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.

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.

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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.

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

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  • Dan Wilcox

    Nice one, EJ… I'll also add:
    Guided By Voices (with their "classic" line-up) 'Let's Go Eat the Factory' (out 1/17)
    Big Pink 'Future This' (out 1/17)
    Dr. Dog 'Be The Void' (out 2/7)

    • EJL

      Did you see GBV on Letterman last night? Bassist Greg Demos slipped & hit the deck mid-song, but kept on plugging away. It was a little uncomfortable to see a 50+ year-old dude crammed into stripped bell-bottoms drop that way (even Letterman joked about it), but the new album is definitely a winner!

  • Rachelr

    I have to second Dr. Dog. and throw in my vote for Heartless Bastards ("Arrow" on 2/14) and the new one from LA's own Delta Spirit (self-titled – 3/13)

  • eric

    Ohhh those crazy Aussie Avalanches keep us waiting forever….Soundgarden (no date yet AFAIK), wishful thinking but a new Faith No More album would also make my decade.

  • Neil Stallings

    Nice list Eric, but I almost didn't get through it once I read the regrettable analogy in the first preview: "….slyly underplayed hooks insinuate themselves like Super Glue." ???? C'mon man!…that's as strained as a 20 minute bout on the crapper. Jeez.

    • EJL

      Hmm. Been awhile since I had such a bout, so I'll have to take your word for it :) I fully stand by the validity and accuracy of the description cited in the first half of that quote. You are, however, welcome to take umbrage with the Super Glue bit.

  • Travis Holcombe

    Just to throw in my two cents, I would like to second many of your picks, especially the Santigold album. Also, I'd like to add:

    *Sleigh Bells – Reign Of Terror
    *new Madvillain, Doomstarks (not holding my breath for this) or anything DOOM (because he's my Mark E. Smith, EJ)
    *Bonde Do Role – (I forgot what it's called) It's going to catch a lot of people by surprise
    *Poolside's full length
    *A Nick Waterhouse full length
    *The rumored Freddie Gibbs / Madlib full length (with radio edits, plz Stones Throw)
    *Big Boi's new album (with guest shots from Little Dragon). Also I heard Big Boi is working on the new Modest Mouse album…should be interesting…what I REALLY want is a new Outkast album, though.
    *Major Lazer's follow up
    *New D'Angelo (?uestlove already talked it up to SMiLE status)
    *Any and everything the Finders Keepers crew manages to dig up
    *New Animal Collective (I'm more of a Sung Tongs guy than a MPP guy, but whatever they crank out will definitely be worth a spin or two)
    *The sequel to Watch The Throne (wishful thinking maybe, but they said it's a possibility)
    *Dr. Dre – Detox (even though it can't possibly live up to the hype, I need to hear this in 2012 or else I'll stop caring. Really this time)
    *Light Asylum's full length
    *The new Cymbals album (now as a 4 piece)
    *The Walkmen, Fiona Apple, The xx, The Knife, Black Star

  • Marion Hodges

    Cardinal most definitely! I just found out about it yesterday, and I'm already counting the minutes. Cate Le Bon is someone that I'm excited to hear more from as well. And I always forget how much I like Prinzhorn Dance School. Great choices, I plan to give all of them a listen.

    I'm personally looking forward to new Magnetic Fields – "Love at the Bottom of the Sea." Also coming from Merge, a newish Brooklyn band called Hospitality, I played their record a bit last year, but am so happy it's now getting a proper release. RR likes them too, btw, (http://blogs.kcrw.com/musicnews/2011/12/hospitality-artist-you-should-know/). I'm really interested to see what further indiepop and shoegaze treasures Captured Tracks will reissue for us in 2012, there should be some good ones. And most of the stuff on Travis' list too…

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