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Our Most Anticipated Albums of 2012

By ; December 30, 2011 at 12:00 AM 

Speculative Albums
Albums for which early rumors have started to surface but no concrete details have been given. Nevertheless, we are hopeful to hear them in 2012.

Aphex Twin – TBA

In between hacking an orchestra and signing on to play at Future Music 2010, the electronic arts wizard we mortals know as Richard D. James has — in typical Aphex fashion — kept mum on the prospect of a new album. But, I mean, he has to have something for us this year, right? It’s been a decade since Drukqs. Besides, remember when he said he actually has six completed albums laying around? They’re probably just gathering dust on some shelves in his subterranean space dungeon or wherever the hell he spends his free time. And you know what? I’ll bet you at least half of those “completed albums” are still better than anything we’ve heard in the last twelve months. Whatever. Not to sound like a broken record, but maybe 2012 will finally be the year we hear new Aphex Twin material. Hopefully.

Josh Becker

Atoms For Peace – TBA

Since Radiohead released The King of Limbs in 2011, 2012 is the first year for a while where we’re anticipating/expecting/hoping for a new Radiohead album. (Except for those people still dreaming of The King of Limbs Part 2). That doesn’t mean, however, that we have nothing to almost hopelessly look forward to from the Radiohead camp. Of all of the members of Thom Yorke’s sort-of super group Atoms For Peace, it is Flea that has been the most vocal about their recorded efforts. According to the Chili Peppers bassist the recording is entirely done, but it’s down to Thom and Nigel Godrich to finish it and mix it. On the one hand that sounds like we could get it at any moment, on the other it sounds like we may never get it since, reportedly, the recordings were done well over a year ago and, well, I’m not sure there are any bigger perfectionists in modern music than Yorke and Godrich – especially when they’re working together. What can we expect from this offering? It’s extremely difficult to say since the original songs that the band played live while they were touring are almost guaranteed to be completely transformed by the time they come out of the mixing process, but, hell, we’ll sit and dream about it anyway.

Rob Hakimian

Beck – TBA

Rumours circulate every year of a new Beck album. Modern Guilt, Beck’s last full-length effort, was released way back in 2008, and there seems to have been an endless string of projects getting in the way of album number eleven. Whilst we have been given a little taste of Beck through his recent soundtrack and production work (notably via Thurston Moore’s Demolished Thoughts and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks’ Mirror Traffic), here’s hoping that 2012 bucks the trend of all whisperings and no release.

Liam Demamiel

Blur – TBA

Any sensible music-lover must have jumped for joy when Blur reunited for shows such as their excellent 2009 performance at Hyde Park. Albarn, Coxon, James and Rowntree seemed completely comfortable around one another despite their extended hiatus, engaging in amusing banter and playing perfectly in order to amaze an audience of lucky fans. Of course, performances like this sparked rumours that the band were recording together once again, and although the individual members have given different answers when pressed about a possible new album, it is certain that the boys are meeting up with the intention of jamming. If they do so choose to release an album, and if 2010’s “Fool’s Day” is anything to go by, then it can be guaranteed to showcase their excellent song-writing talents, proving that they have lost none of their charm. These musicians may have matured since the early days of Blur, but they still carry that same cheeky enthusiasm that they once did, making the prospect of a new album an incredibly mouth-watering one indeed.

Alex Phillimore

Camera Obscura – TBA

When trying to look up details about the new Camera Obscura album, you’ll find that the results come up empty other than the simple fact that it’s supposed to come out in 2012. As a twee-pop band that’s not named Belle & Sebastian, they’ve always crafted albums that are consistently good. Their last release, My Maudlin Career, was easily one of the best albums of 2009. Lively hooks, melodic pop sensibilities, and playful lyrics are traits that have always encompassed their music, so you can expect those to be in the next album.

Ace Ubas

Franz Ferdinand – TBA

Franz Ferdinand’s debut was as close to perfect as a debut album (or any album for that matter) can get. It is not the case that their two follow ups – 2005’s You Could Have It So Much Better and 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand – were bad albums. It was just always going to be hard to live up to record one. With the band shunning publicity and remaining tight-lipped about their future fourth effort, one can only hope that something good is about to come.

Liam Demamiel

Frightened Rabbit – TBA

Frightened Rabbit are teetering on brink of superstardom. The Midnight Organ Fight‘s standing as one of my all-time favorite records will forever be unmarred, but it’s what the group accomplished on The Winter of Mixed Drinks, released in 2010, that suggests the band could be set for an enormous popularity spike. The 11 songs that made up that album were written and performed like anthems, tailor-made for arenas and stadiums. Nothing will ever replace Scott Hutchison’s signature intimacy, but rarely has a band so reliant on emotion and tenderness been able to make such hefty steps towards selling out large venues in such a short span of time. If their career trajectory thus far is any indication, their yet-untitled fourth album may well propel them to their destiny before year’s end.

