Most Anticipated Albums of Early 2012 by Eric J Lawrence

As a DJ, as well as the station’s music librarian, I love this time of year.  With the holidays behind us, we’re all now facing forward, looking ahead to all the great new music releases on the horizon.  And as always seems the case, they’re coming fast and furiously!

Of course there are always whispers of long-anticipated albums finally seeing the light of day (The Stone Roses! Portishead! Mazzy Star! Spiritualized! Santigold! The Avalanches!),but here are some albums with firm release schedules that will definitely be tickling my eardrums in the next couple of months:

Cate Le Bon – Cyrk (out 1/17) This one is a bit of a cheat, as we’ve already been playing tracks from it since October.  But we couldn’t wait because it is terrific, as this Welsh singer/songwriter’s slyly underplayed hooks insinuate themselves like Super Glue.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/33373552[/vimeo]

Cardinal – Hymns (out 1/24)  The collaboration between indie-pop masters Richard Davies & Eric Matthews as Cardinal was crushingly short-lived, leaving only a sole self-titled album in 1994. Until now. Some nice solo records ensued, but the Cardinal album was truly greater than the sum of its parts and I consider it a masterpiece.  Word of a reconvening after 18 years is very, very intriguing.

Cardinal – Love Like Rain by FIRE RECORDS

Lana Del Rey – Born to Die (out 1/31)  She’s one of the most talked-about artists of 2011, due to a stunning double A-side single (“Video Games”/“Blue Jeans”), a couple of viral videos and a mysterious past.  One wonders if her full-album will keep the momentum going – if so, she’s bound to be one of the most talked-about artists of 2012 as well.

Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans by pillowjungle

Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas (out 1/31)  Like a musical comet, a new album from this acclaimed singer/songwriter only comes around once in a great while.  In this case, it’s been nearly eight years since his last one, and when you’re dealing with a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner & an inductee to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, one can’t help but to get excited.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXUVJos7q78&ob=av2e[/youtube]

Prinzhorn Dance School – Clay Class (out 1/31)  In the absence of any new LCD Soundsystem material (they called it quits in 2011), this British duo may be cutting-edge record label DFA’s secret weapon.  Their Spartan, rhythmic style sounds like an Orwellian version of the xx, with a dark wit hidden behind the icy façade.  Off the beaten path, but worth investigating.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/32881701[/vimeo]

Air – Le Voyage Dans La Lune (out 2/7)  One of KCRW’s most beloved bands return with an album inspired by Georges Melies’ legendary 1902 silent fantasy film about a trip to the moon.  The couple of tracks that have leaked so far point to the classic atmospheric Air sound that made them such station-wide favorites.

Field Music – Plumb (out 2/14)  Two years ago, this British indie-rock group released their 3rd & most acclaimed album on my birthday.  This year I get to celebrate a day early with another Field Music album of outstanding progressive rock-tinged pop gems serving as the perfect gift!  And even if your birthday isn’t until the middle of summer, consider it a Valentine’s Day treat!

Field Music – (I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing by memphisindustries

Heartless Bastards – Arrow (out 2/14)  Twangy songstress Erika Wennerstrom and her bandmates offer up another batch of tunes that hover in the perfect intersection between the blues, country and indie-rock worlds.  Produced by Spoon drummer Jim Eno, this one should appeal to fans of Cat Power and Sharon Van Etten, both of whom also have new, highly-anticipated albums on the horizon. Sharon’s is out February 7, As for Cat Power….sometime in mid 2012).

Parted Ways by Heartless Bastards

School of Seven Bells – GHOSTORY (out 2/28)  This dream-pop group was reduced from a trio to a duo in late 2010 (losing one of the band’s identical twin sisters), and while some conjectured that this might mean the end of the band, reports of their demise are greatly exaggerated.  Fans of their new-millennial brand of shoegaze jams will surely rejoice with their late-February return.

School of Seven Bells – The Night by Vagrant Records

The Shins – Port of Morrow (out March)  It’s been a tumultuous few years for James Mercer.  After leaving Sub Pop for Columbia Records and spending the past few years working with producer Danger Mouse on the Broken Bells project, he has returned with a new backing band and a new Shins album, their first in nearly five years.  They previewed some of their new material at a private showcase at Largo last month, and if that was any indication, the Shins will be on the tip of everyone’s tongue this spring.

ERIC J. LAWRENCE