With the anticipated return of big-name indie bands like Phoenix, Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend this year, 2013 is shaping up to be big. But aside from the usual suspects, there are also some newcomers and reunited acts expected to make noise this year. Here are some albums we speculate may end up on your top ten lists come December.
10. Kurt Vile
Wakin On A Pretty Daze
Since the release of 2011's Smoke Ring For My Halo, Kurt Vile has stayed so busy touring that the announcement of his third album several weeks back came as something of a surprise. Tentatively titled Wakin On A Pretty Daze, it was announced via a mural in his hometown of Philadelphia, and Vile compared the tone to Fleetwood Mac's Tusk in a recent interview with Spin. He added that much of the album was recorded in L.A., with guests like Beachwood Sparks' Farmer Dave Scher, Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint and Royal Trux's Jennifer Herrema.
9. The National
Though it's yet to be confirmed, The National's sixth album is expected sometime in latter part of 2013. The band initially began recording in August and debuted three new songs at All Tomorrow's Parties in December, all of which you can find on YouTube in remarkably good quality. Longtime collaborator Nico Muhly is once again assisting with production on the album and makes an appearance on the extremely enticing “Sullivan,” which takes the band's trademark gloom to rich new heights.
8. James Blake
A highlight of last year's FYF Fest, part-time Angeleno James Blake is picking up right where he left off after a relatively quiet 2012. Judging from the five new songs he recently debuted in London and New York, Blake, also known for his remixes under the pseudonym Harmonimix, seems to be edging towards a more accessible pop sensibility. As of now, there aren't many details available about his latest effort, but FACT states that the album is expected sometime in the fall.
7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' third album It's Blitz finally gained the New York trio a taste of crossover success, but their extensive hiatus afterward seemed like it would never end. But December brought the announcement of their fourth album via Twitter, to come sometime in the spring, fueling rumors they might possibly be a headliner at Coachella. LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy has confirmed his assistance with production on the album, but only one new song has been debuted so far. Hopefully we'll hear more at their show in Pomona next week.
6. Atoms For Peace
Thom Yorke's side-project with producer Nigel Godrich, drummer Joey Waronker and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers has been on every critic's radar since the band performed a run of tremendous live shows in 2010. In an interview with Spin, Yorke inferred that their debut album Amok would closely tread the line between electronic and acoustic and stated that much of it was recorded in L.A. after the project's potential expanded during those storied performances. “Default,” the promising first single from the album, was released in the fall, but it will be interesting to see what Flea brings to the table after hearing his groove on “Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses” at Coachella.
5. Vampire Weekend
In 2012 Vampire Weekend fled their homebase in New York to record their third album in L.A. with producer Ariel Rechtstaid. Rechtstaid's resume includes a long list of recent successes, from indie projects like Blood Orange's Coastal Grooves to Top 40 hits like Usher's “Climax,” so this already sounds like a great match. But it will also be interesting to see how the difference in location affects the tone of the album. Keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij told Uncut to expect something “darker and grittier” than their last album, but “Unbelievers,” a new song they performed for Jimmy Kimmel in October, doesn't sound that different than the sunny Vampire Weekend we've grown to love.
4. Arcade Fire
News of the follow-up to Arcade Fire's Grammy-winning album The Suburbs began to surface late last year, after the band debuted a handful of new songs at a secret show in Montreal under the name Les Identiks. According to drummer Jeremy Gara, the album will near completion this spring, with the band aiming for a late 2013 release. Arcade Fire's manager has also confirmed the involvement of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy on at least three songs. Considering the widespread success of The Suburbs, the follow-up is likely to be a contender for album of the year.
Just last month, the owner of Phoenix's record label confirmed that the band had completed their fifth album, which is scheduled for release in April. 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix saw the French four-piece edging further in to synth-pop territory, resulting in favorites like “1901” and “Liztomania,” both of which were licensed for commercials and movies. With their new album, however, lead singer Thomas Mars told Pedestrian.TV that the band had begun to venture away from pop in favor of a more experimental tone. If the album is indeed released in April, I'd say there's a high probability of Phoenix returning to Coachella as well.
2. My Bloody Valentine
Though My Bloody Valentine hasn't released a new album in over two decades, the lasting influence of their 1991 masterpiece, Loveless, has been heard in countless indie bands ever since. Reuniting in 2007, the group toured extensively in the years that followed, leading to speculation of a new album that was finally confirmed in December. On Christmas Eve lead singer Kevin Shields announced that the work had been completed and that it would be released on their website before the end of 2013, followed by a new EP. After such a long hiatus, we can only hope this isn't a Chinese Democracy-sized disappointment.
1. The Knife
Shaking The Habitual
Arguably just as influential as My Bloody Valentine is Swedish brother-sister duo The Knife, who laid the groundwork for the synth-pop explosion over the past few years, which saw artists as diverse as Passion Pit and Björk mimicking their style, to varying results. In the time since their landmark 2006 album Silent Shout, the band scored an opera based on Charles Darwin's On The Origin of Species and lead singer Karin Dreijer Andersson ventured out on her own as Fever Ray, releasing one of the best albums of 2009.
The announcement of The Knife's sixth album Shaking The Habitual came as welcome news in early December and was accompanied by a teaser video of the duo on a swing-set, keeping in toe with the duo's bizarre Lynchian aesthetic. With the album's release date falling just two weeks before Coachella, The Knife has been one of the most-discussed bands with regard to the festival and, after seeing Fever Ray's mind-boggling performance there in 2010, we're keeping our fingers crossed.