Andrew Bailey

Frightened Rabbit – “Scottish Winds”

Jay-Z – TBA

Okay, so maybe we can all agree The Blueprint 3 wasn’t Jay-Z’s finest effort. Nevertheless, as a collection of upbeat, club-worthy singles, it’s hard to completely dismiss the notion that Jay-Z, as a solo artist, has plenty of gas left in the tank. It’s also important to understand his career arc: Jay-Z is no longer the the hungry kid spitting stories from the streets of Brooklyn, but rather a pop mainstay that has conquered rap and business alike. He’s reached the point of being beyond critical scrutiny — The Blueprint 3 took a beating critically and didn’t slow his momentum at all — which makes the possibilities for his next release entirely incalculable. While anticipating another Reasonable Doubt or even another Black Album defies reasonable expectations, one certainty prevails: whatever it is that Jay-Z drops next, it will merit our undivided attention.

Andrew Bailey

Jason Lytle – TBA

“I find my answers working at a slower pace, and usually it’s something that involves the natural world,” explains Jason Lytle, “I can’t read it in the newspaper, and I can’t see it on the news. I kinda have to discover it myself, and in my own way.” Few artists take as convoluted a trip from project to project as the former Grandaddy frontman. Since that band’s 2006 breakup, Lytle moved to rural Montana, and has subsequently released only his solo debut in 2009 and the first album from new group Admiral Radley a year later. Like many artists, Lytle digests what he sees in the world and spits it out – with venom – in his work; he just doesn’t do it in any timely fashion. Consequently, the reports of Lytle releasing his next album in 2012 (and an accompanying tour) need to be taken with a grain of salt. However, if Lytle’s showing at PJ20 is any indication, it will a stripped down “one man band” type of album. Such is a style that fits Lytle best.

Jason Hirschhorn

Mazzy Star – TBA

The thing that made the 13 year wait for new Mazzy Star material so easy to bear is that I’m not entirely sure that anybody was really waiting. We had all kind of thought the California duo was done, but thankfully that was not the case. Unfortunately, now that we have heard their comeback singe, “Common Burn,” in all its glory, the wait for more material is going to be rather painful. The band haven’t really said what their plans are for more new releases, but with a few live dates announced, we’ll hopefully get more of a picture as to what stage they’re at with more material, and just how much of it there is.

Rob Hakimian

Modest Mouse – TBA

When Modest Mouse released their last album to date in 2007, it didn’t seem unreasonable to think it might be the last. Isaac Brock had gone through years of brilliant strangeness to reach the pinnacle of his pop perfection ideals with Good News. Even the title We Were Dead Before the Ship Evan Sank clearly balked in the face of the fallout they knew they were doomed to receive. It couldn’t be simpler: bands age. Yet, now that the band is finally nearing another record, one can’t help but wait with bated breath. Big Boi, of all people, made a splash earlier this year by revealing he’d collaborated with the band. Not as a rapper, thankfully, but rather a producer, a voice in the room during jams. He promised the record to be ‘funky’. Funky? Just imagine the full power of Modest Mouse behind a frolicking jam session, inspired by the Southern jaunt Big Boi is sure to bring. Just when you thought Modest Mouse was running out of ideas, this album may come right out of left field.

Chase McMullen

Phoenix – TBA

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was a monster of a record, taking Phoenix far beyond where even they could have ever hoped to have gone. Like high fashion trends slowly work their way down from the runway to the department store, so did Phoenix’s last effort. Over the past two and a half years, “Listzomania” and “1901” have followed me from the good (to the not so good) clubs and finally to my local ‘lock your doors’ shopping mall. Not much is known about the untitled fifth Phoenix record, other than the band wanting to move away from their pop aesthetics to the more experimental; inspired in part by the experiences of contributing to the soundtrack of the film Somewhere.

Liam Demamiel

The Radio Dept. – TBA

After making their devoted fans wait almost four years for their third LP, The Radio Dept. met with unexpected success with the Balearic beat influenced nugaze of Clinging to a Scheme in 2010. The press-shy and stage-frightened Swedish dream popsters warmed up to several interviews and music festivals in 2011, selling out shows around the globe. The trio were already working on their fourth album before planning to end the year with one final US tour that was cancelled due to “family related issue.” The Radio Dept. has had a tumultuous relationship with their record label, Labrador, and always have made it clear that they have no creative ties with fellow label mates. This fourth LP would fulfill their contract with the respected Stockholm indie company. While ending a stale relationship may be a good reason to expedite the album, the soft-spoken perfectionists would always put their artistic integrity first, and we would expect nothing less than another set of gorgeous pop tunes from the unassuming musicians.

