We asked the SPB staff to take a moment to look ahead and predict. Here are the top 5 releases each of us are looking forward to. Some involve new records from classic artists, some are new faves, and others are pure rumor-mongering. The only criteria is that they must be items we're still looking forward to, so apologies to the artists who have already released outstanding material this year. Without further ado...
- Fun. -- It's probably no secret by now that I love this band. I'm still highly anticipating Some Nights, and it's just a couple weeks away. It's gonna be sad to see them move away from the Aim + Ignite sound, but damn if I'm not excited to see where they go from here.
- Murder by Death -- One of my favorite bands is hard at work on new material right now. They seem to be pretty pumped about it, so naturally I am too. I've yet to be disappointed by a Murder by Death album, and I'm sure whatever they're cooking up won't be an exception.
- Circle Takes the Square -- Still anxiously awaiting its release. Decompositions Vol. 1 was supposed to be out last fall and it never came. Some still believe it'll never happen, but I'm hanging on.
- Propagandhi -- Really, what else is there to say other than "please release a new album this year?" The song they teased us with was wonderful!
- RVIVR -- One of, if not, my favorite punk band right now. The two songs they released last year were fantastic, and I hope they've got more to record and release this year.
2012 holds a great deal of promise as far as what records are being hinted at dropping this year. So many good bands and even some hallowed ones are prepping new material for release this year, and really, if you are the type of person that says no good music has been released in a while, then you just are not listening. This list was extremely hard for me to compile because there is a huge amount of records that are coming out in 2012 that I am excited to hear, and if you notice, one of these is officially out now while three others are due out around the time that you are reading this:
- Sutekh Hexen -- Larvae (Handmade Birds)
Seriously, besides the fact that the LP version completely sold out during pre-orders in less than a week, Larvae is highly anticipated by more than just the growing group of fanatics that hang on everything that this now three piece levies on the world, but no matter the anticipation, nothing is going to prepare people for just how great this album is; simultaneously crushing and serene, Larvae is going to open Sutekh Hexen up to a whole new batch of listeners. Do not miss this.
- House Of Low Culture -- Poisoned Soil (Taiga)
On a personal level, I have been waiting for a new album from House Of Low Culture ever since the digital version of Housing Tracts was released to the public over a year ago and all the while leading up to the release of Poisoned Soil Aaron Turner teased us with songs on split cassette tapes and a collaborative entry with Merzbow on a split LP with Mamiffer last year. Well, the wait is finally over this year; and this dense album will hopefully reward people with another glimpse into the twisted passages that twist and turn through the House Of Low Culture.
- Locrian & Mamiffer -- Bless Them That Curse You (Profound Lore / Sige / Utech / Daymare)
Upon first hearing of this collaboration in the summer, my mouth silently formed the word “whoa.” I mean, it is not often that two adventurous and creative outfits such as Locrian and Mamiffer knock their creative boots together to spawn a new work. Bless Them That Curse You is a seemingly awesome pairing that has the potential to be a landmark release from the artwork and packaging (the visual artists involved in the release is also impressive with Terrence Hannum, Faith Coloccia, and Aaron Turner all being noted visual artists in their own right) to the music itself.
- Earth -- Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II (Southern Lord)
Call me a sucker, but any new Earth record is bound to stir up some strong feelings on either side of the fence (be it yea or nay), and this is the follow up, or more specifically, the companion piece to last year’s album from the band that was recorded at the same point that its predecessor was; however, Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II is supposedly a much more loose and improvised affair.
- Swans -- The Seer (Young God)
Ah yes, the Swans returned in 2010 to much critical acclaim and a staunch attitude that this rebirth of the band was not a quick cash grab to trade on the former glories of the members’ youth, and the album, My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky certainly showed that they meant that statement. Over the course of the year plus since their rebirth, Swans showed some expansive and crushing pieces in live situations that were yet to be documented in the studio that are certainly uncompromising hints of what is to come.
There are tons of other great artists with records coming out this year: Cremation Lily probably has about 4 to 8 tapes on the way, Planning For Burial already released the Quietly tape by the time you read this and just maybe we’ll get blessed by a few more or even that album that has been hoarded by the artist for the last year or so (but it probably will not), the almighty Neurosis supposedly has a new album due out this year (which if it does will be damn amazing I am sure), Jodis (Aaron from Isis and a slew of others, James and Tim from Khanate and a bunch of others) has a new album coming soon, Mamiffer may or may not drop an album, Locrian also has another collaborative album with Christopher Heemann due out on Handmade Birds, and Sutekh Hexen has another 12 or so releases this year.
I could go on, but you probably are overwhelmed by that as it is. Keep searching, keep listening.
Let it be known that I suck at knowing what's been announced for release for an upcoming year. From tiny independent albums to major label releases, I pretty much won't know about it until I'm hearing it. With that in mind, I drew up a list of five albums that I'm certain are going to drop this year (with a little help from some friends) and that I'm definitely looking forward to. I may have missed something terribly obvious, but these are the five that stuck with me.
- Germ -- Germ is the solo project of Australian musician Tim (Austere, Woods of Desolation) and a debut album has been a long time coming. Originally set for a January release, and having been in gestation for at least five years, Wish is now ready to be heard in March.
- The Great Old Ones -- This French outfit first came to my attention whilst on a lazy browse through bandcamp. Happening upon their page and a couple of album "pre-production" tracks was enough to pique interest in their Lovecraftian black metal stylings. Released via Antithetic Records in April, Al Azif cannot come soon enough.
- Katatonia -- Katatonia's 2010 record Night Is The New Day was a highlight of that year, and is still an album I come back to constantly. Their brand of sweeping melody and elements of deep despair touch the soul in a beautifully melancholic manner; one can only hope the music they're currently recording will do the same.
