If you’re reading this page in 2011, please check out our latest feature: THE 50 MOST IMPORTANT ALBUMS OF 2011! And please Like It!
Buying albums might be ever so passé, but that doesn’t mean there still aren’t quality new releases worthy of your dinero. Continuing with our theme of 2010, we have identified 35 albums you’ll probably want to buy over the next 365 days. Of course, since only about 1/4 of the albums that will be released in 2010 have actually been announced, this list is certainly heavily biased toward the first few months — though we tried to take into account some of the more realistic possibilities at the end — and subject to sudden change. But based on their creators’ track records and some early samples, we’re pretty confident in our selections. So with all that in mind, let us present you with 35 albums you should buy in 2010.
Vampire Weekend – Contra
What’s not to expect? Contra just might be the most anticipated followup since Nirvana tackled In Utero, or perhaps when the Arcade Fire delivered us Neon Bible. Either way, the hype is off the charts for this one, namely because some folks consider the boy’s debut to be a one trick pony. However, judging from “White Sky”, “Run”, and the recently delectable “Cousins”, it might be safe to say that those folks are more or less… wrong. What a surprise, right? -MR
Due Out: January 12th via XL Recordings
Eels – End Times
On Eels’ official website, End Times is described as “the sound of an artist growing older in uncertain times.” That description can fit Mark Oliver Everett, the lead singer/guitarist/keyboardist/creator of the band, perfectly. Being around for 15 years now, Eels has always met big philosophical issues head on and their upcoming release is no exception. Produced by Everett (aka E), the album is the story of a divorced artist who equates his personal loss with the loss of integrity in the world he’s living in. End Times is in someways a companion piece to last year’s Hombre Lobo, which deals with the desire that starts everything. Eels’ new record is the flip side of that coin. As we start a new decade, End Times is E’s way of taking one last mournful look back at what’s been lost along the way. -JM
Due Out: January 19th via Vagrant Records
Spoon – Transference
When Britt Daniel sits down to record something, the result is typically out-of-this-world. With 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon carved out intrinsic indie-pop that rocked, rolled, and… chilled. It was short, and if it were any other band, we’d probably complain. But simplicity is king with these folks, and while that’s a formula we’ve come to enjoy and they’ve managed to successfully employ, new tracks like “Written in Reverse” suggest we might actually be in for a surprise. Oh, expect stars to paint this one highly. -MR
Due Out: January 19th via Merge
Surfer Blood – Astro Coast
Hype is a devious thing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it explodes… bad. When Pitchfork Media put these Florida beach kids on their proverbial shoulders, the indie blogosphere kept their eyes peeled on ‘em. Considering the band’s premiere single “Swim” snagged listeners who still have yet to hear anything else from ‘em, it’s hard to ignore this release. Expect, well, just be sure to write down the album’s release date. This one could be this year’s hottest commodity, or it could be another Black Kids situation. We’re betting on the former. -MR
Due Out: January 19th via Kanine
Beach House – Teen Dream
If you’re not hip to Victoria Legrand’s vocals, then you’ve gotta ask yourself, “What the fuck have I been doing for the last decade?” Simply put, they’re alien. It’s hard to imagine someone who sings like that, let alone actually know that person exists. But, for the past six years, this Baltimore duo has “blessed” the world with unbelievable dream pop. Now, 2008’s Devotion is every vinyl collector’s modern fantasy, with spooky-yet-sweet instrumentation (thanks to Alex Scally) that haunts and swoons, and if things sound as promising and as daring as new single, “Norway”, then we’re really going to sleep well in 2010. -MR
Due Out: January 26th via Sub Pop
Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM
One word: Beck. For her third full-length, the French electronic pop singer teamed up with Mr. Beck Hansen, and when we say teamed up we’re talking total collaboration! He wrote the album’s music, co-wrote the lyrics, produced, and mixed the whole thing. And based on a few early listens (hear below), it appears as if IRM will further prove that anything Beck touches turns to gold. -AY
Due Out: January 26th via Because
Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring
Romance Is Boring marks the Welsh outfit’s third effort in just two short years and final with founding member Aleks Campesinos!. Not surprising a culmination of emotions will be on display — “It is a record about the death and decay of the human body, sex, lost love, mental breakdown, football and, ultimately, that there probably isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel,” the band says of the album. Depressing, yes, but the end result should be the Los Campesinos!’s most captivating and developed work to date. -AY
