Today marks the start of the second half of 2011, and you may at this point be wondering what’s left to look forward to in terms of music in 2011. Well, the answer is a hell of a lot actually! Yes, the first half saw releases from several big names like Radiohead and The Strokes; long-awaited sophomores from Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes; and hyped up debuts from James Blake and Smith Westerns, but the second half has all of that too!
We’ve got long awaited debuts from the likes of Washed Out and Twin Sister, the returning class of 2009 in the form of St. Vincent and Bat For Lashes and everything in between; from titans like Björk to underrated musicians like Fruit Bats.
One Thirty BPM is here to guide you through 2011 Part 2. We’ve lovingly put together our collection of what we’re looking forward to in the next six months; whether they’re confirmed, promised or just hoped for. Each comes with an interesting insight and a piece of media. Please enjoy and leave us a comment telling us what you’re looking forward to.
– Rob Hakimian
Air France carved such a specific sound out for themselves with their first two beach party EPs, On Trade Winds and No Way Down, that it’s hard to believe the duo hasn’t released a proper full-length. While details are still super scarce it sounds like it’s at least a possibility 2011 might see a release from the Swedish Balearic pop outfit that includes more than six tracks, the duo posted this teaser seen below on their blog a couple of months ago.
As Bat for Lashes, songstress Natasha Khan has been mesmerizing fans with her haunting, other-worldly pop that drew comparisons to Björk and Kate Bush. In 2009, Bat for Lashes evaded the dreaded sophomore slump with the stellar Two Suns; a bewitching album that featured a rare Scott Walker collaboration. After spending the majority of 2009 touring in support of Two Suns, the Bat for Lashes camp has been relatively quiet but decidedly not silent, with only a handful of live performances, such as opening for Coldplay in Latin America and one-off performances with a string section at the De La Warr Pavilion and Sydney Opera House. Khan has also released two Record Store Day singles and a collaboration with Beck for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack, but the world at large has been left in anticipation for a new album and subsequent tour.
Following her Australian performances, Khan released a message in which she promised a return to the studio to “carry on making treats.” Besides this note, official word on the follow-up to Two Suns has been scarce. Although there is no title or release date yet, Natasha Khan has revealed some details in recent interviews. Khan told The Brag that she is continuing to explore duality, specifically in her mixed Pakistani/English heritage, and according to her statements to Two Thousand, will be “pushing the electronic side but also still pushing the ballads in terms of the story-telling.” A new song apparently entitled “Oh Yeah” made its debut in Sydney, and the hypnotic slow-burner that seems destined to become a single (listen to the performance below). Khan also reportedly spent a couple weeks last year recording again with Beck. Until more details are made official, all we can expect from the third Bat for Lashes LP is a magical voyage that entrances as it blends contrasting genres and sounds.
– Frank Mojica
Bat For Lashes – “Oh Yeah” (Live in Sydney)
Beirut – The Rip Tide
Since first producing work under the Beirut sobriquet in 2006, New Mexico native Zach Condon has been building a reputation as one of the most versatile and tireless workers in independent music. He’s done this not only through brandishing a rich blend of Eastern European inspired folk with lush instrumentation and a haunting (if not tragically beautiful) vocal delivery, but also through a rigorous touring schedule. In 2009, the ostensible “split” EP March of the Zapotec/Holland found Condon embracing both his early dalliances with electronic music as well as his more recent fascinations with Mexican wedding and funeral marches. This provided the prodigious artist with a brilliant reprieve/creative refresher course, aimed to clear the docket for more traditionally focused LPs. Two years later, we’ve gotten our first evidence of such a thing with the dulcet gem “East Harlem,” which is set to appear on the upcoming album The Rip Tide. As far as sound , you can expect the album to be a slight departure from the usual Franco-inspired dream waltzes (as evidenced by the below single), but Condon notes that the LP will be “…sunny. I write sad songs when it’s nice outside. I write warm and happy songs when I’m up to my neck in snow for three months.”
– Dan Rivera
Beirut – “East Harlem”
Bjork – Biophilia
Let’s face it – Björk’s last record, 2007’s Volta, was a disappointing and utterly forgettable release from an artist that has otherwise put out works ranging from good to outstanding throughout her career. With the bad taste it has left in everyone’s mouth, it’s slightly more difficult to get excited as Björk preps her follow-up, Biophilia. That being said, an artist with one bad record is still a strong artist, and if there’s anyone that has the talent to craft a successful comeback, it’s Björk.
We’ve heard very little from Biophilia, but information regarding its experimental release has been trickling out for a while now. The work is being touted as the first “app album” – with songs that will be released, one by one, with their own accompanying iPad app. While the strange presentation sounds like something fitting of a Björk release, and the talent behind it is strong, (Michel Gondry is said to be in charge of directing the project) one can’t help but worry that all of this may amount to little more than a gimmick.
It’s a risky project, one that can fall flat just as easily as it can succeed. But no matter what the outcome of the release method, our first glimpse into the album’s musical direction – lead single, “Crystalline” – is promising. It’s a strong effort – strong enough, in fact, to earn Björk a vote of confidence despite the misstep that her last album was. Let’s hope the rest of Biophilia can match up.
