10. Tool – We’re closing in on six years since Tool released 10,000 Days. I’m sure they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but they make really great rock music. They are known to take their time in between albums, with 5 years in between Aenima, Lateralus, and 10,000 Days. But when they do come out with new material, it is rock solid. Lateralus was one of my favorite albums of the previous decade and 10,000 Days had some great singles in “Vicarious”, “Jambi” and “The Pot.” If they come out with anything this year, it will be a welcome addition to the 2012 rock landscape.
9. Muse – Muse seemed to really hit it big with The Resistance in 2009, becoming one of the biggest rock bands in the world. They make big, anthemic progressive rock and when that works, it really works. The Resistance produced a lot of big singles, but I sometimes wondered what exactly it was that they were resisting and raging against in their songs. In the long run, it didn’t really matter, as they make great big music to sing along to. There is talk that they are working on a new album already, so we’ll see what 2012 brings from these radio-friendly rockers.
8. Mumford & Sons – These guys had a monster 2010 and it looks like they are readying for a follow-up album to be released this year. It is going to be interesting to see if the indie folk genre is sustainable or if there will be too many bands out their replicating their sound to be able to achieve success again. If they can make an album that is as enjoyable and accessible as Sigh No More, then things will be alright.
7. Kings of Leon – It feels like their star has faded a bit, like they peaked with Only by the Night and the smash hits “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody.” Come Around Sundown was released in the latter half of 2010, and they usually put out music at a steady clip, with releases in 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2010. So it is possible that they would release something toward the end of this year, but they could take a step back like their ‘04-‘07 period. As divisive as their musical progression has been for some of their fans, I still enjoy their sound, though I wouldn’t mind a return to the grittier sounds of their first few albums and away from the polish of their last couple.
6. Anything Jack White – The White Stripes are done. I’ve shed my tears, rent my garments, covered my head in ashes, and started to piece my heart back together. In the wake of that, I’ll take anything “full-length” that Jack White has to offer musically. Whether it is in the form of a new Raconteurs album or The Dead Weather or a solo album or some other collaboration he is prominently involved in.
5. Damien Rice – This guy seems to be notorious for taking his time to release new albums. It seemed like I was waiting forever for 2006’s 9, a follow-up to 2002’s O. And while 9 wasn’t as good as his first album, it was still enough to keep me interested. But now we’re closing in on six years since his last release. And there is no hint of anything new on the horizon. I wonder how much of an effect his breakup with Lisa Hannigan had on his music. She was a longtime collaborator and girlfriend and their relationship ended poorly. Since that time, she has produced two really good albums and he’s gone rather silent.
4. Band of Skulls – These guys have a bluesy rock sound similar to The White Stripes and The Black Keys. However, as their debut album, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, showed, they are a very versatile band. It seems like they have 2 or 3 competing influences and give them all a chance to be aired on the album. They’re listed as having a February 21st release for their second album, Sweet Sour. I’ll be interested to see if a dominant influence emerges.
3. Arcade Fire – Arcade Fire have released three very impressive albums, with the last one The Suburbs, winning the Grammy. They have usually gone 2-3 years between albums, so 2012 might be a bit early for a follow-up to Suburbs, which came out in August 2010. But I can hope.
2. The Shins – The last Shins album was 2007’s Wincing the Night Away. Since then, James Mercer, the lead singer, replaced all of the other band members with new performers. And he has had a successful run with Danger Mouse in forming Broken Bells, releasing one EP and LP. So this new album will be different, but hopefully not too different. On March 20th, Port of Morrow will come out. This makes me happy. This new album with a new lineup will be different, but hopefully not too different. At least one of my musical appetites will be sated this year.
1. Fiona Apple – It’s been seven, SEVEN, calendar years (six years and about 3 months) since Fiona Apple released Extraordinary Machine in October of 2005. It may come as a surprise to some that I would list her at the top, but, man, do I missed her voice. She is easily my favorite female artist. As far as I’m concerned, Norah Jones, Alicia Keyes and any of these other singer/songwriter ladies are merely pretenders to the throne and Fiona puts them all back in their place whenever she releases something new. Nobody else on this list has had as much time elapse between when they released their last album. She has stated recently that she made new music that has been done for over a year and it’s just sitting on a shelf. Given the difficulty she has had getting Extraordinary Machine released, it is no surprise, but I hope it sees the light of day sooner rather than later.