Who: Kelis, back to R&B after a few years as a muse to dance producers
What: Food, her first album on the indie label Ninja Tune
When: April 22
Why We're Excited: Produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, the album is steeped in the kind of clanging soul and funk you might hear played in the park on a summer day. But the star is Kelis' throaty, sometimes ragged vocals, which bring these songs a certain authority.
Who: Compton gangsta rapper YG
What: Debut album My Krazy Life
When: March 18
Why We're Excited: YG reanimates the ethos of classic West Coast gangsta rap over the Atlanta-friendly new school beats of DJ Mustard. Singles "My N---a" and "Who Do You Love" lead an album that is mean but sneakily musical. Check out our preview of the album right here.
Who: YMCMB's favorite son Lil Wayne
What: The fifth album in his signature series, Tha Carter V
When: May 5
Why We're Excited: Weezy usually saves his best work for Tha Carter albums, and he's maintaining Tha Carter V will be his last-ever studio album. Is his retirement threat honest or a Jay Z-inspired ploy to boost sales? Honestly, who cares—we'll be grabbing this album the second it drops either way. And according to a leak of the alleged tracklist, Tha Carter V will feature guest spots from Drake, Kanye West, Future, J. Cole, Nas, Game, Meek Mill and the Weeknd.
Who: Norwegian space-disco luminary Todd Terje
What: Debut full-length It's Album Time
When: April 8
Why We're Excited: Terje has been responsible for several fantastic dance singles over the last few years, a number of which ("Inspector Norse," "Strandbar") are tentpoles on his first album. The rest of the record is as goofy and as slick as you'd expect from someone who can be called a "space-disco luminary."
Who: Baltimore indie pop band Future Islands
What: Singles, their fourth album
When: March 25
Why We’re Excited: The band’s fourth album is produced by Chris Coady, who has made great work with
Who: Lana Del Rey
What: Ultraviolence, the followup to 2012’s Paradise EP
When: TBD/Possibly May 1
Why We’re Excited: No singles released as of yet, but LDR reportedly
described Ultraviolence as “so dark it’s almost unlistenable and wrong”
in a January Twitter Q&A. The plot thickened on February 20 when Lana
tweeted “Me and Dan Auerbach are excited to present you Ultraviolence” with a
photo of Lana perched on
Who: Australian rapper/twerking expert Iggy Azalea
What: Her long-delayed debut album, The New Classic
When: April 22
Why We're Excited: The 23-year-old described her LP as "fairly electronic, moombahton mixed with hip hop." That description—along with singles "Work" and "Change Your Life" featuring mentor T.I.—means we're anticipating a record filled with twerkable anthems.
Who: Philly punk-rockers The Menzingers
What: Rented World, the follow-up to 2012’s superb On The Impossible Past
When: April 22
Why We're Excited: A record as acclaimed as On The Impossible Past ignites a natural pressure when it comes to a follow-up release. The Menzingers don’t have the luxury of catching people off-guard this time as expectations are high, but “In Remission," the first single from their new album, shows a band that’s ready to make a statement. Rented World sees the Philly act departing from the storytelling style of OTIP, instead delivering one-liners that cut through to the listener. “I know where your heartache exists / It’s when you are alone and when you’re around me” and “My heart’s on the floor / Nothing feels good anymore” are lyrical highlights on the album, and guarantee Rented World will make as big of a splash as any Menzingers album so far.
Who: Super diva Mariah Carey
What: Mimi's 13th studio album, previously titled The Art of Letting Go,
When: May 6
Why We're Excited: Her Miguel collabo "#Beautiful" gave the former Idol judge her biggest hit since 2009. Despite a successful kickoff, details are still sparse on the full LP. While the empowering, gospel-tinged title track and silky ballad "You're Mine (Eternal)" are both R&B gems, TAOLG boasts a diverse list of rumored collaborators that could hopefully see some risk-taking from Mimi. From dance floor maestro David Morales to R&B producers Bryan-Michael Cox and Jermaine Dupri to Mike Will Made It to R. Kelly, it's unclear who will end up on the album.
