Monday, August 1, 2011

Ten Albums to Watch for the Rest of 2011, and One I Am Slightly Reluctant to Endorse

1) Watch the Throne - Jay-Z and Kanye West (August 8)
While Jay-Z releases can be a little hit-or-miss these days, Kanye West seems to be pretty much stuck in instant-classic mode, especially after the masterpiece that was 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. If you need more of a sales job, bear in mind that the thing not only features the two pre-eminent MCs of current rap music, it features additional production by Rza and Q-Tip as well. Sort of an All-Star team of hip-hop right there.

2) Mirror Traffic - Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks (August 23)
The lead singer of Pavement teams up with producer Beck Hansen on a 15-song album of sprawling guitar-based sonics and hyperliterate, nonsensical lyrics.

3) Tha Carter IV - Lil Wayne (August 29)
This album's release has already been pushed back once, so who knows if it will actually come out on the date I have placed in parentheticals. But if it does, it is a must-grab for individuals whose ears are accepting of "the real hip-hop." Tha Carter III was a stellar production, and Lil Wayne is one of the most inventive lyricists currently toiling in the genre.

4) Father, Son, Holy Ghost - Girls (September 13)
The California dream poppers became immediate critical darlings with their Pitchfork-drooled-over debut, Album. However, don't let the sh*ttiness of their band name and their debut album's moniker stop you from purchasing the sophomore effort. With intriguing lo-fi sonics and a style that reminds one of the Beach Boys shopping at American Apparel, the group's winning streak should continue.

5) Hysterical - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (September 20)
The Brooklyn-based band's first album since 2007, Hysterical comes on the heels of the cheap-yet-adventurous sounding self-titled debut and the speaker-rattling Dave Fridmann produced follow-up that was Some Loud Thunder. The band has since separated themselves with Fridmann, and teamed up with producer John Congleton, a gent who has worked with a decent laundry list of clientele, including Modest Mouse, Erykah Badu, and David Byrne, which, when you think about it makes a lot of sense for a band whose lead singer sounds exactly like the erstwhile Talking Heads frontman.

6) The Whole Love - Wilco (September 27)
Led by the single, "I Might," which features distorted fuzz guitar and keys taken straight out of the 60s surf rock playbook, the Chicago rockers eighth album seems like it could be a return to the raucous, garage-based sound of latest 90s output, Being There and Summerteeth. That is fine: I will take Jeff Tweedy's band however they want to put it out. Just one suggestion: Can we get one or two more Nels Cline solos than we got on 2009's Wilco (The Album)?

7) Biophilia - Bjork (September 27)
The Icelandic temptress has long since earned her spot on my "no need to preview"purchase list. But this time she is back looking to redeem herself after a slightly subpar effort in 2007's Volta (or at least some critics might say that; I actually thought the album was quite fine). So far, so good, although I will say that I hope the album sounds more like jangly percussion fest "Crystalline," than the spare dirge that is "Cosmogony." Truthfully, though, I could listen to Bjork cover the entire Nickleback catalog, so I'm sure this album will be great. As for the whole thing she is doing with the iPad apps and all that, well, I'm sure someone not named "Me" will buy it.

8) Metals - Feist (October 4)
Although this is her fifth solo album, the part-time Broken Social Scene member Leslie Feist did not truly break out until 2007's The Reminder, which served as the perfect platform for her quirky soulful voice and took off big-time with the inventive video for disc highlight "1234." Still,the full-length was no one-trick pony, with standouts such as the playful "Brandy Alexander" and the hypnotic "The Limit to Your Love." What to expect from Metals? No idea. But I would assume more of her singular crooning and genre-hopping song structures.

9) Hurry Up, We're Dreaming - M83 (October 11)
The band, which is actually primarily the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Anthony Gonzalez, stormed onto the musical consciousness in 2008 with the stellar full-length Saturdays = Youth. With soaring synthesizer-based atmospherics and the sumptuous voice of guest vocalist Morgan Kibby, the album produced sleeper indie hits like "Kim & Jessie" and "Graveyard Girl," as well as sprawling canvases like "Skin of the Night" and "We Own the Sky." Interestingly enough, the new record is said to feature less of Kibby and more of the vocals of Gonzalez, who, to be fair, did a major share of the singing on S=Y. I'm just saying: It will be interesting to see how the slight shift in band dynamics affects the LP as a whole.

10) TBA - Justice (October 28)
The truth is the new album by French duo Justice does not yet have a name. The site I found that said it was going to be released on October 11 I can no longer remember nor find. Their new single just popped up on the Interwebs. All of this makes me wonder whether I am leading you down the primrose path. Well, whenever the album comes out, it is something you might want to run to the store, or iTunes, or wherever you steal your music from unethically to get. This is crunked-up electric body stimulation at its best!

11) TBA - Coldplay (October 28)
I won't lie: It has been tough to admit you liked Coldplay since the ruthless skewering they took in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Plus, there was the misstep that was the horrible A Rush of Blood to the Head follow-up, X&Y. And finally there are the douchey Sgt. Pepper-wannabe outfits they wore while touring for the return to form, Viva la Vida, or Death and All His Friends. Nevertheless, I plan on giving their new one a shot, especially since it is now tentatively known as "Coldplay's fifth album," as opposed to the name I originally saw on the Internet: Mylo Xyloto. I could not buy an album with that name.

All dates found someplace on the Intenet and most likely wrong.

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