Due Out: January 26th via Arts & Crafts
The Magnetic Fields – Realism
Frontman Stephin Merritt describes his band’s eighth studio album as “my folk album.” This is not surprising considering the effort is said to replace the Psychocandy fixation of the band’s last album, 2008’s Distortion, with a sound informed by “late 1960s/early 70s orchestral and psychedelic folk.” In doing so, Merritt and Co. used no electric instruments in the studio, instead choosing to go with everything from accordions and violins to tubas and nontraditional percussion instruments like tabla and, seriously, tree leaves. Seriously. -AY
Due Out: January 26th via Nonesuch Records
Midlake – The Courage of Others
Tim Smith seems to be somewhat of a musical chameleon. With Midlake, he has created two records with two distinct sets of respective influences. 2004’s Banman and Silvercork was an Elephant 6 style exploration through the kaleidoscope of psych-folk, while 2006’s The Trials of Van Occupanther was a Thom Yorke’d out journey through the 70’s, with hints of Neil Young and America blended in. So what color will Smith and the rest of the Denton, Texas quintet assume with their latest, The Courage of Others? Well, according to an interview Smith did with Pitchfork, we can expect the addition of some old British folk to their jazzed out rock: “We got into British folk. We started listening to Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, and Pentangle; those are the three biggies. Strawbs, Amazing Blondel, a lot of more obscure bands: Yellow Autumn, Windy Corner. A lot of Pentangle. I had never listened to that stuff before. Just like before the previous album, I had never checked out Neil Young or Joni Mitchell or anything. So the same thing sort of happened, but with British folk.” So, this thing is going to be like a depressing meet and greet between Thom Yorke and Nick Drake with some occasional shredding and some weird time changes. Sounds good to me! -DL
Due Out: February 2nd via Bella Union
The Soft Pack – The Soft Pack
We all miss The Strokes. We want back the musical hope they generated back in 2001/2002. And while we may never get that back for a variety of reasons, San Diego rockers The Soft Pack are assuring us that the future of music is sure to be bright. Formerly The Muslims, the surf/garage rock of the foursome is undeniable catchy while maintaining a level of craftsmanship beyond their years and level of experience. The lead single, “Answer To Yourself”, with its sharp guitars and groovetastic bassline, coupled with a message of individualism, all hark back to something way old and something that music needs to move toward. While they’ve already broken big in the UK, the band is gaining notoriety in the States. And expect their debut LP to cause even bigger waves. -CC
Due Out: February 2nd via Kemado
Sade – Soldier of Love
10 years is an eternity in the music industry. Heck, even anything more than a few years and your fans can begin to think you’ve dropped out of the world. But if there’s one act that deserves to wait 10 years between album’s, it’s Sade Adu. Her new album, Soldier of Love, will be the follow up to 2000’s Lovers Rock, and if you think that time has widdled away at her musical prowess, think again. The album’s first single, the title track, is a six minute epic, punctuated by strings and a menacing guitar, with a dance-y, sorrowful vibe that is powered by the sheer agony and lioness tone that is Sade. We’re not usually ones with a great deal of patience, but we’re glad we had a little for Ms. Adu. -CC
Due Out: February 8th via Epic Records
Massive Attack – Heligoland
Robert “3D” Del Naja and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall pulled out all the stops for their first album in six years. Not only did they round up the likes of Blur’s Damon Albarn, Elbow’s Guy Garvey, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Hope Sandoval, Horace Andy, and Martina Topley-Bird to serve as guest contributors, but they teased Heligoland‘s release with the stellar Splitting the Atom EP. Ah, the life and times of perfection. -AY
Due Out: February 9th via Virgin
Hot Chip – One Life Stand
One Life Stand is billed as Hot Chip’s most complete work to date, which is certainly saying something given the fact it will be following up 2008’s critically acclaimed Made in the Dark. To accomplish this feat, the English electro outfit combined soul, modern R&B, “golden age” soul, and “the sounds of Arthur Russell, Prince and Theo Parish.” Eclectic to say the least. -AY
Due Out: February 9th via Astralwerks
Yeasayer – Odd Blood
