Sometimes, you might find yourself thinking, “I wonder what my future husband/wife/soulmate/best friend is doing right at this VERY moment.” Another fun one to try is, “What if my favorite song/album/collaboration/artist/concert hasn’t even happened yet?” I love imagining the future of music and wrestling with my own mind, countering these thoughts with, “But how could anything possibly top Anxiety/a show performed by The xx/Yeezus Tour?” Sometimes, we might even be reluctant to try listening to a new artist or even to new music by our old favorite artist, possibly because we are afraid that something will exceed our current favorite thing. Never fear, because the beautiful world of music is everchanging; you will always have room for the new and the old. That being said, here are my most anticipated albums of the new year! I hope that all of you find it both easy and exciting to listen to these releases once they roll around.
10) Little Dragon
The Swedish group’s most recent album Ritual Union was released in 2012, and is characterized by bouncing, moody synths and Yukimi Nagano’s alluring voice. It’s also one of my favorite albums to walk down the street to while wearing giant black headphones and avoiding eye contact. The group has a particular knack for seamlessly building up different elements of their songs into layered and pleasantly confusing pieces. They’ve set their 2014 album to be released in the spring.
9) Fleet Foxes
Fleet Foxes was the first concert where I had a religious experience, and my sixteen year-old heart broke when rumors of their break-up began to circulate. However, the five-piece Portland-based folk band has been dropping hints that they have more music coming out this year, and I’m thrilled—partly because I need more music that my dad can compare to Simon and Garfunkel.
8) St. Vincent
Out of all the songs that my roommate incessantly plays on repeat, the one I’m least annoyed by is St. Vincent’s “Cheerleader” from her 2011 album Strange Mercy. Annie Clark is one of the rare musicians who started out her career on a very strong note and has somehow managed to top herself with each new release. She’s also an incredibly dynamic performer, and just generally one of the coolest ladies alive. Her self-titled album is coming out this month on the 25th.
tUnE-yArDs’ 2011 album w h o k i l l is weird, erratic, earnest, and confrontational. Part of this release’s success is owed to the vocals alone; the only thing more unbelievable than Merrill Garbus’ voice is the fact she achieves the exact same sound live as she does in recordings. With an unpredictable aesthetic, flamboyant homemade costumes, vibrant facepaint, and bizarre props, tUnE-yArDs accomplishes a unique sense of deliberate chaos. Reportedly, Garbus has been studying Haitian drumming in order to incorporate a different kind of rhythm into an upcoming album tentatively titled Sink-o.
6) James Blake and Chance the Rapper
Honestly, I’m not even sure if this collaboration will be released in 2014 but the fact that they just moved in together is too much to handle. The pair worked side by side last year on a remix of Blake’s “Life Round Here” and apparently enjoyed each other so much that they’re now making “a bunch of shit together every day” in their new “swaggy spot in L.A.” With Blake’s inventive electronic instrumentation and Chance’s wordy, dynamic verses, they make a truly exciting duo.
British composer, producer, and vocalist Sampha had a huge year in 2013, from the release of his first EP to multiple features on Drake’s Nothing Was The Same. The intimate production and gentle yet affecting voice on his Dual EP recalls James Blake’s mastery of the electronica-ballad. His first full-length album will be released by Young Turks, but the date has yet to be announced.
4) Mac DeMarco
Aside from making wonderful music, Mac DeMarco is one of the most okay-with-who-he-is artists out there. He writes and sings about moments in time with a genuiness that makes a simple act such as taking a cigarette break feel more meaningful and complicated than I ever though it could. He’s also pretty much the human manifestation of good vibes. His 2014 album Salad Days is set to come out on April 1st.
3) Kanye West
Pretty much every highlight of my 2013 was either directly or indirectly related to Yeezus. The music world was immediately swept up by the album’s release, and then again by the North American tour that accompanied it. Kanye truly pulled off one of most breathtaking performances I’ve ever seen; the energy, passion, genius, creativity, and insanity was all there. Thankfully, he’s not taking a break anytime soon—it appears that he will be releasing an 8 track album this coming summer.
If someone ever tells you that they DON’T have a huge crush on Grimes, cut them out of your life immediately. Her strange and magical music is unlike anything else. She can pull off literally any hair style or crazy outfit, and she’s an amazing example of an artist who has “made it” and also remained true to herself. AND she got signed to Roc Nation which means even Jay Z thinks she’s awesome. Also, this happened. Her new album will be coming out in September of this year.
1) Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean is so, so important. For one, he has a beautiful way with words (if you don’t follow him and his contemplative text posts on Tumblr, do so immediately). His lyrics are introspective and nostalgic, and the music he pairs with them is soulful and relaxed. He delivered one of the most widely loved albums of 2012, and although he briefly decided that it would be his first and last completed work, he has apparently almost finalized an album set to be released this coming summer.
Here’s a playlist of music from all of the aforementioned artists. Enjoy!