The season's biggest albums
Below, we look at some of the key albums due out between now and early May. As always, you can check out our Album Release Calendar for a frequently updated listing of upcoming release dates.
Architecture in Helsinki: Moment Bends
The first album in four years for the quirky Australian dance-rockers offers a slightly more sophisticated approach to songwriting than evidenced on their somewhat disappointing 2007 album Places Like This 66, though continue to expect plenty of bouncy tracks that are vaguely reminiscent of the 1980s. Included among the new disc's 11 songs is "That Beep," previously released on a 2008 EP.
Listen to "Contact High":
Atmosphere: The Family Sign
Fans of the Minneapolis indie-rap duo have had to make do with two stopgap EPs since the release of When Life Gives You Lemons... 68 three years ago. In addition to the usual musical backing from Ant, the new album finds rapper Slug accompanied by keyboardist Erick Anderson and guitarist Nate Collis as he deals with some of his most personal issues yet.
Listen to "Minnesota Nice":
Beastie Boys: Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
No, you didn't miss Hot Sauce Committee Part One -- that album, originally slated for release last summer, was canceled (technically, "delayed indefinitely") when the trio's MCA (Adam Yauch) was diagnosed with cancer. Now that Yauch is healthy once more, the Beasties have moved all but one of that first album's 17 intended tracks to Part Two (with tracks originally planned for Part Two eliminated to make room), and the result is the group's first non-instrumental album since 2004's To the 5 Boroughs 71. Included are collaborations with Nas (the previously released single "Too Many Rappers") and Santigold.
Listen to "Lee Majors Come Again":
Bibio: Mind Bokeh
Bibio's 2008 Warp Records debut Ambivalence Avenue 78 expanded on the artist's usual blend of hazy electronica and pastoral guitar folk (Boards of Canada is a strong influence) by deftly incorporating bits of hip hop, soul, and other genres into his sound. Now, the British producer (born Stephen Wilkinson) returns with his second Warp recording, and it's as kaleidoscopic as ever, with tracks ranging from the bouncy "K is for Kelson" to the Phoenix-esque rocker "Take Off Your Shirt" and the funky "Light Sleep." Ironically, probably the only genre you won't hear here is folk.
Listen to "K Is for Kelson":
The Cars: Move Like This
Yes, it's those Cars. The Ric Ocasek-fronted New Wave rockers have reunited (with their original lineup, minus the late Benjamin Orr) to record their first studio album since 1987's Door to Door. There's plenty of studio gloss (the album was co-produced by the band and Jacknife Lee) and Ocasek's distinctive vocals on early singles "Sad Song" and "Blue Tip"; in other words, it's business as usual, despite the 24-year layoff.
Listen to "Blue Tip":
Duran Duran: All You Need Is Now
Speaking of studio gloss and aging New Wave rockers, Duran Duran hasn't been away from the music scene for quite so long (they released three albums previously this century, though few people noticed), but this week they (again without guitarist Andy Taylor) return with their first release since 2007's Red Carpet Massacre 61. And though it's too easy to write that All You Need Is Now is their best album since their 1980s heyday, early reviews seem to bear that out. The difference this time is the touch of producer (and fan) Mark Ronson, who seems to have added some energy to the proceedings while being unafraid to embrace and bring out the best from the band's tendency toward self-important artsiness, intending the album as a follow-up to 1982's Rio. Kelis and Ana Matronic guest.
Listen to "All You Need Is Now":
Steve Earle: I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive
The singer-songwriter follows his Grammy-winning disc of Townes Van Zandt covers (2009's Townes 82) with his first collection of originals in four years. Among the collaborators on I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive are T-Bone Burnett, Joan Baez, Allen Toussaint, and Allison Moorer, and the album includes "This City," which appeared on the HBO series Treme (on which Earle has a small role).
Explosions in the Sky: Take Care Take Care Take Care
Recorded with John Congleton (like its predecessor, 2007's All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone 80), the sixth album from the popular Texas instrumentalists consists of six epic-length tracks, pretty much the band's standard M.O.
Listen to "Trembling Hands":
The Feelies: Here Before
Within less than a second, "Should Be Gone," the first track released from the forthcoming Here Before, sounds unmistakably like a Feelies song. What makes that remarkable is that the last time the influential New Jersey band released a new song -- or album, for that matter -- Operation Desert Storm had just concluded, and the Feelies' brand of jangly, Velvet Underground-influenced rock was still called "college rock" rather than "indie music." The band's new 13-song album is performed by the same lineup found on their three previous post-Crazy Rhythms albums, including guitarists/vocalists Glenn Mercer and Bill Million, who also produced the new tracks.
Listen to "Should Be Gone":
Fleet Foxes: Helplessness Blues
Fleet Foxes' self-titled debut (Fleet Foxes 87) was one of 2008's best-reviewed albums, captivating music bloggers and the music press (especially in Britain) with its surprisingly refined harmony-driven folk. Two years in the making, this Phil Ek-produced follow-up promises a slightly less-polished sound and more "existential" subject matter than the debut.
Listen to "Helplessness Blues":
Foo Fighters: Wasting Light
The first new album from Dave Grohl and company since 2007 (Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace 71) and the band's seventh studio LP overall, Wasting Light was recorded last fall in Grohl's garage with producer Butch Vig, who previously worked with the band on some new tracks that appeared on their 2009 greatest hits album. Bob Mould and Grohl's Nirvana bandmate Krist Novoselic each guest on one track, and the album also marks the return of guitarist Pat Smear, who last recorded with the Foo Fighters in 1997.
Listen to "Rope":
Emmylou Harris: Hard Bargain
The Country Music Hall of Fame singer-songwriter returns with her 21st studio album, which follows 2008's All I Intended To Be 78 and a 2006 collaboration with Mark Knopfler (All The Roadrunning 63). Included on the Jay Joyce-produced Hard Bargain are 11 originals and a pair of covers, including the title track, originally penned by Ron Sexsmith.
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Keep reading for more albums from Okkervil River, Panda Bear, TV on the Radio, and more...