Yeasayer is no stranger to musical experimentation. But with their newest album, they’re controlling the surge of loops, effects and massive ambiance to deliver an effort that is as streamlined as can be without losing that spirit of innovation. Expect big things for the single “Ambling Alp”. While the video is a NSFW tour de force of naked people, the song itself is pure pop magic. Singer Chris Keating sounds like some voice ripped from an ’80s tape deck, with a beat from an old Big Country track that’s been mutated by heavy synth and effects that feel both artificial and wholly warm and organic at the same time. And despite being a “Middle Eastern-psych-snap-gospel”, the song’s message is way too universal to not appeal to even the most mainstream of tastes. So while the album may have leaked in early December, it shouldn’t do anything to the impact Odd Blood will have on 2010. -CC
Due Out: February 9th via Secretly Canadian
Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
While the debut album of Local Natives was already released in the U.K. back in November, the Los Angeles indie sensations are looking to bring success stateside this coming February. Gorilla Manor‘s namesake proved to a huge influence over the band the last couple years; besides being the source of chaotic energy for them, the house was also where most of the record was written. Featuring the jungle rhythm of first single, “Sun Hands”, and a cover of the Talking Heads’ “Warning Sign”, the end result is an effort that explores obsession with both the miraculous and disastrous. With any luck, Local Natives will return from Europe to find as much fortune in Gorilla Manor as they found within that house. -JM
Due Out: February 16th via Frenchkiss Records
Erykah Badu – New Amerykah, Part II: Return of the Ankh
Badu’s New Amerykah Part I: 4th World War was a huge hit and on the top 10 lists of many critics for 2008. With the pressure on to deliver something even bigger, the Texas born musician is doing away with her sharp wit and socio-political message and making Part II all about what’s going on in her head. “‘Part I was the left side of my thoughts — it was more socially political and my thought process was more analytical,” Badu told Billboard in December. “This time there wasn’t anything to be concerned with — the album is more emotional and flowy and talks about feelings.” Expect lots of live instrumentation and everything from a harp to a Theremin as the album explores songs that Badu has said will also have an underlining rumble to them and will “feel like a hug.” That’s one embrace we’re anxiously awaiting. -CC
Due Out: February 23rd via Universal Motown
Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
Spilling the beans on Arcade Fire’s upcoming project (see below) isn’t the only reason this British folk rock outfit is making headlines these days. Not only was their debut album produced by Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Bjork), but it has already been embraced by our friends across the Atlantic, as evident by the #11 debut chart position and the slew of glowing reviews. Plus, we really liked it as well. Needless to say, a U.S. release is a longtime coming. -AY
Due Out: March 2nd via Glassnote Records
The Ruby Suns – Fight Softly
Different will be the theme of this New Zealand outfit’s third full-length. “With this new album, I just wanted to do something different because doing the same thing would just be boring to me. It’s probably the opposite of what I did for the last one,” explained singer/songwriter Ryan McPhun. As he went on to note, that different is apparently something on the realm of Michael Jackson’s Dangerous. “In the last year or two, I had a break from guitar music. I’ve just been appreciating pop music.” Color us interested. -AY
Due Out: March 2nd via Sub Pop
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
The latest installment in Damon Albarn’s acclaimed project has been in the works since September of 2008. Along the way, he tapped the likes of Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, Mos Def, Bobby Womack, Barry Gibb, and The Horrors to help out. Aside form that (and the sample below), however, we don’t know much more about Plastic Beach, but, according to the band’s unofficial website, we’ll know something come March 8th — the day the album is scheduled to be released. -AY
Due Out: March 8th via Parlophone
The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night
Last time they were a dark horse, now they’re a natural, yet hyperbolic, state of being. Whatever the roaring night may sound like, the Canadian prog-rock masters are sure to deliver something grandiose with their third full-length. The press release for the thing makes it sound like a Bond movie told through harsh strums: “On March 9th, Jagjaguwar will release The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, a twisting chronicle of spies, double agents, novelists and aspiring rock gods turned violent. Loyalty, dishonor, love, and hatred are all seen through the eyes of two spies, communicating through short wave in code and fighting a war that may or may not be real.” What? Yeah, exactly. With a description like that it’s hard to know what to expect sonically, but either way, this thing could be up for an Oscar when it’s all said and done (get it, cause it’s like a movie?). -DL
Due Out: March 9th via Jagjaguwar
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Beat The Devil’s Tattoo
