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The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

on January 07, 2014, 8:00pm
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Artwork by Cap Blackard (Buy prints + more)

From Daft Punk to David Bowie, Arcade Fire to Kanye West, 2013 was really one for the history books. What could possibly be left to look forward to in 2014? A lot, actually. Here’s a list of 50 albums worth anticipating, plus even more honorable mentions. And just like we had no idea what was coming this time last year, the same will probably be said this time next year. Radiohead, we’re looking at you.

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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks – Wig Out at Jagbags

Release date: January 7th via Matador Records

Stephen Malkmus consistently enthralls listeners with caustic rhythms and tongue-in-cheek rhymes. The Jicks’ sixth record, Wig Out at Jagbags, finds the band in less adult-angsty territory, following a move to Berlin, and with the responsibilities of a family in tow. While far less sprawling than previous Jicks and Pavement records, Malkmus’s wry sense of humor is thankfully far from curbed, his vocals still commanding, lyrics frustratingly intelligent, and thrash-and-release guitars familiar. You can never quarantine the past, indeed. -Paula Mejia

Listen: “Cinnamon and Lesbians”

Buy: Amazon

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Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Release date: January 21st via Total Treble Music

Laura Jane Grace bares it all on Transgender Dysphoria Blues, recounting the eponymous disorder that she’s coped with since a young age. We’ve already heard acoustic versions of four songs off the album, and they’re courageous recordings, putting into song what she felt during her gender transition. It’s still Against Me!, with snarling punk guitars and fist-pumping hooks, but these songs reflect on a conflict that’s intensely personal — one of pain and triumph that we can’t begin to comprehend. But we can listen to this album, try to understand, and empathize. -Jon Hadusek

Listen: “FUCKMYLIFE666”

Buy: Amazon

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Warpaint – Warpaint

Release date: January 21st via Rough Trade Records

The Los Angeles-based quartet Warpaint have been quiet since the release of 2010’s mesmerizing The Fool, but the psych-femme fatales are back with their self-titled effort via Rough Trade. Warpaint picks up where The Fool left off, with spellbinding rhythms, striking guitars where shoegaze, electronic, and post-punk merge, and ominous loops that stick in your heart and head. If heady single “Biggy” is any indication, the best of 2014 lists might come earlier than expected. -Paula Mejia

Listen: “Biggy”

Buy: Amazon

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Dum Dum Girls – Too True

Release date: January 28th via Sub Pop Records

Expectations for the January release of Too True, the third studio album from Dum Dum Girls, were whetted by anthemic single “Lost Boys and Girls Club”. Dee Dee Penny fronts up in a kind of H&M meets S&M post-Garden of Eden set with a compelling vocal channeling the likes of Pat Benatar. Penny’s hiatus to allow her vocal chords to heal from the effects of excessive touring has enabled her to direct her creative energies fully into the new recordings. The song itself gives a strong hint of what should follow on the full album: dreamy yet guitar heavy, a bigger, ’80s-rooted, more mid-tempo sound. Producers Richard Gottehrer and The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner were again at the helm, while recordings were spread across Penny’s New York apartment and Hollywood’s East West Studios and Chateau Marmont. -Tony Hardy

Listen: “Lost Boys and Girls Club”

Buy: Amazon

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Freddie Gibbs and Madlib – Piñata

Release date: February 4th via Madlib Invazion

Madlib, whether self-prefixing his project titles or no, has been as reliable as they come in his chosen field. Freddie Gibbs is too, but the California producer and the Indiana rapper have rarely overlapped stylistically, with the former loving sample-heavy jigsaw beats and the latter sticking with more rugged G-rap sounds. But after the pair dropped “Thuggin’” — the 2012 single that quickly became Gibbs’ most-viewed YouTube clip, though the song was as positively ominous and detailed as the video — there was no question they were compatible. The guest-heavy Piñata, originally given the absurdist title Cocaine Piñata, will include appearances by Ab-Soul, Earl Sweatshirt, Raekwon, Danny Brown, and others. The album has been in the works for more than two years, so if you think there’s a chance that it’ll be a mere footnote in either artist’s prolific career, think again. -Mike Madden

Listen: “Thuggin'”

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Sunn O))) & Ulver – Terrestrials

Release date: February 4th via Southern Lord

Sunn O))) and Ulver have been close, dating at least as far back as when the Norwegian black metal unit worked together on a track in the sessions for Sunn’s 2003 album, White1. That longstanding friendship is now set to culminate in a collaborative album called Terrestrials, the bone-shakingly resonant drone metal outfit and the black metal folkloric Norsemen teaming up for three improv-based tracks of what’s sure to be glacial guitar, tectonic bass, purple organ chords, and some epic vocals from Ulver’s Garm. A three-minute excerpt of “Eternal Return” tends to the airy side, scraping hiss and sterling strings, but with these two, there’s no doubt there’s some darkness and weight around the corner. -Adam Kivel

Listen: “Eternal Return” (Excerpt)

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Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness

