Monday, 20 January 2014

A Better Tomorrow: The Year Ahead In Music

So 2013 has come to an end and provided us with a host of exceptional music to be discussed, debated, and most of all remembered, but there’s no need to cry now it’s all over. Here are ten excellent reasons to look forward to 2014.

Azaelia Banks – Broke With Expensive Taste

 It’s been a ridiculous production process that has involved numerous delays and potential release dates (the original expected release was September 2012) but in March 2014 Azealia Banks is finally set to drop her debut album. One of the more eccentric and certainly loudmouth figures recently in music, Banks has promised a lot of talent with one of the singles of 2012 in ‘’212’’ and other releases such as the 1991 EP and her ‘’Harlem Shake’’ remix, but now is the time for the 22 year old rapper to deliver on all that talk as she puts herself at the mercy of critics and fans alike.

Featuring already released singles ‘’ATM Jam’’ and ‘’Yung Rapunxal’’, Broke With Expensive Taste could be a trend setter for the year or an overhyped fail but either way, it’ll be interesting to see what happens. Banks has also stated she intends to release her second album, tentatively titled Fantasea II, in 2014 also but judging from the shambles that surrounded this debut release, we’ll slate that for some time in late 2016.

Beck – Morning Phase

Beck’s continued success both critically and commercially throughout the past decade is enough of a reason to look forward to new material, but his declaration that Morning Phase will act as a companion piece to 2002’s stunning Sea Change means that this will be a must listen upon release in late February. As stated in a press release, Morning Phase "harkens back to the stunning harmonies, song craft and staggering emotional impact of that record (Sea Change), while surging forward with infectious optimism".

 Bombay Bicycle Club – So Long, See You Tomorrow

After their work with experimental producer Ben Allen (Deerhunter, Animal Collective) on 2011’s A Different Kind Of Fix, BBC seem to be going deeper into the void and attempting to discover new ways to create their brand of indie pop/rock on their fourth LP, So Long, See You Tomorrow. Having travelled the globe in the space of recordings both album, frontman Jack Steadman had this to say concerning the upcoming LP: "I think the travelling gave me a sense of wellbeing rather than any direct musical influence. Also, we were getting more inspired by samples. They become the springboard for your song and, whether it’s an Indian song or something with Thai chanting, you should never deny that inspiration just because it sounds silly or because the thought of it is weird."

 Sounds interesting, and if BBC can utilize the engaging sound of their first and best LP I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose while incorporating these new elements, this could be a surprising standout in 2014.

Chance The Rapper/James Blake?!

The creators of two of HMM’s albums of 2013 have bizarrely announced they’ll be moving in together for 2014. When asked about collaborating with his new roommate, Chance had this to say: ‘’We're probably going to make a bunch of shit every day. I don't know what we're going to do with it. We might give some shit to other artists.

We're getting a compound so we figure we might invite people round to the crib and make some music in the house, then kick them out and bring in some new people.’’

 Sounds like an extremely promising, if somewhat strange partnership.

Frank Ocean

channel ORANGE and good kid were invariably interlocked throughout 2012, battling each other for the number one spot on the majority of critics’ best of lists and it looks like their sequels are set to do battle gain for the potential album of 2014 with Frank dropping his third album. LP3 will probably be sooner than Kendrick’s, with Frank having been in studio since last February, working with Tyler The Creator, Dangermouse and Pharrell Williams. This time around Frank says he’s been influenced by the like of The Beatles and Beach Boys, an intriguing and promising statement of intent that it would be wonderful to see manifest itself in the form of an album.

Joanna Newsom

One of my very favourite artists has been very quiet the last three years since releasing the epic triple album Have One On Me in 2010, but following several new songs being premiered at shows over the past while, it seems safe to assume that Newsom will return this year with her usual eccentric, beautiful brilliance.

Kanye West

As if dominating 2013 wasn’t enough, Kanye looks to have his eyes firmly set on continuing the momentum he gained from Yeezus and expanding on it this year with a summer release tentatively planned by the Chicago native. When asked about his next project recently, West hinted that it would be an 8 track album, stating ‘’It's just reducing down the amount of information that you need. People say a design is the point where you can't take anything else away.’’ If there's time to deliver a 7th solo album in such a short space, Yeezy season could be approaching once again a lot faster than we all thought.

Another side project that’s been rumoured to feature a sequel in 2014 is G.O.O.D Music ‘s Cruel Summer. Possibly entitled Cruel Winter, the project is a near certainty but may take longer than expected depending on the label member’s individual workloads in 2014.

Kendrick Lamar

The self-declared king Kendrick has given us more than enough reasons to expect total greatness from his follow up to good kid this year- from absolutely killing TDE’s Cypher at the 2013 BET Awards to devastating the rap world with ‘’Control’’, amongst other exceptional guest appearances (‘’1 Train’’, ‘’Nosetalgia’’, ‘’Fuckin’ Problems’’) K. Dot has remained firmly in the spotlight and stepped up to the rest of game, provoking them into resentment and quiet admiration with his undoubted brilliance.

Now he’s got to back it up, and there’s no doubting the potential of Kendrick’s LP3. In November, Lamar said he’d be back in the studio in January after the Yeezus tour, providing hope for a summer or late year release. Of the album’s possible direction, he said “It depends on where my emotion is. How angry I’ll be, or how happy I’ll be, or how confused I’ll be.” One thing is certain though; it’s going to be extraordinary.

Purity Ring

Purity Ring had a quiet 2013 following their debut release Shrines (HMM Album of the Year 2012), but their feature on Danny Brown’s Old in October and a Lady Gaga remix in September is hopefully some sort of indication that they’re getting back to studio work. If they can recreate the sonic beauty that they captured so vividly inside 38 minutes on Shrines for their next project, it will surely be another highlight of the year.

Wu Tang Clan – A Better Tomorrow

Another delayed album from 2013, A Better Tommorrow was set to drop in summer but numerous issues within the Wu have seen it slated for 2014 instead. Named after a 1986 Hong Kong crime film in true Wu fashion, if all members of this legendary superstar team can get over petty rivalries and blame games, A Better Tomorrow could be one of the dark horses for 2014’s greatest releases. According to RZA in late November, the album was 6 weeks from completion, so expect to be hearing new Wu Tang Clan very soon, which any way you look at it, is a welcome sound indeed.

Stick with HMM this year for reviews and news of all of the above and many more.

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