There a few more days of pretending to look busy at work ahead, but as far as our iTunes are concerned 2009 can’t get here soon enough. We’re done with the lists. It’s time for the new. We pored over the album-release sheets, took myriad Progress Reports, and narrowed the field to a list of twenty records we can’t wait to prematurely evaluate over. It’s gonna be a good year.
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE – MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILION
JANUARY 20 (DOMINO)
Forget the Web Sheriff soap opera and the unexpected involvement of Grizzly Bear and Deerhunter. Just listen to the infectious beachfront tropicalia of Merriweather jams “Brothersport” and “My Girls” to understand why people are losing their minds in anticipation (and over stories about potential leaks) of this record. May as well start handicapping 2009 year-end lists now.
“My Girls” (Live)
DIRTY PROJECTORS – TBA
Dirty Projectors have been logging hours at studios in Brooklyn and Portland for months now, working on the followup to 2007′s excellent Rise Above LP. In a recent Progress Report, Dave Longstreth stated the yet untitled album “is related to Plaxico Burress.” You may choose to believe that. Or not. What is certain: Dave’s bringing back most of the Rise Above studio lineup (Brian McComber on drums, Amber Coffman on guitar) with the addition of bassist Angel Deradoorian, who’s been touring with the band since Above dropped. If you’ve seen their live shows you know this is good news, and also you’ve probably heard great new songs that are poppier and sunnier and might make the cut, like “Sunrise” and “That’s My Move.” Don’t think they’re about Plaxico, though.
GRIZZLY BEAR – TBA
After a great ’07, Grizzly Bear had an even better ’08 — touring with Radiohead, doing the festival circuit, and hearkening back to a past time when bands premiered new songs on television. (See: the Droste-led keyboard upper “Two Weeks” on Letterman, the Beatles-reinventing harmonic pop perfection of Rossen’s “While You Wait For The Others” on Conan.) Ed checked in from the Catskills where they’ve been committing these songs and more to tape, promising a dynamic sound more faithful to their live show, arrangements courtesy of Nico Muhly, a vocal on “Two Weeks” from Beach House’s Victoria LeGrande, and lots of band interplay with shared vocals throughout. It seems Grizzly Bear are going for the sun instead of the sepia this time, and from what we’ve heard it’s gonna be serious headphone candy.
“Two Weeks” (Live On Letterman)
YEAH YEAH YEAHS – TBA
We don’t know too much about Yeah Yeah Yeahs forthcoming, third LP. Aside from the band telling us it sounds nothing like Show Your Bones, and “VERY different from last year’s EP” Is Is, and “not much like anything you’ve heard from us before.” But does it sound like Yeah Yeah Yeahs? “YOU BET YOU’RE SWEET ASS IT DOES.” Fair enough. Also, the kitten factor is very high on this record. It’s out sometime next year. In the meantime, there’s always Native Korean Rock.
KINGS OF CONVENIENCE – QUIET IS THE NEW LOUD (WORKING TITLE)
It’s been too long since we’ve had a KoC record — 2004′s Riot On An Empty Street was their last — but all signs (and this recent Progress Report) point to Eirik Glambek Bøe and Erland Øye putting the finishing touches to a new album in the very near future. The duo are back and forth between a studio in Bergen, Norway and another outside Reggio Emilia, Italy, finishing the twelve-song set slated for release in ’09. Why’s it taken so long? “Recording a song is like drawing a perfect circle, but we are determined.” Much like KoC’s fans. (Also, the working title is Quiet IS The New Loud, which is distinct from 2001′s Quiet Is The New Loud by one capital letter, so keep it straight, editors.)
BLACK LIPS – 200 MILLION THOUSAND
FEBRUARY 24 (DIE SLAUGHTERHAUS/VICE MUSIC)
You can look forward to 14 tracks from Black Lips’ followup to 2007′s Good Bad Not Evil in ’09. For 200 Million Thousand, the band’s summoned cameos from King Khan, Bradford Cox (whose track may or may not make the cut), and possibly a Wu-Tang member. They Progress Reported to us that the album is more melodic and better produced, but still recorded live (minus vocals and overdubs) to “capture the energy that comes from playing together the first couple times.” Also, apparently 200 Million Thousand has no particular meaning, so it’s up to you (no really, etc.).
