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This new year means more than resolutions and a new start. For the staff of ACRN and music lovers everywhere, the new year brings about a feeling of excitement when it comes to thinking ahead at what is to come.
After reflecting on 2011's music releases, ACRN looks forward to wonder just what is to come in this next year. And believe us when we say that besides the world ending in December, there is a lot to look forward to in 2012.
Contributing Writers: Kevin Rutherford, Capri Ciulla, Matthew Bemer, Sam Boyer, Rachel Haas, Colin Roose, Drew Poulsen, Brooke Bunce, Amanda Norris, Carolyn Menyes, Ben Haager, Ross Lockhart, Chris Dobstaff, Emily Votaw
Look for it: February
Noise rock duo Sleigh Bells can no longer be called guitarist Derek Miller’s (formerly of Poison the Well) side project. Since their inception, Miller and singer Alexis Krauss have released one EP and a full-length entitled Treats, played music festivals like Coachella and Pitchfork and have had music featured on television shows such as Gossip Girl and Skins. Now, they are gearing up to release another full-length in February of this year, appropriately titled Reign of Terror.
What does this release have to offer that 2010’s grungy, distortion-driven Treats does not? Production. Judging from what has already been released promoting Reign of Terror, the two are staying true to their typical noise sound, but with a bigger budget and two years of touring under their belt, you can bet that this release will be that much better and that much more fun to rock out to. [M.B.]
Check out: “Born to Lose,” the first single from the upcoming album Reign of Terror.
Mumford & Sons
Look for it: TBA
Mumford & Sons' debut album Sigh No More was an Americana-folk romp that felt rooted in American musical traditions--not bad for four boys from West London. To kick off recording for their sophomore effort, the four-piece stopped off in Nashville, the holy grail for their musical tendencies. Few details have been released about the record since, but a handful of songs have been road-tested by the band, including the soaring harmonies of "Below My Feet" and the emotional, electrifying "Lover of the Light." If these and other new songs are any indication, expect a louder dynamic to come to the sparse acoustic folk of the band's first record. [K.R.]
Check out: "Lover's Eyes," a song rumored to be in consideration for the new record.
Look for it: October
And the British invasion continues: Muse, the unstoppable kings of symphonic alternative rock, plan to resume their reign over the masses through the release of their newest album set to cause an ‘uprising’ in fall 2012. The Englishmen have toured successfully throughout 2011 playing sold-out arenas scattered around the globe whilst vigorously writing and brainstorming fresh ideas for the upcoming year.
According to lead vocalist/guitarist Matt Bellamy’s official Twitter account, the band started recording their “Christian gangsta rap jazz odyssey” record infused with “some ambient rebellious dubstep and face melting metal flamenco cowboy psychedella” last month. Who in their right minds isn’t looking forward to a release like THAT?
All joking aside, if any rock band could stir and serve a steaming pot of genre stew it would be Matt Bellamy and company. For a talented band that enjoys the art of experimenting between genres, expect no musical limits for their upcoming release. [C.C.]
Check out: Muse's most recent release, "Neutron Star Collision (Love is Forever)," recorded for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack.
Look for it: TBA
It’s been almost three years since Animal Collective released their eighth studio album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, but after a hiatus, the band is back with a pocketful of new songs that they plan to record in January. Avey Tare told the Baltimore Sun in July that these songs were “more immediate” than Merriweather.
Any change in sound could swing things either way for followers, since their last release caused such a divide between old and new fans. Still, it’s hard to deny the success of Merriweather, which undoubtedly put AC on the map with tracks like “My Girls” and “Brother Sport.”
What else does the album have in store? Deakin (Josh Dibb), AC co-founder, is set to make his return on the new album after taking a break from their last. Besides their music, the band also released a visual record, ODDSAC, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, as well as various solo projects. [R.H]
Check out: “My Girls” the hit single off Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Look for it: February
In his long career, former Beatle Paul McCartney has often ventured outside his normal pop idiom, experimenting with electronica, ambient and even classical music, but never before has he drawn from the vast catalogue of the Great American Songbook.
McCartney's album, titled Kisses on the Bottom, is due out February 7 and will feature his interpretations of jazz standards such as Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen and other well-known composers of the 1920s and '30s, along with two originals in a similar style.
Furthermore, Kisses will be produced by Tommy LiPuma, who has previously worked with jazz musicians like Miles Davis and Natalie Cole. The release will include guest appearances by several well-known performers such as Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton, as well as musical backing by Diana Krall's band.
This will be the first time that McCartney will not make any instrumental contributions to one of his releases. An oldies-oriented album has been tried by McCartney's musical peers before, most notably Rod Stewart, but Macca's songwriting and vocal talents should put his attempt over the average rehash of the days of wine and roses. [C.R.]
