With fantastic releases from bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Nine Inch Nails, Sigur Ros and more, 2013 was a wonderful year for music. Now 2014 is shaping up to be another great year in music, with many known and not-so-known bands planning to release new music. Whether these albums will be as good as those released in 2013 remains to be seen.
Ume “Monuments” (March 4)
“Black Stone,” the new song from the forthcoming sophomore album by the Austin rock band Ume, explores a darker, more sinister and heavier sound than found on all previous Ume releases. Newly signed to Dangerbird records, Ume seems to have done what few bands do when signing to labels, changing their sound in a less marketable way. The fuzzed out shoe gaze rock of their previous album, “Phantoms,” has been exchanged out for metal riffs and dreamy whispery vocals. It sounds refreshing and exciting.
Manchester Orchestra “COPE” (April 1)
The new Manchester Orchestra single, “TOP NOTCH,” is interesting in two ways. First, it’s the hardest rocking song the band has ever performed, and secondly it showcases a new style for the band. Gone is the Death Cab for Cutie-style lyricism, and in are the atmospheric vocals, heavy drums and layered guitars. Vocalist and lyricist Andy Hull has begun using his voice in a more atmospheric way, a la Matthew Bellamy and Billy Corgan. The Atlanta band’s fourth album, “COPE,” due for an April 1 release date, promises to be the band’s heaviest outing yet, which continues an unofficial tradition for the band, as each album gets heavier than the next one. “COPE” follows the lackluster “Simple Math” released in 2011.
Coldplay “Untitled” (May/June)
The new Coldplay album, rumored for a May or June release, will hopefully be better than the anthem synth-pop of “Mylo Xyloto.” That album showed Coldplay throwing away their Radiohead and U2 influences in favor of a more MGMT/Passion Pit style of stadium pop. The change didn’t quite suit them, although the most recent song to be released from the band, the fantastic “Atlas” from the “Catching Fire” soundtrack, sounds like a return to the highs of “Viva La Vida,” but hopefully this time, the band will stay away from collaborations with R&B artists, as those have not always turned out great.
U2 “Untitled” (June)
The new U2 single “Invisible,” which debuted during the Super Bowl, showcases U2 dropping down to the level of most modern rock acts. The song simply lacked the charisma of earlier songs such as “New Year’s Day” or “Where the Streets Have No Name,” sounding more like a Stone Temple Pilots B-side than a U2 stadium anthem. The future looks bleak for U2’s new album.
Agent Fresco (TBD)
Agent Fresco is a rarity among bands, managing to pull off a mix of churning metal guitars, heavy drums, electronic dance beats, melodic pianos and operatic falsetto vocals. And they did this quite successfully on their 2012 debut album, “A Long Time Listening,” an album which won pretty much all the awards the Icelandic music scene can give and had numerous hit singles within the country. Last year the band began incorporating new songs into their live sets, and website updates show them finishing recording on their new album, which is promised to be out sometime in 2014.
Charli XCX (TBD)
Receiving rave reviews from sites such as Pitchfork, the Tumblr Pop-dubbed Charli XCX exploded onto the goth-pop scene last year with her debut full-length “True Romance,” which scored a U.K. hit with the song “You (Ha-ha).” The new album which will be released later this year is rumored to be rawer and more influenced by ‘60s pop than the synth-pop of her previous album.
Foo Fighters (TBD)
Having proclaimed that the new Foo Fighters record was being recorded in “a completely new way” back in August of 2013, Dave Grohl hasn’t said much else about the album, while expectations are high following the awesome 2011 album “Wasting Light.” The highly-secretive album is set for an early 2014 release date.