Release date: February 18th via Jagjaguwar

Angel Olsen’s second studio album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, promises to explore new territory for the folksinger. It’s her first album with the support of a bigger label like Jagjaguwar, and lead single “Forgiven/Forgotten” sees the singer incorporating more grunge and electronic, fuzzy noise into her typically whispery tunes. Olsen’s turn to a harder, edgier sound on this album is reminiscent of the way that Sharon Van Etten incorporated more electric elements into Tramp, and it’ll be interesting to see how Olsen shapes her sound given resources beyond an acoustic guitar. Part of that transition involves having worked with John Congleton (The Walkmen, Modest Mouse, Okkervil River). -Caitlin White

Listen: “Forgiven/Forgotten”

Buy: Amazon

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Phantogram – Voices

Release date: February 18th via Republic Records

It’s been some time since Phantogram released their debut album, 2010’s Eyelid Movies. And while the New York electro-pop duo haven’t exactly been dormant since then — there was the 2011 Nightlife EP, collaborations with Big Boi and The Flaming Lips, and a recent spot on The Hunger Games soundtrack — a proper follow-up to fully showcase their growth over the years seems well overdue. Judging by the latest singles, “Black Out Days” and “Fall in Love”, both buzzing dazzlers built with a gritty, solid grasp of pop and even hip-hop, Phantogram have refined, but also welcomed refreshing new elements into their craft. Is four years too long to wait for a full-length? Not if it sounds like this. -Michelle Geslani

Listen: “Black Out Days”

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MØ – No Mythologies to Follow

Release date: February 24th via Chess Club/RCA Victor

For Danish electro-pop act Karen Marie Ørsted, a.k.a. , 2013 was a whirlwind of buzz-worthy success. Singles like “Glass”, “Never Wanna Know“, the Diplo-aided “XXX 88”, and “Waste of Time” (one of our favorite songs of the year, in fact) were ravaging and ravishing beat-heavy numbers that loudly announced she had officially arrived in all her stylish, DGAF glory. Now, her debut full-length — recorded and produced by No Wav’s Ronni Vindahl in Copenhagen — is poised not only to put both MØ and her appetite for pulverizing, unconventional anthems on the map, but on a path towards a more permanent stay beyond the fleeting, flavor-of-the-month hype. -Michelle Geslani

Listen: “XXX 88” feat. Diplo

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ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron

Release date: February 25th via TDE/Interscope

ScHoolboy Q will be the first of the Black Hippies to step up to the plate following Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city — a year and a half later. But when we’re talking about a rapper as forward-minded as Quincy Hanley, the wait is forgiven. Though his activity was sporadic, the 27-year-old had a solid 2013, starting with the incantatory “Yay Yay”, continuing with the paleontological rumble of “Collard Greens”, and then capping things with the November sleeper “Man of the Year”. But, according to the increasingly trustworthy Mac Miller, among enthusiastic others who have heard Oxymoron, “It’s better than Kendrick’s album,” so we can expect that another wave of listeners will flock to Q soon. Scheduled to make appearances on Oxymoron, a concept album about Los Angeles gang history, are Kendrick, A$AP Rocky, Ab-Soul, and Danny Brown. Production comes from Boi-1da, Pharrell, The Alchemist, and J. Cole. -Mike Madden

Listen: “Man of the Year”

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St. Vincent – St. Vincent

Release date: February 25th via Loma Vista/Republic

The opening line of “Birth in Reverse”, the first track from Annie Clark’s forthcoming self-titled, goes, “Oh what an ordinary day/ Take out the garbage, masturbate.” Considering the musician once told Denver Westward that she likes “when things come out of nowhere and blindside you a little bit,” we shouldn’t be surprised, and if the rest of her 11-track record sounds anything like that frantic, fuzzy track, we’re in for a treat. According to the album’s press release, Clark recorded it in Dallas with Dap-Kings drummer Homer Steinweiss and Midlake percussionist McKenzie Smith and with former producer John Congleton (Modest Mouse, The Mountain Goats) at the helm of the process yet again. Clark has called the album “a party record you could play at a funeral,” so stay tuned for a catchy, morbid, wholly unique St. Vincent experience come February. -Amanda Koellner

Listen: “Birth in Reverse”

Buy: Amazon

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Beck – Morning Phase

Release date: February via Capitol Records

The 43-year-old Beck Hansen attributes the six-year gap between albums (his last, Modern Guilt, came out in 2008) to two main ailments. One, he’s been dealing with a debilitating back problem that has kept him from touring. The other is, well, the modern music industry, which he’s dissed for its streaming service sins and lack of emphasis on sound quality. So, he’s turning back the clock to the digital era’s earlier days and reviving an old approach. Billed as a companion piece (but not a sequel) to 2002’s Sea Change, the 12-song Morning Phase is inspired by the “California sound,” as Hansen told Rolling Stone recently. “I’m hearing the Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, Gram Parsons, Neil Young — the bigger idea of what that sound is to me.” -Mike Madden

Listen: “Wave” (live)

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 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits

Release date: March 4th via Sacred Bones Records

The Men have reliably delivered an album a year since 2010’s self-released Immaculada, each with an equally reliable progression of the band’s sound. The hardcore ’70s punk of Leave Home got softened by Americana/guitar rock on Open Your Heart, a sound The Men fully embraced on New Moon. From the live samplings we’ve heard of Tomorrow’s Hits, it appears they’re continuing to roll with New Moon’s style, and that’s not a bad thing. Still, there’s a good chance the tunes will surprise on record; the rockers have promised their “highest fidelity album to date,” having tracked it live over two days at Brooklyn’s Strange Weather studios. Oh yeah, and then there’s that horn section they brought along. The Men are three-for-three with major releases, and there’s no reason to expect that trend to stop. -Ben Kaye

Listen: “Dark Waltz” (live)

Buy: Amazon

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Liars – TBA

Release date: March via Mute Records

A big theme of Liars’ career arc is their willingness to evolve, and with their yet-untitled seventh album, recorded at their private studio in Los Angeles, the New York rock trio of Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill, and Julian Gross revised their agenda again. Humbly bragging in a statement that the recording process of 2011’s Top Star-earning WIXIW was “doubtful,” the making of the new LP was, in accordance with new songs “I Saw You from the Lifeboat” and “Perfume Tear”, “immediate, fun, instinctual and confident.” For a veteran band that presumably knows what they’re talking about by now, that’s a description we’ll take any day. -Mike Madden

Listen: New song (live)

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The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

Release date: March 18th via Secretly Canadian

Former War on Drugs member Kurt Vile enjoyed a critically adorned 2013, while his former bandmates continued to work on their new album up and down the northeast. Adam Granduciel and Co.’s goal of following up their own well-received record (2011’s Slave Ambient) as well as dealing with inevitable comparisons to Vile (see: this write-up) would be no easy task. However, if Lost in the Dream’s “Red Eyes” is indicative of anything, it’s that the Philadelphia outlet is taking their influences (the Boss, Dylan) and forming a unit that goes deeper than simply being a band. “I wanted there to be a singular voice, but I wanted it to be a project of great friends. Everyone in the band cares about it so much,” Granduciel explained. “That is the crux of it — growing up, dealing with life, having close friends, helping each other get by. That is what the record’s all about.” March can’t come soon enough. –Justin Gerber

Listen: “Red Eyes”

Buy: Amazon

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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – TBA

Release date: April

The admirably named NY combo The Pains of Being Pure at Heart sprung into life in October with a single featuring covers of “Jeremy” (The Magnetic Fields) and “My Life Is Wrong” (East River Pipe), signifying its first new cuts since the release of Belong. Then, in December, a strangely belated video for that 2011 album’s title track appeared, coinciding with an Instagram of frontman Kip Berman, guitar in hand, flanked by musical equipment, captioned, “In London finishing LP3 with @andy_savours.” Berman was also pictured at Danny Taylor’s NY House Under Magic studio back in the summer. Enigmatic stuff so far, but maybe there’s a clue in another Instagram showing percussion instruments with the caption “2009: fuzz pedals & reverb. 2013: rain stick & shells.” So, expect less fuzz, less shoegaze, more ethnic percussion? We’re intrigued. -Tony Hardy
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Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour

Release date: May 26th via Capitol Records

21-year-old British crooner Sam Smith elevated his profile after he smashed the vocals on Disclosure’s massive single “Latch”, with his booming and personality-heavy tenor making the track. If his Nirvana EP and the accompanying album trailer are any indication, his debut, In the Lonely Hour, is going to be chock-full of anthemic bangers, hook-heavy love songs, and soulful affectation. Now, with a BRITs Critics Choice award and a BBC Sound of 2014 poll nomination under his belt, Smith is poised to make a loud statement with his debut album. The lead single from In the Lonely Hour, “Money on My Mind”, will be released on February 16th 2014. –Josh Terry

Listen: “Money on My Mind”

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Cloud Nothings – TBA

Release date: Spring via Carpark Records

Cloud Nothings frontman Dylan Baldi has promised that the band’s untitled fourth album will be more noisy and less melodic than its predecessors. But, judging from the live performances of new song “Psychic Trauma”, we think he means more noisy and more melodic. Chalk up the modesty to Baldi’s polite Ohio roots. Regardless of the noise-to-melody ratio, we’re excited simply because Cloud Nothings is a band that’s evolved with every album, while still staying in its wheelhouse of ’90s scuzz. “Psychic Trauma” and the song intros heard in their album trailer all hint at the fanged cageyness of Attack on Memory, with rougher production and more time signatures. Anyone who was lucky enough to score tickets to their show at Rough Trade NYC can hear all of it live on January 16th. The rest of us will have to wait until the album drops. Although an official release date hasn’t been announced, the thing’s in the can, so we’re expecting it to be soon. –Dan Caffrey

Listen: “Psychic Trauma” (live)

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EMA – The Future’s Void

Release date: Spring via Matador Records

Erika M. Anderson is preparing a schizophrenic soundscape with her sophomore album, The Future’s Void, challenging our dependence on technology, and as her new label says (via new track “Satellites”), may introduce “us to some […] metaphysical themes, of struggling to understand where we fit in the digital age and where we are all headed.” “Satellites”, while still displaying powerful songwriting akin to her (quieter) debut, Past Life Martyred Saints, features an unofficial video of shaking television and paranoid glitch. The intensity works excellently for this single, so here’s to hoping there’s more of that on her upcoming record. -Zander Porter