Check out: "My Valentine," the new single from the upcoming album.
Look for it: March
The band that brought Natalie Portman and Zach Braff together in Garden State is preparing to change your life once again. James Mercer and company’s fourth studio album, Port of Morrow, is the follow-up to 2007’s GRAMMY-nominated Wincing the Night Away.
After five years and an appearance on Yo Gabba Gabba!, The Shins will greet 2012 with a new line-up on a new label. Mercer made the executive decision to release the new record on his own label, Aural Apothecary. Singer/songwriter Richard Swift, Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, and Yuuki Matthews of Crystal Skulls will join Mercer on tour. Port of Morrow’s first single, “Simple Song,” won’t be released until mid-January, but putting faith in James Mercer is usually a safe bet. [S.B.]
Check out: For now, you can ease into the new material by listening to “New Slang” full blast (sans quirky Natalie Portman).
Look for it: TBA
Surf-pop California princess Bethany Cosentino and her musical companion Bobb Bruno have quite a tough act to follow with Best Coast’s 2010 debut, Crazy For You. Though they were unknown at the time they cut the album, it achieved wild success, ending up on both Pitchfork and Spin’s lists of top albums of 2010 and landing them a star-studded, West Side Story-inspired music video directed by Drew Barrymore for their single “Our Deal.”
Crazy For You is filled with low-fi, reverb-drenched tracks that bring the listener to bask in the sun of the sandy beaches of Kokomo, backed by Cosentino’s angsty Courtney Love vocals; a love child of '60s innocence and '90s garage rock.
Even with the recent loss of a drummer (former member of Vivian Girls, Ali Koehler), the anticipation is high for Cosentino and Bruno, who have announced that Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Kanye West, Of Montreal) will produce their next full-length. Cosentino recently admitted that her new tracks (14 of which are already written) will take a slower, ballad-heavy approach, influenced by “older country music.”
If that scares some people, it only makes me all the more excited to hear the cat-obsessed, spunky songstress really showcase her pipes this time around. To make the tease even worse, Cosentino released a sneak peek from their sophomore effort, a crooning tune called “How They Want Me To Be.” Best Coast’s breezy, beachy flow is sure to ease them right over the notorious sophomore slump. [B.B.]
Check out: "How They Want Me to Be," a sneak peek at Best Coast's upcoming record.
Lana Del Rey
Look for it: January
Speculation has swirled about concerning the fledgling career of Lana Del Rey (real name Lizzy Grant). Is the indie songstress nothing but a label-created persona designed as a marketing ploy to sell records and nothing more? Or was the Del Rey persona the brainchild of Grant herself, with occasional outside influence? Whatever her path, Del Rey certainly has plenty of folks talking. Lead single "Video Games" made waves in a number of countries, the low-tempo, piano/string-laden song causing the singer's music to be dubbed a relatively new genre, sadcore--a claim furthered by the equally toned-down current single "Born to Die." Expect more of the same from the rest of the record, plus a few tunes to satisfy the "gangster Nancy Sinatra" persona she's been claimed to embody. [K.R.]
Check out: "Born to Die," title track and current single.
Black Sabbath Look for it: TBA
Capturing the grit and struggle of living and working in an English steel town, Black Sabbath’s music became a reality check for all the peace and love sung by its contemporaries in the late '60s. Originally forming under the name Earth in 1968, Black Sabbath created a sound that would influence countless musicians in the coming decades. Tony Iommi’s dark and distorted guitar riffs and Geezer Butler’s lyrics of apocalyptic visions and social unrest set the foundation for what is now known as heavy metal.
Since its start over 40 years ago, Black Sabbath has changed their lineup numerous times. Guitarist Tony Iommi has been the only consistent member of the group. After releasing classics such as “Iron Man”, “Paranoid” and “War Pigs,” Sabbath let go original singer Ozzy Osbourne due to his excessive use of drugs and alcohol. Osbourne was replaced with the powerful pipes of Ronnie James Dio in 1979.
In early 2011, Ozzy Osbourne announced that the unholy stars would once again align and the original Black Sabbath lineup would reunite for a tour and a new studio album under the command of acclaimed producer Rick Rubin. [D.P.]
Check out: "Paranoid," classic fare from the legendary rock act.
Look for it: Summer
Las Vegas’ favorite indie rock sons The Killers have begun work on their fourth studio album, tentatively titled Battle Born. The band began recording work for the album in October, though no official producer has been announced yet. The Killers’ last release was in 2008, with Day & Age. The upcoming release is scheduled for late spring/summer of 2012, and fans can expect a new, guitar-heavy direction. [A.N.]
Check out: The Killers' most recently-released material, Christmas charity single "The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."
