With so many great album releases last year, from Beyoncé’s “Beyoncé” to Kanye West’s “Yeezus,” from newcomers Haim and its “Days Are Gone” to Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz,” 2013 had some pretty good stuff going on. With a new year, of course there’s more goodness to come, though the competition to one-up 2013′s best albums may be stiff. Here’s a peek into this year’s upcoming albums with a top five list of artists to keep an ear out for.
1.) “Voices,” Phantogram
Phantogram’s “Voices,” set to release Feb. 18 through Republic Records, is the duo’s first full-length album release since its “Eyelid Moves.” Remember the irresistible “oh, oh, oh, oh” paired with a crackly, strummed beat that makes you want to sway and do some sort of head nodding in “When I’m Small?” Yeah, well hopefully some more of that super chill, perfect at any time music will be found in “Voices.” After listening to the duo’s sneak peek track, “Fall In Love,” it seems Phantogram has enhanced its oh-so-pleasing techno-beat mixing skill.
2.) “Caustic Love,” Paolo Nutini
After hearing Paolo’s 2006 “New Shoes” — a smoother, less poppy version of a Matt Kearney song — who couldn’t feel the appeal of Nutini’s vocals and sultriness? Eight years later, Nutini has still got his spunk, if his “Caustic Love” Album trailer is any indication. His new single, “Scream (Funk My Life Up),” was released late last month with some raunchy lyrics: “She gets me sinning, she’s like a trick on me / Hell, I don’t even know her name but yet she sticks to me.” “Caustic Love” is due out April 14.
3.) TBA, The Black Keys
With quite the buzz surrounding The Black Keys’ apparent new album, it seems just about everyone is ready for them to jump the gun and do it already. The group, which has released albums on a pretty consistent basis since 2002, hasn’t released anything since 2011′s “El Camino.” So, Keys fans, though there isn’t an album name release, the synergistic group that just keeps going (and consistently putting out award-winning tunes) should be coming out with something full of that rocking, “Thickfreakness” goodness sometime this year (fingers crossed).
4.) “St. Vincent,” St. Vincent
For lyric freaks out there, St. Vincent has always had some seriously deep, thought-inducing ideas to share with her audience. With lines like, “Remember the time we went and snorted / A piece of the Berlin Wall that you’d extorted?” found in the new album’s “Prince Johnny,” Annie Clark should be releasing some multi-faceted tracks with her wide range of musical talents (she can play five different instruments). Set to release Feb. 25, “St. Vincent” is a promising album for this year. Clark will also be headlining a show at Phoenix’s Orpheum Theatre on March 18. Check this out for ticket info.
5.) “X,” Chris Brown
OK, so we all know that Mr. Brown hasn’t been the best person for the past few years. The artist, who in his prime was releasing Billboard toppers like “Kiss Kiss” and “Look At Me Now,” is in rehab and has been struggling with possibly facing jail time. But, from a musical standpoint, “X” seems like a great opportunity to see what’s been going on in Brown’s head since he started this downward spiral. As another album that has yet to have a set release date, time will tell what this RCA production will bring. Check out “X Files,” an album sneak peek Brown released last November.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @cat2bekittenmee