Our Most Anticipated Albums of 2011

Death Cab For Cutie – Codes And Keys
Due out Spring 2011 on Atlantic

By now, Death Cab For Cutie have the guitar-pop song down to a science. So revealing that their new record will be less guitar-oriented is exciting, risky and probably the exact thing that the band needs to inject some life into their sound. Having Alan Moulder engineering it also helps. They are an easy band to write-off because of their success, but something tells me that’s a position that Ben Gibbard will embrace, will rise to and, hopefully, make critics and fans alike regret come this time next year.

– Phillip Cosores

The Decemberists – The King is Dead
Due out January 18th on EMI

The Decemberists’ last album, 2009’s The Hazards of Love, was a long, dense, sometimes impenetrable concept album that was the least hooky of the Portland indie pop vets’ career. If the recently-released single “Down by the Water” is any indication, its follow-up, The King is Dead, will see the group moving in the opposite direction. The album is said to be more country-inspired, and the single finds the group in early-’90s R.E.M. mode.

– Sean Highkin

Destroyer – Kaputt
Due out January 25th on Merge

Photo by Ted Bois

Easily the best album we have heard from 2011. The nine-song collection features the previously released electronic opus “Bay of Pigs” and the soft-rock revivalist “Chinatown.” Guess what? All the other songs on the record are good, too. Dan Bejar continues to cement his legacy as one of the most captivating songwriters of our time but challenging the listeners imagination and never being afraid to take a risk. With a tour scheduled to begin in March (with an 8-piece Destroyer orchestra, no less), this could be the album that finally gives the artist the credit he deserves.

– Philip Cosores

Dodos – No Color
Due out March 14th on Frenchkiss

Let’s be honest: Dodos’ last album Time To Die was somewhat disappointing, especially after the tour-de-force that was Visiter. They went from a duo to a trio and somehow became less interesting, the complete opposite of what you’d expect. It seems Meric Long and Logan Kroeber realised this too because for their next release they have reversed a couple of the changes made between Visiter and Time To Die; they’re back to being a duo and they’ve re-enlisted John Askew as their producer. These are positive signs, and with the promise of Neko Case appearing on the album excitment has certainly been piqued.

– Rob Hakimian

Dr. Dre – Detox
Expected out February on Aftermath

After 12 years in the making, referred to by many as “Rap’s Chinese Democracy,” Dr. Dre’s third and final album Detox will see its official release next month.

To those saying that Dre fell off: How man? His last album was The Chronic… 2001.

– Evan Kaloudis

Esben And The Witch – Violet Cries
Due Out February 8th on Matador

In October, Esben And The Witch played one of their first American shows in Las Vegas at Matador at 21. They were the only band on the bill without a proper album, and one of the few that wasn’t a legend. The confidence that Matador Records exudes in this group is apparent in “Warpath,” which could be called haunting and should be called ambitious and memorable. I’m not calling Esben And The Witch a sure thing, but these Brits are close to it.

– Philip Cosores

Fleet Foxes – TBA
Expected Mid-2010 on Sub Pop

Fleet Foxes songwriter Robin Pecknold debuted new songs when he opened for Joanna Newsomover the summer, and though they were good, they were not as memorable as the numbers from the folk-pop debut. Peckinold has explicitly said the new material will be less poppy, but the real question is whether they will have much of an audience without the infectious tunes. Some artists (Newsom, Bill Callahan) can pull it off, hopefully Fleet Foxes can, too.

– Philip Cosores

Hercules and Love Affair – Blue Songs
Dut out January 31st on Moshi Moshi Records

Hercules and Love Affair took 2008 by storm with their debut album, and they’re hoping to do the same with Blue Songs in 2011. This time around frontman Andy Butler will be producing the album for his newly minted Mr. INTL Records, replacing longtime DFA Records mastermind Tim Goldsworthy. Also missing from the new album is Antony Hegarty, the vocalist who helped stir some of Hercules’ original buzz. Instead you’ll find burgeoning singer/producer/DJ Kim Ann Foxmann performing most of vocals alongside Butler. And after a year long tour with the Blue Songs lineup, Hercules and Love Affair appear to be regaining their distinct sound.

– Erik Burg

Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
Due out January 25th on Warner Brothers

It almost feels like pre-The Shepherd’s Dog Iron & Wine should be called Sam Beam, because the last album was the first time a band feel ever came into play. It would be an easier identifier, because as enjoyable as the new Iron & Wine songs can be, they are not the same project as the Iron & Wine of old. “Walking Far From Home” could be produced by David Sitek, non-album track “Biting Your Tail” is in the Age of Adz vein, and “Tree By The River” might as well be a James Taylor cover. There will be some disappointment, but the songs are all stunning in their own way and if the rest of the record stands up to them, it will be his best.

– Philip Cosores

J. Mascis – Several Shades Of Why
Due Out March 15th on Sub Pop

In all his time in the music scene, it seems like it must be a typo when you read that this is J. Mascis’ first solo album, after nearly thirty years in Dinosaur Jr. But it shouldn’t be a big departure, rather, his trademark noodling is usually recognizable from the smallest sampling. Or not, as this is not only his first solo album, but it is also acoustic. Yes, J. Mascis. The record features Kevin Drew, Ben Bridwell and Kurt Vile amongst a troup of others. The live show will feature the most baeautiful golden locks you have ever seen.

– Philip Cosores

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