Will’s 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2011

The cool thing about music is the good shit never stops. First some speculative picks:

Okkervil River is due for a new one after a decent turn as Roky Erikson‘s backing band on last year’s True Love Cast Out All Evil. They’re still hanging on a high note with 2008’s The Stand Ins. While great, it didn’t quite stack up to the masterpiece that is Black Sheep Boy or its superb followup The Stage Names.

Another speculative release, more than overdue, is from dubstep’s catalyst, Burial. Okay, it’s only been three years, but after his contribution to the 2009 Hyperdub compilation 5, it’s hard to sustain patience for a followup to the watershed record, Untrue. I say a prayer before I turn in each night that said followup might grace our ears in 2011.

Here’s the stuff that’s all but officially announced if not already been so:

10. The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts

Nothing out of this camp is ever going to match the eclectic madness of Thunder, Lighting, Strike, but 2007’s Proof of Youth certainly wasn’t a dud. It gave us the manic roller coaster track “Keys to the City” if nothing else. From what I’ve heard, Rolling Blackouts more than keeps pace with its predecessor and there’s still something about double-dutch chants mashed up with car-chase-horn-bombast that doesn’t get old.

9. Panda Bear – Tomboy

Full disclosure: I haven’t heard any of the singles from this one yet, and I have been a little disappointed¬† that Panda is apparently moving away from his signature sample sound found on Person Pitch. It makes sense though, as more than a few have ripped the style from top to bottom. Despite the text descriptions, it’s still Panda Bear.

8. Toro Y Moi – Underneath The Pine

I was way late to last year’s Causers Of This. Late enough that Underneath The Pine is only a few months following to these ears. That said, goddammit, I can’t get enough of the young producer’s blurred-80s-sleaze-meets-J Dilla aesthetic and the man still seems to be on the sharp upward arc in his career.

7. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

The 2009 debut did a more than satisfactory job at distilling the best aspects of late 80s, early 90s dream pop and shoegaze into a consistently rad long player. My only concern is the group, which previously recorded with barely any budget, has seemed to have gone the glossy high production route. We’ll see how reserved they’re able to remain with the final product.

6. MillionYoung – Replicants

I may have already heard most of this album, but the potential of a long player from one of 2010’s best sleeper acts is pretty exciting. MillionYoung is still pretty grounded in the chilliest of chillwave, but there’s just a little bit more reverb here and just a little bit more subtlety there that hooks me into the unabashedly bedroom-based output. Also, the album is titled Replicants.

5. James Blake – James Blake

The UK producer absolutely annihilated last year and now has the chance to be a potential dubstep crossover hitter with this LP. Grandeur aside, James Blake just makes damn good music and I’m super excited to see how he shapes a full-length.

4. Cut Copy – Zonoscope

In Ghost Colors, in my humble opinion, is one of the best dance pop albums ever crafted. It sets itself up for greatness every single track and just delivers ten-fold at every pivotal point. I absolutely cannot wait to see what the Aussie trio has in store for a followup.

3. Radiohead – TBA

Um…enough said.

2. M83 – TBA

Other than the lackluster debut, everything M83 has done feels as if its been pried straight from my wildest musical dreams. 2008’s Saturdays = Youth is a spacey John Hughes film score–in all it’s over-dramatic and angsty glory. 2005’s Before The Dawn Heals Us especially ignited my aural pleasure centers, conjuring one of the sign posts of my imagination, Blade Runner, with it’s cityscape cover art and it’s Vangelis synth textures. The good news is, Gonzales is returning to Dawn‘s dramatic soundtrack-styling flair, as he told Pitchfork late last year. I’m so goddamn excited.

1. The Avalanches – TBA

It’s probably disingenuous of me to put this on the list as this record has been supposed to come out for the last four years or so, yet still doesn’t even have a title. The group has been apparently clearing samples or something in the interim. My expectations for this one are so high that they’ve somehow lapped themselves back into cynicism. 2000’s Since I Left You is one of the best, most ambitious, and technically profound electronic records ever created. It was a sound collage that somehow worked as a dance mix. Seriously. Let’s hope they’ve used the last eleven years to make the followup worthy.

Those are my picks. Keep in mind, that most of these are scheduled for the earlier part of the year. In reality, I’m most excited about the surprises that come in the form of late announcements and little indie darlings.

So what are the patrons of Pure Pop looking forward to in 2011?