With 2011 nearly wrapped up (and not a moment too soon, if you ask me), it’s time to do what people do best: ignore the moment at hand and look ahead to what’s on tap for the future. I kid. All things considered, 2012 is shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for music: there are many promising new releases from beloved tent-pole and up-and-coming artists alike. Not to mention, I’m sure there will be countless buzzed-about albums of which we haven’t even heard of yet.
But based on what I know now, below is a list of 2012’s most anticipated albums (listed alphabetically by artist). Enjoy and feel free to add any I may have left out below.
Confirmed Releases for 2012:
Arcade Fire, (as-yet untitled album)
Indie rock heavyweight and critical darling, Arcade Fire is expected to release it’s fourth as-yet untitled studio album sometime in 2012. The date is not yet set, but you can bet the internet will be abuzz once more information surfaces. In 2011, the Montreal-based band won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for the stunning The Suburbs.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, (as-yet untitled album)
It will be the Boss’s first studio album following the death of beloved “Big Man” Clarence Clemons, who passed away in June of 2011. Clemons was an accomplished tenor sax player and celebrated member of the E Street band, and his death was greatly mourned across the entire music community – not to mention by fans alike. Of course, nothing can ever replace the larger than life sound of Clemons, but until the album is released we are only left to speculate how Springsteen will fill the void in his band left by the loss of the Big Man. European tour dates for 2012 have already been announced and those of us state-side curse the names of those across the pond who already have their tickets.
Earlier this year, Italo Disco group, the Chromatics announced that they would be releasing their first studio album in almost five years. You may know them from their critically-hailed 2007 album Night Drive or from a few of the kick-ass moody tracks they provided to the Drive soundtrack (also from Night Drive). Kill For Love is set to be released in January 2012 and you can check out the single here.
Admittedly, I know very little about Craig Finn’s solo work, other than his single,”Honolulu Blues” (he is the frontman for The Hold Steady and Lifter Puller). This album title is a play on the famous quote from (my) much-beloved TV show, Friday Night Lights – “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose!”. And yes, that was enough to intrigue me and put it on my 2012 music watch list. Clear Heart Full Eyes is set to be released on January 24th.
Dirty Projectors, (as-yet untitled album)
This experimental genre-stradling band led by David Longstreth is expected to release its 11th studio album sometime in the Spring. Their last work, 2009’s Mount Wittenberg Orca EP, was a collaboration with Bjork and gained great critical attention.
Gaslight Anthem, (as-yet untitled album)
The badass New Jersey punk rock poets are expected to come together once again to release their next album – their first after signing with their new label Mercury Records – around July of 2012. Earlier this year, Gaslight members Brian Fallon and Ian Perkins dropped Elsie, the debut album from side project, The Horrible Crowes.
Grizzly Bear, (as-yet untitled album)
Grizzly Bear is perhaps the most talented and interesting indie rock band working today. If it’s not, well it’s pretty damn close. Some smarty pants even wrote a Spotlight piece on the band a few months back saying as much. Click here for a refresher. Their last album, 2009’s Veckatimest, was beyond beautiful and frequently appeared on “Best of” lists for 2009 including those of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Pitchfork. And that’s nothing to scoff at. No release date has been announced for their next album, though the band stated on their Facebook page that “with all my heart and soul, I promise a new album in 2012! Unless something crazy happens. But let’s not get crazy, let’s just get creative!”.
Heartless Bastards, Arrow
The Austin-based rock band’s fourth studio album will be released this Valentine’s Day. Tour dates in support of the album have already been announced and the band is slated to appear at SXSW. This will be the band’s first album to be released under their new label, the Brooklyn-based Partisan Records. It is supposedly an indie label, though who the hell knows what “indie” means anymore.
Indie pop songstress Ingrid Michaelson is expected to release her fifth studio album, Human Again, on January 20th, 2012. Her tunes are reliably charming and always seem to have just the right amount of emotional gravity, without buckling under the weight of overwrought cheesiness. You can bet you will hear many (or all) of the songs off her new album on a number of TV’s primetime dramas.
