LEAKED Based on their upcoming, third release, Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House are here to stay.
Even with all the promise of the new year ahead, it's hard not to feel a little stiffed in the Future of Mankind department. Here it is, 2010, and there's nary a flying car to be seen, no Heuristically Programmed Algorithmic Computers threatening our squishy dominance, no alien children kicking your kid's ass in AP math class. Clearly, we're slacking. But lucky for us, our favorite bands are not. Oh-ten promises to be a big year for bands at every stage of their increasingly unpaid careers.
It's near impossible to prejudge debuts, but I'm keeping a close ear on three of them — and if they're not all getting MediaFired like crazy by mid-month, I'll eat my headphones. New Frenchkiss signees LOCAL NATIVES will release Gorilla Manor on February 16 — and judging by single "Sun Hands" (digitally available this week), their blend of atmosphere, Afro-pop, and amped-up post-punk will fit in on iPods everywhere. After the bombastically bubbly showing they made on their Sky Gardens EP, Brooklyn posi-post-pop upstarts FANG ISLAND are ready to bring the sound of "everybody high-fiving everybody" to the masses with their homonymous debut on Sargent House. And for those hooked on the gritty, gaze-y, growly sound made popular this past year by all those Woodsist acts, stand by for I Will Be, the debut from LA's DUM DUM GIRLS on Sub Pop. For a one-girl band (backed live by friends from Crystal Stilts and Blank Dogs), she packs a lot of pop punch onto what sounds like a thrice-dubbed cassette tape. Suffice it to say: we likey.
As for the sophomore class, bespectacled kids everywhere are clawing at their cardigans in anticipation of Contra, the second offering from the hotly debated charmers VAMPIRE WEEKEND, out next week. We'll have a review then, but I'll just say that it's even more polarizing than their debut. Our 2008 pick for New York's best new band, YEASAYER will release Odd Blood through Secretly Canadian on February 8 — expect a trip-tastic mix of everything from noisy plug-ins to thunderous kodo drums. On the far cuter end of the spectrum, the anticipated Volume Two from the team-up of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward known as SHE & HIM will drop on Merge late in March.
Far from a sure-fire charm, the third album can make or break a band; but since every writer I know wanted to include the leak of BEACH HOUSE's Teen Dream (officially out January 26 on Sub Pop) on their '09 lists, it's safe to say the Baltimore dream-pop duo are here to stay. It's a huge upgrade of their sound, at times edging into Fleetwood Mac territory — and frankly, we can't shut the thing off. Cardiffian septet LOS CAMPESINOS!, who owned 2008 with two stellar releases, will return with Romance Is Boring on February 2. And I'm especially excited for the (mark my words!) breakthrough third outing from Montreal's BESNARD LAKES, The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night (March 9 on Jagjaguwar). Recorded on the same console as Zep's Physical Graffiti, it'll be a record of white-knuckled psych — lovely, dark, deep, and most likely stoned out of its gourd.
And of course, the vets are out in force, too: STEPHIN MERRITT will supply the companion to last year's Distortion with (the hopefully much better) Realism (Nonesuch) on January 26. Beloved electro-pop elder statesmen HOT CHIP will drop One Life Stand (Astralwerks) on February 9. The experimental eroticism of XIU XIU gets a bit more emotionally to the point with Dear God, I Hate Myself, while Janet Weiss and Sam Coomes reunite as QUASI for another drink-dropping pop tour de force in the form of Gong (both out February 23 on Kill Rock Stars). If the latter were the only album to come out this year, I'd still have hope for our planet.