Looking forward to 2014

Published 2:27 pm Friday, January 3, 2014

With 2013 officially in the review mirror and just less than 12 months of 2014 ahead, music fans are all looking ahead to a year of new music. Here are the albums I’m keeping an ear out for:


Reliable picks

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“Underneath the Rainbow” by Black Lips: 2011’s “Arabia Mountain” was infectiously addictive and fun. Here’s hoping for more of the same.

TV on the Radio: I love almost everything this band’s put out, so I’m rather excited for this release. Their 2013 single “Million Miles” wasn’t as instantly fulfilling as some of the tracks off 2011’s “Nine Types of Light” or earlier albums, but it grew on me. I can’t wait for this album.

Damon Albarn: Damon Albarn is receiving a lot of hype for announcing his upcoming solo debut. Since he’s been around a long time as the frontman for Blur, Gorillaz and The Good, the Bad and the Queen, it doesn’t feel much like a debut. Regardless, it’ll be exciting to see what direction Albarn takes the music.

Flying Lotus: Steven Ellison, the producer and electronic artist known as Flying Lotus, is a reliable pick for an album to watch for in 2014. The grandnephew of John and Alice Coltrane is one of the premier electronic artists defining the genre.


Blind excitement, but with a heavy dose of skepticism

Fleet Foxes: I absolutely loved 2011’s “Helplessness Blues” and the band’s self-titled 2008 debut. Their “Sun Giant” EP isn’t too shabby, either. However, I’m skeptical: 1. I expect the band may veer too far from its folk, harmony-driven roots; 2. I suspect the album may be delayed until 2015; and 3. After being an avid fan of the first two albums, I fear a disappointing release.

My Morning Jacket: Word has it My Morning Jacket is working on a followup to 2011’s “Circuital,” and frontman Jim James has said he has an exciting concept for the album. After James’ work on his solo debut “Regions of Light and Sound of God” and producing the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s “That’s It,” I’m hoping for something that blends at least a hint of jazz with the band’s guitar-driven rock. Despite the My Morning Jacket’s great catalogue, I don’t think the band has peaked. Sill, I expect this album won’t come out until 2015.


Optimistic picks

“Brothers Sisters and the Eternal Son” by Damien Jurado (Jan. 21): After slowly falling into Damien Jurado’s music in 2013, I’m excited for this early 2014 release. He has some great songs like “Cloudy Shoes” and “Sheets,” and he sang on “Almost Home” off Moby’s 2013 album “Innocents” — one of the standouts of that album.

“St. Vincent” by St. Vincent (Feb. 24): I’m skeptical when an artist releases a self-titled fourth album — or anything after a debut. But, there’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic that Annie Clark — who goes by the stage name St. Vincent — will deliver, especially after “Love this Giant,” her 2012 collaboration with the Talking Heads’ David Byrne.

“Morning Phase” by Beck (Feb. 14): OK, Beck. I defended 2008’s “Modern Guilt” when everyone I know said it was a disappointment compared to “Odelay,” “Sea Change” and “Guero.” You repaid me with the play-it-yourself “Song Reader,” an “album” of sheet music. Here’s hoping you make up for it with “Morning Phase,” which is said to be a companion piece to “Sea Change.”


The pessimistic pick

“Out Among the Stars” by Johnny Cash: OK, my expectations for this “lost album” from Johnny Cash are exceptionally low. Cash’s children found these early 1980s recordings from their father in the family archives. I have multiple reasons to be skeptical: 1. Great albums don’t get lost; 2. Producers and record execs foam at the mouth for anything from deceased legends because it’s safe, easy money; 3. Few stars who got their starts in the 1950s and 1960s were all that good in the 1980s. I hope I’m proved wrong.


I just don’t know

Joanna Newsom: Despite a friend’s best efforts to make me a full-fledged fan, I still don’t know what to think of Joanna Newsom. While her harp lures me in, her high-pitched, child-like voice can be, well, annoying tat times. Still, she has some really good songs.

“After the Disco” by Broken Bells (Feb. 4): While I was pleasantly surprised by the self-titled debut and then the EP “Meyrin Fields” from the collaboration of James Mercer and artist-producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse), I’ve always been underwhelmed by Mercer’s other band, The Shins. From the sounds and looks of it, “After the Disco” will take the band’s indie-space vibe to a whole new level — and I expect an album that’s a bullseye or a bust. Side note: I sense a slight BeeGees vibe from single “Holding On for Life” … and I’m not sure how I feel about that.


Honorable mentions:

Modest Mouse, Wilco, Sun Kil Moon, Julian Casablancas.