Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
We survived the apocalypse, the fiscal cliff, and a new Ke$ha album. If the last bit of 2012 was gloom and doom, 2013, at least, may offer a musical respite. Here are five albums we can look forward to in the new year.
Yo La Tengo, Fade (January 15) In a world of one-hit wonders, quietly depressing reunion tours, and bands that put out a few great albums and then fall off the face of the planet, Yo La Tengo are the freak survivalists. Fade marks the trio's 14th studio album—since 1986, they've showered a unique, consistent goodness on an adoring cult of fans. In November, YLT prereleased the Fade single "Before We Run," a swelling, meditative lullaby sung in Georgia Hubley's honest alto. More recently, the band put out "Ohm," a gentle krautrocker with a chorus bound to glue itself to the inside of your skull. To celebrate the upcoming full-length, YLT has announced a series of West Coast in-record-store shows. (Check out the schedule here.)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, II (February 5): Frontman Ruban Nielson has described this sophomore album as "lonely." That'd be a major change of pace from the band's debut, which clattered onto the scene in 2011 as a funky, exuberant patchwork of psych-pop songs—the stuff of surrealistic lyrics and deliciously weird, tart guitar lines recalling the earliest Pink Floyd. It's been nearly two years since Nielson, former guitarist of New Zealand's experimental noise outfit The Mint Chicks, let those first few tracks loose via Bandcamp, and I'm not the only one who's been keeping a keen weather eye out for UMO's next delivery. If "Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)," a single from II, is anything by which to judge the release, Nielson's second effort is shaping up to be just as inspired as the first. Loneliness, in this case, is welcome.