2012 Music Preview: What to Expect in the Year Ahead

  • Comments: ↓ 14 user comments
  • Publish Date: January 19, 2012

Paul McCartney
Kisses on the Bottom due February 7

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Previous album:

Memory Almost Full 69 (2007)

The Beatle's first rock album in five years is a collection of covers of classic tracks that have inspired McCartney over the years, including songs made popular by Ella Fitzgerald, Sam Cooke, and Danny Kaye. Diana Krall co-produced the 14-song set (16 on the deluxe edition), which features collaborations with Stevie Wonder and Eric Clapton.

Metallica

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Previous album:

Lulu 45 (2011)

The heavy metal legends last checked in with 2008's surprisingly strong Death Magnetic 78—we'll skip over their 2011 collaboration with Lou Reed, as you should too—and are set to return with their 10th album this year. The band recently told Rolling Stone that they are eight songs into the recording process, and are hoping the result is an even heavier version of their classic Black Album.

Metric

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Previous album:

Fantasies 77 (2009)

It's not quite fair to say we haven't heard from Metric in three years—the Canadian band has released a live iTunes EP and can be found on several recent soundtrack albums, for example—but an album is long overdue. That fifth studio album looks likely to arrive this spring, though Emily Haines & co. have released few details about what it might sound like.

MGMT

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Previous album:

Congratulations 72 (2010)

Now that their sophomore slump is out of the way, the indie rock sensations behind 2008's endlessly catchy Oracular Spectacular 76 can move on to their third album, which seems likely to split the difference between the band's two prior releases. MGMT won't begin recording the LP until April, however, so a 2012 release is not a guarantee.

Nicki Minaj
Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded due February 14

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Previous album:

Pink Friday 69 (2010)

Billboard's 2011 Rising Star is set to follow the hit single-generating machine that was her 2010 debut Pink Friday with a relatively quick sequel on Valentine's Day. The title makes it sound like a remix album, but the all-new Roman Reloaded simply focuses on Minaj's angry young man alter-ego, Roman Zolanski, who was introduced on the prior release. Look for Minaj to get extra exposure (though we should use that term carefully) if she performs with Madonna as expected during February's Super Bowl halftime show.

Modest Mouse

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Previous album:

We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank 78 (2007)

No, there's nothing definite on the schedule for 2012, but the Isaac Brock-led band spent part of last year in the studio recording tracks for what would be their seventh studio album with an unlikely producer: OutKast's Big Boi.

Janelle Monáe

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Previous album:

The ArchAndroid 91 (2010)

The R&B singer, who scored one of the most impressive debuts in recent memory two years ago with The ArchAndroid, has indicated in recent months that she may release not one but two new LPs in 2012.

Morrissey

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Previous album:

Years of Refusal 79 (2009)

The coming year could see Morrissey release his 10th solo album as well as a massive autobiography, though neither is a sure thing. While the singer has already completed most or all of the material needed for the LP—fans were able to hear a handful of new songs last year—his ongoing search for a new record label has delayed its release indefinitely.

Mouse on Mars
Parastrophics due February 28

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Previous album:

Varcharz 71 (2006)

After an unusually long six-year break (which, admittedly, did include a nifty 2007 collaboration with The Fall's Mark E Smith as Von Sudenfed), the duo of Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner return with their 10th LP (and first for Modeselektor's Monkeytown label) next month. Listen to a sampling of clips from various album tracks at Soundcloud.

Mumford & Sons

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Previous album:

Sigh No More 68 (2010)

After earning a somewhat surprising Grammy nomination for best new artist in 2010, the British folk outfit is aiming to return with a second LP in 2012. There's no release date yet, but the group spent part of last autumn in the studio, and recent live sets have included new songs.

Muse

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Previous album:

The Resistance 72 (2009)

The English stadium rockers have promised a radical reinvention of their sound on their sixth album, which will likely arrive in the fall. Whether that means a more intimate sound, or a more electronica-influenced approach—both have been hinted at—remains to be seen.

Nas
Life Is Good

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Previous album:

Untitled 71 (2008)

The rapper's final Def Jam release (and 10th album overall) should finally drop this year. Life Is Good (if that name sticks) may include collaborations with Odd Future members Frank Ocean and Tyler, the Creator, as well as Kanye West, Dr. Dre, RZA, Jay Electronica, Salaam Remi, and more. A Lost Tapes II compilation is also a possibility for the year ahead.