Listen: “Satellites”

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lily allen The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Lily AllenTBA

Release date: Spring

After a lengthy hiatus and two pregnancies, UK pop singer Lily Allen made a valiant comeback in November with the single “Hard Out Here”, a biting commentary on celebrity culture and the subjectification of women. It was the last great song of 2013 (to go along with her cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know”, which hit No. 1 in the UK earlier), and Allen carries that momentum into the new year. Her untitled third studio album comes after 2009’s It’s Not Me, It’s You and is expected to drop sometime in the Spring. -Jon Hadusek

Listen: “Hard Out Here”

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The New Pornographers – TBA

Release date: Spring via Matador Records

All three of The New Pornographers’ marquee members (bandleaders A.C. Newman and Neko Case and multi-instrumentalist Dan Bejar of Destroyer) are fresh off a good-to-great recent solo album, and though there were reasonable inconsistencies among them, each proved its veteran creator still capable of at least one damn-near-perfect song per outing. Granted, we don’t know much else about their proper follow-up to 2010’s Together, but by all visible indications, the stars are aligning for a more inspired LP this round — personal lives accounted for as well. “I think half of the next New Pornographers record is going to be songs that I’m singing to my child,” Newman told Pitchfork before the release of his own Shut Down the Streets. “If my material seems more simplified and sing-song-y, that will be my excuse.” Don’t lend too much weight to that last word he used just yet. -Steven Arroyo
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Real Estate – TBA

Release date: Spring via Domino Records

As SPIN aptly put it, “Real Estate Sounds Like Real Estate in New Album Teaser Video.” Works for us. Not all bands can pull off the same trick again and again, but we’ve yet to grow tired of the New Jersey outfit’s penchant for dreamy beach rock and crystalline guitar solos. It’s a sound that captures the true Jersey Shore, a place far more majestic than most of the American public realizes. Although it would be appropriate for the band’s third album to drop in the summer, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for sometime before March. That’s when we really need their signature brand of sonic sunshine. –Dan Caffrey
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Wye Oak – TBA

Release date: Spring via Merge Records

Wye Oak’s Civilian was one of the finest rock records of 2011, a moody, textured wash of melancholic guitars and Jenn Wasner’s ambiguous vocals. For good reason, the Baltimore outfit supported the album with a massive tour, but may have burned out a bit in the process. “(Touring) tainted the guitar for me,” she said, “and I was finding it really, really hard to get anything out of it from a writing perspective.” So, she switched to the bass for Wye Oak’s forthcoming LP, which won’t have any guitars. It’s always a bold move when a band ditches their key instrument: Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The intrigue is inviting, though. -Jon Hadusek
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Charli XCX – SuperLove

Release date: June

After gracing us with killer pop singles such as “Nuclear Seasons”, “(You) Ha Ha Ha”, and Icona Pop’s esteemed hit “I Love It”, we’re expecting big things from 21-year-old Charli XCX on her third studio album. Little has been revealed about the record, except the video for the addicting lead single “SuperLove”, which features Charli frolicking with friends and robots amidst the neon lights of Tokyo. Given the success of True Romance in 2013 and her partiality to telling it like it is, she’s likely to deliver more husky vocals, catchy hooks, some lyrics about love, and a whole lot of “fuck you.” -Danielle Janota

Listen: “SuperLove”

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Fucked Up – TBA

Release date: June

It’s been three years since the release of Fucked Up’s impressive concept album David Comes to Life, but the Toronto hardcore act has big plans for 2014. The next installment in their Zodiac single series, “Year of the Dragon”, will receive a vinyl release in the spring, followed by their new LP “inside the frame” of June, according to the band’s website. Knowing the band’s fascination with the recent adventures of the “hallowed Toronto punk scene,” maybe they’ll uncover a new tale in its most hard-hitting form yet. -Sam Willett
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Belle and Sebastian – TBA

Release date: Late Summer / Fall via Matador

Belle and Sebastian came back last summer with a triumphant headlining set at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, along with other festival dates and a string of headlining shows with Yo La Tengo. In concert, they sounded amazing, backed by a full string section and the intense adoration of their fans. Rolling through favorites like “I’m a Cuckoo”, “Stars of Track & Field”, and “Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying” reignited the spark that made everyone love Belle & Sebastian in the first place. Though they released the compilation rarities disc The Third Eye Centre last year, those b-sides may not be enough to tide us over until the mid-to-late 2014 release of their as-yet-untitled follow-up to 2010’s Write about Love. -Josh Terry

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Built to Spill – TBA

Release date: TBA

Since the early ’90s, Built to Spill have gifted us with some of the wittiest and most winsome wordplay in indie rock. Always poignant and utterly precise, it makes sense that Doug Martsch and the gang have waited five years since the release of 2009’s There Is No Enemy to release a follow-up record. Although information has been limited, we’re sure the band’s eighth studio record will be well worth the wait. -Paula Mejia

