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10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2012

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January 17, 2012
Roughly ten hundred trillion new albums will be released this coming year; every single week bringing with it music worthy of anticipation and excitement (as well as a seemingly-infinite amount of music that is not). Amidst this crazy culture of over-saturation, what albums could burst through the endless buzz and truly cause people to freak out? What long-awaited LPs will cause hearts and minds to explode all over the globe? Try these...

1. Animal Collective

Animal Collective
Domino
The three years since the release of the almighty Merriweather Post Pavilion may not seem that long, especially given Animal Collective have stayed busy with plentiful tours, the oddball Oddsac movie, and, y'know, solo albums. But the three years is certainly the longest time between drinks for the beloved jam-band, who once cranked out Campfire Songs, Here Comes the Indian, Sung Tongs and Feels in the space of two years. Animal Collective are currently at work on their tenth LP, however, and it's currently due for release before 2012 is done. In all likelihood, it's going to come out late in the year, just in time to land all over album-of-the-year lists.

2. The Avalanches

The Avalanches
Modular
Putting the mythical, decade-in-the-making second record for The Avalanches on this list feels a bit like a fanciful fantasy. I mean, why not throw on My Bloody Valentine's third album or Neutral Milk Hotel's follow-up to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea whilst we're at it? There've been plenty of blown deadlines, false alarms, and broken promises in the Melburnian sample crew's unending attempt to follow-up —and live up to— their classic 2000 LP Since I Left You. It's certainly taken its toll: the band having shrunk from a party posse of six, back in the day, to effectively just a solitary surviving member (Robbie Chater). But there's plentiful evidence The Avalanches' as-yet-untitled second LP may be here in 2012: from the confirmed collaborations with Jennifer Herrema, Connan Mockasin, and Ariel Pink, to the guarantees of label Modular Records, to their tremendously-active Twitter account.

3. Cat Power

Cat Power
Matador
When I spoke to Chan Marshall in 2009, she was, it seemed, closing in on finishing off a new Cat Power album. When I spoke to her a year later, the album was still a work-in-progress; Marshall enjoying being able to work without deadlines, with the freedom to do thing in her own time. 2012 may be the time in which we discover the fruits of Marshall's labors. Late in 2011, the songwriter unveiled a new version of "King Rides By," re-made for charity and delivered with a video made by love-interest Giovanni Ribisi. Sure, it was merely another version of a song Marshall's re-recorded before, but it also marked the first new musical work from Cat Power since 2008. Matador has remained tight-lipped about the possibility a whole new LP is on the way, but they're clearly saving a TBA space for the ninth Cat Power album.

4. Chromatics/Glass Candy/Farah

Johnny Jewel
Italians Do It Better
Fans of downbeat-disco genius Johnny Jewel —the unendingly-gifted production mastermind behind Glass Candy, Chromatics, and Desire— are familiar with this pattern: Jewel throws out an amazing free track online, touts its imminent release on 12-inch on Italians Do It Better, then promises 'Album X coming soon!' Only, soon proves to be anything but; the promised LP in question arriving years later, or never at all. This incredibly in-depth interview finally stated what fans long expected: that Jewel finishes albums, then just sits on them. Three such LPs —Glass Candy's Body Work, Chromatics' Kill for Love, and Into Eternity, the debut album for Texan ingénue Farah— have been 'coming soon' for so long its turned comic, but the promised release of Kill for Love in January suddenly has fans feeling hopeful.

5. Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear
Warp
Three years ago, Grizzly Bear released their third LP, Veckatimest, and experienced quite the surge in popularity, going from beloved Brooklyn scenesters to top-shelf festival staple, making fans of Jay-Z and Beyoncé along the way. After a brief spell of downtime —that allowed Christopher Taylor to make his saxed-up solo record, Cant's Dreams Come True— Grizzly Bear announced late in 2011 that they had commenced work on their fourth record. And, that it would hopefully be completed in time for a late-2012 release. After the grand success of their last disc, the next Grizzly Bear opus truly stands as one of the year's most-awaited indie LPs.

6. The Knife

The Knife
Rabid
Late in 2010, I was randomly given the opportunity to speak to The Knife, the Swedish electro duo known for their aversion to interviews, touring, and the banalities that can undermine their erected façade of artistic mystery. The question to ask Olöf Dreijer was, of course, when the band might make a follow-up to 2006's monstrous Silent Shout. "When will we get back together and work again? Will we work together again? That I can't say," Dreijer said. Little did he know that 2011 would find The Knife kicked back into gear, the siblings announcing that they finally —after half-a-decade going their separate ways as Fever Ray and Oni Ayhun— were working on their fourth album. At this stage, it's more hope than surety the album will be out by the time 2012 is out, but don't discount the fact that as soon as it's finished, The Knife could release it unto the world with a Radiohead-like swiftness.

7. Mazzy Star

Mazzy Star
Rhymes of an Hour
Mazzy Star released three albums in the '90s —including the 1993 classic So Tonight That I Might See— before completely disappearing. Hope Sandoval would occasionally re-surface to release a rare solo record —Bavarian Fruit Bread in 2001, Through the Devil Softly in 2009— and, doing interviews for them, would claim that Mazzy Star still existed. The world snickered skeptically until late last year, when the duo unexpectedly returned with a new single; "Common Burn" b/w "Lay Myself Down" the first new Mazzy Star material in 15 years. Sandoval has long claimed that an album was near completion, so, given they've already broken the ice with a new single, surely the LP can't be too far behind...

8. Purity Ring

Purity Ring
Purity Ring
On a list filled with iconic bands who've spent years —hell, decades— at work on new albums, it may seem strange to include a band who no one had ever heard of when 2011 started. Yet Purity Ring have been, thus far, colossal teases since blowing away the blogosphere with their first single —"Ungirthed" b/w "Lofticries"— come January 2011, instantly earning them acclaim as one of 2011's best new —and biggest breakout— bands. Since then, the half-boingy/half-terrifying electro duo have only deigned to deliver one more jam, "Belispeak," before shutting down their output; focusing on touring with Neon Indian and, presumedly, finishing off their first record. In normal circumstance, waiting a year for a new band's first album would be no big deal, but given Purity Ring's first three files bordering on perfection, anticipation is already reaching fever-pitch.

9. The Shins

The Shins
Aural Apothecary
Where so many albums on this list feel more like hopes and dreams than imminent realities, The Shins' fourth LP definitely exists. Locked in for a March 20 release, Port of Morrow marks the band's first record since 2007's Wincing the Night Away, and, well, the band's first record since they stopped being a band. Following his frolickings with Grammy-endorsed side-project Broken Bells, Mercer rung in the changes: firing his fellow Shins, leaving longtime label Sub Pop, and recorded his latest opus as veritable solo record. The five-year lag between LPs has done little to dint The Shins' popularity, and expectations for Port of Morrow are already building.

10. The XX

The XX
Young Turks
When they quietly arose in 2009, few were expecting that shy London teenagers The XX were about to become a huge crossover success. Yet, on the back of word-of-mouth and hype, in equal parts, the outfit became one of 2009's biggest breakout acts, and their debut LP, XX, ended up winning the 2010 Mercury Music Prize. There was no real precedent for their haunted, spartan sound; which occupied a sensual, sexual, nocturnal zone of reductionist minimalism that owed a spiritual debt to both Young Marble Giants and Tricky. The XX broke a couple of years of silence by releasing a new demo, "Open Eyes," early in 2012; the first stark, spartan, super-ghostly taste of an album awaited by many.
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