With year-end listomania pretty much over and done with, it’s time to turn our attention to the year to come — and, specifically, which albums we’re most looking forward to hearing in 2014. So far, it’s shaping up very nicely indeed, thanks — there’s the return of a whole lot of artists who we’ve been waiting to hear from for up to four-and-a-half decades, along with debuts from exciting new talents. Here’s what’s gonna be on our shopping list once we pay off the debts of the “festive” season.
Angel Haze — Dirty Gold (December 30)
OK, this is strictly a 2013 release now, but shit, it misses 2014 by two days, and by the time we’re back from the Christmas/New Year break, it’ll be out and hopefully lots of people will have bought it. Fingers crossed.
Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra — Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything (January 21)
They’re surely trolling everyone with this album title, but hey, so what? The ongoing shitshow that is North American (and world) politics has given Efrim Menuck plenty of material and motivation to get very angry indeed, and he’s done exactly that — “Austerity Blues,” which was released a couple of months back, concludes with the cheery declaration that “All our children gonna die.”
Against Me! — Transgender Dysphoria Blues (January 21)
Much has been and will be made of the fact that this is the first record Against Me! have made since Tom Gabel became Laura Jean Grace, and the title of the album suggests that Grace’s transition also informs its subject matter. But it’s also important to remember that Grace is and has always been most notable as a fantastic songwriter, and that on the evidence of what we’ve heard so far, her band still rock as hard as ever. It’s good to have them back.
Sunn 0))) and Ulver — Terrestrials (February)
Doom metal overlords and Norwegian experimentalists “do” Nietzsche!
Beck — Morning Phase (February)
A companion piece to Sea Change, apparently, which is good news for those (like me) who prefer Beck’s reflective balladry to his madcap experimental incarnation. What’s catalyzed this return to acoustic introspection is unclear, but it’s a welcome development. (Sadly, no-one’s actually heard it yet, so instead you get to hear the two clowns above talking about it.)
Sun Kil Moon — Benji (February 4)
Also on the acoustic balladry tip, and few do it better than Mark Kozelek. This record finds him taking up the Sun Kil Moon moniker again after three albums under his own name, and has already given rise to one of his most memorable song titles — “Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes” (above.) Also, if you’re not sick of Christmas yet, check out his rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen here.
St Vincent — St Vincent (February 25)
“Birth in Reverse” was fantastic, a sort of fractured, oblique dance track that doesn’t really have any precedent in Annie Clark’s canon to date. If it’s any indication of the direction in which she’s headed on this record, bring it on.
Neneh Cherry — Blank Project (February 25)
Since she returned to making actual albums in the mid-’00s, Neneh Cherry has quietly gone about producing a really fascinating body of work. Much of this has been due to her astute choice of collaborators (something that’s characterized her career in general, actually), and this album finds her working with Four Tet. The collaboration’s already borne at least one excellent song (lead single “Blank Project,” above), and the rest of the album should definitely be worth hearing.
Liars — TBC (March — date TBD)
The show of pretty much entirely new material that Liars played at the Met a few months back suggested that this album will continue their explorations into electronic music — the songs they played sounded like the more upbeat tracks from WIXIW, which is interesting considering that Angus Andrew described the recording of this album as being “almost the exact opposite experience to producing WIXIW.” Easier to credit is Andrew’s description of the songs as “immediate, fun, instinctual and confident” — I’d even go so far as to say that some of them were aimed squarely at the dancefloor. (It’s unclear whether “I Saw You From The Lifeboat,” above, will be on the record, but it’s the newest Liars track the world has heard.)
Linda Perhacs — The Soul of All Natural Things (March 4)
Forty-three years after Parallelograms, an album that was a sort of psych-folk holy grail until it was reissued the mid-’00s, Linda Perhacs has made a new album! Even better, it features contributions from Flavorwire favorite Julia Holter, amongst others. Huzzah.
.Johnny Cash — Out Among the Stars (March 25)
Posthumous releases are always a perilous affair — for every uncovered treasure trove, there’s ten bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping cash-in compilations. Whether this is the former or the latter remains to be seen, but it sounds intriguing — as per Taste of Country, it’s 12 “recently discovered” tracks that were “originally recorded in Nashville, Tenn. at Columbia Studios in 1981 and 1111 Sound Studios in 1984… [and] surfaced when John Carter Cash, along with the Cash experts at Legacy, was cataloging his father and mother’s exhaustive archives.” The world hasn’t heard any of these tracks yet, so hey, enjoy “Folsom Prison Blues” instead.
EMA — The Future’s Void (Spring — date TBD)
Yesssssss for new EMA! She’s signed to Matador these days, which is excellent news for the simple reason that a talent this special deserves as wide an audience as possible. New single “Satellites” (above) sounds totally different to anything off Past Life Martyred Saints, but no less striking. It’s awesome to have her back.
HTRK — Psychic 9-5 Club (April 1)
All your correspondent has been told about this album so far is that it’s “very different” to Work (work, work), which is kinda tantalizing and infuriating at the same time. New single “Give It Up” sounds more like a progression on the sound of the previous album than a complete departure, but hey, it’s only one track. Whatever the case, I’ll be as intrigued to hear this as I am to know what on earth the album title means.
Kelis — Food (April 28)
The one track we’ve heard from this — the here-and-gone-again “Jerk Ribs,” as discussed here — was fantastic, and if it’s any indication of the quality of the rest of this Dave Sitek-produced new album, the record will definitely have been worth waiting for. Of course, Kelis is another artist who’s been promising another album for ages, so we’re not getting too excited yet. Speaking of which…
As usual: Dr Dre’s Detox and a new Avalanches record
We’ll believe it when we see it etc etc.