BEIRUT – MARCH OF THE ZAPOTEC
FEBRUARY 1 (POMPEII/BA DA BING)
We told you about Zach Condon ditching The Flying Club Cup’s France for a pair of conjoined EPs due in February. Well, February’s getting closer. The six stately horn-drenched songs on March Of The Zapotec, were recorded, in part, in Mexico and the Dutch-ly named Holland includes five ambient/Eno-esque bedroom tracks under Condon’s “Realpeople” moniker.
LILY ALLEN – IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU
FEBRUARY 10 (CAPITOL)
Earlier this year Lily promised her Alright, Still followup would be an “album with integrity and … it has been thought about by me, not just some thrown together last minute industry bullshizz.” So far, so fair: “The Fear“’s got her rhapsodizing subversively and clever as ever, but the shift comes in the sounds, which trade the ska and hip hop camp for dance-pop full of glitz, acoustic guitar, strings, and synths. We’ll have to wait ’til February to hear where the rest of it’s going, but if you want more try “Everyone’s At It” for now.
BLIKK FANG – TBA
MGMT had an early and vocal champion in Kevin Barnes, and now that both have found surreal success with their respective takes on glam and psychedelic pop, it’s a sensible time for a collaboration. Blikk Fang features the of Montreal mastermind and MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden (a pair of guys you all happen to love), and 2009 will see their debut. Barnes described the sound to Rock Daily as “a sort of soulful prog,” adding the duo would turn out “a pretty schizophrenic, crazy album.” Also, Jon Brion might be getting involved? Perfect. Working titles to songs thus far: “Hypnotic Agents”, “Dead Dogs”, and “Pleasure Cunt.” Also perfect.
DAN DEACON – BROMST
It’s fair to say Dan Deacon took the iPod-shuffle-on-a-banana-based batshit-insane beats and dance-tag parties thing further than anyone would’ve expected. That’s because it was much more fun than anyone would’ve expected. But for Bromst, Dan’s ostensibly turning the page on Spiderman Of The Rings’ hipster pied piper thing and getting in touch with his roots as a music conservatory-trained electro-acoustic composer. He’s promised an album with more emotional range, arranged for many parts and various instruments. We saw the unveiling of this new incarnation of Deacon in Brooklyn recently, complete with a percussion, mallet, and synth-heavy 14-piece ensemble. There were hip-hop scratched vocal-samples in the mix and darker, more deliberate beats, if perhaps a lack of tonal, total focus. We still have to see how good it all is, but in terms of narrative and trajectory, this oughta be one of the year’s more interesting releases.
MASTODON – CRACK THE SKYE
MARCH (WARNER BROS/REPRISE)
When Mastodon vocalist/bassist Troy Sanders sat down and did a Progress Report, he mentioned, among other things, that Crack The Skye “is a departure from everything we’ve previously recorded in the sense that we kinda strapped on our aeroshells and departed from Earth for a while, and then captained to the ethereal element of the universe and kind of slept on the roof of the world for a while to get a perspective on this record.” He also mentioned King Crimson, Yes, and Frank Zappa. Add this to this year’s reunion of death metal/jazz fusion pioneers Cynic, and it seems like putting the hardcore prog in progressive American metal isn’t just for Dream Theater anymore.
ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS – THE CRYING LIGHT
JANUARY 20 (SECRETLY CANADIAN)
Visually/conceptually, the album art for Antony & The Johnsons’ forthcoming album The Crying Light is linked to his recent Another World EP. We know the new collection’s dedicated to the dancer Kazuo Ohno, but outside of “Another World,” we don’t yet know what it sounds like. Can’t wait to hear “Her Eyes Are Underneath The Ground” and especially “Epilepsy Is Dancing.” For now, here’s the tracklist.