- Lake Of Blood -- This Southern Californian black metal project are about to hit the studio to record the follow up to last summer's As Time And Tide Erodes Stone and, if that misanthropy filled diatribe is anything to go by, these new recordings will only add fuel to the fire that is the Lake of Blood manifesto.
- Panopticon -- Last year's Social Disservices was an incredibly relevant piece dealing with a terrifically heavy subject, one that is close to the heart of Panopticon's sole member A.Lunn. This year sees another side to the Panopticon sound in Kentucky, a record that promises to be heavier and far more grim and frostbitten than anything before it. Exciting!
- The Tim Version -- According to our 2011 Pass the Mic, there's a new release on the way from Tim Version. It's about time--Decline of the Southern Gentleman was one of my earlier SPB reviews, and my first interview as well.
- Toys That Kill -- It's been how many years since Shanked? Simply put, Toys That Kill are due for another sloppy-pop-punk full-length. Nobody writes a melody like Todd Congelliere.
- Rancid -- Yeah, it's more curiosity at this point. My favorite band from age 16 hasn't done much to interest me for the past decade, but I'm always intrigued.
- POS -- I swear this was rumored last year and we got the Doomtree No Kings release instead. Looking forward to more genre-pushing hip-hop with a bit of abrasive punk crossover.
- Murder City Devils -- What can I say? It's early in the year and I'm living on rumors here. This one has allegedly been in the works since the first reunion shows. Do I believe it'll happen? Not really.
- Meshuggah -- Koloss
With song titles like "The Hurt that Finds You First", "I Am Colossus" and "Break Those Bones Whose Sinews Gave It Motion", I am doing my best not to erupt with anticipatory joy at Meshuggah's new album. Given that they've been releasing nothing but top-tier material since 1995's Destroy Erase Improve, I have no reason to believe that Koloss will be anything but satisfying.
- Rush -- Clockwork Angels
I can only subsist on teaser singles for so long! If the rest of this album is anything as good as "BU2B" and "Caravan" were, then Rush's newest album Clockwork Angels could turn out to be their best since Moving Pictures. It better be, given how long we've been waiting on it.
- Storm Corrosion -- Storm Corrosion
One of the many supergroups I can't wait to hear in 2012, this one involves Porcupine Tree/Blackfield frontman Steven Wilson and Opeth guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt. The album has been described as "the final part in the odd trilogy of records completed by Heritage and...Grace for Drowning", and consists of six songs, each more than ten minutes in length. Believe me, this album is one I cannot wait to hear.
- Primal Rock Rebellion -- Awoken Broken
Another one of the many supergroups I am looking forward to this year, Primal Rock Rebellion is a collaboration between Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith and former SikTh vocalist Mikee Goodman, two bands that both command immense respect. Though I'm personally gunning for the album to land more on the SikTh side of the fence, this combination of talents will do well no matter where it ends up.
- Squackett -- Squackett
And yet another one of this year's supergroups, Squackett features Yes bassist Chris Squire and former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett. I won't lie, I'm hoping for a big classic progressive rock wank-fest with 20-minute tracks and far-out lyrics. But this duo would be hard pressed to release a disappointing album at this point.
- Murder City Devils -- In a recent interview (recent, as in two years) MCD lead singer Spencer Moody claimed the band, while not totally back in full swing, was indeed recording a new album. Late last year a new two-song 7" quietly marterialized, confirming that they are at least doing something. Every Day I Rise b/w Ball Busters in the Peanut Gallery shows them moving a few steps away from ferocious garage punk and into an artier area, encapsulating the influences from the band members various other projects. It's a natural extension from where the MCD left off on the Thelema EP back in 2001, leaving me fully intrigued by what comes next...provided something actually does.
- Black Face -- Another hypothetical one here. Last summer news broke that former SST Records co-owner and OG Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski had teamed with avant-punk vocalist/writer/real-life-kicker-of-human-ass Eugene S. Robinson to form Black Face, a band that would play unheard songs from and influenced by My War-era Black Flag. Word is that four songs had been recorded, yet only two surfaced on a 7" only release. That means there are at least two more to be heard. Add that to the fact the band has added some live dates, with an entire set list, finds me hopeful that there will be a new record as well.
- Action Bronson -- various
2012 looks to be just as busy a year for the Albanian descending Flushing-Queens,NYC MC as last year was. Bronson is expecting a whopping five releases this year! Four albums: Rare Chendeliers with Alchemist, Mr. Wonderful with Tommy Mas, as well as one each with Lex Lugar and Harry Fraud, and a mixtape with Party Supplies called Blue Chips. That's an overwhelming amout of material to digest, but I'm up for the task.
- Strong Arm Steady & Statik Selektah -- Stereotype
Cali cliq SAS is back at it again, this time with production/DJ powerhouse Statik Selektah behind the boards. For the past two years these two have quietly created some best hip-hop records: SAS with the Madlib collabo In Search of Stoney Jackson and the follow-up Arms & Hammers, and Selektah lacing a number of MCs, from up-n-commers like Freddie Gibbs and Action Bronson to veterans like Edo G. and Reks. My finger is eagerly hovering over the "purchase" button, ready to click as soon as this pops up in iTunes.
- Dilated Peoples -- Directors of Photography
After being enamoured with their first two albums, and especially their live show (they could rock a crowd like no other), I had completely lost interest after the lackluster outing Neighborhood Watch, and never really paid much attention to anything that came after. That is until last year when Evidence dropped his excellent second solo album Cats & Dogs. The fire has been reignited with me. Here's hoping the same goes for them. After all, it's been six years since they have done anything as a group.
Runner Up: a whole bunch of punk records
It's election year here in the United States. Naturally there is going to be some really good punk rock comming out. And I, for one, am looking forward to every bit of it.