1) First Aid Kit - "The Lion's Roar"
It's hard to imagine that the Swedish sisters released their debut album almost two years ago but this month they're releasing a follow up that's looking like it might just blow their debut out of the water. The sisters are older and wiser and seem to just be growing in talent. First Aid Kit's sophomore album The Lion's Roar is due out January 24th.
2) Hospitality - "Friends of Friends"
This year sees the release of Hospitality's self-titled debut album, their first for new label Merge Records, the follow up to a low-fi folk poppy EP released in 2008 and it's about time. While I've grown to love the tunes of the EP, Hospitality's new sound is a step in the right direction. I've only heard several of the new songs live so I can only imagine how much better they'll be recorded with all the tools they had at their disposal. Hospitality is actually one of my most anticipated album's off the year, if only for the bewilderingly catchy "All Day Today". Hospitality is out January 31st on Merge. Get it, seriously.
3) Sharon Van Etten - "Serpents"
I may have only heard Sharon Van Etten's lead single "Serpents" a couple days ago but that was enough to make me thoroughly intrigued by Sharon Van Etten's new album. Her first on Jagjaguwar, she's in good company alongside the increasingly popular Bon Iver. Hearing new track "Leonard" today also made it practically impossible for Tramp not to be on this list. Sharon Van Etten's Tramp is out February 7th.
4) Fanfarlo - "Deconstruction"
When Fanfarlo first released new track/video "Replicate" back in September, I just about wet myself. The release was completely unheralded following a year-long radio silence which the band spent reacquainting themselves with real life after a year of straight touring and also writing and recording the new tunes. The year long self-imposed exile has certainly done some good. "Deconstruction" is the perfect blending of old and new and the bands claims of a more pop-oriented sound are not unfounded. And while the band could get together and release an album of nursery rhymes and I would still buy it, it helps that the new music is so downright good. Fanfarlo's sophomore album Room Filled With Lights is due out February 28th.
5) Plants & Animals - "Lightshow"
I've only heard this single track from Plants & Animals upcoming album and yet that was enough. It burrowed into my brain and stayed there for days exacerbated by my constant repeating of the track. I've lost count with how many times I've played it but it still hasn't lost any of it's edge. And so based off this track alone and a good deal of good faith, I'm much looking forward to Plants & Animals new album. Whether that'll change when they release the next track remains to be seen but I doubt it. I mean if you can write a song as good as "Lightshow", they should all be similarly awesome, right? Right. The End of All That is due out February 28th.
6) Dry the River - "No Rest"
If there is one thing the Brits seem to know how to do and do well, it's folk. Britain's Dry the River are one of the multitude of bands that are cranking out sincere, well-written, and masterfully performed. I mean the only kicker is that their releases are region so those unfortunate enough to not be natives have to wait a bit before we're allowed to get our hands on their stuff. Like their Weights & Measures EP which they released mid-year in Britain and is only now available in the states. But it's music that well worth the wait. In more way than one. 2012 will see the release of Dry the River's debut album, an album that's bound to be epically enjoyable. Dry the River's Shallow Bed is slated for a March 5th release in the UK but there's no word yet on when the rest of the world will be able to enjoy.
7) Andrew Bird - "Nyatiti"
You know, when Andrew Bird did his massive auditorium/concert hall tour last year I should've known to expect an album and yet the news of his upcoming surprised and delighted me. Not too much has been revealed about it besides the name, release date, album art and a tracklist but if anything can be gleaned from the 30 second album trailer, the new album might be heavily acoustic. Or as acoustic as you can be when you rely on a loop pedal. Since there's no single released yet, I thought I'd include one of my favorite tracks off of 2010's Useless Creatures. Break It Yourself will be released March 6th.
8) Bowerbirds - "Tuck the Darkness In"
If nothing else was released this year but the new Bowerbirds album, I would still be a happy man. Especially considering their last release was way back when in 2009. And while that's not a necessarily long time in music, it is when you see them live and they promise to return again soon with a brand new album and preview two new amazing songs. I fully intend to ravenously consume Bowerbirds third album like a starving wolf. And if our first peek at the new album is any indicator, the pastoral folk the band do so well is back after some much missed time away. Bowerbirds third full length album The Clearing is due out on March 6th.
9) Yellow Ostrich - "WHALE"
Considering last year's The Mistress was a re-release, the shock that Yellow Ostrich is so quickly coming out with another album should subside a bit. This year, Yellow Ostrich release their true Barsuk Records debut with Strange Land which also marks the band's first album together. Instead of bandleader Alex Schaaf's solo looping project, the band flush out their sound based off of Schaaf's demos. Sounds good. And while no one's really heard anything from the album yet, I'm assuming that the band's sophomore record is going to be enjoyable because of how insanely catchy their debut is. That's not something you forget how to do. Since there's no previews available yet, enjoy "WHALE" off The Mistress. Strange Land is due out March 6th on Barsuk Records.