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Damon Albarn – TBA

Release date: TBA

In November, we shared the news that Damon Albarn had announced Africa Express — a collaborative album that includes contributions from the likes of Nick Zinner and Brian Eno paired with Mali musicians — but last month, Albarn revealed this was not his only current project. The Gorillaz/Blur/The Good, the Bad, and the Queen frontman has had a prolific career thus far; however, he has yet to release a solo album. That changes in 2014. Though the details are still forthcoming, Albarn has told interviewers it’s a “sort of folk soul” concept that he created with the help of XL Recordings’ Richard Russell. As far as media, all he’s shared is this enigmatic, 20-second-long teaser video shot from what appears to be the studio and featuring an icy piano chord over pulsating electronics. Just enough to whet our appetites. -Katrina Nattress

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death cab for cutie The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Death Cab for Cutie – TBA

Release date: TBA

Now that frontman Ben Gibbard is finished fulfilling dreams of a Postal Service reunion, there are other indie rock institutions to attend to. Back in October, Billboard reported that Death Cab for Cutie were back in the studio to work on the follow-up to 2010’s Codes and Keys. The well is dry as far as further details on the album, but the best source to watch might just be the band’s Instagram. After all, that’s basically where this started — a pic of a rack of guitars captioned: “Paintbrushes. #inthestudio #deathcab.” From Oct. 10th to the 28th, it was all filters and tilt shift, pedals and faders. And, if you’ve got a burgeoning interest in Death Cab footwear, they covered that, too. -Erin Carson
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the decemberists The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

The Decemberists – TBA

Release date: TBA

Colin Meloy, the perpetually bespectacled frontman of The Decemberists, revealed last November that he had started “to dabble with [new] Decemberists stuff. We’ve been hanging out, and I’ve been writing new material specifically for the band, so I expect sometime in the fairly near future that there will be a Decemberists record.” Meloy toured solo last year, and during a stop in Chicago our own Randall Colburn managed to catch two sneak peeks of potentially new Decemberists songs, including the “surefire single” that is “Philomena”, as well as “Why Would I?”, which Randy described as “more in line with The King Is Dead musically, but bears echoes of Picaresque lyrically.” Sounds good on all fronts, but will the prettiest whistles finally wrestle the thistles undone this time around? –Justin Gerber
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FKA Twigs – TBA

Release date: TBA

As a former model and dancer, FKA Twigs has transformed her former image of feminine beauty into a dark and revenge-loaded R&B enigma. Her embrace of pain in love and vicious revenge makes her a dominant and intimidating voice, one that is surely unique. Twigs developed that concept through two EPs last year, EP and EP2, and achieved some exciting hype around singles like “Papi Pacify” and “Water Me”, both of which were produced by Yeezus collaborator Arca. Such a response has invigorated “the confidence to be more brave, to push the boundaries further,” as stated in a recent interview, so we’re excited to delve into the emotional Pandora’s box that will be her LP in 2014. -Sam Willett

Listen: “Papa Pacify”

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Fleet Foxes – TBA

Release date: TBA

Although Robin Pecknold indicated that Fleet Foxes would be on a fairly long hiatus after the release of their sophomore album, Helplessness Blues, in 2011, recent activity in the Foxes’ camp suggests a new release in 2014. A few uploaded photos on their Facebook indicate that the band is working on music, and in October, Pecknold appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to cover a song by Pearl Jam (off the band’s third album, Vitalogy, no less). Sure, the group’s longtime drummer, Josh Tillman, has defected to pursue his own alter ego in Father John Misty, but Pecknold has always been the heart of the harmony-bound trio. A third Fleet Foxes album could easily serve as a departure from some of the more folksy sounds of the group, though. Remember the jazzy breakdown in the middle of “The Shrine/An Argument”? The backlash against Mumford and Sons might also deter the Foxes from returning with another completely acoustic palette. This would be a pivotal album from a group who have established themselves as purveyors of the Northwest’s folk revival. -Caitlin White
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flying lotus herbie The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Flying Lotus – TBA

Release date: TBA

Despite being involved in far too many music projects to keep track of, Steven Ellison a.k.a. Flying Lotus is somehow ready to drop yet another studio album in 2014. The follow-up to 2012’s unique Until the Quiet Comes, Ellison’s next record is currently without a title or release date. However, he has answered many fan questions via Twitter about some of the album’s themes and features. He’s confirmed working with jazz legend Herbie Hancock and that he’s currently unsigned, used Ableton, and may follow his 2012 idea by debuting the album at Coachella. We also know that “it will b kind of jarring at first.” Stay tuned. – Zander Porter
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Foo Fighters – TBA

Release date: TBA

The highly anticipated follow-up to 2011’s superb Wasting Light has already been written. It’s just waiting to be recorded “in a way that no one’s ever done before,” according to Mr. Dave Grohl. What the hell does that mean? I let my imagination run wild on a few possibilities last August, but we’ve yet to get any sort of confirmation. They didn’t even play any new material at their Mexico City gigs this past December, which means they’re really holding back the surprises. Shouldn’t be too long, as Grohl said it himself: “I think next year is going to be a really big year for the Foo Fighters without question.” And if you know these guys, they don’t wait too long to party once the proverbial cat’s out of the big. When they’re ready, you’ll know it, whether you like it or not. -Michael Roffman