Look for it: February
Ohio garage rockers, Heartless Bastards are set to release their forthcoming album, Arrow on Valentine’s Day ironically enough. It will be their first recording after signing on to the Brooklyn-based label Partisan Records. The band reached stardom in 2004 with a little help from fellow Ohioan, Pat Carney of the Black Keys. Carney passed their demo on to Fat Possum Records following a small gig he witnessed in Akron.
The band has since released three full-length albums and expanded their musical boundaries with each LP. Arrow will be supported by an American tour this winter Heartless or not, the record is sure to have plenty of soul led by Erika Wennerstrom’s haunting and gnarling vocals and gritty guitar riffs. [D.P.]
Check out: Their new single from Arrow, “Parted Ways,” which offers a variety of guitar tones with over-driven leads, surfy reverb, and country rock strumming.
Look for it: Spring
Since reuniting for a few shows in 2010 (including Lollapalooza), legendary grunge band Soundgarden has released a greatest hits/rarities album Telephantasm, toured Canada and the US, and released their first live album Live On I-5. In 2012 they will be embarking on a world tour and, for the first time in 16 years, will release a yet-to-be- titled new album. Judging from recent live performances, one can certainly expect Cornell and Co. to pick up right where they left off in 1996 with Down On the Upside, as they are as tight a band as ever. No tracks have been revealed yet, but Cornell has revealed the album will be about 12-14 songs of new material, some of which will be updated versions of songs that never reached production in their heyday. [B.H.]
Check out: "Black Rain," the band's first single since their reunion, released back in 2010.
Look for it: January
With their fourth album, Cincinnati’s grandiose glam-rockers Foxy Shazam will go even bigger than its 2010 Queen-inspired major label debut. With The Church of Rock and Roll, the avant-garde sextet will look to put the energy and commotion of its legendary live shows on record. If they succeed, 2012 could be a very big year for Foxy Shazam indeed.
Not much information has been released about The Church of Rock and Roll but the band did release “I Like It” in October, a song with scorching hot power chords, and lead singer Eric Nally screaming, “That’s the biggest black ass I’ve ever seen / And I like it.” He’s a skinny white dude from Ohio with a whole lot of attitude. That attitude permeates throughout the band and creates the group’s entire identity.
If the rest of the album carries the raging mentality of “I Like It,” The Church of Rock and Roll could be one of the first great albums of the year. With a January 24 release, it won’t be long until the record hits stores. Shortly after that, Foxy Shazam will head out on a hotly anticipated national tour with The Darkness. Onstage is where the band comes alive, and with new songs comes new antics. A new album for Foxy Shazam means a new chapter in what it’s like to experience Foxy Shazam.
The pressure is on for these Ohio rockers. With massive exposure last summer on the Van’s Warped Tour, if Foxy Shazam can deliver a winning album, Nally may finally get to play to the crowds he has always pretended he was singing to. [C.D.]
Check out: The Queen/Zeppelin fusion of "I Like It."
Look for it: January
Catchy one-hit-wonder bands of the ‘90s are a dime a dozen, but few stick around long enough to put out more than two albums and a charity single. New York alterna-kids Nada Surf scored a major hit with “Popular” in 1996 and all but disappeared off the face of the earth after a short summer tour. After a forced break beginning in 1999 (during which the band took regular day jobs), Nada Surf released the critically acclaimed (yet commercially unsuccessful) Let Go in 2002. Even with two more studio albums and a covers album under their belts, the band has yet to release a single with the same appeal of “Popular.” Their upcoming album The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy has the potential to strike a chord with a new audience. [S.B.]
Check out: The first single off The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, “When I Was Young,” a Dashboard Confessional-esque ballad of epic proportions.
The XX Look for it: TBA
The XX's debut was one of the most acclaimed albums of 2009. Can they do it again? Jamie Smith says that fans can expect a more club-influenced sound. "We've been partying a bit more," he says, "Club music has definitely had an influence on the next record."
As of this time, the album title and release date are still unknown, although Smith has expressed desire to finish it before festival season. Some potential names for the album that I came up with: "Music For Staring At Walls," "The Boreprint," "The XX Presents: Naptime," or "London's Most Wanted."
On a serious note, it will be awesome to see how Jamie of XX handles the new album. His releases of 2011 (Far Nearer and We're New Here) revealed him to be one of the most imaginative producers in music today. Maybe we will see collaborations with fellow Young Turk SBTRKT? That would be epic. [R.L.]
Check out: Classic XX tunage in the form of big single "Islands."
