D'Angelo, you're on notice.
Last year, writing this piece, I said I'd "gladly die in the Mayan apocalypse if I finally get to hear D'Angelo's follow-up to Voodoo." Then he went and denied me the option. (Though to be fair, so did the Mayans.) So I'm not including D in this year's list, even if he's supposedly closer to making James River a reality than ever before. But there's plenty to get excited about, so let's dive in, shall we?
1. Eels, Wonderful Glorious (February 5)
One of my favorite dour indie-rockers, Mark Everett has been been off the scene since 2010, when Eels released Tomorrow Morning. But last month he dropped the first track from Wonderful Glorious, "New Alphabet," which starts with the very un-Eels like opening line: "You know what? / I'm in a good mood today." This is quite a departure from older tunes like "Cancer for the Cure" and "Electro-Shock Blues," but the loose-limbed backing tracks, mastodon-heavy guitars, and distorted vocals from previous Eels releases are fully intact, so whatever Everett's mental state may be, he's still prepared to rock.
2. Azealia Banks, Broke With Expensive Taste (February 12)
After breaking out massively last year, Banks pulled the ol' "drop a mixtape then delay my full-length" trick that so frustrates the salivating public. Fortunately, she's really great, so it makes it hard to stay mad at her. Also, I refuse to go on the record and say that I hope it leaks, like A$AP Rocky's full-length did, because that's fucked up, dude… but off the record? Different story. Anyhoo, here's a new track called "BBD," which, despite apparently not being on the album, might clue you into what it'll kinda-sorta-maybe sound like.
3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Push The Sky Away, (February 18)
Yeah, Grinderman was fun and all, but I'm really happy Cave lost the mustache and got back with his bunkies in the Bad Seeds. That said, the first track, "We No Who U R" has a staggeringly awful title (for someone as contemptuous of youth as Cave is, it's shocking he'd resort to text message language for… anything), and it's a little more mellow and spacious than ass-kicking and awe-inspiring. But that's cool — I listen to Boatman's Call about as much as Let Love In. I'm just happy to see Cave back in the saddle, and the Bad Seeds… also in that saddle.
4. Johnny Marr, The Messenger, (February 26)
Yup, that's Johnny "The Best Part of The Smiths" Marr. Johnny "Has Played With Everybody In The World" Marr. This album has been delayed so much it might as well be a Congressional vote (topical humor: nailed it). But Marr is one of the rare elder statesmen of indie rock who's maintained both visibility and creative integrity, mostly through a relentless collaborative schedule that includes Modest Mouse, The Cribs, and freakin' Howard Shore. It'll be great to see what he can do when he's fully at the reins for an album.
5. Major Lazer, Free The Universe (February 18)
DJ/producer/guy-whose-life-you-want Diplo's project Major Lazer is probably most known from the sample of their song "Pon de Floor" that popped up in Beyonce's "Run The World (Girls)." But they're a mobile party unit of a band in their own right, and the list of guests on Free the Universe is ca-razy: it includes Santigold, Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, Wyclef Jean, Peaches, Amber Coffman of Dirty Projectors, and also, for some reason, Shaggy. And Diplo is super good-looking as well. So… there's that.
6. Daft Punk, No End (March 13)
Well, dodging the streams of misinformation surrounding the new Daft Punk album is difficult, but different web sites (and other bands) have leaked the title and a possible March release date, so who knows? The list of collaborators on this sucker is astounding, though — Giorgio Moroder at one point said he'd recorded a "rap" for it, Chic guitarist and legendary producer Nile Rodgers is reportedly "hyped" to be working on it, and lastly, piano virtuoso Chilly Gonzalez also recorded something for it. At this point, it's either going to be mindblowing or a massive letdown. I have faith in the former.
7. The Knife, Shaking the Habitual, (April 8)
The long-awaited follow-up to 2006's Silent Shout, Shaking The Habitual has already been hyped beyond belief, even before The Knife released this cryptic, David Lynchian teaser video. The brother-sister duo of Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer's last work was a collaboration with Mr. Sims and Planningtorock on a 2010 opera, Tomorrow, In a Year, which was apparently loosely based on Charles Darwin's On The Origin of Species. And Andersson put out a solo album in 2009. But officially, this'll be the first new Knife in nearly seven years. Prepare yourself.
8. Queens of the Stone Age
Don't know what it is, or what it's about, but it's the first album since Lullabies to Paralyze, the first since the only-sort-of-marginally-awesome Them Crooked Vultures project, and most importantly, the first Queens record with Dave Grohl drumming since Songs For The Deaf. (Do yourself a favor and re-listen to that sucker. It slays.) And though Nick Oliveri, another crucial element of the Songs magic, has disappeared into a big vortex of crazy, my hopes remain high. So should yours.
9. M.I.A., Matangi
Speaking on Twitter last August about the long-delayed, apparently kind of insane Matangi, M.I.A. said, "No one in the industry collected blows in the last three years as much as me. This [Matangi] is a fuck you to them and a thank you to you." Then again, in the same Twitter session, she also described it as "sweet and sour bitter and salt and HOT !" Whatever its taste profile, Matangi will include last year's titanic single "Bad Girls," though, so that's something to go on.
10. My Bloody Valentine
Might never happen. Also, considering the number of MBV imitators out there, do we really need it to happen? Yes. Yes, we do.