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Frank Ocean – TBA

Release date: TBA

After the success of his solo debut, 2012’s wildly popular, year-defining Channel Orange, Frank Ocean toyed with the idea of quitting music altogether in favor of writing. That notion soon ceased to exist, as he’s since appeared on songs by the likes of John Mayer, Beyoncé, and Jay Z. In a December 2012 GQ profile on Ocean, collaborator Pharrell described three of the singer’s new tracks as “crazy, with a lot of comprehensive layers just sort of living harmoniously.” And, nearly a year ago, Ocean told Zane Lowe of his sophomore release, “I’m like 10, 11 songs into this thing. It’s another cohesive thing bordering on a concept album again.” According to the singer, that concept stems from the beach scene set in Channel Orange bonus track “Golden Girl”, and he planned to record in Bora Bora to capture that feel. The 26-year-old singer has also mentioned that this “thing” will likely hit our speakers “when summer comes ‘round again,” which just feels right given the thematic direction and his debut’s July release back in 2012. -Amanda Koellner
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saturday.acl .grimes.15 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Grimes – TBA

Release date: TBA

Really, we have no way of knowing if 2014 will be the next Year of Grimes. Claire Boucher might keep us waiting until 2015, or 2016, or the very last year before certain apocalypse. We’d still greet her fourth album with the same rabies, because while imitators abound, no one else can bubble with Grimes’ electro-pop fizz. A noted perfectionist, Boucher dives into the studio for infamously long stretches, sealing herself from the world to commune directly with God while she tracks — or so she says. Honestly, we believe it. We do know that G-IV will be more polished and professional than anything she’s done to date, a far cry from her early days of using GarageBand and a laptop mic. But, we’re sure that doesn’t mean ironing out her quirks. -Sasha Geffen
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the walkmen hamilton The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Hamiliton Leithauser – TBA

Release date: TBA

The sudden disbanding of a band as reliable and ever-present as The Walkmen was something of a shock when the announcement came at the end of November. Perhaps we should have seen the signs coming, since several members had already announced plans for work outside of the band. And that should be a comfort to us, especially when it comes to the prospect of a solo album from frontman Hamilton Leithauser. For all their myriad qualities, the band’s most recognizable characteristic was Leithauser’s unique rasping, growling, crooning, and always-impassioned voice. To see where he might take those idiosyncratic tones next is a surprise that all fans of The Walkmen should be anticipating. And a very nice surprise it seems set to be, as he has enlisted help on the album from the likes of Vampire Weekend’s musical mastermind Rostam Batmanglij, Richard Swift, Fleet Foxes’ Morgen Henderson, and even his former bandmate Paul Maroon. That lineup promises an interesting array of something both familiar and entirely new (Swift’s Vine posts from the studio intriguingly reveal the use of xylophone and upright bass), and in 2014 we’ll find out just what they’ve concocted. -Rob Hakimian
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Joanna Newsom – TBA

Release date: TBA

It’s been nearly four years since Joanna Newsom’s masterful Have One on Me, and we’re getting desperate, man. But, if there’s one thing Newsom can teach us, it’s patience, a quality the elfin harpist has in spades, both in her craft and in the fabric of her music, which is often layered and sprawling. She’s been quietly testing new material since 2012, teasing fanboys with the crystalline plucks, vocal gymnastics, and pastoral whimsy that’s defined so much of her work. And they sound of a piece with her catalogue, these new songs, familiar yet distinct, laced with the kind of confidence one earns by bucking the hype machine and focusing on craft. “Look and Despair” channels Have One on Me standout “Good Intentions Paving Company” by way of Elton John, while “The Diver’s Wife”, with its talk of ringing pails and dislodged sand, hearkens back to the scholarly fantasy of The Milk-Eyed Mender. Sure, it’s been four years, but the moment you hear a lyric like “the cause is Ozymandian,” it will be like no time has passed at all. -Randall Colburn

Listen: “Look and Despair” (live)

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julian casablancas The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Julian Casablancas – Voidz

Release date: TBA

Now that The Strokes have fulfilled their contract with RCA, Julian Casablancas is throwing the feathers and leathers back on for another run at a solo album. Last fall, the fab frontman confirmed solo performances at Lollapalooza’s trio of South American festivals, as well as Colombia’s Estereo Picnic. Then, his website was updated to suggest his follow-up to 2009’s Phrazes for the Young will presumably be titled, Voidz. Then again, it could be a single. Or, it could just be another Los Angeles BBQ joint. Odds are it’s his sophomore LP, and given his updated rolodex of pals — ahem, Daft Punk, HAIM, and The Lonely Island — this one could be a winner right “Out of the Blue”. Do it, Julian. -Michael Roffman

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kanye feat  The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Kanye West – TBA

Release date: TBA via Roc-a-Fella/G.O.O.D. Music

There have been hundreds of thousands of characters used to critique, disparage, laud, and dissect Yeezus, but the person who perhaps expressed the album’s appeal the best wasn’t a critic. It was Jay Z, during his interview with New York’s Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club: “It’s polarizing. That’s what great art is. It’s polarizing. It forces you to have an opinion. At least you’re not wishy-washy about it.” Yeezus’s follow-up isn’t anticipated just because it’s a Kanye West album; it’s the only piece of work that exists in its realm, and that sort of position forces you to examine it. West is always going to force you to do so. The only real question is how.

