils, Minks.

Widowspeak, Almanac [1/22, Captured Tracks]
Widowspeak made a splash in 2011 with their retro album art, menacing basslines, stark sense of distance and longing, and haunting Chris Isaak cover/uncanny Hope Sandoval impression, but their debut album failed to deliver. Perhaps they fare better (and copy Mazzy Star less) on their sophomore effort. RIYL: Beach Fossils, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Lower Dens, Mazzy Star, Tamaryn.

Yo La Tengo, Fade [1/15, Matador]
Yep, indie rock mainstays YLT are still at it, and given their near-perfect, multi-decade track record, their age shouldn't be much of an issue. RIYL: Deerhunter, the Fiery Furnaces, the Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Real Estate.

Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse [3/5, Fat Possum]
Even though this album title encapsulates everything that Youth Lagoon detractors such as yours truly find vomit-inducing about this band, there is of course the chance that it's a feint and Youth Lagoon's latest will leave the saccharine cliches behind while still deftly conveying both wonder and humility. RIYL: Beach Fossils, Perfume Genius, Wild Nothing.

That's a lot of albums! It's looking to be a great three months for music fans. And that's hardly all -- also be on the lookout for new work by Autechre, Deptford Goth, Foxygen, Girls' Names, Holopaw, Jessie Ware, Lil Wayne, Low, Mogwai, New Order, Nightlands, Nosaj Thing, Pantha du Prince & The Bell Laboratory, Parenthetical Girls, Psychic Ills, PVT, Ra Ra Riot, Raekwon, Rhye, Starfucker, Suuns, Ty Segall, Wavves, and many others!

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