Look for it: Spring
Though the band's sound and initials might often be confused with Smashing Pumpkins, Silversun Pickups have created their own brand of shoegaze infused alternative rock in the past, with 2006's Carnavas and 2009's Swoon. Continuing with the pattern of putting out an album every three years, this California quartet is slated to release their third record, tentatively referred to as 3, in the spring. Though most information about this release such as a track list or first single has yet to be disclosed, fans can expect a darker sound on 3 according to an interview with singer Brian Aubert on Alternative Press. And if anything on here is half as good as their biggest hit, "Lazy Eye," then the music world is certainly in for a treat. [C.M.]
Check out: Current single "Broken Bottles," off the recently-released Seasick EP.
Dirty Projectors Look for it: Spring
The Dirty Projectors' front man Dave Longstreth claimed in late 2011 that the band’s next release will hit shelves in early 2012. This vague half-promise came with a mentioning of the a purported musical response to the infamous Strokes tune “This Is It”; the response supposed to be titled “Maybe That Was It”; unfortunately for all, shortly after announcing this, Longstreth admitted that the bit about the Strokes song was actually a bit of a joke.
However, all joking aside, the new album will supposedly feature death and horror as a bit of a uniting theme; one of the announced tracks being “About to Die.” And the band attends to all of this when not working with the mystical Bjork, with whom they released a collaborative effort late last year. [E.V.]
Check out: The Dirty Projectors perform with Bjork in 2009.
Look for it: January
Legendary singer/songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen will be releasing his twelfth studio album early this year. The release is titled Old Ideas and will be Cohen’s first studio album in eight years. The record will weigh in at 10 tracks, many of which Cohen has already been trying out in front of fans while on tour. Singers Dana Glover and Sharon Robinson will also be featured on the album. Old Ideas is set to release on January 30, 2012. [A.N.]
Check out: "The Darkness," said by Cohen himself to have made the cut for the upcoming album.
Look for it: "We don't want to rush this album just to get it out"
So when will we see the highly anticipated release from Stefani and friends? An educated guess may pinpoint the release date to this year's festival season when the band can really profit from touring and record sales. But waiting isn't all that unfamiliar to No Doubt fans. The band's last release Rock Steady dropped in 2001, producing classic hits like "Hey Baby," and "Underneath It All."
In 2003, No Doubt fans were excitedly nervous while lead singer Gwen Stefani worked on her solo project. Her release, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. came out in 2004 and drove Stefani to the top of the charts yet again while teaching America how to spell the word "Bananas." It wouldn't be until 2008 that news of anything No Doubt-related would be heard. 2008 announced a new No Doubt record and one of the biggest summer tours of 2009 in which No Doubt would be accompanied by Paramore, Janelle Monáe, Katy Perry and Panic! At the Disco.
No Doubt fans' mouths were wetted with a taste of the band but three years later many mouths have gone dry with anticipation. 2012 will most definitely see the release of a new No Doubt record, but will the release succumb to fans' immense expectations? [M.B.]
Check out: The last recording No Doubt has done, dating back to 2009 when the band recorded a cover of Adam and the Ants' "Stand and Deliver" for the CW's hit show, Gossip Girl.
Look for it: Late 2012
The Pope of Mope has been threatening a new solo release for a couple years now, beginning shortly after 2009’s incredibly mediocre Years of Refusal. Although the Mozzer performed three new numbers (“People Are the Same Everywhere”, “Action is My Middle Name”, and “The Kid’s a Looker”,) on Janice Long’s BBC Radio 2 program early last summer, he has yet to tack down an actual date for the release of the album that will presumably contain said tracks.
However, everyone’s favorite sexually ambiguous indie icon has been pretty upfront about his struggle to find a suitable record deal following his departure from Universal. The material that Morrissey has graced his fans with in the past several months sounds an awful lot like standard Moz fare: lyrically sharp and musically bland. [E.V.]
Check out: “People Are the Same Everywhere” on Conan.
Trap is the genre of electronic dance music that took the world by storm in 2012. Will it fizzle out in a few months, or will it sustain itself for years to come?
Election Day in America is quickly approaching. This playlist of 10 songs is surely going to get you pumped to cast your ballot, no matter who it's for.
ACRN staff members talk about the songs that make them want to wear their favorite fall sweaters.
A look at the impact of art and a beloved music festival on Nelsonville, Ohio.
This year celebrates the ninth year of ACRN's summer festival Lobsterfest. The festival has come a long way since its creation. This is its history.
Is physical appearance taking over the music industry while actual talent gets put under the radar?
ACRN offers up a history of Record Store Days, as well as a rundown of things you can expect from local record stores for RSD 2012.
The ACRN Editorial staff share their favorite TV show theme songs and why they've "stuck" after all this time.
The ACRN Editorial staff share some of their favorite visual moments in music.
Part review of The Black Keys Columbus show on March 4, 2012, part think piece on the pros and cons of arena rock concerts.