Neon Neon

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Previous album:

Stainless Style 79 (2008)

It turns out that this one-off collaboration between producer Boom Bip and Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys isn't such a one-off after all; the pair will soon enter the studio to record a second album. Even if it doesn't land in 2012, given the quality of their previous collaboration (2008's John DeLorean-themed Stainless Style 79) and Boom Bip's recent work (2011's underrated Zig Zaj 66), it should be worth the wait.

No Doubt

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Previous album:

Rock Steady 69 (2001)

The Southern California ska-punk band fronted by Gwen Stefani should finally emerge from their decade-long recording hiatus with their still-untitled sixth album, which was originally set for a 2011 release. Rock Steady producer Mark "Spike" Stent was at the controls for most of last year's recording sessions, though collaborations with producers Diplo and Switch could also surface on the album.

Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All
The OF Tape Vol. 2 due March 20

It'll be a busy spring for the Los Angeles hip hop collective. Not only will March bring The OF Tape Vol. 2, a CD sequel to their download-only 2011 compilation 12 Odd Future Songs that will feature every artist on their roster (including Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean, and The Internet), but March 25 will see the debut of their new live-action Adult Swim variety show, Loiter Squad. Ocean and Tyler, the Creator will also have solo releases arriving in early 2012; the latter's Wolf (targeted for April) is a follow-up to last year's Goblin 72, while Ocean will return with his proper solo debut (for Def Jam) during the first half of the year after wowing critics with his 2011 mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra. 80.

Of Montreal
Paralytic Stalks due February 7

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Previous album:

False Priest 74 (2010)

The ever-prolific Kevin Barnes returns with his 11th Of Montreal album next month, followed by a spring tour. Get a copy of the album track "Dour Percentage" at Pitchfork, or grab "Wintered Debts" (one of four album cuts surpassing the 7-minute mark) at Stereogum.

Orbital
Wonky due April 3

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Previous album:

Blue Album 69 (2004)

At one point, it seemed like brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll would never release another album under the Orbital name. But, after returning from their hiatus with an impressive single ("Don't Stop Me"/"The Gun Is Good") in 2010, the electronica duo will release Wonky, their first album in eight years and eighth LP overall, this spring. The Flood-produced disc includes collaborations with Zola Jesus and MC Lady Leshurr; download the album track "Never" at the band's website.

Phoenix

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Previous album:

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix 82 (2009)

The French band's breakthrough 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, featuring pieces of pop perfection like "1901" and "Lisztomania," elevated Phoenix to stardom in the U.S. and earned them a Grammy for best alternative music album. Their fifth album, which has been under construction since last spring and should emerge this year (it's targeted for late summer), is expected to find them moving in a less poppy, more experimental direction.

Primal Scream

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Previous album:

Beautiful Future 64 (2008)

The veteran UK band is currently recording its 10th album and first since bassist Mani departed to rejoin the reformed Stone Roses. Frontman Bobby Gillespie recently told Q that fans should expect "a psychedelic record."

Queens of the Stone Age

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Previous album:

Era Vulgaris 75 (2007)

With only a few reissues to speak of for the past five years, Queens of the Stone Age are certainly overdue for a new LP. And since Josh Homme and bandmates have been recording off and on since January of last year, an early 2012 release date for album six is likely.

Lee Ranaldo
Between the Times and the Tides due March 20

With Sonic Youth seemingly done for good, Lee Ranaldo's solo LP is the closest thing we'll get to a new SY album in 2012. While the guitarist has released solo albums in the past, Between the Times and the Tides is the first one based around conventional songs. Nels Cline, Alan Licht, John Medeski, Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, and one-time SY band member Jim O'Rourke are among the guest performers, and Shelley will be in Ranaldo's touring band this year (you can catch them this spring on the road with M. Ward). Download the album track "Off the Wall" at Matador.

Rancid

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Previous album:

Let The Dominoes Fall 72 (2009)

The punk band hopes to celebrate their 20th anniversary this year with a world tour and the release of their eighth studio album, which they began recording last fall.

Rick Ross
God Forgives, I Don't

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Previous album:

Teflon Don 79 (2010)

Delayed from its original December release date (partially due to Ross' medical problems last fall), the rapper's fifth album should land during the early part of 2012. T.I., Lil Wayne, and Nicki Minaj are among the confirmed guests on God Forgives, I Don't, and Mary J. Blige, Big K.R.I.T., and Jay-Z may also appear. Making the wait a little easier for fans is his new mixtape, Rich Forever, which dropped a few weeks ago.