– Cole Zercoe
Björk – “Crystalline”
Even before Donald Glover became something of a cult celebrity for his role on NBC’s Community, he was making music under the moniker of Childish Gambino (a name derived from a Wu-Tang Clan member name generator, if you haven’t already read that tidbit a thousand times). But with 2010’s CULDESAC and this year’s aptly-titled extended play EP, Childish Gambino has become one of hip-hop’s most hyped young stars. As a result of this surging popularity, Glover’s new album – tentatively slated for a September-ish release – is one to keep a keen eye on. Based on his previous releases and high energy live performances, it’s a record almost certain to be entertaining. But Glover’s material – not being black enough, hooking up with girls of different complexities, rising to stardom and overcoming insecurities along the way – is what’s really going to determine whether or not Childish Gambino can jump to the next level. If he can expand his horizons and maintain the same performance par, the sky’s the limit.
– Andrew Bailey
Childish Gambino – “The Longest Text Message”
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Hysterical
While Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s return has been announced for September (on an album called Hysterical), the immediate question was which Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was returning? Would it be the band that arrived in 2005 with a remarkable self-titled debut and a business strategy that showed that these blog things are for real and these record label things are overrated? Or, will it be the band of their follow-up, Some Loud Thunder, which opened with a track that seemed like it had been seriously mis-recorded and, despite a couple of bright-spots, instantly cast the band as failure stories rather than success stories? If our first taste of the album, the anthemic “Same Mistake,” is any indicator, then Clap Your Hands Say Yeah might be the comeback story that we are all hoping for.
– Philip Cosores
I would like to say the stakes are raised for Coldplay’s next album, but I’m sure that’s been said for every new release, at least from a commercial point of view. To hell with it, the stakes are high for Album No. 5. Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends was a big success for the band and they need to produce something as excellent to keep their momentum going; coming out with two critically and commercially successful albums will do wonders for their careers now, and when people look back on them. Judging on the lead single, ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ and its accompanying B-Sides, Coldplay aren’t content with staying in one place which bodes well for the future. They’re making sure they keep growing, album by album.
Coldplay could quite easily take the ‘Biggest Band in the World’ title if they produce a cracker of an album, and I’m very excited to hear what they come up with.
Cymbals Eat Guitars’ debut album Why There Are Mountains gained a lot of well-earned hype in 2009, so it’s understandable that Lenses Alien, their new record lined up for September 13, would land on this list as something we’re anticipating. While the band hasn’t released any new music from the album just yet, they’ve been forthright on their Twitter account with just enough information about it to help stir the pot. Still, the direction of the new stuff is yet unclear. But you can likely expect to hear some of the same titanic guitar riffs that made their debut so addicting.
– Andrew Bailey
Cymbals Eat Guitars – “Plainclothes” (Live on BBC 6 Music)
Dr. Dre – Detox
All things considered, the plague of false starts, delays, early leaks, alternate projects and personal intrusions on Dr. Dre’s Detox, originally slated for release in the latter half of 2005 (!), isn’t that surprising. There are kids that ended up Moms and Dads before Only Built For Cuban Linx II came out, so can we really complain? And yeah, Detox was apparently finished in 2008 – handpicked from some 400 tracks – yet it wasn’t until late last year that the classically west-coast thumper “Kush” hit the web, and February 2011 for the massive “I Need A Doctor,” a ghastly circus complete with the practically prerequisite Eminem bro-poem and killer verse of Dre’s own. So, I mean, we’re pretty sure Detox is coming out this year, but your guess is really as good as ours. All signs, however, point to it being well worth the wait.
– FM Stringer
Dr. Dre – “I Need A Doctor” (feat. Eminem and Skylar Grey)
Photo by Philip Cosores
Somewhere in the middle of the chaos that was The Drums’ 2010, the indie pop group began to work on their second album. The band, still mostly intact following the break out success of last year’s The Drums, have hardly had a moment to stand still with their frantic touring schedule and the departure of guitarist Adam Kessler this past September. Frontman Jonathan Pierce seems eager to keep the band from slowing, “This may not last forever. We might have three albums, maybe four. Who knows? We might have a hundred. It’s good to do it all now. I feel like we all share this nervous energy and a fire in our belly.” Accordingly, don’t expect any wild departures from the sound that made up their debut, as drummer Conner Hanwick explains, “[The Drums] don’t want to do a whole lot of change.” If they deliver another set of summer-soundtracking songs, there will hardly be any complaints.
Watch the teaser trailer for the album (possibly titled Portamento) below.
Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams
Earlier this year, jangle-punk rockers Dum Dum Girls followed up their promising 2010 debut, I Will Be, with the solid, but way too short He Gets Me High EP. Though each of that release’s four tracks were excellent (especially their wonderful cover of The Smiths’ classic “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”), its brevity left plenty more to be desired. Luckily fans won’t have to wait much longer: The group’s 2nd LP, Only In Dreams is slated for release this September on Sub Pop. Recorded at Queens of the Stoneage frontman, Josh Homme’s Pink Duck Studios, the record was produced by Richard Cottehrer, who produced Dum Dum Girls’ debut (and is also responsible for, among many other things, debuts from Blondie and The Go Gos); Sune Rose Wagner of the Ravonettes also produced.