From KCRW DJ and Music Librarian Eric J Lawrence:
As we reach the midpoint of January (yes, 1/24th of the year is now gone!) we’ve already been treated to some terrific new tracks (R.E.M.! Raphael Saadiq!! P.J. Harvey!!!) that makes me optimistic for the year in music.
But this is merely a drop in the bucket – there is a plethora of new records beckoning from just around the corner. Here is a list of 10 (plus a couple of bonus picks) of my most-anticipated records of 2011
COLD WAR KIDS – “Mine Is Yours”
Southern California’s very own ramshackle indie-rockers aim high on their 3rd album, with Grammy Award-winning producer Jacquire King helping craft a sound that straddles mainstream rock with the band’s trademark idiosyncratic approach.
MATTHEW FRIEDBERGER – “Napoleonette”
One half of the Fiery Furnaces’ sibling act embarks on an ambitious year-long subscription-based solo project. Every other month, he’ll release a limited-edition vinyl LP, each featuring him singing and playing a single instrument. The first one (the piano album) comes out later this month. Wacky, but potentially awesome.
GRUFF RHYS – “Hotel Shampoo”
Super Furry Animals-frontman Gruff Rhys’ new solo album’s name is inspired by the complimentary mini-shampoo bottles he has hoarded from his various travels. And if that isn’t intriguing enough a concept, surely his penchant for crafty, surrealistic storytelling makes this a must-hear.
JAMES BLAKE – “James Blake”
The hype has come fast & furious for this UK producers’ debut album. The first single from the record, a cover of Feist’s “Limit to Your Love,” stuns with its emptiness, a mini minimalist masterpiece. Can he sustain that technique over the course of a whole album? If so, he’s a shoo-in to be the breakthrough artist of the year.
AKRON/FAMILY – “S/T II: The Cosmic Birth & Journey of Shinju TNT”
The success of uber-catchy hippie rockers Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes’ has primed the pump for that kind of sound and, while fellow musical collective Akron/Family lean more towards the experimental side, their forthcoming album could very well be a breakthrough.
OKKERVIL RIVER – “I Am Very Far”
This Austin-based band’s leader Will Sheff has become one of America’s best young songwriters, with a particular penchant for clever wordplay that transcends mere pithy one-liners. They debuted a new track on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” earlier this month and that will have to tide us over until their latest full album drops in May.
TORO Y MOI – “Underneath the Pine”
Artist Chazwick Bundick established himself as one of the leaders of the so-called “chillwave” movement with last year’s full-length debut of his Toro Y Moi project. Seeking to avoid the sophomore slump (and undoubtedly succeeding), he jumps back into the fray this February.
CUT COPY – “Zonoscope”
Australian electro-pop group Cut Copy split the difference between Daft Punk and Phoenix, keeping the electronic pulse of the former while savoring the taste-bud tingling melodies of the latter. Their 3rd album adds some psychedelic touches (and a rumored 16-minute concluding track!) that should add to the fun.
GENERATIONALS – “Actor-Caster”
This New Orleans-based group reminded us of their relentlessly infectious sound with an extremely well-received EP the end of last year. March 2011 bring a whole new album to fall in love with, assuming one seeks sexy-time with bouncy, throbbing, electronic-tinged indie pop.
KEREN ANN – “101”
Multi-national singer/songwriter Keren Ann Zeidel returns this year with her first new solo album in nearly four years. Her influences are so wide (smoky jazz, French music hall, classic American pop, etc) that it is hard to anticipate what this new album’s vibe will be. All that seems certain is that it will be well worth tracking down.
ISOLEE – “Well Spent Youth”
The return of microhouse master Rajko Muller of “Beau Mot Plage” fame.
MARCELLUS HALL – “The First Line”
Former Railroad Jerk/White Hassle leader goes solo and acoustic.
EAST RIVER PIPE – “We Like in Rented Rooms”
First album in nearly half a decade from brooding singer/songwriter.
And two curve-balls:
RADIOHEAD – “?”
At the time of drummer Philip Selway’s solo release last fall, he suggested a new Radiohead album was being finished up. But hey, they’re Radiohead, and they’ll release a new record when they’re good and ready (and in some format entirely of their choosing), so we’ll just have to be patient.
THE AVALANCHES – “?”
While not quite at “Chinese Democracy” levels yet, the release of the long-awaited follow-up to The Avalanches’ cult-favorite, sample-heavy 2000 album, “Since I Left You” has been the cause of much second guessing and wishful thinking. But recent activity from the band’s camp (i.e. a new website and Twitter feed) has fueled optimistic speculation that 2011 might be the year.
ERIC J. LAWRENCE