UPDATE [1/21]: Additional details and a release date added for the New Pornographers album. UPDATE [1/20]: Additional details and a release date added for the Gorillaz album.
Sounds like a great year
A few weeks ago, we declared that 2009 was a rather average year for music, and we offered some numbers to back up that claim. Regardless of whether or not you agreed with that assertion (and many of you certainly did not), you may agree with this one: on paper, at least, 2010 is already looking like a much stronger year.
The first few weeks of the year have already seen well-reviewed new releases from Spoon, Vampire Weekend, Owen Pallett, and Laura Veirs, and the remainder of January will bring new discs from Los Campesinos!, Four Tet, and Beach House, to name a few. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Among the most anticipated releases of 2010 are the third albums from Arcade Fire, Gorillaz, and LCD Soundsystem, the latest from Hot Chip, MGMT, Interpol and The National, rare new work from long-dormant bands like Swans, The Wrens, Massive Attack, Devo and The Avalanches, and -- potentially -- brand-new discs from Radiohead, U2, Coldplay, and OutKast.
Below, we share the details about these albums and dozens of others that are expected to arrive during 2010, starting with key indie/alternative releases.
Beach House: Teen Dream
The third album from the dream-pop duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally is said to be their lushest collection of songs yet. In fact, Teen Dream was widely praised when it leaked on the internet last fall.
Charlotte Gainsbourg: IRM
Actress/singer Gainsbourg -- the daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and the star, most recently, of Lars von Trier's controversial Antichrist 49 -- recorded her third studio album with Beck, who produced and co-wrote all of the songs in addition to contributing vocals on lead single "Heaven Can Wait."
Los Campesinos!: Romance Is Boring
The bitter but poppy second (or third, depending on how you classify their second release) album for the Welsh rockers is another victim of an internet leak, but fans seem pleased with what they've heard, and the 15-track album may be more fully realized than previous efforts. Members of Xiu Xiu and Parenthetical Girls guest.
The Magnetic Fields: Realism
Songwriter extraordinaire Stephin Merritt looks to 1960s and '70s folk for inspiration on his latest Magnetic Fields disc, which serves as an acoustic counterpart to 2008's more electric, JAMC-esque Distortion 79.
Midlake: The Courage of Others
The indie-Americana band's 2006 release The Trials Of Van Occupanther 79 appeared on several critic top ten lists that year, but progress on their follow-up moved slowly. The band cites 1960s British folk as an influence on this third album, finally due in February,
Hot Chip: One Life Stand
The British electro-pop outfit returns with a fourth album that is more coherent than previous efforts, but that consistency may come at the cost of a lack of a single party-starting standout track like "Over and Over" or "Ready for the Floor" ... though the new title track and "Take It In" may come close.
Yeasayer: Odd Blood
The second album for the experimental Brooklyn indie-rockers will be odd indeed (in a good way), if lead single "Ambling Alp" is any indication. The group has toured with MGMT, and fans of the latter band might appreciate Yeasayer's new direction, which embraces a catchier, '80s-style sound. Even Billboard is on board, naming the group one of its Artists to Watch.
Peter Gabriel: Scratch My Back
While Scratch My Back isn't filled with new Gabriel songs, it isn't another world music side project, either. Instead, the album finds Gabriel covering an intriguing array of artists with an orchestral backing. Songs include The Arcade Fire's "My Body Is a Cage," The Magnetic Fields' "The Book of Love," Radiohead's "Street Spirit," Talking Heads' "Listening Wind," and David Bowie's "Heroes." A future release, entitled I'll Scratch Yours, will find all of these artists (although presumably not Talking Heads) covering Peter Gabriel songs.
Field Music: Measure
After taking a three-year hiatus to explore side projects, the English indie-rock band led by brothers David and Peter Brewis return with a third album, which will be a two-disc, 20-song set.
David Byrne & Fatboy Slim: Here Lies Love
A two-disc concept album about the life of former shoe-loving Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos, Here Lies Love has been in development for many years, and former Talking Heads frontman Byrne has performed the entire song cycle live a handful of times, dating back to 2006. The recording will feature over 20 guest vocalists, including Tori Amos, Santigold, Sia, Natalie Merchant, Cyndi Lauper, Sharon Jones, Steve Earle, and Nellie McKay. (We've heard only the Santigold track, and it has a strong Talking Heads vibe.)
Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me
The folk singer and harpist's previous release Ys 85 was one of the best-reviewed albums of 2006, but Joanna Newsom's newer material could only be heard at her live performances ... until now. Exactly what the new album will sound like is a bit of a mystery, since advance copies are not being sent to critics in an effort to avoid a leak of the album. One listener has described the new album as "less baroque" and more direct than Ys.
