Fuse caught the Canadian indie band debuting new material at Sasquatch Fest in Washington State, and boy, oh boy, is their new album sounding very, very good. Especially one untitled New Wave epic, which had frontwoman Emily Haines cooing over gentle melodies, slowly building tension, then wailing over an explosion of keyboards and guitar.
French Montana, 'Excuse My French' (July 17)
Bronx rapper French Montana’s debut, executive produced by Diddy and Rick Ross, is sure to be the star-studded official launch of the former videographer’s career. Despite having the most laconic flow in the game, he’s become one of its hottest MCs after the New York radio takeover of his single "Shot Caller."
Insane Clown Posse, 'Mighty Death Pop' (August 14)
Look at these two—what's not to be excited about? The sadistic Detroit duo are dropping three (!!!) new albums on August 14 via their Psychopathic Records, with the centerpiece being 'Mighty Death Pop' (which is a really great description for their music, actually). Expect classic ICP-isms, like lyrics about hatchet weilding and the brother(and sistah)hood of Juggalos. What about the other two releases? Well, 'Freaky Tales' is a 64-minute long rap inspired by Too Short, and 'Covered, Smothered & Chunked' features covers of songs by everyone from Christina Aguilera to Tears for Fears to Geto Boys.
50 Cent (Title, Release Date TBD)
We’re still riding high on 50’s recently-released 'The Lost Tape' mixtape—Curtis Jackson hasn’t sounded this relevant and energized in years. If that hunger pops up on Fif’s fifth album, this could be one of the summer’s must-haves.
Japandroids, 'Celebration Rock' (June 5)
Pretty much the perfect album title for this Canadian rock duo, whose debut LP brought theatrical guitar acrobatics and heart-on-sleeve "whoa-oh's!" back to indie rock. "The House That Heaven Built," the first single from their second LP, continues in the same vein—this is hipster fist-pumping music.
Courtesy of Polyvinyl Record Co.
R. Kelly, 'Write Me Back' (June 26)
Kels is set to release two albums this year: the less-than-subtle 'Black Panties' will arrive later this year, while 'Write Me Back' is Kelly's tribute to classic soul music. Is "Share My Love" about a threesome? "When a Man Lies" a confessional? We're as curious as you.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, 'Here' (May 29)
After a foray into solo land, front-hippie/Jesus doppelganger Alex Ebert is back with his breakout Los Angeles folk collective and preparing for another patchouli-drenched takeover of the music world. 'Here' is packed with '70s folk sing-alongs, and there's even some didgeridoo. But will it produce another hit like "Home" from their debut 'Up from Below'? My money says "yes."
Chris Brown, 'Fortune' (June 29)
Brown’s fifth album, his follow-up to last year’s 'F.A.M.E.,' finds the singer, strangely, taking his career in a dubstep direction. And it's good! He's already leaked six songs and a video from the album, so a determined fan can get a little taste of it right now. Trust us, you'll like what you hear.
Justin Bieber, 'Believe' (June 15)
2012 will be known as the adultification of Bieber (aka "Timberlaking"), as the 18-year-old singer transitioned from bubbly teen pop to a (slightly) harder edge, expanding his sound with hip hop and classic Motown. With appearances by Drake, Ludacris, Big Sean and Nicki Minaj, expect this one to be a monster.
Passion Pit, 'Gossamer' (July 24)
Lead singer-songwriter Michael Angelakos told Pitchfork he was looking for inspiration in 20th century songwriting greats like Cole Porter and Irving Berlin for his band's second album, but the synth-pop supernova of lead single "Take a Walk" show us that songwriting maturity need not negate propulsive dance-rock joy.
Liars, 'WIXIW' (June 4)
This experimental Brooklyn trio have been releasing music for over a decade, but their sixth album, WIXIW' (pronounced "wish you"), is their first that we've absolutely loved. It's their "electronic" album, recorded over a year in a window-less Los Angeles basement; it's lush, playful and beautiful; it's like Radiohead's 'Kid A' for the next generation.
The Hives, 'Lex Hives' (June 5)
Much is made of "progression," "evolution" and other crap like that in the music world. Forget it. Some things are best unaltered, like garage rock revivalists the Hives, who serve another bitch-slap of an album with 'Lex Hives.' Crunchy, punky guitar riffs? Yep. Pelle Almqvist's signature sass and howl? You betcha. Good times rock n' roll? In spades.
David Wolff - Patrick
Bobby Womack, 'The Bravest Man in the Universe' (June 12)
It's been a tough year for the 68-year-old soul singer, having recently battled colon cancer (though Womack recently revealed that he's now cancer-free). For his first album in 12 years, the singer linked up with Blur's Damon Albarn for the most appropriate title of the year.
Linkin Park, 'Living Things' (June 26)
The band has promised to return to “familiar territory,” like their diamond-selling debut Hybrid Theory, on their fifth album, and we think this might mean another classic. Mike Shinoda also said the album art will “blow [the fans] away.” Excellent.
