Thursday, January 8, 2009

Special: Gary's Most Anticipated Albums of 2009

Where the hell did 2008 go? Just as soon as it came, it went, and we were all hurriedly compiling our best-of lists before the calendar turned. Well, it officially has, and now it’s ready for another year in music. 2008 certainly had its share of solid releases for basically every taste, but it just could not live up to the bevy of blockbuster albums that 2007 boasted. There will be a shitload of albums due out this year, a lot likely from artists who had albums in 2007. Music will be released unbeknownst to myself, only to be discovered months later. However, these ten artists are already good favorites of mine, with more or less confirmed releases this year. Note: Animal Collective’s insanely hyped and insanely good Merriweather Post Pavilion would easily sit atop this list, but it has already been leaked and played ad nauseum. A review is on its way post-haste.

Arctic Monkeys – How do the Arctic Monkeys and Queens of the Stone Age tie together? Well, QOTSA mastermind Josh Homme is producing the Monkeys’ third album, and recording it where Homme records the Desert Sessions (which could also see a new album in 2009. I’m holding my breath.) The album could in theory be recorded already, with an arbitrary deadline of December set by drummer Matt Helders.

Beastie Boys (May 2009) – Not much is known about the latest album from the Beasties, other than it is probably due out in May, it has lots of vocals and is political. So, To The 5 Boroughs II? Meh. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that good either. Regardless, I’m sure it’ll please more than 2007’s all-instrumental The Mix-Up.

Eminem - Relapse (Spring) – Anything from Marshall Mathers is worth anticipating, and after some time off, hopefully it is a little more focused than 2004’s Encore. Em would not comment on whether it would be a serious or playful record, but likely there will be a mixture of both. As usual, Dr. Dre is behind the scenes for Relapse, but not much else is known. A song “Crack A Bottle” is making its way around the internet, perhaps the first single from the album. There is also potential for a sequel to “Bad Meets Evil,” and a T.I. collaboration. Should prove interesting. Keep your fingers crossed for a follow-up to "Kim." I know I am.

4. Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (1/27) – Not much more anticipation is necessary for Tonight, as it is close to release, and already reviewed by several publications. Apparently, their third time around will feature Jamaican dub and African influences (Vampire Weekend, anyone?), synthesizers and more of a dance aesthetic rather than a rock feel. If first single “Ulysses” is any indicator, the album should be another solid entry into the Franz discography. Check out an early review here.

Grizzly Bear - Grizzly Bear had a pretty representative year in 2008, highlighted by the fact that they opened for a little-known band called Radiohead (I apologize for the obscurity.) Holed up in the Catskills, they are hard at work on their follow-up to their critically-acclaimed eerie yet fun freak-folk fest also known as Yellow House. “While You Wait for the Others” was introduced on Conan last year, while “Two Weeks” got its live debut on Letterman two months later. Great anticipation surrounds this album, but alas we are forced to wait until April or May (or until it leaks onto teh interwebz.)

Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3 (February) – Mr. BeyoncĂ© Knowles will fulfill his commitment with Def Jam Records before moving onto his mammoth Live Nation deal. Produced by the almighty Kanye West, he promised the album would drop in February. “Swagga Like Us,” the monster collaboration with the aforementioned West, T.I. and Lil Wayne, is already expected on the album, as is his Obama celebrating “We Made History.” Lil Wayne took the hip-hop world by storm with Tha Carter III last year. It shall be interesting to see if Hov still has it to create a similar buzz, but as 2007’s American Gangster proved, he hasn’t lost anything, while all the while maturing.

LCD Soundsystem – I got my four walls and adobe slabs for my girls, now if there’s a new LCD Soundsystem album this year, too, we’ll be all set. James Murphy disproved rumors that they were breaking up, and in fact said he has ideas for eight songs in his head. Apparently, the DFA guru doesn’t do demos. He’ll start recording when he feels like it, too. Such a bad-ass.

8. Mastodon - Crack the Skye Blood Mountain saw progressive metal at its finest, and certainly the demand in the minuscule genre by bands not named Dream Theater is certainly not going to fix itself. The idea behind the album is kind of out there even for Mastodon (Brent Hinds endured a head injury, so it’s okay.) Unlike their previous two albums, there is apparently less of a concrete story behind Skye. The Quietus somehow already did a nice track-by-track write-up of the album if you want to whet your appetite with fancy words describing the tracks. A thirteen-minute closing track? Four-part song called “The Czar?” What’s not to get excited about?

Queens of the Stone Age – It would not be a proper new year without an album featuring Josh Homme. Last year, we got Eagles of Death Metal’s Heart On. This year, we should be treated to the follow-up to the great Era Vulgaris. Homme summed up Vulgaris before its release as “dark, hard and electrical, like a construction worker.” This time around, we’re looking at a “desert orgy in the dark.” With teasers like that, it makes anticipating a new QOTSA album really hard (ahem, no pun intended.)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – 2007 saw the NYC-based trio release the solid Is Is EP. Since then, the band has been at work on their third LP, currently untitled at the moment. Karen O said that it will not be like Show Your Bones. They already did that. Is Is certainly is not an indicator of their new sound either. As for Fever to Tell? “No looking back now silly.” Oh, Karen O. Apparently, you can bet your sweet ass that it will sound like the YYYs, just unlike you’ve ever heard them. We’ll take their word for it. LP No. 3 is slated for an early 2009 release.

Most, if not all, of these albums will be coming out in the coming year. I say most just in case one of the albums becomes an oft-delayed punchline, like another notorious album I can no longer list as an album I am sarcastically anticipating in the coming year. It’ll also be interesting to see who will pull a Radiohead or Raconteurs and release an album without anyone knowing. Oh shit, I forgot, new Backstreet Boys and Good Charlotte albums should be popping up in Best Buy’s end-of-the-aisle racks sometime this year, too. This year is looking better every waking day.

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