2012 upcoming music preview

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Robert Katz, Staff Writer
2011 certainly offered more than its fair share of fantastic music, with the rise of many previously-obscure artists along with the returns of some of last decade’s most beloved bands. 2012, on the other hand, has yet to make its impression on the music world and now is the perfect time to start looking forward to upcoming releases.
The following are what I believe to be the most promising albums confirmed for release within the next half-year:
Lana Del Rey: Born to Die (Jan. 31)
After having seemingly emerged overnight as the next big thing, American singer-songwriter Elizabeth Grant, better known as Lana Del Rey, certainly has great expectations set upon her. Her breakout hit “Video Games” combined a sultry, yet somber voice with the tale of a perfect-relationship-gone-mundane and quickly found itself charting in top tens across the globe, not to mention earning critical praise among Internet-goers. Now, with a full-length album on the way, Del Rey’s opportunity has come to prove her longevity in the pop frontier. That’s certainly reason enough to remain interested.

of Montreal: Paralytic Stalks (Feb. 7)
Always fresh and quirky, psychedelic pop group of Montreal has certainly arched in style since its inception, originating as a lighthearted, often silly indie-pop band and slowly shifting into something much darker in lyrical tone and much more electronic, while still remaining, most of the time, just as upbeat. Paralytic Stalks appears to be the logical progression of 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, continuing the trend of growing more serious and musically dense while exploring a greater variety of musical techniques, exemplified by the flute-centric, Steely Dan-esque “Dour Percentage” and pseudo-country “Wintered Debts.” Plus, with track names such as “We Will Commit Wolf Murder,” it wouldn’t be too much to expect a little from of Montreal’s trademark snark.

Sleigh BellsReign of Terror (Feb. 21)
For those of us looking for something a little more relaxed this winter season, Sleigh Bells conjures up memories of being cozily wrapped up in blankets with a cup of hot tea about as much as one tends to think of a comforting back massage when one sees a sledgehammer. Noisy and rebellious, the American pop-noise duo and their debut album Treats didn’t feel very interested in fostering calm feelings and instead preferred to slam the listener in the face with its raw beats and screaming guitar. Reign of Terror looks to drive the adrenaline even higher with its heavier guitar, more chilling vocals, and an electronic backing piercing through the roars of “Born to Lose.”

Choir of Young BelieversRhine Gold (Mar. 20)
Simply gorgeous. That’s the only way to describe This Is For The White In Your Eye, Copenhagen-born Jannis Noya Makrigiannis’s 2008 debut EP. With its grandiose orchestral accompaniment and ghostly vocals, it brought Makrigiannis and his project, Choir of Young Believers, the “Best New Act” award at the Danish Grammys and an immensely successful foray into pop music. Rhine Gold, if “Patricia’s Thirst” is any indication, aims to ditch the string-heavy style of its predecessor for something a little more electronic and a little more ‘70s. While bass and cello will undoubtedly ride again in the upcoming release, it’s becoming clear that Choir’s sound is reaching beyond its comfort zone. I will believe in them.

The ShinsPort of Morrow (Mar. 20)
Most, if not all, of today’s indie rock bands owe at least some of their sound and more of their success to The Shins, who many would consider one of the fathers of their genre. It must feel, then, like a long-distant father making a much-awaited homecoming as The Shins release a brand new album after spending five years away from the public eye. Fittingly, their recent single, “Simple Song,” is anything but simple. More bombastic and multi-layered than their previous work, it feels and sounds like the triumphant return of one of indie music’s greatest champions. The only question is whether or not the Shins have truly evolved beyond their old “indie” charms or if they’re just following the Strokes on their way out.

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