By now, you’ve probably seen our Top Albums of 2011 list, as well as several others. But who might be in the running for similar honors a year from now? Below, we put together a list of some of the most anticipated releases of this calendar year. To avoid playing favorites, we’ll just list them in chronological order (if the dates are known).
Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory (January 24)
Producer Steve Albini has worked with some of the more important artists of the past 20 years, including Nirvana, The Pixies and PJ Harvey. And now, with Cloud Nothings.
Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas (January 30)
If there is just one song on this Prince of Asturias Award winner’s new album that is half as good as “Everybody Knows” or “A Thousand Kisses Deep,” it will end up on a lot of 2012 Top Ten lists.
Leonard Cohen – Darkness by leonardcohen
Lana Del Rey – Born to Die (January 31)
The gorgeous chanteuse had a lot going for her until her uninspiring performance on SNL. She’s probably a little better suited to the studio at this early point of her career, as the singles she’s released seem to prove. Our bet: the uniqueness of the material coupled with her Marianne Faithfull-meets-Nancy Sinatra persona means the disc still does well.
Paul McCartney – Kisses on the Bottom (February 6 in the UK)
Sir Paul’s post-Wings output has been mixed, to put it charitably. Maybe he’ll fare better with this collection of (mostly) love songs from the early 20th century.
Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth (February 7)
Their first release with Diamond Dave since 1984, the lead single, “Tattoo,” has already dropped. It’s no “Panama,” but the mid-tempo rocker brings back all the cornballish awesomeness we love from Mr. Roth.
Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror (February 21)
With their sophomore effort, the Brooklyn noise-pop duo tries to match the cold-cocked slap-to-your-head impact of Treats. Listen to the first single, “Born to Lose,” here.
Rush – Clockwork Angels (spring)
The band released two singles from the disc, “Caravan” and “BU2B,” a year and a half ago, and have played them live for two tours. They’ve promised a return to longer, proggier compositions.
The Shins – Point of Morrow (March)
The Shins haven’t released an album since 2007, and since then, they’ve basically morphed into a James Mercer solo/vanity project. His work with Danger Mouse in Broken Bells was well-received, and expectations are high for this record.
Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania (Spring)
Corgan & Co.’s last effort, Zeitgeist, was a critical flop. Their ensuing concert tours alienated legions of long-time fans. The pressure’s on for this one to see whether they can regain relevancy.
Flaming Lips – TBD (April)
The Lips’ latest will be a collaborative effort with, well, just about everyone. Frontman Wayne Coyne told Rolling Stone that they’ve already recorded tracks with Nick Cave, Edward Sharpe and the Plastic Ono Band. Still on tap: a session with Bon Iver. And he’s trying to convince Ke$sha, Lykke Li and Erykah Badu to come along as well.
Santigold – Master of My Make Believe (TBA)
Santigold’s collaboration with The Beastie Boys delivered possibly the best track on their 2011 album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. Her second album will receive a lot of attention, as will her gig opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The XX – TBA
The XX debuted with one of the best opening albums a band could ask for, and expectations will be very difficult to meet after the cult-like following they amassed in an extraordinarily short amount of time.
The Stone Roses – TBA
The Stone Roses gift the world with an album slightly more frequently than Halley’s Comet makes an appearance, so they were … overdue. No less than Noel Gallagher has indicated that they sound amazing in their rehearsals, where they’re also reportedly recording new material.
Portishead – TBA
Geoff Barrow has hinted that another album is in the works, although with this band getting an album to fruition does not come like clockwork, although it is sure to be engineered as precisely as a Swiss timepiece once completed.
Alabama Shakes – TBA
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers recently described The Alabama Shakes as his favorite live band in the world. They’ll have a hard time capturing their frenetic energy on tape, but we eagerly await the effort.
John K. Samson – TBA
The Weakerthans lead singer ventures out on his own. Will Virtue the Cat make a cameo appearance?
Bloc Party – TBA
Contrary to popular belief, and the apparent lack of popular appeal of Kele’s solo career, Bloc Party are not finished. More danceable rock anthems are slated to arrive in 2012.
Queens of the Stone Age – TBA
After a five-year layoff and several side projects (Dead Weather, Them Crooked Vultures) how much do the stoner rockers have left in the tank? Josh Homme tweeted that it “sounds fuckin killer.” But what else is he going to say?
Mumford & Sons – TBA
The Brit folks rockers spent time in (where else?) Nashville for inspiration while recording their second effort. You almost can’t help but expect a sophomore jinx, but if the songs they started playing or testing out on the road are any indication, this will be one hell of a follow-up, with the group not content to follow the formula of their previous success.
Mazzy Star – TBA
After a 15-year hiatus, Hope Sandoval and David Roback are back. If there’s just one “Fade Into You” on the new disc, we can consider it a success.
Gary Clark Jr. – TBA
After the grassroots success of his Bright Lights EP, the roots rock and blues establishment is expecting big thing from the Austin-bred Clark. The love-child of Clapton, Hendrix and Stevie Ray is stretching the sounds of what we know as “the blues.” Expect lots of notice and personal appearances upon this release.
The Killers – TBA
Although the date is uncertain, Brandon Flowers & Co. said they’ll “definitely” be putting out a record in 2012–their first since 2008’s Day & Age.
Lady Gaga – TBA
Barely seven months after releasing Born this Way, Ms. Germanotta said that she’s not only in the process of making another disc, but it’s already got a (yet-to-be-revealed) name.
Bad Religion – TBA
How many polysyllabic words cab be logically fit into a sentence while still making perfect sense? Professor Graffin and company will seek to answer that question, and maybe an outstanding question or two you’ve had on evolutionary biology or paleontology.
The Temper Trap – TBA (June 2012)
These Aussie’s hope to follow-up their much-buzzed album Conditions with an album good-enough to again be featured in commercials for companies like L’Oreal, Coca-Cola and Chrysler. Hey, it pays the bills…
Phantogram – TBA
Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel just released a well-received EP, but are reportedly back at it and recording in the Saratoga Springs, NY barn that doubles as their studio.
Metric – TBA
Emily Haines is adorable, so even if the album is crap (unlikely) the press junkets and accompanying loads of new photos will be TOTALLY worth it.
Stars – TBA
Amy Milan was very pregnant when Stars finished their tour late in 2010, and it will be interesting to see if motherhood plus Torquil Campbell’s experiences in his side project, Memphis, have prepared Stars to take over the galaxy.
Dead Can Dance – TBA (Summer 2012)
Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry have taken a long hiatus from recording together, as she occupied herself with activities like scoring “Gladiator.” Their eclectic brand of haunting world music will be eagerly greeted by fans everywhere.
Who are we missing? Let us know in the comments.