Quasi: American Gong
The Portland, Ore. trio's first album in four years promises more guitars and fewer keyboards than previous releases.
Xiu Xiu: Dear God, I Hate Myself
Jamie Stewart's experimental rock outfit returns with its first album since the departure of multi-instrumentalist Caralee McElroy (who has been replaced by Angela Seo). Produced by Deerhoof's Greg Saunier, Dear God includes several songs that were composed on a Nintendo DS.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Beat the Devil's Tattoo
BRMC's fifth studio album (and first on its own Abstract Dragon label) finds the band with a new drummer: Leah Shapiro, from The Raveonettes.
Broken Bells: Broken Bells
The newest project from superstar producer Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) finds him teaming up with Shins frontman James Mercer for one of the more anticipated releases of early 2010. If the first single is an accurate indicator, the album will sound exactly like you hoped it would.
Gorillaz: Plastic Beach
Damon Albarn's side project continues to grow in popularity, and this third album should do nothing to change that. Although the Blur frontman takes a more prominent vocal role on the new record, Plastic Beach's lineup of contributors is impressive (and impressively eclectic), including Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, Gruff Rhys, The Fall's Mark E. Smith, The Clash's Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, De La Soul, Bobby Womack, and -- er -- Barry Gibb.
jj: jj nº 3
The second studio album ( jj nº 1 was merely a single) for the acclaimed young Swedish band marks their first record for new label Secretly Canadian. As mysterious as their album titles suggest, the band cannot be pigeonholed into a single genre, but their music channels Kate Bush through everything from dub to indie pop to hip-hop. They will be touring with fellow young, acclaimed, double-lettered buzz band xx in the spring.
Miles Kurosky: The Desert of Shallow Effects
It would be a mistake to skip over this album just because you don't recognize the name. Kurosky was the frontman for the San Francisco indie-pop band Beulah, who disbanded in 2004 at the height of their popularity -- or near it, as they may have gained an even bigger cult following in the subsequent years. Kurosky's long-awaited first solo album will include contributions from many of his former bandmates, and leaked early tracks sound similar to Beulah -- which is definitely not a bad thing.
The always challenging indie-rock trio return with their fifth album, which was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Tom Biller.
Drive-By Truckers: The Big To-Do
The Southern rockers return with their eighth studio album, and first since 2008's Brighter Than Creation's Dark 83. Says frontman Patterson Hood of the new disc, "It's very much a rock album. Very melodic and more rocking than anything since disc 2 of Southern Rock Opera."
She & Him: Volume 2
The indie-folk duo of M Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel return with a second album that includes a cover of NRBQ's "Ridin' in My Car" and a guest appearance from Tilly and the Wall.
The New Pornographers: Together
The fifth album from the Canadian indie-rock supergroup is reportedly more rock-oriented than its last release, 2007's mellower Challengers 74. Neko Case will again contribute vocals alongside Carl Newman and Dan Bejar, and Phil Palazzolo returns as producer. Guests include St. Vincent's Annie Clark, Beirut's Zach Condon, Okkervil River's Will Sheff, and the Dap-Kings horns.
Although the Oregon punk band led by Hutch Harris and Kathy Foster have recorded their past few albums as a duo, the full band (meaning drummer Westin Glass too) will be in the studio with producer Chris Walla for this still-untitled fifth album.
(TBA - Spring)
By now, you probably know that the acclaimed Montreal-based outfit's third album is arriving this year, and you're hungry for more details, such as a title, a release date, or even a record label. Sadly, we've only got the last one coverered (Billboard reports the band is sticking with Merge), and while many sources are optimistic about a May release, it is still possible the album won't arrive until the second half of 2010. Markus Dravs (who has worked with Brian Eno and Coldplay) is producing, and there are rumors that Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy) is handling arrangements. In the meantime, we only have a second-hand account of Dravs' one-word review of the new album's songs: they're apparently "better" than those on 2007's Neon Bible 87.
The experimental indie-rock band that gave the world the well-received, utterly unique, math-rock-ish 2007 release Mirrored 86 is finally expected to release a follow-up this year for Warp.
While Chan Marshall's last album was a covers record, her next Cat Power release will be her first album of originals since 2006's The Greatest 80. She expects to record the new album as a solo effort, unlike recent releases that found her backed by a full band.
Album number five for the band is being recorded in a North London church, with Brian Eno once again producing. The disc, to be released sometime during 2010, is expected to be more stripped down than previous efforts.
