There is absolutely no denying that 2011 has been a fantastic year for music. Personal highlights have included incredible albums from Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and The Horrors, not to mention a gem of an album from the always great Nick Lowe. It’s not just the international names either, in various forms local acts such as Deer Chicago, Listing Ships and Alphabet Backwards have all released compelling material, just to name a few highlights. But look at me, going on like this is a ‘best of 2011’, what I want to have a look at is some exciting prospects for 2012 in what will (hopefully) be some great albums of next year. Be they new kids on the block, or returning legends, 2012 is already shaping up to a great year for music, if the albums below live up their potential that is…
1. Dry The River – Shallow Bed
Emerging from the London folk scene like a kind of errant step-brother, Dry The River have never quite fit the expectation of mawkish folk poets that the genre usually offers up so well. The prospect of a full-length album from these chaps is exciting not least because they craft excellent and emotive songs, but also their taste for the grand and all-encompassing. The album is set for release on February 27th.
See Dry The River perform the first single to be taken from Shallow Bed, ‘The Chambers & The Valves’ at The Komedia in Brighton below.
2. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
A true poet of his time and easily one of the most influential artists to emerge from the 1960s, 77 year old Leonard Cohen returns with his first studio album since 2004. Lead single ‘Show Me The Place’ indicates that his newest album will follow a similar path of his recent previous releases, with his trademark baritone pushed to the fore once again. Tackling typically evocative subjects as love, death and existence, Old Ideas should prove that although Cohen doesn’t rely on his astonishing poetic prose in the way he used to, he is still more than capable of crafting luscious and heartfelt poetic music. Old Ideas is available on the 31st January.
3. Message To Bears – Folding Leaves
Step up a local boy Jerome Alexander. Mid-2011 saw Alexander put the live incarnation of his orchestral ambient folk project on hold while he completed work on his follow up to Departures. Several months later, along with an online campaign to get the album funded by the fans themselves through site IndieGoGo and album is ready and scheduled for release in mid to late January. Several tracks have had the live treatment throughout 2011, but recorded Message To Bears material is a different beast, be sure to give it a spin when it is released through Dead Pilot Records.
4. Sigur Rós – TBC
Details may well be thin on the ground at this time, but come on, it’s a new studio album from Sigur Rós, what’s not to be excited about? The band have described the tracks as ‘floaty’ and ‘minimal’; and while it’s true that most Sigur Rós albums could be described as floaty, minimal is definitely a new direction for the band, and an intriguing prospect. However this records ends up sounding, its great to hear that after a hiatus, one of post-rock’s most consistently challenging and creative bands are back in action.
In the meantime check out the preview for their spectacular live DVD, Inni.
5. The Shins – TBC
It’s been almost 5 years since the release of The Shins‘ last album Wincing The Night Away, but seeing that said album captured everything that was great about American indie music at the time while embodying an entire sub-genre, they can be forgiven for taking their time with the follow up. Singer and songwriter James Mercer has confirmed that the new album will be released through his own record label and produced by Greg Kurstin, who has previously worked with act as diverse as The Flaming Lips and Kyle Minogue. It seems The Shins won’t be ditching the pop vibe anytime soon and there are few bands I’d rather see embrace their pop leanings. Can’t wait for this one.
For a reminder of just how well The Shins can handle an indie-pop song, see below.