Looking Forward: My Twenty Most Anticipated Albums for 2010

by Kara Murphy on December 21, 2009

‘Tis the season to be bombarded with more requisite year-end “Best of” and “Top Album” lists than one person could ever possibly absorb. MOG took notice and created a list culled from over eight hundred blogs that are affiliated with their network. On the other hand, Pitchfork found it necessary to add in a section titled “Honorable Mention” on top of their “Top 50 Albums” roundup. To top it all off, as the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, we have a whole new beast to contend with: The “Best of the Decade” lists. Do not get me started with how completely and totally out of touch Billboard magazine is with the current musical landscape. Nickelback is not the ‘band of the decade.’

Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to look towards, not to mention forward, to the future. From what I’ve heard throughout the musical blogosphere of strategically leaked singles, 2010 is going to be an incredible year for releases from some of my favorite artists. This revelation alone has inspired me to share a list of my twenty most anticipated albums that will be legally available in the first few months of next year. One honorable mention goes to a band I personally don’t care for too much but most everyone else seems to go crazy over. Without further ado, here we go….

SpoonTransference (Merge, January 19th)

It’s been two years since the band that consists of lead singer/guitarist Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno, along with a rotating cast of players, has released an album. That being said, if first single “Written in Reverse” is any indication, it promises to be just as incendiary as some of the past work that has made the Austin-based group a cult favorite amongst music critics, aficionados, and fans alike.

Listen: “Written in Reverse”

MidlakeThe Courage of Others (Bella Union, February 2nd)

It’s been over three years since the Denton, Texas-based quintet has given us a proper follow-up to their splendidly intoxicating The Trials of Van Occupanther. The good news is that currently, a 12” single of containing two tracks from their forthcoming album, The Courage of Others, is now available for download online and sale in independent record stores. What to expect this time around? In a recent interview, lead singer Tim Smith revealed that while recording the album, the band listened to British folk – Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, and Pentangle (he emphasized a lot of Pentangle). If the excellent two singles available now are any indication, the band keeps growing and getting better with each subsequent release.

Listen: “Acts of Man” and “Rulers, Ruling All Things”

YeasayerOdd Blood (Secretly Canadian, February 9th)

Yeasayer made a huge impact with their critically acclaimed 2007 debut, All Hour Cymbals – especially with the beautifully entrancing single “2080.” Since then, they’ve collaborated with Bat For Lashes on her latest release and contributed to the Dark Was the Night compilation. Their second album, to be released by new label Secretly Canadian, is a more experimental venture that dabbles in a myriad of genres – the first track is purely electronic, a first for the Brooklyn band. Either way, the word of mouth consensus coming from some of my most discerning friends sums it up – prepare to be wonderfully surprised.

Listen: “Ambling Alp”

Hot ChipOne Life Stand (Astralwerks, Feb 9th)

I’ll admit, from what I’ve heard thus far, that being the first two singles – the eponymous “One Life Stand” and “Take it In,” Hot Chip doesn’t deviate too radically from the formula that has comprised every album they’ve released prior to this, their fourth full-length. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Everything you love about everyone’s favorite British electropop outfit – from the vulnerably appealing lyrics to the infectious, disco-inflected beats – is here in abundance.

Listen: “Take it In”

Frightened RabbitThe Winter of Mixed Drinks (FatCat, March 9th)

Once again, the Scottish band enlisted producer Peter Katsis, who has contributed to albums put out by Interpol and The National, for their third release. If the first two singles the band introduced to the world two months back via FatCat’s main site are any indication, they will certainly deliver a must-have record comparable to their previous release, 2008’s The Midnight Organ Flight.

Listen: “Fun Stuff” and “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”

She & Him Volume 2 (Merge, April 6th)

Actress Zooey Deschanel is renowned for her work in independent films. Yet her role as Jovie, a clothing store clerk in 2003’s hit holiday comedy Elf, introduced her vocal range and depth to a mainstream audience. In March 2008, Deschanel unleashed her debut to the world, Volume 1 – a sunny throwback to 70s radio hits with critically acclaimed singer-songwriter M. Ward as She & Him. Appropriately, the follow-up is titled Volume 2. Once again, she has scribed all of the tracks with the exception of two covers – NRBQ’s “Ridin’ In My Car” and Sketter Davis’ “Gonna Get Along Without You Now” – while M. Ward (“him”) produced the effort.

Honorable Mention #1

Vampire WeekendContra (XL Recordings, January 12th)

I don’t quite understand the appeal of Vampire Weekend. One quote that has resonated with me for years came from a review of their self-titled album on Dusted Magazine which finds its author, Ben Yeats, contemplating the obvious: “The result is one of artifice: Either Vampire Weekend is not the band of songwriters their work evinces, or they are neither the rebels nor the miscreants they portray themselves as being.” Then again, I have yet to see them live and have been told by many that I will surely be won over and change my opinion. For now, I feel that, yes, since practically everyone loves them, their sophomore album is definitely one of the most anticipated for 2010.

Listen to: “White Sky”

Honorable Mention #2

David Byrne & Fatboy SlimHere Lies Love (Todomundo/Nonesuch, February 23rd)

David Byrne and Fatboy Slim collaborated on a 2-disc release featuring Tori Amos, Cyndi Lauper, Sharon Jones, Kate Pierson, Santigold, Natalie Merchant, Steve Earle, and Nellie McKay, to name a few. This should be interesting. Last year, Byrne teamed up with Brian Eno on a well-received project that garnered a great deal of attention as the premiere release for Topspin Media – a revolutionary music company that creates online marketing services and software for artists/affiliates to expand their reach on the Web.

The remaining hotly anticipated releases:

EelsEnd Times (Vagrant, January 19th)
Charlotte GainsbourgIRM (Because Music/Atlantic, Jan. 26th)
Patty GriffinDowntown Church (Credential, January 26th)
The Magnetic FieldsRealism (Nonesuch, January 26th)
Galacticya-ka-may (Anti-/Epitaph, February 9th)
Massive Attack Heligoland (Virgin, February 9th)
Sade Soldier of Love (Epic, February 9th) – her first album in 10 years!
Black Rebel Motorcycle ClubBeat the Devil’s Tattoo (Abstract Dragon/Vagrant, March 9th)
Liars Sisterworld (Mute, March 9th)
Drive-By TruckersThe Big To-Do (ATO, March 16th)
Freelance Whales Weathervanes (Frenchkiss/Mom + Pop, March 16th)
GoldfrappHead First (Mute, March 23rd)

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Raffi December 21, 2009 at 10:24 pm

sade and charlotte should be at the top! I’m gonna have to do some research on the massive attack album…have any members returned?


Kara Murphy December 21, 2009 at 10:34 pm

Hi Raffi,

It looks like the band is intact. Here is my source for info on their new album:



Sandy December 21, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Nice list girl! So excited for Eeel! BTW, I already have Freelance Whales’ “Weathervanes.” It’s their self released version before Frenchkiss.


Sandy December 21, 2009 at 11:13 pm

ooops, meant “Eeels!”


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