Public Image Ltd., 'This is PiL' (May 28)
The surly former Sex Pistols frontman caught a bit of flak for shilling for a British butter commercial, but the money from that helped to finance 'This is PiL,' Public Image Ltd.'s first album since 1992's 'That What is Not.' At 56, Lydon has hardly calmed down with age, so expect more vitriol and painful truths.
Ladyhawke, 'Anxiety' (May 24)
The New Zealand-bred singer-guitarist blew us away with "Paris is Burning" and "My Delirium," the New Wave jams from her 2008 self-titled debut, and after a three-year break she's back with more of a good thing. The LP's title refers to her state of mind during writing and recording the second record, but the tunes are upbeat and dancey, like the the David Bowie-esque "Sunday Drive."
Sigur Ros, 'Valtari' (May 29)
Sigur Ros singer-guitarist-mastermind Jonsi Birgisson took a four-year break from the band to focus on his solo project, Jonsi. But thank the Icelandic gods, because he's returned to his much-prettier musical outlet to release another collection of atmospheric, touching songs. What's he singing? Who knows—anybody out there speak Icelandic? But it sounds so, so soothing.
Rick Ross, 'God Forgives, I Don't' (July 31)
Coming on the heels of his huge January mixtape Rich Forever (and serving as the follow-up to The New York Times No. 1 album of 2010 Teflon Don), God Forgives, I Don't finds Rick Ross holding the title of biggest MC in the game. Although he's been tight-lipped with the feature and song details on this album, Ross promised in a recent press conference that this album is going to be a monster and we have no reason to doubt him. And there isn't a rapper alive who wouldn't want to be on God Forgives, I Don't, so we know he'll have some primo features. It will certainly be the most heralded rap release of 2012.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, 'Americana' (June 5)
As if the presence of Crazy Horse on a Neil Young album for the first time since 2003's 'Greendale' isn't reason enough to celebrate, there's the added curiosity of Neil lending his inimitable vocals and Horse giving its chugging rock crunch to traditional songs like "She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" and "Oh Susannah."
Waka Flocka Flame, 'Triple F Life' (June 12)
The Atlanta MC changed the sound of rap with Lex Luger on 2010’s 'Flockaveli,' and he’s back with 'Triple F Life' (friends, fans and family) to prove his staying power. There's a reason this dude is the loudest, wildest new voice in hip hop.
Fiona Apple, 'The Idler Wheel...' (June 19)
Apple is part of an increasingly rarified group whose album releases are still "events." After hearing many of the new tracks live, it's clear Apple hasn't lost any of her angst or talent. Welcome back.
A$AP Rocky, 'LongLiveA$AP' (TBD)
The Harlem-in-body, Houston-in-mind rapper's 2011 mixtape
"LiveLoveA$AP" turned Rocky from a local New York sensation to national hip hop hero. Now, with everyone from Swizz Beatz to Juicy J aligning with him, Rocky's proper debut "LongLiveA$AP" hopes to fulfill the promise and potential so many have foisted upon him. We're confident he'll deliver.
DMX, 'Undisputed' (June 26)
We honestly have no idea what to expect from the mercurial DMX’s forthcoming 7th album, but he's a man known for moments of unpredictable brilliance and uncompromising honesty, so we're pretty excited to hear what the guy's been cooking up. This album has been pushed back a few times, but keeping DMX's endless reservoir of surprise in mind, we won't be surprised if he drops a huge hit.
Smashing Pumpkins, 'Oceania' (June 19)
Billy Corgan has endured some seriously scathing criticism for continuing under the Smashing Pumpkins name with an all-new band. But he's done a great job at drowning out the haters with his ambitious 44-song project 'Teargarden by Kaleidyscope,' and he's doing an even better job with 'Oceania,' a proper new album release that Corgan says is part of the 'Teargarden' project, too. What we've heard so far only makes me think that Corgan is going through the greatest mid-life crisis ever, one alleviated by big, juicy psychedelic riffs.
Beach Boys, 'That's Why God Made the Radio' (June 5)
If a musician gets the opportunity to record over five albums, you could call their career a success. This is the Beach Boys' 29th. Do the math. The classic lineup of the band is back together (sans deceased members Carl and Dennis, natch) and the title track for their new LP is good! No, really: Usually it's painful to hear a reunited group's new material (just play the hits!) but the Boys are breaking that mold, just like they did so many others in the music world over their 50-year-old career.
Serj Tankian, 'Orca' (TBD)
The lead singer of System of a Down is releasing a complete symphonic work? Wha? Actually, this isn't as much of a shock given that he has previously collaborated with the Auckland Philharmonic to create an orchestral version of his solo album Elect the Dead. Not to mention he also has a song called "Beethoven's C*nt." So obviously, the man loves his classical music.
