Most Anticipated Albums of Winter 2014
Around this time last year, we were treated to a season of music that will be fondly remembered as the "Winter of Surprise Comebacks." Legends like David Bowie and My Bloody Valentine re-entered the public sphere after long periods of dormancy, dropping fresh efforts without any advance warning. Although such returns will always be welcome, the initial months of 2014 promise great music from artists who prefer more traditional scheduling. In chronological order, here are our picks for the 10 most anticipated albums of winter 2014 -- LPs sure to keep our earbuds warm in the not-so-distant future.
Following a reunion stint with Pavement, Stephen Malkmus decamped to Berlin for two years, much like Bowie and U2 before him, to chase new musical muses. There, he immersed himself in the electronic scene, returning to the states with 'Wig Out at Jagbags.' For those worried about seeing Malkmus and co. hiding behind laptops out on tour, 'Jagbags' offers a refreshed take on the band's classic sound. The record lands today (Jan. 7) on Matador.
When producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse and the Shins' James Mercer came together as Broken Bells in 2010, many were left to wonder if the project was a one-and-done sort of affair. After taking the Shins back out on the road behind 'Port of Morrow,' the ever-active Mercer returned to the studio with Danger Mouse for 'After the Disco.' Lead single 'Holding On For Life,' teased back in December, builds on the outfit's atmospheric, space-rock sound with funkier leanings reminiscent of Danger Mouse's work on Gorillaz's 'Demon Days.' 'After the Disco' is out Jan. 14 on Columbia Records.
It's been two years since Scottish post-rockers Mogwai delivered 'Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will,' but it's not like they haven't kept busy since then. Their most recent release was a soundtrack for a French zombie show titled 'Les Revenants,' which is just as ominous as it sounds. Mogwai will follow that up with the new LP 'Rave Tapes,' which they've teased already with the dark, otherworldly melodies of the six-minute-plus 'Remurdered.' 'Rave Tapes' lands Jan. 21 on Sub Pop.
After turning heads with their debut 'The Fool,' L.A.'s Warpaint plan to avoid the sophomore slump with a self-titled follow-up they say sounds "definitely different." 'Warpaint' finds the band changing up their process, as they wrote the album as a singular unit, building on collective ideas and free-flowing jams. The lush, ambient results of this approach can be heard on single 'Love Is to Die,' which shows Warpaint embracing the full depth of their sonic capabilities. 'Warpaint' drops Jan. 21 on Rough Trade.
After extensive touring behind 2011's 'Only In Dreams,' Dum Dum Girls returned to the studio to record the follow-up, perhaps a little too quickly. Lead singer and songwriter Dee Dee found that her vocals were too strained, and she took some time to look for further inspiration in works by Paul Verlaine, Charles Baudelaire and Sylvia Plath. The extended soul-searching informed the writing of the 10-song 'Too True.' The slow burn of single 'Lost Boys and Girls Club' finds the band exploring these heightened senses, with Dee Dee's stark vocal coolly rising above the distorted haze. 'Too True' hits Jan. 28 on Sub Pop.
London indie-poppers Bombay Bicycle Club truly hit their stride with their last LP, 'A Different Kind Of Fix,' producing intricate, inventive rhythms and choral crescendos. They'll look to keep that hot streak going with the upcoming 'So Long, See You Tomorrow.' The experimental 'Carry Me' and the just-shared 'Luna' promise a more melodic extension of their established dynamic sound. 'So Long, See You Tomorrow' is out Feb. 4 on Vagrant.
It's been nearly four years since indie-pop outfit Phantogram released their debut, 'Eyelid Movies,' but the duo of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel have kept busy in that time, delivering four EPs. After spending much of 2013 prepping LP No. 2 and freaking out with the Flaming Lips, Phantogram is set to return with the 11-track deep 'Voices.' Lead single 'Fall In Love' sets Barthel's effortlessly cool vocal against hip-hop beats and a network of buoyant samples. 'Voices' arrives on Feb. 18 via Republic Records.
After the tour supporting 2011's excellent 'Strange Mercy,' Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, immediately moved onto a collaborative project with David Byrne resulting in 'Love This Giant.' Not one to let creative impetus rest, St. Vincent will return to the solo spotlight with a self-titled album bridging the gap between her two previous endeavors. 'Birth In Reverse' and 'Digital Witness' explore themes of malaise, with Clark's unique guitar work and tone paired with leftover horns from 'Love This Giant.' 'St. Vincent' is out on Feb. 25 on Republic Records.
Atlanta rebel rockers Black Lips recently released the documentary 'Kids Like You & Me,' detailing their tour of the Middle East, where they played countries rarely visited by Western artists. The band then returned to the U.S., where they recruited the Black Keys' Patrick Carney and Mastodon's Brent Hinds to help create the forthcoming 'Underneath The Rainbow.' First taste 'Boys In the Wood' teases a more roots-rock-oriented approach, though even with the slower pace, the Lips manage to infuse their usual raucous live energy. Look for 'Underneath the Rainbow' on March 18 via Vice Records.
Philadelphia dream-rockers the War On Drugs managed to find their footing following a series of lineup changes -- among them the departure of Kurt Vile -- on 2011's 'Slave Ambient.' Recording over the course of two years, primary songwriter Adam Granduciel worked in Philadelphia, New York, North Carolina and New Jersey to produce 'Lost In the Dream.' The first sample, 'Red Eyes,' marks a distinct break from the group's previously established haze with a soaring, up-tempo chorus and backbeat. 'Lost In the Dream' lands on March 18 via Secretly Canadian.