December 11, 2010

The Most Anticipated Albums of 2011

Music fans got spoiled in 2010. When your "Best Albums" list looks like this, it's evident that a large chunk of music's heavy hitters came out to play this past year. Unfortunately, that means you can expect less exciting big name releases in 2011. It would be presumptuous at this point to assume we're aware of every single new album slated for release in the New Year, but something tells AwkwardSound that listeners will have to rely heavily on debuts and breakthroughs to make it a memorable one. Sure, you can always hope the elusive and overrated Radioheads and White Stripes of the world will resurface, but it's also very likely listeners will continue being teased by these prospects. Assuming Lady Gaga's Born This Way isn't what you had in mind, AwkwardSound takes a look at the more intriguing confirmations with its list of most anticipated albums of 2011...

Ducktails' Ducktails III: Arcade Dynamics
Release date: January 11, 2011

AwkwardSound originally put this one on its 2010 Fall Music Preview, but as is the case sometimes, albums get delayed. That's completely understandable in this case, as Ducktails' mastermind Matthew Mondanile is a busy musician pulling double duty in the beach pop outfit, Real Estate. Hopefully the autumnal sounds of Mondanile's brand of lo-fi guitar psychedelia transition just as well in the cold winter month of January when this eagerly awaited album finally sees its release.

Lemuria's Pebble
Release date: January 11, 2011

Lemuria are a DIY type indie-punk band out of Buffalo, NY who have what it takes to become a household name, but the trio has been pretty quiet and out of sight since their 2008 debut, Get Better. Since then, they've added a new bassist to the fold and hopefully will be getting more recognition with their sophomore release, Pebble. The album sees the students of Jawbreaker and Superchunk influence teaming up with reputable hardcore label, Bridge Nine Records.

The Decemberists' The King Is Dead
Release date: January 18, 2011

Following a polarizing prog-folk opera concept album with 2009's The Hazards of Love, look for The Decemberists to head back to indie rock basics on The King Is Dead with the help of one the genre's most infamous guitarists. The sixth studio album from Portland, OR's nautical enthusiasts will include guest appearances from Peter Buck from R.E.M., whose band front man Colin Meloy cites as a major influence.

The Get Up Kids' There Are Rules
Release date: January 25, 2011

Here's a reunion story that anyone can admire. After a 7-year recording hiatus (with the exception of 2010's Simple Science EP) and a successful reunion tour, The Get Up Kids are back at it again. In a recent interview with Stereogum, bassist Rob Pope (also full-time bassist for Spoon) explained their decision to make the seminal emo-punk band's reunion full-fledged is being done completely for fun. As for These Are the Rules, it's said to be TGUK's "most futuristic" and "weirdest" album to date.

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead's Tao of the Dead
Release date: February 4, 2011

Parting ways with major label home, Interscope Records, following the release of 2006's so-so So Divided has since proven to be a good decision for ...Trail of the Dead and their longtime fans. Their subsequent release, The Century of Self, marked a return to form of sorts for the Austin, TX art rockers. However, don't expect a Source Tags & Codes, Part 2 this time around. Tao of the Dead was recorded in just 10 days as a four-piece instead of a five-piece, and supposedly opts for a more stripped-down sound.

Bright Eyes' The People's Key
Release date: February 15, 2011

Has any songwriter lost as much relevance over the past decade than Conor Oberst? By putting the hugely popular Bright Eyes project on hold for brodowns with The Mystic Valley Band and jamming with the Monsters of Folk, he's become emotionally detached with his fans. Oberst's boyishly handsome good looks have begun to wear off, making it interesting to hear whether he'll once again have young hipsters swooning over emotive lyrics or bored by dad-rock politics.

The Forms' Derealization EP
Release date: February 15, 2011

Following two criminally underrated LPs, The Forms are back -- this time as a duo instead of a four-piece -- but have brought along NYC's indie elite along for the ride. Derealization is a six-song reworking of previous tracks found on The Forms' debut, Icarus, and self-titled sophomore efforts. Instead of lead singer Alex Tween handling vocals, you'll be hearing their songs interpreted through the likes of The National's Matt Berringer, Pattern Is Movement's Andrew Thiboldeaux and Shudder to Think's Craig Wedren. It's an interesting concept and according to Tween, this EP should clock in longer than either of the bands first full-lengths.

