As 2011 winds down and we’re busy exploring overlooked albums and musical internet trends, we’re also giddy with anticipation of what’s to come in 2012. While we don’t have firm release dates — or even a release date at all — for many LPs, here are 10 albums that we’re over-the-moon excited for and are pretty positive will be arriving in the next 12 months.
1. Azealia Banks, Untitled
She may not be of legal drinking age in the States, but 20-year-old Harlem-bred rapper and “Fame” school alumna Banks was certainly worldly enough to create a track (“212”) that become a mainstay on best-of year-end lists around the globe. (She even recently topped NME’s annual “Cool List.”) She also just dropped “Liquorice” (on which she raps over rave-y UK producer Lone’s “Pineapple Crush,” so its British-spelled title is on purpose), stoking hunger for a full-length debut. Good thing Banks recently told Pitchfork that she was moving to London to “bang” out her freshman release with Adele producer Paul Epworth for an as-yet-undisclosed label.
2. Best Coast, Untitled
Cat-loving, Nathan-from-Wavves-dating fuzz-pop naïf Bethany Cosentino may be down a drummer (former Vivian Girls percussionist Ali Koehler announced earlier this month that she’d left the band, not by choice) but she and BC mainstay Bobb Bruno are soldiering on with their sophomore effort anyway. The band recently announced that producer Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Kanye West) is working on the new record, as if songs like “Boyfriend” (off their 2010 debut, Crazy for You) or the awesome,West Side Story-inspired video for “Our Deal” weren’t enough to fuel our excitement for Best Coast’s next album.
3. Lindström, Six Cups of Rebel
The mono-monikered Norwegian electronica producer may be most widely known for his remixes (for LCD Soundsystem, Glasser, Franz Ferdinand and others) and his collaborations. His last major opus was 2010’s sexy space-disco collaboration with singer Christabelle, Real Life is No Cool, and before that he had success with two albums that he made with Prins Thomas. But Hans-Peter Lindström is going it alone on his next album. Due February 6 via Smalltown Supersound, Six Cups of Rebel isn’t just Lindström’s return to solo music-making — his last lone effort was 2008’s Where You Go, I Go — it also represents his vocal debut.
4. Miike Snow, Happy to You
This Swedish trio — no, none of them are actually named Miike Snow — features a production duo (Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnbeg, known collectively as Bloodshy & Avant) responsible for Britney Spear’s “Toxic,” a song that earned the pair a Grammy, and was so unassailable that even “indie nerds” too cool for pop music couldn’t help but be won over by it. Their 2009 debut was likewise littered with pop gems (especially lead single “Animal”), but then Miike Snow made their fans wait almost three years for a follow-up. But, they recently announced that Happy to You will arrive on March 26. Check out “Devil’s Work” for a taste of what’s to come.
5. Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
Don’t know what to get your sweetie for Valentine’s Day? Minaj and her cadre of alter egos (including Roman Zolanski and Harajuku Barbie) have got you covered. The first lady of the Young Money crew will offer up her follow-up to 2010’s Pink Friday (titled Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded) on the most romantic day of the year. This album will be a victory lap for the woman who owned 2011 with her omnipresent hit “Super Bass” and guest appearances on songs by everyone from Drake and David Guetta to Willow Smith and even the Lonely Island dudes. If the album’s two already-released tracks — “Roman in Moscow” and “Stupid Hoe” — are any indication, we are in for some dangerously spazzy, rapid fire flow and a harder edge than we’ve heard on most of her singles so far.
6. Frank Ocean, Untitled
The Odd Future-affiliated R&B crooner had an enviable 2011. The relative newcomer appeared on two Watch the Throne songs, co-wrote a song on Beyoncé’s 4, and released his first solo mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra: a smooth, melodramatic yet melancholic collection featuring song-of-the-year contender “Novacane.” What to do for an encore? Release his Def Jam debut of course. (Details of his forthcoming record are scarce, though Ocean did recently tell BBC radio host Zane Lowe that he’s finished writing the record and is now working on its production.) Ocean was actually signed to Def Jam before his mixtape gave him newfound visibility, and earlier this year he tweeted his displeasure at his label for ignoring him. With the overwhelming success of an album Ocean released on his own via his Tumblr, the label sure isn’t ignoring him now.
7. The Shins, Port of Morrow
The band that once changed Natalie Portman’s life will finally be back with its first new album since 2007’s Wincing the Night Away. Why such a long wait for music from the Portland-based indie-pop kings? First there were label changes (in 2008 they left Sub Pop). Then there were lineup changes (longtime keyboardist Marty Crandall and drummer Jesse Sandoval were dismissed in 2009, and the band’s current touring lineup features no original members other than frontman James Mercer). And finally, there were tours and time spent in the studio creating what would become their fourth full-length, Port of Morrow as well as Mercer’s Broken Bells project, a collaboration with Danger Mouse. That new album is due in March and will be released by Mercer’s own label, Aural Apothecary, via a deal with Columbia Records.
8. Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror
After a busy 2010 — the year Sleigh Bells released their debut full-length (Treats), were darlings of the summer festival circuit, and licensed their songs to TV shows and commercials — the stomping Brooklyn noise rock duo had a relatively quiet 2011, because they spent much of it writing, recording and prepping for the release of their sophomore effort. 2012 is bound to be busier for Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss. They’ve already announced an eight-date, all-Florida tour with Diplo and Liturgy, which makes us want to relocate to the Sunshine State, and their delightfully (and hopefully, aptly) named Reign of Terror is due out February 14 via Mom+Pop Music. Check out the first single, “Born to Lose,” here.
9. Sharon van Etten, Tramp
The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter had a little help from her friends on her new LP, Tramp, which is due out February 7 on Jagjaguwar. For her third album, van Etten solicited contributions from Beirut‘s Zach Condon, Julianna Barwick, Wye Oak‘s Jenn Wasner, the Walkmen‘s Matt Barrick and Doveman’s Thomas Bartlett as well as recorded the whole thing with the National’s Aaron Dessner in his studio. Van Etten certainly doesn’t need the help, though. Her luscious, airy voice is so warmly gorgeous it barely needs instrumental accompaniment, let along vocal help. But we are intrigued to hear the product of such storied collaboration anyway.
10. The xx, Untitled
It’s always tough to follow up a near-perfect debut, but few bands in recent history have had as daunting a task of it as this post-punk-and-R&B-inspired, atmospheric English pop trio, whose 2009 sleek, sultry self-titled first effort was so confident and stylish that it set the bar dauntingly high. Not that fear of a sophomore slump is the reason a follow-up has been three years in the making. The band, especially Jamie Smith, has been busy with other projects, like Smith’s recent, inventive Gil Scott-Heron remix album. But recent interviews give xx fans hope that a new record will see the light of day before the summer touring season kicks off. Smith told The Creators Project that the new album is influenced by “club music,” which maybe means that he and his band managed to do a bit of partying this past year too. The band recently made good on their promise to check in periodically with this new demo track called “Open Eyes.”