10) Lost in the Trees - "Red"
This year will see the release of North Carolina folk pop orchestra Lost in the Trees' latest album. A tribute to Ari Picker's deceased mother, the group don't appear to be taking any steps back away from their emotionally complex brand of sentimentality infused compositions. Instead the group have spent the year trying their best to capture the memory of Picker's mother filtered through a catchy pop sensibility and an orchestral grandeur. The result is sure to be an affecting work of beauty. Lost in the Trees' third album A Church That Fits Our Needs is out on March 20th on ANTI-.
Lost In The Trees - Red by antirecords
11) Little Tybee - "Boxcar Fair"
Georgia folk pop outfit Little Tybee might very well have the quickest turnaround of all time. Their upcoming release For Distant Viewing is practically right on the heels of sophomore record Humorous to Bees which came out last April all the while the group put together and soundtracked a puppet show by the name of Boxcar Fair. While such a quick release schedule might worry people, new track "Boxcar Fair" should allay all fear. There's still the conscientious equality of each member in it's arrangements, not to mention the song just being all around good. Little Tybee's For Distant Viewing's release date isn't exact yet but it can be expected sometime in March.
12) Kishi Bashi - "Manchester"
While Andrew Bird's album is definitely cause for excitement, up and coming violinist/loop pedal enthusiast/multi-instrumentalist Kishi Bashi's upcoming debut is definitely something to be excited about if not worthy of occupying the majority of your interest. Since his debut opening for Sondre Lerche last year, Kishi Bashi's been hard at work prepping the follow up to his Room For Dream EP. The results are astounding. Funded about 120% via Kickstarter, Kishi Bashi's debut is on the right track. Those who helped fund the project got a sneak peek of "I Am the Antichrist to You" in addition to the previews featured in his welcome video and the song was absolutely astounding. But until he releases an album track as a single or otherwise, you can still enjoy "Manchester" from his EP. Kishi Bashi's debut has a loose release date set for somewhere in the spring with a definite date coming soon so stay tuned.
13) Conveyor - "Mukraker"
Brooklyn band Conveyor have a lot to look forward to in 2012. Or rather fans do. Earlier this month, the released the digital single "Mukraker" which is part of their split 7" with other noteworthy Brooklyn band Illuminator. Also pretty sure they're working on a full length. No idea when that is but Conveyor's curious blend of slowly unfurling minimalism with explosive flourishes guarantees that I will be all over it when that day comes. In addition to everything else they release and do. Hopefully that'll be soon but you can't rush progress.
14) Secret Mountains - "Weepy Little Fingers"
Baltimore psychedelic rockers Secret Mountains can utterly swallow you with a single song and news is that they're planning on releasing a full length this year. That's as exciting as it is scary. The follow up to 2010's Rejoice EP, the band have been hard at work recording new tunes. And they just won a trip to record with Converse and record a live session so that's more new tunes and more recordings. Secret Mountains is going to have an intensely busy year and their debut full length might just be the cherry on top. No word yet on when their record is going to drop but news of which can't be that far away. Enjoy "Weepy Little Fingers" which the band released as a single last year.
15) Of Monster and Men - "Little Talks"
Despite releasing their debut album in their home of Iceland last September, Icelandic folkies Of Monsters and Men are gearing up for a major North American explosion. After tours and the release of their Into the Woods EP, the band are prepping for the stateside release of their debut My Head is An Animal which will feature a different tracklist than the Iceland release. And considering all their updates are coming from the studio, it's only a matter of time before we learn of the upcoming album's release date. One thing is certain though, even if the album's tracklist is 100% different than the Iceland release and the Into the Woods EP, "Little Talks" is bound to be on it. It's the band's greatest songwriting achievement that deserves to be displayed whenever and wherever it can be.
16) Teletextile - "What If I"
Considering the band had their debut release over in Europe last year, expecting an release this year might be a bit of wishful thinking on my part but the band has stated an interest in doing some recording and releasing something this year so I'm going off of that. Besides who knows maybe the band's debut album Glass will get a stateside release sometime this year? I mean, there's 11 months for that to happen. Despite a 2012 release being mostly speculation on my part, the band's becoming pretty active over here so maybe just maybe we'll see something. If not, 2012 should be the year where everyone at least starts paying attention to Teletextile.
Considering how early in the year it is, more and more album release news should come spilling out. I'm looking forward to being able to expound upon this list and getting to update several of those unconfirmed dates. Until then, I hope you enjoy.