I recently put a bow on this blog's fifth annual Midway Through the Year Awards, cataloging the best (and rest) of what the first stretch 2011 has had to offer. Having done that, let's swivel the viewfinder 180 degrees and see what's on the horizon. Who's got new music ready to roll out in Q3/Q4
The Black Keys
Status: Confirmed to exist; release is slated for late '11.
Never a band that will be accused of underproducing, the Keys look to build on the success of last year's immense Brothers. Funny anecdote: I waschatting with a buddy of mine about the merits of the Black Keys. "I don't know how anyone could truly dislike the Black Keys. I understand not being infatuated, but outright distaste?" My buddy just stared at me, sporting this look of confused disbelief. "Really?" he said. "I mean...some of their songs are pretty bad." I was caught off guard for a moment, struggling for damage control in that excruciating situation when you realize you've been stating as fact an opinion that another party completely disagrees with. But, thankfully, it turns out he misheard me. He thought I was staunchly defending the Black Eyed Peas. Talk about getting retarded in here.
Status: Dropping on September 13.
American Goldwing is BT's fourth album, following up last year's sprawling Destroyers of the Void. The title-track and first single is out there. It's got harmonica, key changes, and frontier rock with some digital sounds mixed in. In other words, it's Blitzen Trapper...
The Duke and the King
Status: Self-titled sophomore album comes out August 2nd.
Why am I excited about the follow-up to one of the worst albums of 2009? Because Simone Felice wrote "Don't Wake the Scarecrow," dammit, and that's a song so perfect he's earned a lifetime exemption. It's like how John Daly keeps getting to play the British Open despite...being John Daly.
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
Status: Mirror Traffic comes out August 23
I've never really checked out Malkmus' solo stuff, but August is looking kinda thin for new music, so I may give it a go.
Status: Confirmed. Father, Son, Holy Ghost is out September 13.
I direct you to this.
Status: September 20 is circled on my calender!
Will the Whole Love be a return to form for Wilco after two good-but-not-great LPs? Early indications are positive. Let's hope it's carried out over the course of the album.
Status: Unconfirmed, unless you count Ryan's own internet blather.
He's not one for keeping secrets, but he's also not one for following through on things. Since 2004, Ryan's been quick to share with his fans any number of intended releases (including box sets, back catalog, etc.) He claims there will be new music out this year, released on his own label. He has been playing a handful of new songs on his recent Euro-swing, so maybe he'll come through this time. I'll believe it when it happens, though. I've been hurt before!
The Avett Brothers
Status: Likely early 2012, but we may at least hear it by the end of the year.
Since 2009's I & Love & You came out, the Avetts have gone from a beloved regional act to a full-blown nationwide sensation. Unfortunately, I wasn't head over heels for I&L&Y--I prefer the light and loose days of Four Thieves Gone and Carolina Jubilee. Alas, they're working with Rick Rubin again, so look for more of the same.
As always, I'm sure I'll stumble upon a few unexpected treasures along the way. Looking forward to a second half as and enjoyable as the first!