Rush
Clockwork Angels due in the spring

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Previous album:

Snakes & Arrows 73 (2007)

Currently working at approximately a one album every five years pace (presumably because that's how long it takes to set up Neil Peart's drums in the studio), Rush will return with their long-delayed 19th studio album this spring. Nick Raskulinecz, who produced 2007's Snakes & Arrows, also lends a hand with the new LP.

Santigold
Master of My Make-Believe

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Previous album:

Santogold 77 (2008)

It seems like Santigold's catchy, self-titled debut (released under her original name, Santogold) has been soundtracking commercials nonstop for the four years since its release. She'll finally return with her second album—about a year later than originally expected—early this year, though a precise date hasn't been set. Greg Kurstin, Switch (Major Lazer), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio) are among the producers on Master of My Make-Believe. Grab a copy of the album cut "Big Mouth" at Santigold's official site.

The Shins
Port of Morrow due March 20

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Previous album:

Wincing The Night Away 79 (2007)

A Shins album in name only, this first LP in five years comes after frontman James Mercer fired his bandmates and started his own label, Aural Apothecary (and also after he recorded an album with side project Broken Bells, his collaboration with Danger Mouse). Though the new touring version of The Shins includes Richard Swift and Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, much of the instrumentation on the Greg Kurstin-produced Port of Morrow comes from Mercer himself. Stream the album cut "Simple Song" at Soundcloud.

Sigur Rós

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Previous album:

Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust 81 (2008)

While the Icelandic band hasn't released a studio album in four years, they've been busy nevertheless; a live CD (Inni 78, which also was featured in a documentary), came out last year, while frontman Jónsi released a solo album (2010's Go 76) and scored Cameron Crowe's We Bought a Zoo. (He'll do the soundtrack for Crowe's next film, too.) And 2012—perhaps the spring—will bring a new Sigur Rós studio album, which the band describes as even more ambient and minimal than its typical output.

Sleigh Bells
Reign of Terror due February 21

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Previous album:

Treats 84 (2010)

The much-hyped Brooklyn noise-pop duo look to match the success of their 2010 debut Treats with sophomore set Reign of Terror, which they have suggest is even heavier than its predecessor. Listen to the lead single "Comeback Kid" at Soundcloud.

The Smashing Pumpkins
Oceania

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Previous album:

Zeitgeist 59 (2007)

Originally expected last fall, the Billy Corgan-led band's ninth studio album is now set for a spring release, about five years after the band's poorly received 2007 comeback effort Zeitgeist. The delay allowed the band to work on reissuing Gish and Siamese Dream last year, and you can expect additional reissues in 2012. Corgan recently claimed to Stereogum that Oceania represents his best work in 15 years, though anyone hoping for a reunion of the band's classic 1990s lineup will be disappointed.

Patti Smith

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Previous album:

Twelve 65 (2007)

The rock legend has been busier in recent years as an author (her award-winning 2010 memoir, Just Kids, reportedly has a big-screen adaptation in the works) and an actress (in Jean-Luc Godard's Film Socialisme) than as a recording artist. But Smith is currently recording a new album for release later in 2012. The still-untitled LP will include a tribute to the late Amy Winehouse.

Spiritualized
Sweet Heart Sweet Light due March 20

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Previous album:

Songs in A&E 76 (2008)

A new Spiritualized album is always welcome, especially if it is as good as 2008's Songs in A&E, Jason Pierce's best outing in years. Pierce spent portions of the past three years recording and mixing the band's upcoming seventh album, and fans will recognize several tracks, which have been part of the group's recent live sets.

Bruce Springsteen
Wrecking Ball due March 6

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Previous album:

Working On A Dream 72 (2009)

The Boss' first album in three years finds him backed by members of the E Street Band for the first time since the death of sax man Clarence Clemons. The Ron Aniello-produced LP is Springsteen's "angriest yet," reports Billboard, and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello is among the guests. Expect a world tour to follow the album's release in March. In the meantime, listen to the just released lead single "We Take Care of Our Own" at YouTube.

T.I.
Trouble Man due in February

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Previous album:

No Mercy 59 (2010)

T.I. already dropped a mixtape (F*ck Da City Up) earlier this month. In a few weeks (maybe), the rapper is expected to release his next proper album, and first since his release from jail last year. Pharrell, B.o.B., Trey Songz, and Big K.R.I.T. are among the guests confirmed for Trouble Man.