Parts & Labor's Constant Future
Release date: March 8, 2010

Brooklyn-based electronic noise-rockers, Parts & Labor, will be releasing their fifth album early this spring. 2008's Receivers was perhaps the trio's most cohesive collection of tracks to date, despite the fact it was made from hundreds of fan-submitted sound samples. According to Jagjaguwar Records, Parts & Labor will head back to the basics of what makes their music so exciting and innovative: Landscapes of experimental electronics and hard-to-forget hooks. AwkwardSound isn't too sure if this was something Parts & Labor ever really strayed from, so consider this an early win.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart's Belong
Release date: March 15, 2011

AwkwardSound recently gave you a taste of what to expect from The Pains of Being Pure at Hearts' sophomore effort, Belong. As AwkwardSound noted, the jangly nu-gaze act doesn't stray too far away from the formula that made their debut a winner. There is however a wild card to consider when anticipating this one: Flood and Alan Moulder. The iconic producer and mixing team behind some of alt-rock's biggest success stories (U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails) worked with the Brooklyn quartet and quite honestly, this could result in huge strides for the small indie band's cozy fuzz-pop sound.

R.E.M.'s Collapse Into Now
Release date: March 8, 2011

Seminal college rock vets, R.E.M. will return in 2011 with their fourteenth(!) proper studio release. We last heard from the Athens, GA trio in 2008's Accelerate, an album that saw Michael Stipe and company returning to a sense of urgency and reinvigorated sound following a lull of missteps. At this stage in their career, you can only respect R.E.M. for attempting to reinvent their sound, which is likely the case here.Collapse Into Now will also boasts guests from R.E.M.'s friends in high places such as Eddie Vedder and Patti Smith.

Rival Schools' Pedals
Release date: March 2011

After calling it quits with just one album under their belts, influential post-hardcore supergroup Rival Schools will be making a return in 2011 with Pedals. Judging by the tight sound on the album's lead single, "Shot After Shot", Walter Schreifels and company could be making a bigger impact the second time around and add a much needed revitalization to modern rock radio.

The Strokes' TBA
Release date: March 2011

The fourth album by The Strokes was supposed to be finished and on your iPod last September. That obviously didn't happen and January 2011 became the new target date. During the summer, however, it became clear Julian Casablancas' new found solo career and his bandmates' side projects would push the release back to next spring. With their heads collectively elsewhere, it's no wonder the new millennium's first Internet hype band can't get their act together for some shared studio time. This album should give the music world a better indication if this is the end of the road for The Strokes.

Death Cab for Cutie's Codes & Keys
Release date: Spring 2011

Despite all the buzz and expectation in being "the next big thing," Death Cab for Cutie disregarded all these notions by showing some quiet restraint on 2008's Narrow Stairs. Don't expect the same type of guitar-based sound this time on Codes & Keys, as front man Ben Gibbard has gone on the record to say their seventh studio effort will be experimenting with vintage keyboards and the electronic palette. If Death Cab goes big, perhaps a new found fanbase of Twihards will be enough to finally transcend these indie heartthrobs into America's biggest arena rock band.

Also TBA:
Black Lips

The self-professed "flower punk" band out of Atlanta, GA continues to be full of surprises, as Black Lips revealed their fifth LP will be produced by current Brit-pop hit maker, Mark Ronson. While it may sound like a strange pairing on paper, front man Jared Swilley has gone on to say there wasn't much uncommon ground between the Lips and Ronson during the album's creation. They will also be using a human skull as an instrument.


It may have taken the experimental trip-hop trio 11 years to put out 2008's remarkable return, Third, but it's a safe bet you'll have a new Portishead album by the end of 2011. The band already has scheduled a headlining appearance at an ATP Festival next July with dates in the U.S. leading up to it. That's always a great indication, seeing as though the last time they made an effort to cross the pond was a one-off gig supporting Third at Coachella 2008.

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