Let’s not mince words about it – 2011 is guaranteed to be one hell of a great year for music. If even half the albums anticipated in this list see the light of day before the year is out, we’ll be drowning in downright succulent musical pornography. We’re also just as excited to bring you a barrage of new music from bands approaching our radar as we speak. Until then, let’s get our prediction on.
Foo Fighters, Wasted Light: More than 3 years after Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace was released to a lukewarm reception, Dave Grohl is promising that his next record will be “the heaviest Foo Fighters album yet.” Of course, he’s said that about every FF record since One By One (and we all know how that one went), but this time we have a few extra reasons to believe him: for one, he’s reunited with Nevermind producer Butch Vig. Secondly, we watched them debut the entire damn thing three feet from our faces. As of January 3rd, the album is finished, and we’re looking at April 12 for a release. Bring it.
The White Stripes, 7th LP: Jack White is incapable of staying off our radars for too long, and he probably won’t change his pace in 2011. As we already pointed out, Mr. White has vocalized his intentions to finally record a new album with Meg White, and the timing couldn’t fit any better, since his bandmates from The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs are all handling their own separate projects at the moment. All has been far too quiet over at Third Man Records over the holiday season… knowing Jack, that means some very good things.
UPDATE: Sadly, on February 2nd, we learned that the White Stripes are no more. We’d be liars not to admit a bit of crushing disappointment at the news that we’ll never see the old red and white color scheme in such spastic blues-demon fashion again.
Trent Reznor, TBA: Reznor has remained secretive about what exactly (and when) he’ll release in 2011, but the list of mentioned projects include: How To Destroy Angels’ full-length album, Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile reissued in an ultra-deluxe edition, the Year Zero miniseries on HBO, another film score (maybe David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and, possibly, a new NIN record, though that’s the least likely of the bunch. 2010 saw Trent releasing 3 records we didn’t even know about in 2009, so we’re left with guesses for the time being. We’re not complaining.
Kanye West & Jay-Z, Watch The Throne: After guesting on each other’s albums for years, the two heaviest hitters in Hip-Hop join forces for a dynamic-duo album, and it’s apparently right around the corner. Taking the stage in Vegas at a New Year’s Eve party, Kanye teased the crowd with the line, “Watch the Throne coming in one week.” Ye’s known for talking a lot of shit, but one thing he does better than most everyone else is deliver on promises. Def Jam Records reportedly tells FakeShoreDrive that we’ll have to wait just a little longer, however.
Those G.O.O.D. Friday tracks may have been just the tip of the iceberg…
Queens Of The Stone Age, 6th LP: Thanks to a collective break from side projects, we can finally look forward to a new album from Josh Homme & co. This is already their longest break between albums (almost 4 years), and, given how consistently powerful & cohesive the current lineup of the band has remained since then, the prospects could hardly be any more exciting. According to Josh Homme & Troy Van Leeuwen, we’ll be rocking to new, blues-soaked material by the end of the year. That’s more than good enough for us.
Death Cab For Cutie, Codes And Keys: According to an interview with the band at Stereogum, the follow-up to DCFC’s smash success of Narrow Stairs was recorded at various studios over the course of several months in 2010. The album represents a departure of sorts for the band, “a more cut-and-paste style of songwriting — as well as more of guitarist/producer Chris Walla’s compositions.” Frontman Ben Gibbard likened Codes And Keys to Brian Eno’s Another Green World. End of May for this one.
Fiona Apple, 4th LP: It’s been five years since the labored release of the wonderful Extraordinary Machine, and according to a profile of Apple’s drummer and co-producer Charley Drayton in Modern Drummer magazine, the songstress is looking at a Spring release for a follow-up album. Late last year we heard Fiona’s Jon Brion-produced So Sleepy for the 826LA compilation, exciting fans at the prospect of creative juices flowing once more in the studio.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, 10th LP: RHCP entered the studio with Blood Sugar Sex Magik knob-guru Rick Rubin back in September to begin work on the follow-up to 2006’s sprawling hit-factory Stadium Arcadium with high hopes and a new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, after John Frusciante’s departure in 2009. I spoke with frontman Anthony Kiedis two days before the group began their studio time, and the funktastic singer was bursting with excitement for the record, after an 11-month writing period that yielded “tons” of new music.
Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee, Vol. 2: Originally slated for the fall of 2009, Vol. 1 was delayed indefinitely while Adam (MCA) Yauch was treated for a throat cancer. Now that the tumor’s been eradicated, the Beatsies are eyeing a May 3 release for Vol. 2. What about Vol.1, you ask? You figure it out.
Jane’s Addiction, 4th LP: When the revolving door on Jane’s Addiction bassists kicked into action once more and the too-good-to-be-true Duff McKagan recruitment ended almost before it began, Blabbermouth reports that the band sent an e-mail out to the press with a semi-update about their next record. The statement said that they ”wanted to thank Duff for helping us write songs for our new record,” and explaining that “We love the songs we worked on with him – and the gigs were a blast – but musically we were all headed in different directions. From here Duff is off to work on his own stuff so we wish him all the best.”