The Ting Tings
Sounds from Nowheresville due February 27 (UK)

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Previous album:

We Started Nothing 64 (2008)

The English duo, who had a surprise hit with their 2008 debut We Started Nothing, will take a second stab at a sophomore album early this year with Sounds from Nowheresville. The new, 10-track LP, which should arrive in the U.S. in March and finds the group taking a more stylistically varied approach, comes after the band recorded and then scrapped an entire album, though one track ("Guggenheim," which was re-recorded) survives from those earlier sessions. Note that the Ting Ting's 2010 single "Hands" did not make the cut for the new album, and early rumors that Rihanna would appear on the LP proved to be untrue.

Tool

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Previous album:

10,000 Days 68 (2006)

Maynard James Keenan has been busy with winemaking, filmmaking, and side projects like Puscifer in the six years since his main band Tool last released a new album. But Tool has spent the past year writing material for a fifth album, so a 2012 return isn't out of the question, though previous reports of a May release look to be wildly optimistic.

U2

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Previous album:

No Line On The Horizon 72 (2009)

Originally scheduled for a 2011 release, U2's next album has been delayed indefinitely (if not permanently), with further recording sessions likely in the near future. Music already recorded for the album with producer Danger Mouse could make the final cut when and if the album surfaces.

Usher

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Previous album:

Raymond v. Raymond 57 (2010)

Pharrell is among the producers lined up for the crooner's seventh album, which follows his twin 2010 releases Raymond vs. Raymond and the EP Versus 65.

Vampire Weekend

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Previous album:

Contra 81 (2010)

The young New York indie band didn't experience much of a sophomore slump; their second album Contra received nearly as much critical praise as their self-titled 2008 debut. The group began recording their third album last fall, though the process has reportedly been slow-going, so we'll likely be waiting until the end of the year to hear it.

Sharon Van Etten
Tramp due February 7

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Previous album:

Epic 82 (2010)

Folky singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten's sophomore set Epic emerged as one of the best under-the-radar albums of 2010. Her third album, Tramp, should elevate her profile even more. Recorded with The National's Aaron Dessner, the diverse Tramp also includes collaborations with Julianna Barwick, Zach Condon, and members of Wye Oak and The Walkmen. Many of them appear on the track "Serpents," which is available for download at Pitchfork.

Van Halen
A Different Kind of Truth due February 7

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Previous album:

Van Halen III (1998)

It's true; Van Halen will be jumping back into the album game next month when they release their first album of new material in 14 years—and first LP with original frontman David Lee Roth since 1984's 1984—for new label Interscope. Of course, it's not exactly the original lineup; Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen is now the band's bassist, replacing longtime member Michael Anthony. But fans will probably just be glad to be rid of Sammy Hagar. Watch the video for lead single "Tattoo" at YouTube.

VCMG
Ssss due March 13

Depeche Mode co-founders Vince Clarke and Martin Gore last recorded together on DM's 1981 debut Speak & Spell, with Gore staying with the band and Clarke leaving to form Yaz(oo) and, later, Erasure. Thirty years later, the pair have collaborated (via email) on VCMG, a techno-heavy electronica project. Their 10-song debut Ssss includes the already released single "Spock," which you can stream at Soundcloud.

Rufus Wainwright
Out of the Game due May 8

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Previous album:

All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu 72 (2010)

The singer-songwriter's seventh studio set finds the semi-Canadian collaborating with producer Mark Ronson for the first time, and the result is reportedly some of Wainwright's poppiest, most accessible work. Members of Wilco and the Dap-Kings guest, as do Sean Lennon, Nels Cline, and sister Martha Wainwright.

The Walkmen

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Previous album:

Lisbon 83 (2010)

A decade into their existence, The Walkmen produced some of their best music to date on 2010's Lisbon. That makes their upcoming seventh album one of the more anticipated indie-rock releases of 2012. The still-untitled release finds the band working with producer Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse) for the first time. Expect it this summer or fall.

Paul Weller
Sonik Kicks due March 27

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Previous album:

Wake Up The Nation 84 (2010)

Former Jam and Style Council frontman Paul Weller earned some of the best reviews of his solo career (and a Mercury Prize nomination) with his 2010 release Wake Up the Nation. This spring, the Modfather returns with his 11th solo album, which includes guest appearances by Noel Gallagher and Graham Coxon. Watch the video for the driving lead single "Around the Lake" at YouTube.

