As satisfying as it is to close the page on another year, it's never too soon to start surveying what the new year will bring us. This year doesn't boast as impressive a list as the one we had at this time last year, but there are still more than a few heavy hitters primed to get music fans salivating. In no particular order:
Arcade Fire - TBA
Montreal indie rockers Arcade Fire can lay claim to having released one of the most revered albums of the previous decade with 2004's Funeral. But their contributions to the current decade are none too shabby either. 2010's The Suburbs was one of those rare albums that bridged the gap between the Pitchforky indie world and that of the mainstream, having snagged the coveted album of the year award at the Grammys in what was a colossal breakthrough for the entire independent universe. Few details have been unveiled about its encore, except that the band is aiming for a end of year release. It would be no surprise if it was an album that once again redefines the status quo.
Atoms for Peace - Amok
Radiohead's Thom Yorke has never been one to sit idly by. Following the mixed reception of 2011's King of Limbs, he's gotten back to work with a new side band, Atoms for Peace. But he's hardly the only heavy hitter involved in the project, which also includes Chili Peppers' bassist Flea and producer Nigel Goodrich. "Default," the album's lead single, indicates a very chill electronic vibe (not surprisingly), but its B-side, "Watch What the Eyeballs Did" exposes a bit more experimentation with a wall of brass horns providing a subtle mood and coloring, while an infectious bassline roars beneath. With this exotic lineup, Atoms for Peace seems primed to deliver one of the first big blows of 2013.
Nine Inch Nails - TBA
Among the many accomplishments Nine Inch Nails's Trent Reznor can point to is that he popularized an entire genre of music and brought it to the mainstream with with a series of releases beginning in 1989 and culminating a decade later with The Fragile. He hasn't confined himself to Nine Inch Nails however. With his quality work with various side projects, as well as the praise he's garnered for his film score work, Reznor has established himself as a one of a kind mind in the music industry and cementing a place for himself within its annals. Now, it appears more NIN work is headed our way, possibly sometime around summer. It will be a point of great interest to see what direction Reznor's creative juices will flow following the band's hiatus that occurred after their supposed final tour in 2009.
My Bloody Valentine - TBA
Pretty much any day now
Remember Loveless by My Bloody Valentine? Remember how influential it was at the time, how dizzying it all was? How it summed up not just a genre, but an entire subset of a generation as a whole? Remember how they never followed it up? There's a good chance you don't. Many of today's hip youngsters weren't even born when that disc was released in 1991, but now the band is on the cusp of finally releasing new studio material. They've been deliberately opaque about an actual date or details, but perhaps that's fitting for a band that's been shrouded in the mist of history and expectations as My Bloody Valentine have been. The mastering stage is apparently complete, so it shouldn't be long before the band breaks its silence.
Steven Wilson - The Raven that Refused to Sing (and other Stories)
It takes no small level of trust to insert Mr. Wilson on this list, given that the last several releases he's been involved with are somewhat spotty, but he must be given his due. The announcement of the oddly titled "The Raven that Refused to Sing (and Other Stories)" came as a bit of a surprise given that his last solo album, Grace For Drowning hit shelves just over a year ago. "The Raven that Refused to Sing (and Other Stories)" will mark his third solo release in five years, and is said to focus on supernatural themes and lyrics. The 12 minute lead single "Luminol" is largely instrumental and is bolstered by a flowing infectious bassline, while offering a heavy helping of solos on almost every instrument imaginable.
Bad Religion - True North
As a band that's been around since the Reagan era, Bad Religion have long ago cemented their principles. They helped reign in the era of pop punk that dominated the 90s and have stuck around long enough that most people aren't sure what constitutes punk today, or if it even still exists. What is certain is that the band's 2010 album, The Dissent of Man, was a tasty concoction consisting of driving melodic rock and roll complemented by politically conscious lyrics. The title song of True North has been issued as its lead single and promises more of the same.
Earl Sweatshirt - Doris
When they aren't grabbing critical acclaim they're at least grabbing headlines, and Odd Future isn't looking to let up in 2013. Since there's no telling when Tyler will deliver Wolf, or if it will be worth the wait, Earl Sweatshirt has positioned himself as Odd Future's best hope going forward. The 18-year-old rapper certainly has a lot on his mind, as evidenced by the introspective lead single "Chum." Earl's emergence has signified an infusion of new blood into hip hop, and his ideas are already shaking up the scene.
Autechre - Exai
Out of all their IDM contemporaries, Autechre have always been the most experimental, dissonant, and challenging. Often described as being heavily influenced by computers and technology, Autechre's output has often sounded like something you would physically have to be a computer to enjoy. However, the British duo have typically found a way to extract method from the madness, and the crackling cacophony tends to morph itself into something beautiful. There is no other artist on earth who does anything quite like Autechre and they'll be doing plenty of it in 2013, given the announcement that Exai will clock in at an astounding 2 hours.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - TBA
Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been through quite an evolution. They started off with a very grimy, low key indie rock sound with an obvious Brooklyn flair, before morphing into the shimmering electro-pop found on 2009's It's Blitz! Not may details are known about their upcoming fourth full length album, but if Karen O is successfully able to work her magic once again it will be an extravaganza you won't be able to take your eyes off of.
A$AP Rocky - Long Live A$AP
The hype for A$AP Rocky has been building since his high profile signing with RCA in 2011, and has been riding the mixtape circuit while his fame and fanbase increases every day. He possesses a veteran presence and savvy on the mic that belies his youth, and his debut LP features plenty of today's best and brightest stars. Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Skrillex, and Big K.R.I.T. are but a few guest stars he's brought along. Add to that the hype Long Live A$AP has already garnered, including a best new music tag from Pitchfork, and it appears certain that this will be the first key release of 2013.
Orphaned Land - TBA
For Orphaned Land, it's been a long journey from their dusty black metal roots to progressive metal. For their fans, it's usually a long journey from one record to the next, as the acclaimed Israeli metal outfit usually takes about five or six years between albums. This time around, though, they appear to be bucking the trend, as recording has already commenced on the followup to 2010's The Never Ending Way of ORwarriOR. That album snagged this site's album of the year award that year. The new album will be the first since the departure of guitarist Matti Svatizky, who left last year for what he termed as personal and professional reasons. Orphaned Land is aiming for a midyear release.