As we reported back in May, the band’s first public performance with Duff featured the new song Another Soulmate. They’ve since picked up TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek to fill the bass position, and are eyeing Summer for their new release. Fingers crossed.
Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi, Rome: This collaboration is set to evoke the sound of 1960s’ Italian movie soundtracks, such as the classic Clint Eastwood spaghetti-western The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, here’s a reason to get excited: Jack White & Norah Jones sing lead on a few tracks. The few samples we have sound very promising.
PJ Harvey, Let England Shake: If there’s one thing we can always expect from Polly Jean Harvey, is a new album completely unlike what she’s released in the past. What we’ve heard from this one so far is pretty fucking weird, and definitely indicates a shift in sound. Produced by PJ herself, along with long time collaborators Flood, John Parish and Mick Harvey, and recorded inside a church in Dorset, England, it’s set for release on February 15. The recently unveiled track The Last Living Rose sounds a bit more conventional – have a listen.
U2, Songs Of Ascent: After taking their ridiculously massive “claw” show platform around the world, the Dublin rockers have packed it up (for a short while) and headed back into the studio. U2’s next album, produced by Danger Mouse, is tentatively set for release “early next year,” which will either prove accurate or very far off, given that the band’s touring schedule has them on the road from February through Summer. The record picks up tracks that were cut from 2009’s underappreciated No Line On The Horizon, and adds other songs that Bono & Co. have been working on and incorporating into concerts since August, the standout of which has easily been Glastonbury (listen here). As far as that whole “kick your ass” part goes, we’re not too sure about this one. Just sayin.
Portishead, 4th LP: Portishead have announced that 2011 will mark the band’s return to the stage, as well as the studio. We’re not sure whether to expect this one next year or not, since their previous album, Third, took well over 2 years to record. But if they decide to change their pace and release this fourth record more quickly than their previous efforts, it might be a very welcome surprise.
Mark Lanegan, TBA: After Mark Lanegan released the excellent solo album Bubblegum in 2004, he turned his attention a great collaboration with Isobel Campbell, having already released 3 records with her. However, Mark recently announced that he will finally make his solo comeback in 2011 – with contributions from no other than Alain Johannes, who just so happened to make one of our favorite albums last year.
Radiohead, 8th LP: It’s been known for a while now that Radiohead are cooking up the follow-up to In Rainbows, and have even been discussing the proper way to release it. Various reports have differed on how close to completion the album is (many suggesting that it was actually coming out in 2010), but if a release date wasn’t near, the band wouldn’t even mention the record.
The Kills, Blood Pressures: Since The Dead Weather are finally taking a break – after two years of near non-stop touring and recording – Alison Mosshart has been freed up to return to Jamie Hince, her partner in The Kills, for a new album that was recorded in Michigan and set for an April 5 release. The duo were already set to release their follow-up to the excellent Midnight Boom in 2010, but, according to the band, their record label took their sweet time, and other trains left the station while we all waited. We don’t know what it’s going to sound like, but we seriously hope that, this time, they keep it safe from insane coked up ex-models.
Mogwai, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will: Early reports had these Scottish post-rockers departing from the labyrinthine guitar workouts of its early years, but you can’t believe everything that you read, now can you? Mogwai is eyeing Valentine’s Day to release what’s already in the running for the best album name of the year, and now that we’ve heard the record (it leaked and it kicks ass), we’ve got no doubts about this one being a fan-favorite.
Dr. Dre, Detox: We’ve just about given up hope for the Chinese Democracy of Hip-Hop, given that what little we’ve heard after an eternity of delays is underwhelming, and the aging MC sounds exactly like what he is: a studio rat playing on his teflon hood reputation and inexhaustible connections to make an impact on a scene that’s left him behind. The game has evolved and shifted course several times throughout his multi-year album-making hermit phase, leaving the former gangsta rapper high and dry as far as artistic relevance is concerned. He’s too old to switch up the flow, too big to take any real risks. Detox will be Dre’s artistic swan song, once Interscope finally forces him to get it out (we’re told it’s now set for February release).
Mariachi El Bronx, 2nd LP:
The last proper Bronx full length (their phenomenal third self-titled) arrived in 2008 via the band’s White Drugs imprint, with the first Mariachi El Bronx record released a year later. Few knew quite what to make of the sudden personality shift at first, but we fell hard & heavy for the bizarrely awesome alter-ego of one of the best hardcore acts to ever sprout from Los Angeles. They’ve launched a new website promoting the project at MariachiElBronx.com, to keep you up to date on what’s bound to be an active year for the boys, and some badass video treats. Also check out an entire gallery of shit-kickin’ pics from the Mariachi El Bronx II recording sessions on the band’s Facebook page.
Glaring Omissions: Portugal. The Man, Cold War Kids, Atmosphere, The Strokes.