Nine albums you should be excited about in 2014

Clark

Albums you'll want to hear. Photos courtesy of Facebook.
In no particular order: OK Go, 311, Bank of Skulls, Cloud Nothings, Real Estate, Liars, Flying Lotus and Captain Murphy, Swans, Kanye West are set to release albums this year. Photos courtesy of Facebook.

OK Go – Title TBD, date TBD

When I heard a rumor that OK Go was coming out with a new album, the 15-year-old inside of me squealed in pure excitement. I remember dancing with abandon around my bedroom to their 2005 album, Oh No. That led me to their self-titled first album (released in 2002) , which gave me a taste of who OK Go really was. The infectious poppy sounds of “C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips” and “Don’t Ask Me” flooded my headphones for years, and I’ve remained a fan ever since. Obviously with time, their style has matured. Their 2010 album, Of The Blue Colour Of The Sky, proved to be a distorted masterpiece. Personal favorites include “WTF?” and “Last Leaf.” Four years have passed since, and words can’t describe my anticipation. The recent single, “I’m Not Through” offers an electronic and downbeat feel, with the familiar harmonies we’ve all missed. The album doesn’t have a defined release date, but be sure to keep an eye out. It’s going to be fantastic.

– Annie

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311 – Stereolithic, out March 31.

Yeah, it’s not ironic anymore. I hear you groaning and whining, ‘311?  They’re still alive?’  Yes, they’re still alive and they’re still awesome.  Deal with it.  This is their eleventh album, which means they’ve done at least 10 things right so far.  Moreover, they’ve gone “indie” now, moving away from major label influence and production demands.  Remember all of their cool material that you feel guilty for still enjoying, even though your hipster friends judge you for not hating it?  Yeah, the psychotropic-stoner groove rock is back (not that it ever went away).

-Scott

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Band of Skulls – Himalayan, out March 31.

Band of Skulls is a reminder of all things good and holy about a rock trio.  They’ve managed to stay “authentic” in their sound, edgy and unrefined, despite being onto their third album and having access to all the toys one finds in over-produced, big-time rock-star albums. Respect for sticking to a sound that works.

-Scott

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Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere, out April 1.

Again with the rock trio.  While best known for the single “Stay Useless,” this band hasn’t managed to do that.  Despite starting out as a fake MySpace project (not to be confused with all the other fake band MySpace projects out there), Cloud Nothings is onto their fourth studio release now.  Not too shabby, not too useless.

-Scott

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Real Estate – Atlas, out March 4.

Back in 2011, New Jersey surf rockers Real Estate released their album Days, ten blissful songs that earned them accolades across the music community. Now, they look to improve upon the formula they perfected three years ago on their new LP, Atlas, out in the U.S. on March 4 and available to stream now on iTunes radio. Thanks to the immaculate level of production polish on advanced single “Talking Backwards,” it’s already easy to see that this album will be “The Next Big Important Indie Rock Record” that might return guitar music to its former state of prominence. Time will tell whether that happens, but it’s obvious this is a must-listen.

-Doug

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Liars – Mess, out March 25.

Liars began messing (pun very much intended) with electronics on 2012’s excellent, under-appreciated WIXIW, which swapped their usual sinister tone for an anxious one. Now, it would seem that they’ve grown confident with their new instruments. Teaser song “Mess on a Mission,” which the band has been performing live since last year at least, sounds like what would happen if a demon took possession of your Super Nintendo; it’s classic Liars infused with electronic bleeps and bloops, and it will be exciting to see how far they go with that.

-Doug

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Flying Lotus and Captain Murphy – Title TBD, date TBD

Flying Lotus has made excellent use of his twitter account lately. Back in December, he released a collection of demos, rare tracks and unreleased material called “Ideas+drafts+loops using the social network.” He’s also teased a couple new projects, including a new studio album to follow up 2012’s fantastic Until the Quiet Comes and a new project as hip-hop alter ego Captain Murphy. No release dates have been announced yet, but if the rumors hold true this will soon be the year of FlyLo.

-Doug

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Swans – To Be Kind, out May 13.

In the 1980s, the Swans, led by musician and performance artist Michael Gira, emerged as the flagship band in New York’s No Wave scene, an ugly, thunderous response to the New Wave music that was popular at the time. After more than a decade-long hiatus that began in the mid-’90s and ended in the early ‘10s, Swans transformed their sound with 2012’s The Seer, a demanding two hour post-punk odyssey that proves to be the kind of record one would struggle through and never return to. Now, following up on last year’s live album Not Here Not Now, the 59-year-old Gira and company will release their next studio effort, To Be Kind, this spring. We won’t know until then how it’ll stack up next to The Seer, but if nothing else, it will be brutal.

-Doug

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Kanye West – Title TBD, date TBD

Kanye West’s Yeezus was the most controversial, divisive and bold album of 2013. For every hip-hop-head that saw it as vulgar and loud, another believed it was the latest masterpiece from the most important artist of our time. Whatever your opinion on Yeezus, the angry, racially-charged album cannot be ignored. Now, rumors continue to fly around the web that Kanye will release an album next year. Along the promotional radio show gauntlet he ran late last year for Yeezus, Kanye spilled details about the new album, namely that he’s begun working on it, it’ll be out this summer, and it’ll only be eight tracks. It’s important to note, however, that this is coming from the most hard-working man in hip-hop, and that he had to recruit Rick Rubin to finish Yeezus a month before its release date last year. So there will be a next album, the only question is when.

-Doug

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