THE DECEMBERISTS – HAZARDS OF LOVE
MARCH 24 (CAPITOL)
After three volumes of Always The Bridesmaid singles collections, the Decemberists have scheduled the release of a full LP for 2009. And surprise! It has a very Decemberists-y tracklist. Expect cameos from Jim James, Robyn Hitchcock, Becky Stark, and Shara Worden. And also expect song titles like “Hazards Of Love 1 (The Prettiest Whistles Won’t Wrestle the Thistles Undone).” Only Meloy.
LIGHTNING BOLT – TBA
We know it’s recorded and not much else, but judging where the guys left off on 2005′s Hypermagic Mountain, we still have plenty of reason to be excited.
M. WARD – HOLD TIME
FEBRUARY 17 (MERGE)
After lending some cred and craft to the AM Gold of She & Him, Matt Ward turns his sights and sounds inward with Hold Time. The followup to 2006′s excellent Post-War boasts 14 tracks and quite a guest list: Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle, Lucinda Williams, DeVotchka’s Tom Hagerman, and yes that actress he’s always hanging out with.
MORRISSEY – YEARS OF REFUSAL
FEBRUARY 17 (ATTACK/LOST HIGHWAY)
As more info comes out about Morrissey’s Years Of Refusal we find ourselves as curious about the dozen new songs as we are about what the heck to make of the cover art. First single “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” is reportedly out 2/9, but we’ve already heard a live version. Other very Mozzy track titles include “Sorry Doesn’t Help,” “I’m OK By Myself,” “Something Is Squeezing My Skull” and “One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell.”
“That’s How People Grow Up” (Live on Letterman)
DOVES – TBA
The fourth album from UK’s Doves still doesn’t have a title, although its lead single does. The track, titled “Kingdom Of Rust,” has “a country-ish shuffle beat” according to frontman Jimi Goodwin. So that’s one hint of the Some Cities-follow-up’s sound. Need more? Kraftwerk and Can are namechecked in this Billboard piece. Color us curious. And excited. If you can’t wait, try out these Doves bits that might possibly be on the record maybe but probably not.
MIDLAKE – COURAGE OF OTHERS
The Denton quintet Midlake reported to Progress Report that they’re hard at work on a followup to 2006′s Trials Of Van Occupanther. Drummer McKenzie Smith described Courage Of Others’ general feel: “There’s a British folk scene of late ’60s stuff. That stuff has been influential to us on this album. It’s less Fleetwood Mac-y, America.” Instead, they’ve also been listening to Fairport Convention, Incredible String Band, and plenty of Jethro Tull. We don’t know too much else, but we’re pretty sure what kind of coffee they’ve been drinking in the studio.
NEKO CASE – MIDDLE CYCLONE
MARCH 20 (ANTI-)
We’ve seen the eye-catching album art, watched the making of, and even heard the live version of Middle Cyclone’s take on Harry Nilsson’s “Don’t Forget Me.” No worries, we haven’t forgotten you, Ms. Case. In fact, her first solo album since 2006′s Fox Confessor Brings The Flood is looking like it’ll be her most quietly homespun epic effort to date: Check out the piano setup and frog chirp in the teaser if you don’t believe us.
“I’m An Animal” (Live at Bumbershoot)
U2 – NO LINE ON THE HORIZON
MARCH 3 (ISLAND)
Thanks to Bono’s constant headline grabbing global do-goodery it feels like U2′s never left, but the band hasn’t had an album out since 2004′s How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb. That changes in March, when the Irish icons release their 12th album No Line On The Horizon, featuring a blockbuster production trio in Brian Eno, Danny Lanois, and Steve Lillywhite. Too many cooks, or the Dream Team of anthemic arena rock production? You can find out in a few months. Or dig up those songs that leaked to YouTube when Bono was blasting ’em out his French villa.
In addition to these records which are, for all intents and purposes, sure shots for ’09, we’ve got an ever growing wishlist of albums we have no word on but are dying to see materialize. Like, great EPs and tracks, but how about a full LP, Salem? Also maybe 2009 would be a nice time for Sufjan to tackle another one of those states, considering Yes We Can and the reemergence of American pride and all that. And what happened to the Avalanches? But whatever. My Bloody Valentine. Please.
Feel free to post in the comments with your most anticipated releases for next year, or just the ones at the top of your own wishlist. To 2009.