I know, I know. I still owe my faithful flock the best albums of LAST year, but January has been hella busy and I haven’t been able to focus on it like I wanted to. The best songs list got a lot of love and attention, and the albums deserve just as much. I promise to post it soon when I get some time to sit down and focus. That said, why don’t we look to the future (or recent past) for the albums I’m looking forward to most this year.
Vampire Weekend – Contra
This actually came out already (January 12th) and is just as incredible as their debut. Showing real growth while sticking to what made them so successful in the first album, VW expands into more complex orchestration here with stunning results. The Afro-pop sensibility is still present and quite strong, helping to provide an almost escapist tone to the songs, especially considering the current clime in most of the country right now. AutoTune is used to pleasantly catchy results; it probably helps that it’s followed by well-constructed bursts of strings and layered (true) vocals. Early standouts include “Run,” “Horchata,” “Diplomat’s Son,” and “Holiday.”
Spoon – Transference
Due out tomorrow, January 19th, Spoon’s eighth studio album will surely be yet another in the line of distinctive and consistently strong albums from Austin’s favorite export. Critics have hailed it as a return to a minimalist approach, quite the departure from the heavily produced genius that was Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. I’m excited to see what many critics are calling a vintage Spoon, as they return to the considerably less glossy form of Kill the Moonlight. May I point out how amazing the cover is? Totally reminiscent of Girls or The Dutchess and the Duke. I’ll save their praise for another post.
She & Him – Volume Two
Coming off of their Smiths cover from the (500) Days of Summer soundtrack and their debut album (my favorite of 2008), She & Him have their second due for March 23rd. Expect more gloriously catchy throwback folk pop from the incredibly charming duo of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. Zooey’s rising success in Hollywood and marriage to Ben Gibbard of Death Cab fame should provide pretty decent material and I’m told to expect at least a handful of covers. The question here is if they can keep the effortless appeal of the first album going with this new work.
Patrick Park – Come What Will
This man writes the soundtrack to your life like almost no one else I know. Past gems include “Here We Are,” “Life is a Song,” “Something Pretty,” and “Nothing’s Lost.” Critics have compared his “verbal precision” to Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street,” which happens to me my favorite Dylan song. His folksy singer/songwriter sound is one of the best out there for his genre, and it’s practically criminal that he’s so unknown. Expect more guitar-driven introspective songs from this Colorado man when he drops his newest on April 6th.
Santigold – Title TBA
This impresario from Philly came out swinging in 2008 with her impressively successful indie album full of electronic/funk/rock pieces. Having written for other writers for quite some time, Santi White proved herself a force to be reckoned with when her debut dropped. Several other artists came knocking, and she’s been busy collaborating with the likes of Jay-Z. Speaking as someone who has met her in person, I assure you there is no end to her creative impulses. There’s no telling what she has in store for us now.
The Weepies – Title TBA
Three albums of cute pop perfection from this duo have cemented them as go-to artists for television shows and movies with discerning taste for well-constructed duets. Grey’s Anatomy, the film Friends and Money, even the Obama campaign have all used Weepies songs, and for good reason – they’re just that good. I consider “World Spins Madly On” to be my favorite song of all time, so my expectations for this album are clearly higher than most artists. I have every confidence they’ll deliver in a completely understated and beautiful way.
Fleet Foxes – Title TBA
What’s not to like about these five hugely talented musicians? They really raised the bar in the industry when it came to harmonies and layered vocals (a challenge Grizzly Bear rose to magnificently, mind you). The band itself describes their music as “baroque harmonic pop jams” and I couldn’t agree more. I’m looking forward to unpacking all of the densely constructed songs sure to come from this Seattle quintet when they’re album comes out later this year. I think their hardest task will be topping the flawless piece “Mykonos” from 2008’s Sun Giant EP, but that’s just me.