Madonna, (as-yet untitled album)
The next headliner for the Super Bowl halftime show will release her first album since 2008’s Hard Candy in the Spring of next year. Personal feelings about her Super Bowl appearance aside (I’m still not sold on the whole idea), this untitled album will make a lot of noise. Be prepared to hear it everywhere.
The Magnetic Fields musical mastermind, Stephin Merritt, put aside the synth – which was featured prominently on the much-loved 1999 three-disc concept work 69 Love Songs – for the band’s past three albums. But with Love at the Bottom of the Sea, he returns to both the familiar pop-synth sound that put Fields on the map and to Merge Records (which also released 69 Love Songs). Love at the Bottom of the Sea is due out March 6, 2012 and The Magnetic Fields are scheduled to appear at SXSW in support of the album.
No Doubt, (as-yet untitled album)
In 2004, the popular rock band went on hiatus to allow time for the individual members to pursue other projects. But in 2009, the group reunited once again to embark on a national tour rebuilding their brand. A new album is expected for release sometime in 2012, the group’s first since Rock Steady in 2001 (!). This announcement is a huge releief to me personally because maybe – just maybe – with lead singer Stefani’s focus back on music she won’t have time to shoot any more of those creepy Harajuku mini ads.
Paul McCartney, (as-yet untitled album)
The music legend is set to release a collection of Tin Pan Alley covers – backed by Diana Krall‘s band and featuring guest appearances by fellow icons Elvis Costello and Stevie Wonder – on February 7th. The album will also include two new original songs by McCartney (a.k.a. that guy from that super famous Brit band. You know the one.).
Santigold, Master of My Make Believe
Three years ago, the multi-talented singer/songwriter Santi White (stage name “Santigold”, formerly “Santogold”) released her top-notch debut album. Since then she has done some genre-stradling collaborations with such musicians as Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Major Lazer, Christina Aguilera, M.I.A., Kanye West, Lykke Li, and the Beastie Boys. Her sophomore solo album is anticipated to drop in the Spring of 2012.
American indie rock band, and possessors of the “this song will change your life”
curse moniker for “New Slang“, will release their first album since 2007’s Wincing the Night Away in March. The album will be released on bandleader James Mercer’s own label, Aural Apothecary (via Columbia Records).
Sigur Rós, (as-yet untitled album)
This unbelievably awesome/beautiful/incomprehensible Icelandic post-rock band has been on hiatus since 2008. Since then, we have been treated to a solo effort from multi-instrumentalist Jónsi Birgisson, a subsequent solo tour, and a Sigur Rós live concert recording and film, Inni. But in 2012, the group will be back with a new album spinning the airy/haunting/ethereal sound for which the band has become famous. Myself and fans alike are counting the days until the album drops this coming Spring.
The xx, (as-yet untitled album)
The xx, an electronic pop group from London, has confirmed a 2012 release of their second album. The group’s first release won the super prestigious Mercury Prize. Look it up. And after such a promising debut album, many eyes and ears are now on the band to see what they come up with next. No date has been set for the sophomore album release, but you can listen to a demo track here.
Unconfirmed Releases, But One Can Hope…
Justin Timberlake, (as-yet untitled)
This former boy band member-turned solo music superstar-turned actor hasn’t released a full-length album since the wildly successful Future Sex/Love Sounds back in 2006. Since then, Timberlake has proved himself to be a hilariously game host of SNL…and an okay actor in feature films. He has been teasing the idea of returning to the studio for some time now and saying a new album is “right around the corner”. I await the day when he returns to the art form in which he really shines.
U2, (as-yet untitled album)
The Irish rock giant’s last album, 2009’s No Line on the Horizon was meant to be accompanied by a follow-up album (kind of) shortly after. However, the forthcoming work has been once-again delayed until late 2012. Maybe later. Since Horizon, the band has been infuriatingly non-committal about a release date for their next album. But I’ll forgive them because 1) they are icons of rock and 2) Bono has been out trying to save the world and all.