For their fifth studio album Beat The Devil’s Tattoo, their first full length, non-instrumental since 2007’s Baby 81, San Francisco’s dark garage rockers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are releasing the effort on their relatively new Abstract Dragon record label. That means the band is going to be under even closer scrutiny regarding the success or failure of the album. And making matters even more tense, it’s also the first album for new drummer Leah Shapiro. But worry not, as Beat The Devil’s Tattoo is surely going to be a rocking good time — we’re certain of this because the album was written and recorded at The Basement Studio, the same Philadelphia music spot where Howl came to life. And if you’re up to date on your BRMC history, this is the effort that saw the band move in that great new direction. Rock on, folks, rock on. -CC
Due Out: March 9th via Abstract Dragon
Broken Bells – Broken Bells
Earlier this year, James Mercer fired keyboardist Marty Crandall and drummer Jesse Sandoval from the Shins for “aesthetic” reasons. Though it was a pretty dick move on his part — a decision which prompted a lot of head scratching and some reevaluation of Mercer’s character for fans — Mercer may be winning back some listeners with his latest collaboration with super producer/Dark Night of the Soul colleague Danger Mouse. And while Broken Bells may not be the new Shins that Mercer did the firing for, it’s shaping up to be a pretty cool warm-up for what’s to come. Current single “The High Road” has all the uplifting pop qualities of any Shins tune, with some Dangermouse-y anolog synth thrown on top, and if it’s any indication of the rest, we’ll have quite the record. So Mercer, while it may take some time to forgive your egotistical behavior, I can’t say I am not going to listen to your music anymore. Broken Bells may be too good to let grudges get in the way of. -DL
Due Out: March 9th via Columbia
Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks
If you could only use the Scottish quintet’s album titles to describe them (or at least their most recent), alcoholism would certainly be a start. 2008’s The Midnight Organ Fight is surely a reference to late night intoxication, and their forthcoming The Winter of Mixed Drinks can’t really be any more direct. So they like to drink and produce some pretty dreary, yet nonetheless beautiful music. “The theme I’m going for is pushing yourself out to the edge of things and being alone, feeling lost and not knowing where you are, which is how I’ve felt recently. It’s not all fun and games, but hopefully it’ll just be less obviously personal and brutal than the last record. Less oppressive,” explained leadman Scott Hutchinson in an interview with Qmunicate. If we’re lucky, what’s not so fun for these guys will make for one hell of listen for us at home. -DL
Due Out: March 9th via FatCat
Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks
Mr. Leo & crew rely on the past for their Matador Records debut. “It certainly sounds like guys of a certain age who used to be in hardcore bands,” Leo told Rolling Stone. “For better or for worse, I really don’t get mellower politically — it winds up leaving me sometimes to just want to play hardcore. I’m ultimately a better singer than I am a screamer.” Whatever its basis may be, Matador is already proclaiming it’s Leo’s “most confident, kinetic and varied work” to date. -AY
Due Out: March 9th via Matador Records
Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
New Jersey’s favorite lo-fi rockers return with a sophomore studio album that sticks to one particular theme: the Civil War. So, chaos with historical context! Plus, The Monitor will feature some familiar faces, many of whom will be doing some spoken word parts.The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn as Walt Whitman? Vivian Girls’ Cassie Ramone as Jefferson Davis? Need I say more? -AY
Due Out: March 9th via XL Recordings
Goldfrapp – Head First
Goldfrapp is one of those bands that has always been well received if nothing else. The only catch is that the Alison Goldfrapp-led electro group has worked under the radar of many people, which is for the best for their unique sound and public image. But after collaborating with Christina Aguilera on her new album, Goldfrapp and Co. are surely going to gain even more attention than before. And there’s no better way to parlay that then with a new album entitled Head First. Described in press releases as “Goldfrapp’s most powerful trip to date, a speedy rush of synth optimism, euphoria, fantasy and romance”, the album’s first single, “Rocket”, drops in early March. And with this being third third album in five years, on top of an always heavy touring schedule, Goldfrapp could have a truly golden 2010. -CC
Due Out: March 23rd via Mute Records
Jónsi Birgisson – Go
