What we're looking forward to: most anticipated albums of 2012

The NewsHouse music writers look ahead to 2012 and talk about some of the albums we're looking forward to the most.

Chris Baker, Lead Producer

Mumford & Sons, TBA

 It’s been more than two years since their breakout album Sigh No More hit the shelves and launched the Irish folkies’ careers. The debut album, however, will be tough to top. Their highly-anticipated sophomore album (expected to be released early this year) will either solidify the band as revolutionary folk revivalists or one-hit wonders. Expect the former.

Machine Gun Kelly, Lace Up

 This kid is going to be big. The rapper, who just signed with Diddy and Bad Boy Records, was the first rapper to ever win a talent show at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. He won two consecutive weeks. And he’s a white guy. Billy Mitchell, a.k.a. Mr. Apollo, calls him “the next Eminem.” His first pro record will certainly raise some eyebrows.


So MGMT's Congratulations wasn’t a critical success. It was a cohesive album, which is more than can be said for Oracular Spectacular, which, for all its charm, was just an amalgamation of fun songs. The disparity between their first two efforts leaves a lot of room for speculation regarding their third. Regardless, the album is worth picking up when it hits the shelves later this year.

Chris Ballard, Lead Producer

Hostage Calm, TBA

Punk-flavored indie rockers Hostage Calm are one of the most refreshing acts in the alternative music scene. Take The Smiths, add a heavy dose of Beatles and Beach Boys-influenced vocal harmonies and pop-laced anthems, and Hostage Calm are ready to surprise critics with their newest LP.

Kendrick Lamar, Good Kid in a Mad City

Lamar’s 2011 debut Section.80 was just what the hip-hop community needed. Combining the ethos and swagger of his Compton, Calif. roots with an introspective outlook, expect Lamar’s aptly named follow-up to hit just as hard.

Converge, All That We Love We Leave Behind

Like a fine wine, Converge develops with age. With nearly two decades spearheading the heavy music scene, the Massachusetts hardcore punk quartet released one of their best tracks on a split EP last year, and promise to bring just as much raucous energy on their latest full-length.

Josh Breeden, Writer

Tennis, Young and Old

Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley recorded their 2011 debut, Cape Dory, after almost a year at sea. With Young and Old, the Denver duo trade buoyant, meandering melodies and surfscape imagery for a more pensive sound. The album’s first single, “Origins,” features an introspective Moore –– her howls of doomed love and unquenched curiosity backed by Riley’s Johnny Marr-like guitar attack. 

Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror

Sleigh Bells blew minds and subwoofers when they released Treats in May 2010. The narrative is simple: hardcore guitarist (Derek Miller) meets girl-pop vocalist (Alexis Krauss), and together they deafen folkified indie land with really loud music. Yes music –– one can’t really classify what the pair make. Their upcoming record, Reign of Tower, sounds like a pissed off version of Treats. Club-ready beats, chunky guitar, celestial vocals and Stalinist-era military garb distilled into an11-track blitzkrieg. Sample song title: “Road to Hell.”

The Decemberists, We All Raise Our Voices to the Air: (Live songs 04.11-08.11)

Colin Meloy and company reigned in the freak-folk noodling on 2011’s The King is Dead –– trading instrumental congestion and off kilter narrative frameworks for simple, guitar driven tunes with compact song structures. As a result, the summer tour in support of King featured the Portland collective in a newly energized state, unchained from the pressures of duplicating grandiose studio arrangements on stage. We All Raise Our Voices to the Air , a double-live affair, captures 20 moments from The Decemberists’ 2011 summer tour. Recorded at well-known venues such as Stubbs BBQ and Ryman Auditorium, the album captures the band at the height of their career –– simplifying their past creations while embracing a nuanced, mature sound.

Eric Vilas-Boas, Lead Producer

Grizzly Bear, TBA

The 2009 indie darlings have Facebooked pretty relentlessly the last month or so, writing statuses and posting Instagram shots (and somehow thinking may have LOST interest since their epic turn with Veckatimest). They insist that, yes, they are working on music--thus far both written and recorded--and, yes, we will have a new album to love soon. “Soon” however, cannot come soon enough for fans of the harmonizing, percussing, love-singing multi-instrumentalists. In the meantime, chew on Daniel Rossen’s new songs while you wait for the others coming, hopefully soon.

The Magnetic Fields, Love at the Bottom of the Sea

If any mid-40s singer-songwriter has earned the right to an obscenely early retirement, it’s Stephin Merritt. Lucky for you, me and everyone else who should have listened to 69 Love Songs in high school like it was Scripture, he will be doing the opposite this March. New album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, promises to break the Fields’ three-album and seven-year moratorium on synthesizers, and come back to the band’s roots: Love and synths. Knowing Merritt, those two crucial ideas won’t be the only concepts to listen for on their upcoming record, but they may signal a return, not just to Merge Records, but to the kind of work that made 69 Love Songs and its precursors so beautiful and engaging.

Dan Deacon, TBA

The indietronica darling of our time -- and the one true antithesis to that cliche people call dubstep these days--Mr. Deacon has been touring since November when it was announced that he signed to Domino Records to drop a new album in 2012. In the meantime, if you’re in New Zealand, catch the last legs of his global romp with the 14-piece Dan Deacon Ensemble. You will duck, thrust, sing along, unrepentantly crowd-surf, and at the center of it all, Dan will curate the show, leading you and your peers in a sick cross between a danse macabre and a gleeful rendition of Barney’s “Clean Up” song. There will be bells.

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