With a new year comes surprise and the prospect of good fortune. In the realm of music, this translates to both the breaking of emerging acts along with the resurgence of legends, as a slew of live shows and innovative records debut each month. In the modern music community, the independent scene has never been as fruitful. More and more bands are handling their own affairs, putting out a greater catalog of work and discovering a broad range of outlets to distribute their art.
Fortunately, results are beginning to surface as the industry rises to the occasion. This past year saw tremendous mainstream success for indie acts, with musicians like Tech N9ne and Mumford & Sons maintaining eminent presence on Billboard Charts, and alt-rocker Bon Iver selling show tickets for several hundred dollars a pop. As observed in a press statement several months ago by NARM President, Jim Donio, independent sales have never been as impressive.
Donio pointed out, “Rapper Mac Miller topped the charts this week, becoming the first indie artist to hit #1 with a debut album since 1995. His accomplishment follows earlier independent chart successes such as Cake with their Showroom of Compassion album, not to mention chart-leading debuts from Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire and the charity compilation Hope for Haiti Now in 2010.”
The self-made man has become emblematic of the contemporary musician, and as discovery tools are developed for the new music consumer, taste will be curated according to the strength and purity of sound rather than conventional pop sensationalism. Look out 2012 – the artist now has more free reign than ever. Here’s a brief appetizer of some albums we’ll be watching out for in the new year, and any thoughts the artists have offered in anticipation.
Check back on BTR for new music releases all year long…
Upcoming Releases in 2012….
Hospitality – Hospitality, Released January 31st. The new act signed to Merge will release their debut at the top of the year. The band is described by the label, as using “idiosyncratic songwriting and incisive lyrics coupled with… rich arrangements on its self-titled debut to explore youth, New York, and the bittersweet commingling of past and present.” Sample their first single “Betty Wang,” now at www.mergerecords.com.
Dr. Dog – Be The Void, Released February 7th. From their web site, “You start with seven guys in a room staring at one another, and then five months later you’ve got yourself a record. We love and are proud to share it with you.”
of Montreal – Paralytic Stalks, Released February 7th. Track list: 1. Gelid Ascent, 2. Spiteful Intervention, 3. Dour Percentage, 4. We Will Commit Wolf Murder, 5. Malefic Dowery, 6. Ye, Renew the Plaintiff, 7. Wintered Debts, 8. Exorcismic Breeding Knife, 9. Authentic Pyrrhic Remission.
Shearwater – Animal Joy, Released February 14th. The eighth album by a band reminiscent of The Smiths, it will be these indie rockers’ first release on Sub Pop. As one fans comments on the label site, “So much of what we hear these days (the lousy stuff, anyway) is willfully insular; Jonathan Meiburg’s songs, by contrast, have constantly tackled bigger questions and been propelled by massive musical ambitions.”
Sleigh Bells – Title TBD, Released February 14th.
Chains of Love – Title TBD, Released February 14th. The recent Discovery
Artist told BTR, “Success is just to do it again.”
Archers of Loaf – Vee Vee (reissue), Released February 21st. Merge Records notes the new edition will be “remastered by Bob Weston and feature new liner notes by MAGNET magazine editor Eric Miller, physical copies of Vee Vee will include sixteen bonus tracks and new cover art re-imagined by graphic artist Jay Ryan..”
Memoryhouse –The Slideshow Effect, Released February 28th. “They half-seriously refer to their new sound as “Taylor Swift with Built to Spill as her backing band,”” comments Sub Pop, the band’s label. Track listing: 1. Little Expressionless Animals, 2. The Kids Were Wrong, 3. All Our Wonder, 4. Punctum, 5. Heirloom, 6. Bonfire, 7. Pale Blue, 8. Walk With Me, 9. Kinds of Light,10. Old Haunts.
Magnetic Fields – Love At The Bottom of the Sea, Released March 6th. From a press release, “The band’s tenth full-length album is their first release of new material with Merge since 1999’s highly acclaimed 69 Love Songs. After putting out their “synth-free trilogy,” The Magnetic Fields are returning to their signature mix of synth and acoustic sounds. Merritt notes about the new album that “instead of using a synthesizer as a melodic instrument, much of the time I used it as a compositional destructive mechanism, something eating away at the apparent order of my perfectionist arrangements. I was very happy to be using synthesizers in ways that I had not done before.”
The Shins – Port of Morrow, Released in March. According to news from their site, “Port of Morrow was recorded in Los Angeles and Portland over the course of 2011 with James Mercer as usual handling all songwriting duties, lead vocals and the majority of instrumentation. The album was produced by Greg Kurstin and mixed by Rich Costey.”
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – I Learned the Hard Way, Released April 6th. A sneak peak title track is now available online at Daptone Records. It’s a funky pop lament, as brass and as soulfully sassy as we can expect from these classically inherent entertainers.
Mumford & Sons – Title & Date TBD – The latest post from the band’s blog explains, “In the latter part of 2011, we’ve been nesting and writing and starting to record our second LP. We’re better friends than we’ve ever been and we’re so excited about the future, releasing more records and getting back out on the road.”
Bubblegum Screw – Title & Date TBD. The Discovery Artist told BTR earlier this year of their plans, “Well Mark has to take a shit right now, does that count? Just kidding! Baltic tour in November and second album, 2012!”
Best Coast – Title & Date TBD. “Workin’ away on album #2 at Capitol Studios!” The indie popsters wrote on their blog with accompanying photo. “Look how excited Bobb is!!!…Can’t wait for you guys to hear these songs, we are so proud of them.”
Telephoned – Title & Date TBD. In an interview with BTR, the duo noted their goal for 2012, is “pop domination,” and they will be creating a catalog of unique material in the new year.
Also, look out for new releases from Xiu Xiu, Phoenix, The Sea and Cake, The Wrens, and Dan Deacon – Titles & Dates TBD.