There's truly something for everyone to look forward to in the first quarter of 2013. Here's our roundup of upcoming album releases, including a few highly anticipated records that don't yet have a solid release date.
Toro Y Moi, Anything in Return
Here's what Toro Y Moi's Chad Bundick had to say to Interview magazine about this record: "I'm just trying to make sincere pop music that's not all processed and bubblegum." Intriguing, and honestly, a welcome change. Bundick hasn't failed, but the chillwave was feeling a little stale. It'll be refreshing to hear him trade some fuzz for shine.
Ra Ra Riot, Beta Love
The first single, off Beta Love, "When I Dream," features glimmering vocals, vamping keys, snaps, strings and a pulsing beat that's more of a feeling than a sound. If the song is any indication, Ra Ra Riot is taking a more minimal and understated approach -- though no less pretty.
J. Cole, Born Sinner
J. Cole is smart and a hard worker, qualities that shine through in his music and his choices. If Born Sinner is anything like his past work, it'll force you to listen close and think. He's talked about some guests on the record -- the most speculated about and anticipated of which could be Kendrick Lamar.
Local Natives, Hummingbird
Remember Local Natives? The L.A. band had a great 2010 and then faded away for no particular reason. Well, they're back with a new record, and we've already had a taste of it with "Breakers." There's nothing jumping out to suggest they've gone a different route, but when they've been gone so long, it'll be nice to have them back.
Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob
Once upon a time, Tegan and Sara were pretty firmly in the indie folk realm. Now the duo released "Closer" and we're hearing them in another world, one in which everyone is dancing. They've said the album will still have acoustic tracks, but there are a few like "Closer" on there, too.
Frightened Rabbit, Pedestrian Verse
Scott Hutchinson, frontman for Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit, released a statement along with the announcement of Pedestrian Verse, saying the title was a challenge to himself to do better. He added that he thinks the record is "the strongest and most interesting record we've made to date."
Azealia Banks, Broke With Expensive Taste
Why you procrastinate girl? They'll forget your name soon. Just kidding. There's no reason to throw Azealia Banks' lyrics back in her face, even if you're getting impatient waiting for her to finally release this "debut" LP. She already has an EP and mixtape out to hold everyone over and prove she's got the skills for a killer full-length. We'll wait.
Iceage, You're Nothing
The press release for the Danish punk rockers' incoming LP promises a record that "pushes Iceage's singular sound to further extremes." Vague, sure, but this is punk rock. Iceage knocked us over once and they can surely do it again.
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Push The Sky Away
First of all, take a moment to be impressed that Push The Sky Away will be this band's 15th studio album. Next, prepare to be confused by Cave's description: "Well, if I were to use that threadbare metaphor of albums being like children, then Push The Sky Away is the ghost-baby in the incubator and Warren's loops are its tiny, trembling heartbeat." Maybe you'll have to listen to get it.
For all we know right now, Bey's follow-up to 4 might not drop until much later in the year, but she's in the studio with Hit-Boy and Kanye. This we know, and this we are very excited about.
The Black Keys
The date on this release it pretty uncertain, but Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach are at work on a record with producer Danger Mouse. They hope to be done by the end of spring. Expectations will be high since record after record, these guys keep changing it up with hardly a misstep.
Lady Gaga, ARTPOP
This record is shaping up to be something far more than music. As the title suggests, it's become an art project. She's reportedly written something like 50 songs, she got the title tattooed on her body, each song is going to be paired with a film, and there's a book. Also: There's a song called "Princess Die." Spectacular.