25 Albums We're Looking Forward to in 2012

Music Lists
Share Tweet Submit Pin

It’s 2012, a year long-rumored to bring about the end of the world. So, if our time really is limited, there’s no reason to waste it on bad music. Below you’ll find a list of the albums we expect to be among the best of the year.

The list is filled with old and familiar along with new and fresh faces, but the artists all have one thing in common: They’ve all got track records for crafting great songs. Take a look below, and feel free to let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments section.

25. The Lumineers: The Lumineers
Release Date: March
The Denver-rooted Lumineers had no problem making their way onto our Best New Bands list last year after their first release, a seven-song EP. If the EP and the band’s inspiring live shows are any indication, the debut full-length should be one to keep on your radar.

24. U2: Songs of Ascent
Release Date: TBA
Songs of Ascent has seen it’s fair share of rumors: Is it a reggae album? How does it complement No Line on the Horizon? The album has been on our radar since 2009, and we’re still waiting.

23. The Beach Boys: TBA
Release Date: TBA
With Brian Wilson stepping somewhat back in the spotlight, the latest Beach Boys album shouldn’t just be brushed off as a cash-making effort. Produced by Wilson and executive produced by Mike Love, another founding Beach Boy, you can expect a quality effort filled with classic, nostalgia-inducing harmonies.

22. Nada Surf: The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy
Release Date: Jan. 24
It’s easy to dismiss Nada Surf as the guys that wrote “Popular” in 1996. But then you’d miss out on nearly a decade’s worth of quality tunes on albums like The Weight is a Gift and Lucky. The band hasn’t released any new material since 2008, and their first single from Stars, “When I Was Young” sounds like a great start.

21. Miniature Tigers: Mia Pharaoh
Release Date: TBA
Miniature Tigers completely avoided a sophomore slump in 2010 by releasing the excellent F O R T R E S S. Judging by their new single, “Boomerang,” the upcoming third album might be just as strong.

It’s 2012, a year long-rumored to bring about the end of the world. So, if our time really is limited, there’s no reason to waste it on bad music. Below you’ll find a list of the albums we expect to be among the best of the year.

The list is filled with old and familiar along with new and fresh faces, but the artists all have one thing in common: They’ve all got track records for crafting great songs. Take a look below, and feel free to let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments section.

20. Lost in the Trees: A Church that Fits Our Needs
Release Date: March 20
Paste “Best of What’s Next” alums Lost in the Trees will follow up last year’s Time Taunts Me. Expect more layered strings and quirky songwriting from the band’s upcoming Anti- release.

19. Punch Brothers: Who’s Feeling Young Now?
Release Date: Feb. 14
The bill “progressive bluegrass” might seem intimidating, but it hasn’t ever made Punch Brothers any less accessible. The band’s upcoming album was produced by Jacquire King, who’s worked with artists like Tom Waits and Modest Mouse. The first offering from the album is a dark, intense cut titled “Movement and Location,” which you can check out here.

18. Islands: A Sleep & A Forgetting
Release Date: Feb. 14
Although Islands frontman Nick Thorburn has been out on the road with indie-supergroup Mister Heavenly, that doesn’t mean his original band has gone on the backburner. Islands are gearing up to release A Sleep & A Forgetting, an album Thorburn calls “far more personal than any I’ve made before.”

17. Tennis: Young & Old
Release Date: Feb. 14
The Denver-based duo was named one of our best new bands from 2011 thanks to Aliana Moore’s light and airy vocals coupled with the surf-pop instrumentation provided by her husband Patrick Riley. They went quickly went back to the studio and have already released a single called “Origins” that was produced by the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, who produced the new album. Riley likened the new synthier direction to “Stevie Nicks going through a Motown phase.” -Adam Vitcavage

16. Delta Spirit: Delta Spirit
Release Date: March 13
With solid albums like History From Below and Ode to Sunshine behind them, it’s hard to believe Delta Spirit are saying they’re just now figuring out who they are. “We found the sound that we’ve been looking for, that we’ve been growing into, and as soon as we hit on it, we ran with it,” said Delta Spirit frontman Matt Vasquez in a press release. “That’s why it’s a self-titled record, so we could connect our identity with what we think Delta Spirit is.” Based on the quality of the band’s previous records, we’re definitely interesting in hearing what that “identity” sounds like.

15. Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas
Release Date: Jan. 31
Leonard Cohen  definitely isn’t a new name. But as one of our best living songwriters, we’ll welcome any output from a man whose songs surprise us every time. His first release since 2004’s Dear Heather, Old Ideas is getting promoted as “arguably the most overtly spiritual” Cohen album yet.

14. Damien Jurado: Marqopa
Release Date: Feb. 21
Damien Jurado’s 10th album, Marqopa, a collaboration with producer Richard Swift, promises to sound quite different from the previous nine. An early preview of one of Marqopa’s upcoming songs titled “Nothing is the News; shows Jurado at his jammiest, with a stringy guitar noodling through a relaxed track.

13. Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s: Rot Gut, Domestic
Release Date: March
Richard Edwards has pushed his band in a vastly different direction since its first release in 2006; he recently joked that labels told him that lead single “Prozac Rock ” would have been a chart topper in 1994. With a knack for spinning tales, each song is more like a short story with backing music rather than a traditional rock song.-Adam Vitcavage

12. First Aid Kit: The Lion’s Roar
Release Date: Jan. 24
Comprised of two sisters from Sweden, Johanna and Klara Söderberg, First Aid Kit worked with Bright Eyes producer and guitarist Mike Mogis for their upcoming release, The Lion’s Roar. And although the girls might come from another country, their musical influences are deeply rooted in Americana. The band lived up to it’s “Best of What’s Next” title from 2010, and it’s clear that you can expect nothing less than gorgeous harmonies, pedal-steel guitars and some great production from Mogis on The Lion’s Roar.

11. Mumford & Sons: TBA
Release Date: TBA
Mumford & Sons  exploded onto the folk-pop scene with their debut album, Sigh No More, with arena- (or club-) filling tracks like “The Cave.” The band has been trying out new songs on the road since Sigh’s release, maybe to fine-tune them for their upcoming album, which keyboardist Ben Lovett said the group hoped to complete last year. You can take a listen to a new song called “Ghosts That We Knew” here.

It’s 2012, a year long-rumored to bring about the end of the world. So, if our time really is limited, there’s no reason to waste it on bad music. Below you’ll find a list of the albums we expect to be among the best of the year.

The list is filled with old and familiar along with new and fresh faces, but the artists all have one thing in common: They’ve all got track records for crafting great songs. Take a look below, and feel free to let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments section.

10. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: TBA
Release Date: TBA
The Boss’ upcoming album was just wrapping up when it was announced that he’d be going on a world tour in November, and it’s bound to be a powerful one; It’s Springsteen’s first album since the June 20, 2011, death of long-time saxophonist and friend Clarence Clemons. The yet-to-be-titled LP should be a welcome addition to recent releases like Working on a Dream and The Promise.

9. Magnetic Fields: Love at the Bottom of the Sea
Release Date: March 6
After nearly a dozen years away from Merge records, Stephin Merritt’s Magnetic Fields’ Love at the Bottom of the Sea is bound to be instantly recognizable and triumphant.

8. Sharon Van Etten: Tramp
Release Date: Feb. 7
Sharon Van Etten  proved that she’s got a way with words on releases like Epic and Because I Was in Love. Now Aaron Dessner of The National is stepping to produce an album that includes appearances from members of Wye Oak and Beirut. That sounds like a great combo to us.

7. Sleigh Bells: Reign of Terror
Release Date: Feb. 21
Treats set the stage for Sleigh Bells’ in-the-red, clipping take on guitar rock. But the band promises Reign of Terror will be a darker take on the Sleigh Bells sound. You can take a listen to Reign of Terror’s first single, “Born to Lose,” here.

6. Andrew Bird: Break It Yourself
Release Date: March 6
Andrew Bird  has been hinting at the follow up to 2009’s Noble Beast since he finished the soundtrack to the film Norman last October. Recorded by Bird himself in his own “barn studio,” Break It Yourself is sure to be a welcome addition to his catalog of whistling, looping songs.

5. The Long Winters: TBA
Release Date: TBA
The Long Winters’ bandleader and very contemplative songwriter John Roderick has been working on the follow-up to 2006’s excellent Putting the Days to Bed for what seems like forever. Rumors circulated as far back as 2008 that Roderick was working on the album, and the delay’s even been mentioned on Roderick’s podcast, Roderick on the Line. With albums like Putting the Days to Bed and When I Pretend to Fall under his belt (and not to mention a great handle on short-form communication), we’re hoping this is the year Roderick finally finishes the band’s fourth LP.

4. The xx: TBA
Release Date: TBA
Although The xx was one of the most-hyped bands of 2010, the trio wasn’t in any rush to hop back into the studio. “There is no plan to even put out a second album,” bassist Oliver Sim said in 2010. “We’re going to write and record just for the love of it, even if we didn’t do anything with it.” And it looks like that time is 2012; the band has been updating the progress through their own website and Facebook, and we’re eager to see how the young band has evolved.

3. Sigur Rós: TBA
Release Date: TBA
While Sigur Rós isn’t exactly known for communicating about upcoming releases, the band did manage to get fans hopes up in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal. There’s a lot of mystery behind their yet-to-be-titled, post-hiatus release, which frontman Jónsi Birgisson calls “introverted” and “floaty and minimal.” Although we’ve heard plenty of output from Birgisson since a 2008 hiatus—Go and the soundtrack to We Built a Zoo—we’re still excited to see what the Iceland-based quartet will pull off with their new full-length.

2. The Shins: Port of Morrow
Release Date: March
The Shins  showed us some stellar sneak peeks of what’s to come from their upcoming fourth album, Port of Morrow at the Deluna Fest this October. With a new lineup, a new label and a seemingly fresh start, we have high expectations for James Mercer and company.

1. Diamond Rugs: TBA
Release Date: April 24
If the names John McCauley, Ian St. Pé, Robbie Crowell, Steve Berlin, Bryan Dufresne and Hardy Morris aren’t exactly conjuring up images of a super group, wait a few more months. Featuring members of Deer Tick, Black Lips, Los Lobos, Six Finger Satellite and Dead Confederate, Diamond Rugs look like they could pull off one of the best straight-up-rock albums of the year. You can read our feature on the band here.

Also in Music