West merely mentioned he was trying to release the follow-up by summer 2014 in an interview with Philadelphia’s Power 99, and there’s been some hints on what direction he may be taking. A snippet of the unreleased dystopian track “I Am Not Here” he played at some concerts and Rick Rubin saying there’s still a lot of leftover material from the Yeezus sessions implies he’s going in the same direction. But the soulfulness of “Bound 2” and the addition of Q-Tip on production duties imply West may be looking to go elsewhere. West said he’s aiming for eight songs, making his untitled project a potentially leaner, meaner machine. Something meaner than the definitively irate Yeezus is hard to imagine, but you’d have to at least assume there’s a reason West calls himself a creative genius. -Brian Josephs
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modest mouse 20111 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Modest MouseTBA

Release date: TBA

The last Modest Mouse full-length, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, came out in 2007… 2007. Though Modest Mouse has toured pretty regularly since its 2009 EP, No One’s First and You’re Next, European fans were quick to forgive the band for canceling their summer tour because that meant they’d be hard at work on a new album. Though there’s no release date or tracklist, we do know that Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic plays bass on the new record and calls the forthcoming project “pretty edgy.” On recent tours, the band has debuted new material like the barn-busting “Be Brave” at last year’s Coachella festival, but there’s no word whether or not the new songs will actually make the forthcoming LP. Judging by “Be Brave”, the seven-year wait may be worth it. -Josh Terry

Listen: “Be Brave” (live)

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mmj The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

My Morning Jacket – TBA

Release date: TBA

All we really know about My Morning Jacket’s new album is that it won’t be recorded in the Louisville church used for 2011’s Circuital. But looking at all the pots the band has had their hands in since that release might give an idea of their current headspace. Jim James had his Regions of Light and Sound of God solo debut, along with joining New Multitudes for a Woody Guthrie tribute album, plus producing albums for Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Galaxie 500′s Dean Wareham. Guitarist Carl Broemel worked on Ben Sollee’s Half Made Man, and drummer Patrick Hallahan formed the supergroup Spanish Gold. The band brought all of this with them when they entered the studio in October. Add that to no demos and no limits, and the “super fun” “new vision” James has in mind for the band could take them anywhere. -Ben Kaye

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el p killer mike run the jewels The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 2

Release date: TBA

Has there been a hip-hop duo that’s inspired as much confidence as the combination of El-P and Killer Mike? The two hit home runs in 2012 with Cancer 4 Cure and R.A.P. Music, respectively, and on their official first project as a duo, they scale back the political undertones and new age paranoia for a more accessible listen. It was minimalism before Kanye West made the term cool again. There hasn’t been much detail on Run the Jewels 2 other than the confirmation from El-P that it’s coming. But if it’s anything like the first installment — in which the duo posture like futuristic B-Boys who might steal your money if you’re new in town, but you end up liking them anyway because they make really, really good raps — you may just want to pay for it this time, regardless if it’s free or not. -Brian Josephs

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ryan.adams  The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Ryan Adams – TBA

Release date: TBA

A lot has happened for Ryan Adams since the release of 2011’s Ashes & Fire, and much of that came early last year. He formed a punk band called Pornography for an exhilarating EP, performed with a live band for the first time since the Cardinals disbanded, and somehow made Fall Out Boy sound edgy by producing their PAX AM Days EP. So, where’s the next album? It’s already in the can, according to Billboard. Helmed by fellow producer Glyn Johns, Adams’ 14th studio effort is expected to include previously unveiled songs “Where I Meet You in My Mind” and “In the Shadows” and feature a motley crew of dynamite talent, specifically Benmont Tench, Don Was, Cindy Cashdollar, Jeremy Stacey, and Glyn’s son, Ethan Johns. Like the saying goes, there’s always room for a lil’ Ryan. -Michael Roffman

Listen: “In the Shadows” (live)

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screen shot 2013 01 10 at 3.53.33 pm1 e1357854957596 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Sharon Van Etten – TBA

Release date: TBA

Every Sharon Van Etten record has been better than the last. On tour with Because I Was in Love in 2009, the petite songwriter, all alone onstage, seemed to cower behind her guitar. These days, Van Etten deftly commands a full band through stompers like “Serpents” and other scorchers from Tramp, her latest and best work. Several new songs spilled from her guitar during a tour with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in 2013, including “Tarifa”, a dreamy ballad with echoes of blue-eyed soul. “Chew me out when I’m stupid,” she wails, “tell me I’m not a child”; it’s a lyrical trend for Van Etten, to turn such base pronouncements into a life-or-death decree, but here it doesn’t sound aggressive so much as romantic. Much of Van Etten’s catalogue has circled around heartbreak and dissention, but perhaps this new record will explore the ecstasy of connection. Either way, it’s sure to be another step forward. -Randall Colburn

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shellac1 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Shellac – Dude, Incredible