Being the lead of the Icelandic post-rock group Sigur Rós, Jónsi Birgisson has the weight of the indie music world on his shoulders as he prepares to release his new solo album, Go. But like the collaborative efforts that have marked his career, Birgisson isn’t going this alone. To begin with, the album’s production work is in the capable hands of Peter Katis, a man who sports names like The National and Interpol on his resume. Plus, Birgisson has enlisted his boyfriend and part-time collaborator Alex Somers, who, as a visual artist, is sure to add a unique visual aspect to the album. The sound of the album, though, should be able to handle the pressure all on its own. According to a May 26, 2009 post on the Sigur Rós site, the album will feature string and acoustic compositions and arrangements by composer Nico Muhly. Sounds like music to our ears. -CC
Due Out: March 23rd via XL Recordings
She & Him – Volume Two
Indie’s favorite boy-girl duo returns for the much anticipated followup to 2008’s Volume One. On this particular endeavor, M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel took a similar “organic approach,” but came up with a different type of sound. “I think that the dark shades that were on the last record are maybe a little bit darker on the new record, and the brighter shades on the last record are a little bit brighter on the new record,” Ward told Paste Magazine. “I think that people are going to hear more contrasts.” Of course, nothing can be too dark when Ms. Deschanel is involved. (Queue obligatory wink.) -AY
Due Out: March 23rd via Merge
LCD Soundsystem – TBA
We know about as much about LCD Soundsystem’s third LP now as we did back in October. So, we’ll just re-paste what we wrote then: The yet-to-be untitled affair will apparently hit stores sometime in March, feature the artistic talents of Ruvan Wijesooriya, graphic designing of Mike Vandino, and mastering of Shellac’s Bob Weston, be supported by an extensive world tour, and be headed by a single that will be available as both a digital download and vinyl. As for a description of the actual content, frontman/creative genius James Murphy noted to goldcoast.com.au it is “different than Sound Of Silver and certainly different than the first one … It still sounds very much like us, like James. It’s maybe slower and it’s kind of got some more rock stuff back in it. It also has a bunch of disco influences.” -AY
Due Out: March via DFA
Interpol – TBA
There’s no title, release date, or even YouTube videos of new songs. But the boys of Interpol have confirmed that their fourth LP will see light sometime in early 2010. And based on recent comments, we have absolutely no idea what to expect. “The new record falls back towards the first,” drummer Sam Fogarino explained to Paste in November, an assessment which would be shot down by frontman Paul Banks just a few weeks later. “What we’ve worked on is a real step forward and just very different and very relaxed in what we’re doing,” Banks told BBC before noting “I don’t even know what [Fogarino]’s talking about.” Just make it good, boys. -AY
Due Out: Early 2010 via Capitol
U2 – Songs of Ascent
Considering how packed 2009 was for U2 and how much is already on the plate for this coming year, one would think Bono and Co. would take it easy when it comes to new projects. Well, I guess someone forgot to remind the acclaimed Irish outfit of this. Tentatively titled Songs of Ascent, the album is believed to be more meditative than it’s predecessor, last year’s No Line On The Horizon, and will be made up of leftover material from the last album’s sessions as well as new songs currently being worked on in New York. According to Bono, the release will be headed by its first single, a surging anthem titled “Every Breaking Wave”. Hopefully, it’ll give U2 the hit that eluded them last year. Plus, at the very least, the album should be a treat to fans used to long waits between records from the Irish rockers. -JM
Due Out: Mid-2010 via Mercury/Interscope
The Thermals – Double Negative
Despite nearly 10 years as a band and the recent finalization of its lineup as a trio, don’t expect The Thermals fourth studio album (which is under the working title Double Negative) to be anything less than energetic and confrontational. In fact, this time around they’re going after the ruiner of lives and the creator of pop music: Love. “It’s hard to be in love with someone. If there’s a theme to this record, it’s that,” lead singer and guitarist Hutch Harris told Paste Magazine back in December 2009. “A lot of the songs are pretty brutal lyrically. It’s really negative thoughts about love and relationships.” And while the chaos and fury that is their bright and energetic form of power-punk is sure to remain, the band also promises to kick it hard ala Thin Lizzy and ZZ Top. Take that, love. -CC
Due Out: September 7th via Kill Rock Stars
Red Hot Chili Peppers – TBA
They already have a new guitarist and, soon enough, the acclaimed rock outfit will have a new album as well. Back in October, drummer Chad Smith told Clash Magazine that the yet-to-be-titled followup to 2006’s Stadium Arcadium “could be finished “Some time next year, maybe this time [next year].” Yeah, it sounded too good to be true at the time, but the band is said to be currently held up in the studio, meaning, that fantasy seems to be becoming more and more like a reality. -AY
Due Out: Late 2010 via Warner Bros.
