Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Most Anticipated New Music of 2011

For the past couple of years, I have posted my favorite albums of the previous year. This year, I thought I’d get a jump start and let you in on a couple of albums I’m really looking forward to this year. There will be many more albums I’ll enjoy that haven’t yet been announced, or that I’m overlooking now, but here are the ones I’ll be checking out as soon as they are released (in no particular order).

Go-Go BootsDrive-By Truckers : Go Go Boots
Release Date: 2/15
If I had one complaint about the Truckers’ last album (and it’s a very minor complaint as it was still one of my favorite albums of last year), The Big To-Do, it’s that it was a little heavy on the rock and a little light on the country and soul influences that have peppered their music over the years (of course most of the soul came from Jason Isbell). Go Go Boots promises to remedy that, as they are calling it their “Muscle Shoals record.” From what I have gathered, most of these songs were written around the same time as The Big To Do. Instead of releasing another maximum capacity album in the vein of Brighter Than Creations Dark, they opted to split the songs into two more concise records.

Collapse Into NowR.E.M.: Collapse Into Now
Release Date: 3/8
I thought R.E.M.’s last album Accelerate was underrated. While, most fans were happy that the old R.E.M. they knew and loved had returned from the abyss of their previous two records, it was largely praised upon release and then quickly faded from memory. I went back and listened to it recently, and it’s a really good album. Not their best, but still good. Their upcoming album looks to capitalize on the resurgence created by Accelerate and delve, not only into the old days of Monster as they did on Accelerate, but also into the territory of New Adventures in HiFi and even their older work. It should make for a more expansive record, and I can’t wait to hear it. It doesn’t hurt that it will have guest spots by Eddie Vedder and Patti Smith.

Jason Isbell: Here We Rest
Release Date: 4/12
To be perfectly honest, I selfishly wish Isbell was still with the Drive-By Truckers. He brought a whole other realm of possibilities to the band. However, he proved with his first two solo albums that he had entirely too much talent to be restricted to a few songs per album as part of a band. His last release, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit was one of my favorites of 2009, and I’m banking on this being as close to a “can’t miss” as you’ll find on this list.

Death Cab for Cutie: Codes and Keys
Release Date: TBA
This will be Death Cab’s first trip back to the well since 2008’s good-but-not-great Narrow Stairs. Singer Ben Gibbard might feel a little pressure from his wife (Zooey Deschanel) after her two excellent albums as part of She & Him since the last Death Cab outing. The word is that this album is a lot less guitar heavy than Narrow Stairs, and that's fine with me, since some of my favorite Death Cab tunes are from Plans which tended to be a bit guitat-lite at times.

The Shins: Title TBA
Release Date: TBA
The Shins’ 2007 release Wincing The Night Away ranks as one of my favorite albums of the decade (my wife’s too), so it’s no wonder I am really looking forward to something new from the band. Singer and principle songwriter James Mercer teamed up with Danger Mouse last year to release the fantastic Broken Bells album, but I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while.

U2: Songs of Ascent
Release Date: TBA
Let’s face it, when the biggest band in the world releases an album, you have to take notice. I think they’ll be looking to bounce back after the disappointing (but in my opinion underrated) No Line on the Horizon, and even a below average album from U2 is still worth hearing.

My Morning Jacket – Title TBA
Release Date TBA
Whatever the project, front-man Jim James doesn’t disappoint. My Morning Jacket are one of my favorite bands, and James can fall in with most anyone and make fantastic music (most recently with The Roots and Monsters of Folk). He probably ranks as one of my top 3 musicians currently working. I have no reason not to think this album will be good, since MMJ’s last few records have been consistently great.

In addition, Beastie Boys, Jay-Z & Kanye West (together), Foo Fighters, Coldplay (guilty pleasure), Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Bright Eyes and The Strokes are also slated for new releases. Add to these the already outstanding releases by Iron & Wine and The Decemberists from January, and this is shaping up to be another great year for music nerds like me.

What albums are you eagerly anticipating this year?

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