Release date: TBA via Touch and Go Recordings

Listen: Steve Albini is a busy guy. He’s got a lot of albums to produce/engineer, a studio to run, a Nirvana reissue to get involved with, a food blog to intermittently update, a cat talk show to appear on. So, you’ll need to forgive him for the seven years that it will have taken for the latest album from Shellac. The trio of Albini, Bob Weston, and Todd Trainer have been working on new material since the 2007 release of Excellent Italian Greyhound, simply fitting Shellac into the margins of their busy schedules. In an interview with Chicagoist, Albini revealed that the album will feature nine tracks (including one that shares the album’s title). While that might seem brief considering the seven years’ gestation, no one’s going to be complaining about a new batch of Shellac’s concussive, bracing rock. -Adam Kivel

Listen: New song (live)

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spoon new record The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Spoon – TBA

Release date: TBA via Merge Records

It hasn’t been very long since we heard a Britt Daniel album: A Thing Called Divine Fits, the debut from his “supergroup” with Dan Boeckner (of Wolf Parade), placed on many year-end lists and was a welcome reminder of the heyday of Spoon with its driving, blues-inflected rock. But Spoon has been relatively inactive since 2010’s Transference. The album was recorded at drummer Jim Eno’s Public Hi-Fi recording studio in Austin, Texas, and mixing began in November. With song titles revealed and Daniel saying in interviews that their eighth, as-yet-untitled album is going to be “slightly more R&B,” it’s easy to imagine Daniel’s raspy howl channeling more soulful material. If Divine Fits’ danceable cover of Frank Ocean’s “Lost” is any indication, a funkier Spoon album is going to get tons of spins in 2014. -Josh Terry

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sza feature1 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

SZA – Z

Release date: TBA via TDE

The mesmeric SZA was our last CoSign of 2013, her shimmering alt-R&B windswept with poetic lyrics and dark rainbow flourishes, influenced by The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson as much as Erykah Badu. TDE noticed that unique style, too, and her first release under that banner will be a new EP, Z (sensing a theme, here, after last year’s excellent S). Two early tracks have made their way online, “Julia” and “Teen Spirit”, showcasing her claim that TDE offered her the “opportunity to make whatever I wanted with whoever I wanted.” Judging from those tracks, what she wanted was a deeper dive into her unique brand of R&B and to further expand on an already strong vocal delivery. Plus, TDE CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith recently tweeted that we should expect six albums from his label in 2014; with six signees (including SZA), are we so crazy to hope that a full-length isn’t far off? -Adam Kivel

Listen: “Julia”

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titus andronicus thumb larson The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

Titus Andronicus – TBA

Release date: November? via XL Recordings

The last time Patrick Stickles and Co. took on an intense concept, the result was the excellent The Monitor, when New Jersey rabble-rousers Titus Andronicus brought their frayed-edge rock to the Civil War. Now, four years later, he’s moved onto something a bit more science fictiony, namely a 30-song rock opera about a manic depressive man who is told by a mysterious stranger that he is in fact of a race of cursed, ancient beings. Considering Stickles’ own struggles with mental health (including a time in which he nearly quit music, according to an interview with Stereogum), the intensely personal, hard-hitting existential emotionality of 2012’s Local Business should be involved as well. And, if you think you’ll need even more intense stimulation, Stickles told the Missoulian that there’ll be a movie to accompany the project. The unfortunately sold-out pre-order for the album says it’s “expected to drop November 2014,” but with a concept this intense and a project this expansive, we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed. Until then, live performance of album cut “Fatal Flaw” should sufficiently whet the appetite. -Adam Kivel

Listen: “Fatal Flaw” (live)

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tUnE-yArDs – Sink-o (tentative title)

Release date: TBA

In 2011, Connecticut native Merrill Garbus wowed critics with w h o k i l l, her sophomore album under the tUnE-yArDs moniker, topping the Pazz & Jop Albums Poll. Since then, she’s been relatively quiet, “trying to write a new new album” she admits in The Talkhouse. To Garbus, the forthcoming album “came from [her] obsession with the word ‘syncopation,’ which is a miserable sink-o of a word.” In order to get out of her comfort zone and place herself in a non-western musical tradition, she took a cultural exchange trip to Haiti for 13 days. She writes about dance classes, minute details of Haitian rhythms, and a great respect for the culture. If anyone can infuse these inspirations into her idiosyncratic sound and absolutely nail it, it’s Garbus. Though there’s no official release date, her Instagram has shown a flurry of recording studio activity, so here’s hoping we hear Sink-o pretty soon. -Josh Terry

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What We’re Also Excited About:

— ASAP Mob’s group album

— The Avalanches’ sophomore album (lol)

— ceo – WONDERLAND (2/4)

— Cibo Matto – Hotel Valentine (2/14)

— Chromeo – White Women

— Future Islands’ fourth album

— The Hold Steady’s sixth album

— Interpol’s fifth album

— James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical (1/21)

— Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album

— Kevin Drew’s second solo album

— Mogwai – Rave Tapes (1/21)

— Rihanna’s eighth album

— Speedy Ortiz – Real Hair (2/11)

— Thee Oh Sees’ 4 billionth album (Early 2014)

— U2’s 13th album

— Wu Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow

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