2011 was a strong year for music, a year which simultaneously lavished us on exciting new musicians, while hailing the almighty return of more established artists (in case you haven’t already, you can check out SongLyrics’ favorite albums from the past year here). It is safe to say, then, that Mr. 2012 has himself a lot to live up to. Still, things look set to get underway well, with January already bringing us some frankly must-hear albums. Check out the five most crucial below!

Guided By VoicesLet’s Go Eat The Factory (Released: January 1st, 2012)

Kick off the new year with 90s indie-rock demigods, Guided By Voices, who return after seven years with Let’s Go Eat The Factory. It gets more exciting, since this will be the first GBV album in 15 years to feature the ‘classic’ line up of Robert Pollard (who is finally taking a day off from his never-ending solo shtick), Tobin Sprout, Mitch Mitchell, Kevin Fennell and Greg Demos. Will this signal a return to the lo-fi pop legacies of old? We’re betting on it!

 

The Big PinkFuture This (Released: January 16th, 2012)

January marks the second-coming of LDN duo, The Big Pink. Anxiety initially rippled its way through fans after BP front man, Robbie Furze, told NME the new album was to channel retro Dr. Dre, however, fears were soon laid to rest after the band unleashed Future This lead single, “Stay Gold,” which (thankfully) still evokes those glorious indie-synth epics of 2009 debut, A Brief History of Love.

ChairliftSomething (Released: January 24th, 2012)

Chairlift return this January in order to disseminate what could be one of the most exciting electro-pop records of 2012 – Something. Despite the exit of co-founder, Aaron Pfenning, nu-duo Chairlift have managed to defy science and contrastingly magnify their sound. We know this as we have already been treated to two album tasters, Met Before and Sidewalk Safari - both of which frantically embrace the future of pop music. We can’t wait to hear more.

Lana Del ReyBorn To Die (Released: January 29th, 2012)

Lana Del Rey will release what is, hands down, the blogosphere’s most anticipated record of the month (dang, year?) on January 29th. Born To Die follows on from a hectic few months which saw the self-stamped “gangsta Nancy Sinatra” rocket from pretty girl with a handful of YouTube hits to front page buzz-topic siren. Still – it has not been all plain sailing for Del Rey. For all the media affection, an equally strong army of music bloggers dedicated 2011′s winter months to scribbling their hateful opinions on the apparently botoxed / failed pop drone / rich girl singer. Still, whatever side of the fence you are on, there’s no denying this record is going to be the center of many hot debates this year!

Leonard CohenOld Ideas (Released: January 31st, 2012)

The master of melancholy, Leonard Cohen, releases what will be his first album in eight years this January. Old Ideas is a ten track LP said to “poetically address some of the most profound quandaries of human existence – the relationship to a transcendent being, love, sexuality, loss and death.” We’ve already heard the beautiful blue baritones of ”Show Me the Place,” and will be able to get our mitts on the other nine when Old Ideas drops on January’s fringes on the 31st.