Allo Darlin' – Europe, April 3
They may not share the same name recognition as their peers—the Belle & Sebastians, the She & Hims, the Camera Obscuras of the world—but hopefully this will start to change with the release of their sophomore album because, real talk, there might not be a more heartbreaking vocalist currently out there than Allo Darlin’s Elizabeth Morris.
Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself, March 6
Bird is going it alone, self-producing and recording in his barn in Nowheresville, Illinois, which we think—we hope—will signal a shift back to some whistling and reverting back to some of the odder melodies that filled 2005's perfectly imperfect Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs. (Breaks our heart to say it, but those last two records were pretty boring.)
Animal Collective – title and date tba
With Deakin having returned from his African safari or whatever it was, Pitchfork reports that the entire Collective has been in the studio working on a new record. If their live sets this summer were any indication, they're not looking to rehash the whirlpool-pop sounds of Merriweather Post Pavilion and will lean heavily on Avey Tare for vocals. Something tells us they’ll end up at the top of all sorts of lists come December.
Ben Kweller – Go Fly a Kite, February 7
While 49 percent of our being would be perfectly happy if Go Fly a Kite—first release on Kweller’s just-launched record label The Noise Company—features the dusty country twang of his last full-length, another 49 percent is hoping for the grunge-pop of Sha Sha. The remaining 2 percent is pulling for something that sounds like Radish.
Best Coast – title and date tba
“I kinda want the next record to be a little more serious,” Bethany told NME this summer, citing old-school country and the slide guitar as prominent influences. “Less cat and boy and weed involved.” Jon Brion will see to it as producer. Lucky for Snacks, Twitter is still a thing that exists.
Cat Power – tba, no idea, maybe never
But no, really! Maybe this is the year! Matador has been tweeting teasers about Chan being in the studio, and there were those two Webster Hall shows last summer and that single for charity last month…
Chairlift – Something, January 24
They've jumped from iPod-commercial buzz band on a homegrown record label to almost being completely forgotten, to signing to Columbia Records. Based on the new songs we’ve heard, we still like the one in the iPod commercial best.
Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory, January 24
The 90s revival comes full circle with an album by a kid born in the 90s, shaped by Steve Albini's most token 90s-style production since the actual 90s. The Promise Ring is reuniting, by the way.
Craig Finn – Clear Heart, Full Eyes, January 24
Well, Finn sure does know his audience, who will no doubt dutifully follow him on his first solo endeavor away from The Hold Steady. Dillon Panthers/Minnesota Twins forever.
Diamond Rugs – title tba, spring
Here we have a supergroup boasting members of Deer Tick, The Black Lips, Los Lobos, Dead Confederate and Six Finger Satellite. Their first single, a heartbreaking Christmas ballad driven by John McCauley's drunken drawl and a simple piano melody, is not indicative of how the record sounds as a whole, says the label. They plan to rock pretty hard, actually. We assume large vats of beer were involved in its making.
Grimes – Visions, January 31
If “Oblivion”—an adult version of a Sesame Street bop-along—is any indication that Claire Boucher is opting to drop the heavy atmospherics of her former work, Visions is headed for big-time buzz, making Altered Zones proud in its afterlife.
Grizzly Bear – title and date, tba
They’re set to headline the End of the Road Festival, happening in the England in late summer—the first hint that a new album is on the way. Then came this, via Facebook: “With all my heart and soul, I promise a new album in 2012! Unless something crazy happens.” You think they’ll sing all pretty with layered vocals and stuff?
Guided By Voices – Let's Go Eat the Factory, out now; a follow-up is set for May
You know how The Pixies keep touring and touring and touring, but never release an album of new material? That sucks.
Hospitality – Hospitality, January 31
Familiar demos, at least to Hospitality’s local fanbase, get the Merge Records treatment, as the local trio polishes their antiqued twee into something brighter, sharper, but equally warm for their full-length debut.
Jens Lekman – title and date tba
We know there's definitely a full-length planned for 2012. We assume listening to it will make you happy, but also a little sad.
Lana Del Rey – Born to Die, January 31
I hate her, I love her, she's so pretty, how does she get her hair to look like that, that one video is cool, the other songs aren't as great, she actually named her album Born to Die, oh dear Lizzy.