Kanye West

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Previous album:

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 94 (2010)

The superstar rapper's follow-up to 2010's album of the year was originally expected to arrive last year, though it was delayed to make room for West's collaboration with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne 76. Will 2012 bring a sixth Kanye West solo album? There's nothing concrete (and another Jay-Z collab could hit first), but fans do have at least one item to look forward to: a G.O.O.D. Music compilation could surface as soon as this spring, and it is set to feature new music by Big Sean, Common, Pusha T, Frank Ocean, and Jay Electronica, as well as West himself.

Xiu Xiu
Always due March 6

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Previous album:

Dear God, I Hate Myself 74 (2010)

The eighth studio album (and first for Polyvinyl) for the experimental-minded indie rockers led by Jamie Stewart is more of a collaborative effort than past releases, even though the group doing the collaborating features several new faces thanks to a major lineup change. Sam Mickens of Dead Sciences and Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls are among the new members, while Deerhoof's Greg Saunier also helped with the songwriting on Always. Stream the lead single "Hi" at Soundcloud.

The xx

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Previous album:

xx 87 (2009)

No longer a group of unknown teenagers, The xx are still the talk of the blogosphere thanks to their impeccable, Mercury Prize-winning 2009 debut (which sounded unlike anyone since Young Marble Giants) and Jamie xx's subsequent remixing and production work. Now a trio rather than a four-piece, The xx have been at work on their follow-up since November, and it is targeted for a summer release, with the band hinting at more of a club music influence this time around.

Yeasayer

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Previous album:

Odd Blood 78 (2010)

The "most blogged artist" of 2010 (according to Hype Machine) are expected to follow a relatively quiet 2011 with the release of their third album in 2012, either in the spring or the summer. And the quirky Brooklyn band has plenty to show for their efforts; the group has over 20 songs completed, and hopes to release all of them, with some possibly coming on a second new album. Expect "a demented R&B record," as singer Chris Keating told Spin last fall.

What do you think?

Which albums are you looking forward to this year? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (14)

  • ps3nerd  

    whot THA FECK! U FORGOT EMINEM. HE IS GUNNA DOMINATE THE MUSIC SCIENCE IN 2012 INNIT. HES PROBABLY GUNNA BE DROPPING A NEW ALBUM IN 2012.

  • KnowledgeReigns  

    OMG! There are a LOT of releases I am looking forward to this year!

    I was seriously trying to narrow the list down to what I was most interested in checking out, and I still came out with this massive list:

    Animal Collective, Beach House, Best Coast, Big Boi, Blur, Leonard Cohen, Lana Del Rey, The Flaming Lips, Green Day, Grizzly Bear, The Mars Volta, Paul McCartney, MGMT, Modest Mouse, Janelle Monáe, Muse, Nas, Phoenix, Queens of the Stone Age, Santigold, The Shins, Sigur Rós, Sleigh Bells, The Smashing Pumpkins, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen, T.I., U2, Vampire Weekend, Kanye West, The xx

  • WD2  

    Part of me wish Animal Collective and Kanye West should stop making music, just the preserve the legacy of their amazing albums. I mean, how can you top Merriweather Post Pavilion and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy?

    At the same time, it's nice to see the 4 best indie bands of 2009 (Grizzly Bear, Phoenix, Dirty Projects, AC) be releasing follow up albums. It's going to be an interesting listen this 2012.

  • nimajneb1  

    Supergrass, ok broken up. Hot Rats? Gaz Coombes? Is that his name? Combes? First CD I ever bought was I Should Coco, in 1996, in Manhattan, KS. I gotta get my fix!

  • Renaton  

    La Roux! Where's La Roux?

  • MattSDC  

    File this one in the "wishful thinking" category, but a new album from The Wrens would be nice.

  • fuzzy_dunlop  

    I like how Dr Dre's Detox wasn't on the list, lol. I mean seriously, who even cares anymore. Plus it probably won't even come out this year anyway.

  • BLuder  

    Don't forget about the new Fanfarlo album coming in Feb.

  • bl_nk  

    Woo! Lots of great releases! Beach House, Sleigh Bells, MGMT, Animal Collective, The Killers, Springsteen, the xx, Atoms for Peace, and more. Pretty much every other album is a blockbuster. No album from the National though, that's a shame.

  • LancelandHts  

    JENS LEKMAN man. Come on. How's that not on the list?

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