Eminem – Relapse 2
2009 was a big year for Eminem. Relapse was his first record since 2004’s Encore, and while 2009 could have also seen the release of yet another Eminem record in the form of Relapse 2, we’re not even the slightest bit upset its been pushed back into the void of 2010. Of course, how could we not be upset? Em has promised this record to be a more “emotionally driven” effort than Relapse was. Despite this being in the public eye for the longest time, there’s not too many details to get excited about. Expect “The Warning”, a Mariah Carey diss track, a collabo with 50 Cent and production by the likes of Dr. Dre and Just Blaze. Even without too many details, we still can’t wait for Mr. Mathers to pour his heart out and undoubtedly rock us while scaring the crap out of us. Just don’t keep us waiting too much longer, please. -CC
Due Out: 2010 via Shady Records
Arcade Fire – TBA
Little is known about the year’s most awaited new album. All we do know is that it is due out sometime in 2010, Neon Bible‘s Markus Dravs will again be handling the production, and that it will probably be quite good. “I keep asking Markus how it’s going and he’s like, ‘Yeah, it’s okay’,” Mumford and Sons’ Marcus Mumford explained in a recent interview. “And I’m like, ‘What are the songs like?’ And he goes, ‘Better’.” -AY
Due Out: 2010 via Merge
Other Albums You’ll Probably Want to Buy:
- Of Montreal – False Priest: It’s been in the works for a while now, so expect that “psychedelic” album sometime in 2010. Perhaps as soon as August or September.
- The National – Vintage Rifles (?): The band teased us last summer by debuting material off the much anticipated 2007’s Boxer. Spring 2010 looks to be the time that anticipation will turn into reality.
- The Dead Weather – TBA: Jack White’s new crew spent the holidays recording the followup to last year’s Horehound. According to frontwoman Alison Mosshart, the yet-to-be-titled effort, which will be a self-produced and self-recorded affair, will likely come out sometime soon.
- Fleet Foxes – TBA: According to frontman Robin Pecknold, the Seattle outfit’s second full-length will “definitely” be out in 2010.
- The Avalanches – TBA: Word on the street is that 2010 will finally be the year the acclaimed electro outfit follows up 2000’s Since I Left You.
- Sufjan Stevens – TBA: Stevens’ label, Asthmatic Kitty, says there are no plans for a 2010 release, but if his Fall 2009 tour was any indication, a new studio album is on the way. He was debuting songs for pete’s sake!
- Cat Power – TBA: Ms. Chan Marshall is working on a brand new effort all by herself.
- Joanna Newsom – TBA: Another album we know nothing about other than that it is coming.
- The Strokes – TBA: The band hasn’t even confirmed that a new album is coming, but we can still hope.
- R.E.M. – TBA: Michael Stipe and Co. are currently hauled up in the studio working on album #15.
- Kanye West – TBA: As he revealed just yesterday, the Chicago rapper is working on something.
- Nine Inch Nails – TBA: “Sorry I haven’t been around much lately, I’ve been working on not working for a couple of months, which for me is hard work. 2010 has a number of things planned including new material from nine inch nails.”
- Radiohead – TBA: – Duh.