by: Addison Bell
2012 will probably suck. I graduate college in June with a B.A. in English. Coincidentally, one of my favorite songs from Avenue Q is “What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?” My likelihood of finding a full time job is not looking too strong and I imagine that 2012 will be full of suffering, frustration, and coupons. But at least I will have my music.
2011 was quite amazing music-wise and I didn’t think anything could match up to it. Most of the stuff I’m listening to now was released last year and I haven’t burned out from it yet (I probably listen to St. Vincent’s “Cruel” everyday). Yet, when looking at the artists who are putting out new material this year, I strongly believe that 2012 will be better than last year.
The year has already started out fairly strong. Sleigh Bells released their sophomore album Reign of Terror, which is the perfect to listen to when you’re pissed off. The Shins’ Port of Morrow was worth the wait and while it may not be their best album, I love it. My roommate and I are still trying to figure out the enigmatic Happy to You by Miike Snow (good songs, just fucking weird). One of my favorite artists, Andrew Bird, put out yet another album, Break it Yourself, which is yet another example of his genius.
For me, 2012 will be a year of nostalgia. May of the artists who are coming out with new material greatly remind me of my first year at DePaul. If you know me, you won’t be surprised that I am highly anticipating Beach House’s Bloom. I discovered the band in the fall of 2009 at a Grizzly Bear concert at Metro. In the winter of 2010, they released Teen Dream (they had the name way before Katy Perry did). Coincidentally, I fell in love with a boy and we fell in love with the album. “Used to Be” became our song and I still think of him when I listen to both the track and the album. From what Beach House has already released and from what has already leaked, I can tell that Bloom may be as equally as good as Teen Dream (“Myth” is my spring song).
The same boy also introduced me to Marina and the Diamonds, Phoenix, Andrew Bird, Miike Snow, and the xx, who will all be releasing new material this year (or are rumored to be). Marina and the Diamonds has made a presence in the club scene with the addictive “Radioactive,” which will not be appearing on Electra Heart, but the catchy track “Primadonna” will be. Little is known about Phoenix’s new album, except that is supposedly due out later this year. The same goes for the xx, but the band released the hauntingly beautiful demo “Open Eyes” a few months ago.
A great number of the friends I met my first year at DePaul also introduced me to bands that I still listen to today. One friend gave me a copy of Dirty Projector’s Bitte Orca, an album that I immediately fell in love with. The band has officially announced that their new album, Swing Lo Magellan, will be released in early July. Another friend played me a few of Mumford and Sons’ songs before they became popular. Sigh No More went on to be the third most digitally downloaded album in the U.S. in 2010 and in the same year it was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize (the xx’s debut album won (they deserved it)). New material from Mumford and Sons can be heard online and the band is scheduled to release their sophomore album this year.
It was not until the summer of 2009 that I heard Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. I was at Oxfam America’s CHANGE conference—a college leadership program held in Boston—when three of my now friends performed “Home.” The song went to become the program’s anthem and I still get both happy and sad when I listen to it. Since Edward Sharpe released Up from Below, the band’s frontman, Alex Ebert, put out his solo album last year. Edward Sharpe is releasing two companion LPs this year. The first, Here, is being released in late May
In high school and my freshman year of college (I transferred to DePaul in 2009), I relied heavily on music to get me through my experiences. Several of the artists that I listened to are all coming out with new albums this year. I have high expectations for Rufus Wainwright’s Out of the Game and Norah Jones’ Little Broken Hearts, because each album is being influenced by highly acclaimed producers—Mark Ronson and Danger Mouse, respectfully. Regina Spektor is also returning with her sixth studio album, What We Saw from the Cheap Seats. Jack White is releasing a solo album, Blunderbuss; he also performed material from the album earlier this year on SNL. Also this spring, Indie-folk god M. Ward is putting out his seventh studio album, A Wasteland Companion, and Valtari by the Icelandic band Sigur Rós is due out in May. I already know that Valtari will make me weep, because their music has always had that effect on me.
Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Do is also expected this summer. While I’m still trying to figure out the album’s title, I’m really looking forward to this album, mostly because she has been getting great reviews for her live performances this year. Yet, I will not be surprised if it’s not as good as 2005’s Extraordinary Machine, which I believe is her masterpiece. I would also be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to new material by Gossip, Scissor Sisters, Missy Elliott, and Santigold. And, of course, I am crossing my fingers for a new Cat Power record.
I’m bittersweet about graduating—yes, I want nothing more than to be done with college, but at the same time, most of my experiences at DePaul have been great. The transition into “the real world” will be hard (perhaps even excruciating), but I have all of these albums to look forward to. I already know that they will be crucial to the soundtrack of a new chapter.
Addison Bell is a senior at DePaul University where he is studying English Literature. He is the President of Oxfam DePaul and volunteers with Oxfam America, an organization dedicated to ending world hunger, poverty, and social injustice. Follow Addison on Twitter @boy_1904 and on Tumblr: colourmegreenwich.tumblr.com.