Who: Sweden’s self-described “soul synthpop” quartet
What: Nabuma Rubberband, the follow up to 2011’s Ritual Union
When: May 13
Why We’re Excited: The first single “Klapp Klapp” sounds like it could be a Ritual Union bonus track. But the band describes Nabuma’s sound as less dance-oriented and more like “the vintage Janet Jackson slow jams Yukimi used to listen to wandering around Gothenburg during the unrelenting winter.” We love singer Yukimi Nagano’s voice so much we’d listen to an actual Janet Jackson covers album from her, so we’re fully on board.
Who: Philly's gauzy Americana rockers The War on Drugs
What: Third album Lost in the Dream
When: March 18
Why We're Excited: Like the music of ex-member Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs create rock songs heard through the haze of a mid-afternoon slumber… if you were lapsing into that nap while riding with the windows down through the South.
Who: German DJ-producer Tensnake
What: His debut album, Glow
When: March 11
Why We’re Excited: Tensnake’s Twitter feed has long been a source of new
dance music discoveries (follow his “on repeat
Who: Atlanta’s explosive indie-rock act Manchester Orchestra
What: Their fourth LP, Cope
When: April 1
Why We’re Excited: This band used two phenomenal full-lengths, 2006’s I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child and 2009’s Mean Everything To Nothing, to become one of the most celebrated indie rock bands of the current generation. But 2011’s Simple Math, which was a little less grungy and a lot more airy in the musicianship, didn’t sit well with the entirety of the group’s fanbase. Cope quells those naysayers with a guitar-heavy rock album that’s equal parts fuzzy and melodic–the next step in Man Orch’s career that proves this band has what it takes to remain relevant for a long time.
Who: Canadian spooky-folk purveyors Timber Timbre
What: Hot Dreams, the band’s third album
When: April 1
Why We’re Excited: Timber Timbre’s best songs make you feel that you’re locked into a languid slow dance in a dark corner of the casino-brothel on Twin Peaks, or lost in the Bon Temps bayou on True Blood. On “Hot Dreams”, the first single off the album of the same name, Taylor Kirk continues to wield his singular baritone to dramatic effect. According to the band’s label, Hot Dreams “is Timber Timbre from its most vivid cinematic vantage… connecting arid Western to plodding horror with the pomp of Hollywood phantasm.”
Who: Gainesville’s latest outstanding DIY group, Frameworks
What: Their debut LP, Loom
When: April 29
Why We’re Excited: Frameworks’ most recent EP, Small Victories, was highlighted by the single “Old Chokes,” an avalanche of a hardcore song that was broken-up by unexpectedly calm horns. The innovative blend of hardcore and emo influences garnered the interest of Topshelf Records and set the stage for Loom. Produced by Deafheaven producer Jack Shirley, the album is screamo in a good way. Get it ASAP and be on top of what will assuredly be one of the most-buzzing punk bands at the end of 2014.
Who: Aussie pop goddess Kylie Minogue
What: Kiss Me Once, her 12th album and the follow-up to 2010's Aphrodite
When: March 18
Why We're Excited: Even though we said "WTF?" when the singer signed to Jay Z's Roc Nation management, buzz track "Skirt" was a thrilling combination of gritty house beats and euphoric pop melodies, while official single "Into the Blue" is an uplifting, punchy pop track from the diva. With a list of collaborators that includes Pharrell, Sia and Enrique Iglesias, we're further amped by this album sampler Minogue posted. It'll also be nice to see the singer Stateside more. She told Billboard that North America is her priority all spring: "The fans I have over there are smaller in number, but pretty mighty in their devotion to the cause. I'm always asked, 'Is this the album that's gonna work over there?' I don't know. I can only make the album that feels right for me." Fingers crossed!
Who: Boston indie/punk/emo band Somos
What: Their debut full-length, Temple of Plenty
When: March 25
Why We’re Excited: If you knew of (and/or dearly miss) Name Taken, an indie rock/emo band from California in the early '00s, then Somos are here to quench your thirst. The Boston quartet can't piggyback on any hashtag-friendly movements like the #emorevival because they’re too poppy to be punk and they’re too explosive to be emo, but Temple of Plenty is an irresistible, addictive 28-minute burst of bouncy rock. The hooks come at you like a boxer who takes quick jabs at the body rather than trying to land one huge knockout hit to the jaw. The result is a quick joyride that only ends when you are forced to stop repeating it.