Autumn Andel

Sage Francis – TBA

Sage Francis, the founder of Strange Famous Records, has become enthralled by the worldwide Occupy movements. Notorious for using his verses to support, advocate, and question, there’s a logical progression that suggests Francis may veer a bit from the more introspective narratives of, say, Personal Journals or Human the Death Dance, in favor of tackling wider, more political topics. His most recent album, Li(f)e, took his sound in a whole different direction, building on a foundation of mellow acoustic instrumentation rather than concrete beats. But with such universally-known and relevant material at his fingertips, sonically, the album he promised us was in the works may well mark his fiercest, most opinionated to date.

Andrew Bailey

The Sea and Cake – TBA

Hot off their Fall 2011 tour, in the wake of May’s solid-but-restrained The Moonlight Butterfly, The Sea and Cake amble into 2012 with the promise of a new album, their tenth. With two decades of material backing their reputation as a comfortable, dexterous indie rock band of startling consistency, it’s easy to write to write the Chicago quartet off as uninspired. It’s a lazy move, though, and denies The Sea and Cake the benefit of their ability to quietly surprise. If The Moonlight Butterfly feels like it holds back some cards, it could be with intent. With precious little to go on, we’ll just have to wait and see.

FM Stringer

Soundgarden – TBA

After being away for so long, one wonders just how good a Soundgarden album in 2012 is going to be. Will it fit in, be a game changer, tread along a usual path, or just be plain disappointing? Part of the intrigue and mystery comes from the variety of Chris Cornell’s solo and other band work during the last decade. There’ve been some wonderful highs that sound nothing like Soundgarden (half of Audioslave’s recorded output, some of Carry On) that could be used, but then again there was the misjudged Scream. No sane person would say that Timbaland will be producing, but could Cornell kill off any new album by attempting to push the rest of the band too far in a new musical direction? But then again, that’s part of the intrigue of a possible Soundgarden album; there’s a chance it’ll sound completely fresh and relevant by bringing some new ideas to the table, but still completely Soundgarden, and that’s exciting.

Daniel Griffiths

Spoon – TBA

According to Metacritic, Spoon was the most consistently excellent band of the 2000-2009 period. This might be a shocking fact until you consider the fact that this band released Girls Can Tell, Kill the Moonlight, Gimme Fiction, and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga – all fantastic albums – during this period. While their first album of this new decade, Transference, turned out to be their most divisive album, in no way did it show Spoon as having slowed down. For a band that has been rolling with the punches for over a decade the only thing that we can expect from their next release is quality in one form or another. I see nothing wrong with this.

Ricky Schweitzer

Kanye West – TBA

At this point in his career Kanye West rests comfortably amongst a shortlist of artists whose latest record is more than a release: it’s an event, and he knows it. Thus far, each and every album he’s released has made a separate, unique statement. This time around, word is, it’s all a party. For an MC whose strongest moments tend to come from rejection and anger, it’s a bold move, but it’s both a potentially refreshing follow up to the bleakly brilliant Dark Fantasy and a natural outlet for his ego. Rumored and confirmed collaborators include Justice, LMFAO, Diplo, Swedish House Mafia, James Blake, and M.I.A.. Even “How to Love” helmer Detail claims he’s involved. Another source says the album will boast trap records. Some of this news could even be seen as troubling, but if the music world’s learned anything, it’s not to bet against Kanye West. Chances are he’ll deliver something we weren’t expecting and just what we need.

Chase McMullen


Wait, didn’t World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation just release their debut album over the summer? Why yes, they did. In fact over here at One Thirty BPM, we loved Go Tell Fire to the Mountain so much that it landed on #6 of our Top 50 Albums of 2011 (check out our review here as well). Mostly every show that they have played in support of it has sold-out, so it’s safe to say that they’re one of the top breakout artists of the year. While there have been no explicit details of a full-length coming out in 2012, vocalist Ellory Roberts has stated that the band has new songs written and an idea on where they want to take the new album. Currently, they’re still touring in support of their debut which lasts until spring of next year so I doubt that a full-length is coming out next year. But for now, fans are still reveling in the beauty of Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, which is more than enough to tide everyone over until a new release. No rush boys, no rush.

Ace Ubas

WU LYF – “Brooklyn Girls” (live at Maida Vale studios)

Yo La Tengo – TBA

America’s hardest working everyman band has consistently put out good songs since about 1993. They touch on old eras often with new works, but they continue to make them sound fresh and different. For their probable 2012 effort, it will be interesting to see if they continue their streak of one or two long songs (or three, as seen on 2009’s glorious Popular Songs) or go forth with exclusively a collection of short songs. Either way, Yo La Tengo will continue to redefine pop music on whatever we see from the band in the new year.

Ryan Nichols

[Announced] [Confirmed] [In Progress] [Speculative]

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