The Scissor Sisters, 'Magic Hour' (May 28)
The New York dance-pop team are out with their fourth album, which features guest vocals from Azealia Banks and lead singer Jake Shears under the pseudonym Krystal Pepsy. We think we’re going to like the album based on the name Krystal Pepsy alone.
Sean Gallup/Life Ball 2012
Melvins, 'Freak Puke' (June 5)
Their 21st album in 25 years, the Melvins have been exploring the crossover regions between sludge metal, hardcore punk and grunge for a long time without ever really seeming at a loss for new musical ideas. It’s not a sound for everyone, but those who like their hard rock a little muddled and their music a little weird can always find something to love in a new Melvins album. In this case, we’re guessing their cover of Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Let Me Roll It” will be a highlight from the appropriately-named Freak Puke.
Usher, 'Looking 4 Myself' (June 12)
Usher (Looking 4 Myself): Usher’s seventh album Looking 4 Myself, which he’s described as being “revolutionary pop,” already has some of the year’s hottest singles on it (“Climax,” “Scream” and “Lemme See”). We can’t wait.
Nas, 'Life is Good' (July 17)
If you believe the title of Nas's first album in four years, the 38-year-old rapper is in a peaceful phase of his life following a public and messy divorce with singer Kelis. First single "Daughters" expounds on his relationship with 17-year-old daughter Destiny, though don't expect Esco to fully give up his Don persona.
2 Chainz, 'Based on a T.R.U. Story' (August 14)
Ever since leaving the Georgia rap duo Playaz Circle and changing his name from “Tity Boi” to the more marketing-friendly 2 Chainz, things have been going increasingly well for this guy. He’s popped up in primo guest spots on singles from Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and Curren$y, and he even nabbed Drake for his own single, “No Lie.”
Emeli Sande, 'Our Version of Events' (June 5)
The Scottish soul single scored a massive worldwide hit with "Heaven," a pulsating, horn-filled track that sounds like someone
sped up some lost Massive Attack classic. Our Version of Events is
already platinum in the UK and, we hope, will have equal success
Juan Naharro Gimenez
Yeasayer, 'Fragrant World' (August 20)
"It's a demented R&B record," Chris Keating, singer-keyboardist for the Brooklyn psych-rock band, said of their follow-up to 2010's awesome 'Odd Blood.' "It's like an Aaliyah album if you played it backwards and slowed it down. Or David Bowie's 'Lodger'. Those two are major influences." Um, that sounds AMAZING.
Dirty Projectors, 'Swing Lo Magellan (July 10)
Brooklyn's buzziest buzz band of 2009 spent the past year holed up in a cabin in the woods in Upstate, New York, and the results are... horrific. David Longstreth, the leader of the experimental indie intellectuals, said the cabin was haunted and made him write about "horror" and "fear." Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' also inspired the horror direction, he added. Boo!
Jason Frank Rothenberg
Crocodiles, 'Endless Flowers' (June 5)
This San Diego band churns out summery, hooky indie pop that’s perfect for a rooftop/backyard barbeque. Their latest single, “Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9),” is a careening power pop tune with a joyfully fuzzy riff.
Animal Collective, 'Centipede Hz ' (September 4)
With 'Merriweather Post Pavilion,' the experimental Baltimore-based outfit flipped the EDM and indie worlds on their heads, merging them in druggy, freaked-out bliss on the dance floor. An album teaser offers sounds that'll make your head spin, in a good way.
Bobby Brown, 'Masterpiece' (June 5)
The singer and ex-husband of Whitney Houston hasn't released an album since 1997's "Forever," but will "Masterpiece" help transform him from grieving (or exploitative, depending on how you look at it) widow to acclaimed musician? ["Masterpiece"] is what I've been through throughout my lif
Big K.R.I.T., 'Live from the Underground' (June 5)
This is one of those rare cases where you can say with 95% certainty that an artist’s debut album will display a fully-formed artist. That’s because his last mixtape, 4eva N a Day, was basically a free album (vs. a quickie collection of songs). It was thematically cohesive, well-produced and meant to be listened-to from start to finish. It was also, as they say, dope.
Hot Chip, 'In Our Heads' (June 11)
The London electronic indie band, avatars for indie dance nerds everywhere, are dropping their fifth album, and we know it'll be heard early and often at summer dance parties. Early singles sound sweet and the physical edition of the soon-to-be-dance-classic comes with a limited-edition one-sided 7" single called "Doctor," which will be a definite collector's item, so we suggest you pick that up when it drops. A one-sided 7" makes sense for a band with so much A-material they're not even making a b-side!
Peaking Lights, 'Lucifer' (June 19)
This L.A. duo channel that moment in the early 1980s when reggae met the dance floor, as producers like Adrian Sherwood were remolding dub music and incorporating it with disco, funk and New Wave. "All the Sun that Shines," the group's breakout hit from their debut album "936" was like going to Jamaica, but adding coke to your weed. We expect nothing less from this one.