(TBA - April)
Legendary New Wave band Devo hasn't released an album since 1990's Smooth Noodle Maps, but, after reuniting for a 2009 tour, they returned to the recording studio with a variety of producers, including Santigold. Both Something for Everybody and Fresh have been floated as possible album titles, and the band will be hitting the road again, including a stop at Coachella.
The Hold Steady
While their previous album (their major label debut) failed to live up to the high standards set by their debut (and, to a lesser extent, their second album), Interpol have hinted that album number four will be much closer in sound to Turn on the Bright Lights 81. The new album is due in the first half of the year.
(TBA - Spring)
2007's Sound of Silver 86 will be hard to top, but James Murphy's third LCD Soundsystem album -- which may arrive in March or April, if it's finished by then -- is certainly one of our most anticipated releases of the year. In an interview with NME, Murphy indicated that the new disc will have a "wider palette of sound" and is "definitely better than the other two," although it may be the final LCD Soundsystem release. You can also hear Murphy's work on the big screen this spring; he's soundtracking the Noah Baumbach comedy Greenberg.
The quirky Oregon band's fourth long-player is expected to arrive in 2010, with the band putting the finishing touches on the album in the studio this month.
(TBA - Spring)
One of 2008's most pleasant surprises was the debut album Oracular Spectacular 78 from poppy indie rock duo MGMT. (Trust us: you've heard it, whether or not you know you have.) That album earned MGMT fans like Jay-Z and Paul McCartney as well as a pair of Grammy nominations. Congratulations, their eagerly-awaited follow-up, was produced by Spacemen 3's Sonic Boom and recorded with their full touring band. The group told NME in a recent interview that the new release is intended to be heard as a complete album, and will not include any radio-friendly tracks like "Time to Pretend" or "Kids."
(TBA - Summer)
Maya Arulpragasam's third LP -- which could arrive as soon as May -- was largely produced by Blaqstarr. According to Rolling Stone, the new album will include both singing and rapping, with one track featuring vocals from a group of Verizon tech support workers -- a song entitled "I'm Down Like Your Internet Connection." (We don't make this stuff up.)
The Brooklyn indie-rock band fronted by deep-voiced Matt Berninger have been working on their fifth album for over a year, but are now close to completion of what they describe to Stereogum as "our best record" yet. Considering that their previous two releases were the acclaimed albums Boxer 86 and Alligator 81, that's saying something.
Nine Inch Nails
About all we can tell you is what you already know, if you are a NIN fan: Trent Reznor has indicated that 2010 will see "new material" from Nine Inch Nails, as well as material from "something else that isn't nine inch nails" -- which may or may not be his rumored collaboration with Gary Numan.
Don't get too excited; a 2010 release is by no means a sure thing. But Thom Yorke and co. have already begun work on their follow-up to In Rainbows 88, and are expected back in the recording studio this month. Nigel Godrich returns as producer.
The band is currently working on songs for its fifteenth studio album with producer Jacknife Lee, who also guided their 2008 effort Accelerate 79.
The in-demand artist (previously known as Santogold, and known to her parents as Santi White) is expected to release her second album late this year, although she has been so busy as a producer that a delay to 2011 is also a possibility. Santogold had enlisted Pharrell Williams, Diplo, Switch and Spank Rock as producers for her new material, although what actually appears on the album is uncertain.
Although it has been delayed by the band members' various side projects, the long-in-the-works fourth album for Julian Casablancas and co. is finally expected to emerge in late 2010.
For the first time in almost 15 years, influential and intense post-punk outfit Swans are headed to the recording studio, and a brand-new album is expected later in 2010. In the years since Swans originally disbanded, head Swan Michael Gira has recorded five albums as Angels of Light and has recorded and toured with Akron/Family.
The Ting Tings
The recent Saturday Night Live musical guests are reportedly at work in Berlin on their second album, which may or may not include collaborations with Rihanna and/or Jay-Z. A summer release is possible.
U2: Songs of Ascent
(TBA - Summer)
The latest album for the veteran band will likely include songs originally written for 2008's No Line on the Horizon 72 that did not fit into that album's tone. Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois are expected to return as producers.
(TBA - Spring)
The band is currently putting the finishing touches on its sixth album, which was recorded with producer Chris Zane.
The Canadian indie-rockers are planning to enter the studio in February to record their third album.
Although we did not publish a "Most Anticipated Albums of 2009" article one year ago, if we had, this album would have been on it. Despite forming over 20 years ago, The Wrens have just three albums to their name so far (including 2003's acclaimed The Meadowlands 85), so fans of this literate New Jersey band are accustomed to waiting. And that wait should be rewarded in 2010, as the band have pledged to finish recording by June. If not, well, there's always 2011.