Lissy Trullie – Lissy Trullie, March 6
A throwback to the days when buzz was garnered not by being re-branded into a gangster Nancy Sinatra by studio execs, but by dressing like a pixie-cut Julian Casablancas and being friends with The Virgins, who, apparently, were very hot in 2009, when Trullie first broke into the limelight with a five-song EP (which included a near-perfect Hot Chip cover, if you recall). Now we'll find out what she's been up to for the last three years.
The Magnetic Fields – Love at the Bottom of the Sea, March 6
Something tells us Stephin Merritt has been sitting on the title Love at the Bottom of the Sea for years. Consider it a return to form, they say, with he and his usual cast of collaborators re-joining the Merge roster and restoring synths and acoustic guitars to their repertoire. A sampling of the tracklist: “I’ve Run Away to Join the Fairies.” “All She Cares About Is Mariachi.” “I Don’t Like Your Tone.”
MGMT – title tba, second half of the year
There's not too much information circulating about where the famously Brooklynized duo's heads are at in terms of sound and influence after they endured a bit of a backlash (undeserved, wethinks) for their whacked-out sophomore album, but, as proven by their recent performances at the Guggenheim, they still have a thing for psychedelia. So we have that.
Oberhofer – tba, first quarter of the year
Oh, hey, it's Brad Oberhofer, that 21-year-old kid with uncanny talent for recasting oddball pop songs into jittery post-punk. When we last spoke to him, he had just finished recording his debut full-length for Glassnote. He unassumingly namechecked Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 as nightly listening material, got excited at the prospect of people hearing his re-worked demos, and expressed concern for how he'll translate the string components into a live setting.
Of Montreal – Paralytic Stalks, February 7
Paralytic Stalks's first taste comes in the form of "Wintered Debts," a song ridding the band of ringleader Kevin Barnes' unfortunate obsession with funk. Instead, the strummy guitar that introduces the track quickly fades away, and Barnes finds himself in Sgt. Pepper la la land before eventually falling into a rabbit's hole of quiet, wintry orchestrations. And then when you think the song's finished, it's not. It's ridiculous, and also awesome.
Radiohead – title and date tba
Well, there have been long-running rumors that they're confirmed to headline Coachella, so we assume that means an album is also on the way. Go on, start thinking of what you have to offer on Craigslist for tickets.
Sharon Van Etten – Tramp, February 7
Judging from the album’s single, “Serpents,” Van Etten has infused her scarce, emotional folk—the sonic equivalent of an open wound—with some gusto. Using her pockets of time recording in Aaron Dessner’s garage as the one constant during a nomadic 14 months of touring, “gusto” was bound to work its way in. Somewhere along the way, she picked up Thomas Bartlett, Zach Condon, Jenn Wasner, Julianna Barwick and The Walkmen’s Matt Barrick to contribute.
The Shins – Port of Morrow, March
Last week my mom asked me if The Shins are going to have a new record out soon.
Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror, February
It will probably be noisy. Maybe there will be an overly dramatic trailer for it. Maybe there will even be a song called "True Shred Guitar" and another called "Road to Hell."
Titus Andronicus – title and date, tba
If you follow Titus frontman Patrick Stickles on Twitter, then perhaps you've caught him hinting at what's in store for LP3, or perhaps the album-related news bites have gotten lost in the sea of his every thought. In that case: They'll be back upstate at Marcata Studios recording under the watchful eye of producer Kevin McMahon, they've already had one "non-traditional" (in the context of indie rock) musician sign on, and Stickles asked if anyone has Colin Stetson's e-mail address.
Vampire Weekend – title and date, tba
Can't say we even know for sure whether this is happening for 2012, but there was a photo posted on Rostam's blog of drummer Chris Tomson in the studio… presumably playing drums for an upcoming Vampire Weekend album?
The Walkmen – title tba, spring/summer
After marking their 10-year anniversary as a band, The Walkmen's seventh LP will come just in time to see Hamilton Leithauser's vein throbbing out of his throat on the outdoor festival circuit, perfectly in sync with producer Phil Ek’s impeccable timing.
Wise Blood – title tba, February
When Wise Blood’s debut full-length drops in winter and Chris Laufman, the synth craftsman behind it all, spills his hyperbolized ego all over the pages of glossy magazines, our obsession will make sense.
The xx – title and date, tba
“We've all come back off tour and kind of been partying a little bit more,” beatsmith/producer Jamie xx said in a recent interview with The Creators Project. “So club music has definitely had an influence on the next record.” BUT WILL THEY STILL WEAR ALL BLACK?!?