It's been a great decade for music thus far, and 2014 seems like a year that could top all of them. No joke. Kendrick Lamar, Fleet Foxes, Agalloch, Frank Ocean, and Adele are all at least somewhat likely for sometime later in the year. Meanwhile, British stalwarts Radiohead and Blur have been working on new material, but it is not known yet whether those works will be pushed into 2015. Here are some of the can't miss releases of 2014:
Beck - Morning Phase
How can you not love Beck? The super versatile musician and songwriter responsible for classic tunes like "Loser" and "E-Pro" hasn't had much to cheer about in several years, but Morning Phase is looking like it will be among the early contenders for album of the year. The album will apparently cull from a collage of classic 60s and 70s artists; Beck tells David Fricke of Rolling Stone that he drew inspiration from The Byrds, Crosby Stills & Nash, and Gram Parsons among others.
St. Vincent - s/t
Whenever St. Vincent puts out an album, you can rest assured that it will be just plain fun. There are already a pair of singles out. The first, "Birth in Reverse," is a fun and bouncy number that sounds like new wave updated for a 2014 audience, with a bit of a very intentional mechanized feel. "Digital Witness," meanwhile, has a similar vibe but manages to pack in her trademark horns into the fabric. It gives the image of an album with pretty heavy production, but still with enough charm and life to fit it into the themes she's developed over her career.
Tune Yards - TBA
Merril Garbus of Tune Yards released one of the most eclectic and aurally stimulating albums in 2011's w h o k i l l, blending all sorts of world music influences with a rough, homespun, do it yourself type of vibe. But most of all it was the overpowering bass and tribal drums that underpinned the tracks more than anything. Garbus revealed a tentative title for the album, Sink-O, back in July but not many details have emerged since then. It is known, however, that she spent time in Haiti learning more about African tribal rhythms.
Cloud Nothings - TBA
Cloud Nothings made one of the most intelligent fusions of punk, indie, and post-punk with their 2012 album Attack on Memory, but don't think that the Cleveland rockers are content to sit on their laurels for the followup. Frontman Dylan Baldi claims the new album will be nosier and much less melodic, meaning that the guys will be free to work their chaotic brilliance in all new ways.
Rodrigo y Gabriella - TBA
The Latin acoustic guitar playing duo released their last album, Area 52, in 2012, but their newest release will be their first proper studio album since 2009's 11:11. All that's been released so far is a brief clip of a new song, as well as a release date -- April 2014 -- on the band's website. But if their past material is any indicator, the new album will be another captivating piece of heavy rhythm and breathtaking lead work.
Modest Mouse - TBA
All I can say is that it's been far too long since Modest Mouse put out a full length studio album. It's been seven years since We Were All Dead Before the Ship Sank, and going on 15 years since their magnum opus The Moon & Antarctica. However, as recent history has shown, a long layoff can often enable a band to come back with a fresh approach. They cancelled a run of European dates last summer to work on the new album, which is set to include a guest appearance from former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic.
Grimes - TBA
Canadian electronic synthpop artist Claire Boucher, better known as Grimes, is one of the more overlooked personalities out there. Her excellent tumblr reveals a silly and fun loving personality, and this is one of the qualities that made Visions such a gem. Boucher said in April that she was influenced by Enya and Paramore while recording the new album, and wants it to have a Nine Inch Nails level recording quality, which will be much easier with the resources she'll have after her signing with Jay Z's Roc Nation label.
Badbadnotgood - BBNG3
If you're looking for jazz music that thinks outside the box, Badbadnotgood will be your jam for 2014. This trio of early 20s musicians is well known for infusing their deep, and introspective compositions with a hip hop nature. They've worked Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean, and Earl Sweatshirt of Odd Future Fame, while reinterpreting material from artists as diverse as James Blake and Wacka Flacka Flame. They released a new tune, "Hedron," last summer, but it is unknown whether it will be on the final album.
Run the Jewels - TBA
Atlanta hip-hop artist Killer Mike and New York based producer/rapper El-P gave us one of the most exciting rap collaborations last year with their self titled Run the Jewels album, and fortunately the duo isn't making us wait long for more material. Killer Mike didn't give a release date but did disclose that recording was taking place in December and January. If it's anything like its predecessor, you can expect forceful and combative hip hop that never messes around and gets straight to the point.