Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

After plowing through my year-end lists, it's time to turn the focus onto what 2014 will bring. Along with albums that have confirmed release dates, I've also decided to include those that seem very likely to see the light of day this year. I feel that 2013 will go down as an extraordinary and very loaded year, but regardless, there's always something to look forward to as long you've got a healthy, adventurous love for music.

15. Cibo Matto - Hotel Valentine
Long-awaited comebacks were in fashion last year (My Bloody Valentine, David Bowie, Justin Timberlake) and Cibo Matto looks to continue that trend with their first new album since 1999's Stereo * Type A. A lot has changed since then, but they now find themselves in a music landscape where their trippiness might be even more welcome.

14. Clipse's fourth album
What could possibly be bigger news than Pusha T rejoining his brother No Malice in the recording studio? The fact that Pharrell Williams AND Chad Hugo will be joining them. The output with these four men has always been strong and the potential for a classic is high.

13. Charli XCX's second album
Not content to stand still, this British pop singer is already at work on the follow-up to her terrific 2013 debut, True Romance. When we spoke late last year, she claimed that the new album was going to be influenced by new wave and 1960s French pop.

12. Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
The first album since Laura Jean Grace came out as trangender woman looks to tackle the topic head on, as if the title weren't a dead giveaway. Rock music hasn't quite seen a story like this with an artist as widely known and respected as Against Me!, so expect plenty of press when this one drops.

11. Banks' debut album
With a few impressive songs already under her belt that use the dreamier aspects of left-field R&B, this L.A. based singer could not only be poised for a big breakthrough, but possibly one of the smokiest albums of the year.

10. EMA - The Future's Void
Her first album has only gotten better with time and it's kind of refreshing to see someone keeping the sound of The Velvet Underground alive. With Lou Reed no longer with us, the timing might actually be perfect.

9. Neneh Cherry - Blank Project
After a long dormant period, this will be the second album from Cherry in two years. In continuing with the experimental touches on 2012's The Cherry Thing, this project will be produced entirely by electronic artist Four Tet.

8. Katy B - Little Red
Katy B is high on my list of newer artists since she consistently makes some of the smartest pop music around. Her debut did finish at #2 on my 2011 list and a good deal of the songs she released last year maintained the same energy as On A Mission.

7. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Piñata
There's always reason to be excited whenever Madlib mans the boards for an entire album, but Gibbs is the probably best MC he's worked with for a full-length since Talib Kweli's Liberation back in 2007. Their 2012 single, "Thuggin'" has also set expectations high.

6. Kanye West's seventh solo album
You can never count out a guy who gets raves from the critics each time out. He's also one of the most important artists of this generation, so anything he does has got my attention. Add to that Rick Rubin and Q-Tip are reportedly producing this one and its release can't come soon enough.

5. FKA twigs' debut album
It might be a bit much to bring on the Björk comparisons already, but both artists have a penchant for moody atmospheres and eye-catching videos (warning: the embedded video below is a bit intense and NSFW). This will likely be one of the best albums to listen in the dark for 2014.

4. Kelis - F.O.O.D.
I'll cop to being a huge fan, yet there's something different in the air around this one. Early songs like "Jerk Ribs" and "Been Given A Morning" suggest she's moved on for good from the traditional R&B sound she first made her name on into something more experimental and organic.

3. KING's debut album
They just recently placed at #2 on my 2013 singles list and topped it back in 2011. They obviously have my number and I expect things to be incredibly soulful here. Everything they've touched so far from their own stuff to collaborations with Robert Glasper and The Foreign Exchange show there should be plenty of creative juice to spare their first time out.

2. St. Vincent - St. Vincent
With each album, Annie Clark has expanded her sound to many accolades and if there was any doubt that she's in it for the long haul, the lead single "Birth In Reverse" amps up the energy with a heavily distorted new wave sound. Behind Kanye, she's probably my second favorite artist of the moment.

1. Mutya Keisha Siobhan's reunion album
Although the original Sugababes lineup managed to record just one album together, the chemistry on One Touch is still remembered fondly by fans. Add to that these three ladies are also talented songwriters, whether it's Siobhan embracing her adventurous side on her solo career or Mutya and Keisha continuing to soldier on with the group and crank out hit after hit, and the news of them getting back together was a seismic event on the pop scale. This was a reunion that felt inevitable once all three were no longer part of Sugababes and if "Flatline" is indication, we could get a mature yet catchy effort that would hold up well against any of their discographies.

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