From A-Z, we’re counting down the 100 most essential albums of 2014. Kicking of Part II (J-Z) is… Johnny Marr
What to expect: Tracks on the second album from NME’s reigning Godlike Genius, due in summer, include ‘Dynamo’, ‘Spiral Cities’ and ‘Reach Out Speak Out’.
Who: Julian Casablancas
What to expect: Casablancas released his last solo effort in 2009. We described ‘Phrazes for the Young’ as “a strange little album, just eight songs long but deceptively dense with ideas”.
Who: Julio Bashmore
What to expect: His most recent track ‘Husk’is a slow-burner that proves he’s no one-trick pony. Let’s hope for more of the same.
What to expect: “This record is as good as it gets for us,” says Tom Meighan. “If we were on a mountain, we’re at the top of Mount Everest now. We’ve stuck the flag in and we’re saluting it. Top of the world, mate – that’s where we are.”
Who: Katy B
Details: ‘Are We There?’, May.
What to expect: “I definitely haven’t moved away from clubbing,” says Katy. “But you could probably play most of the songs on my first album in a club, whereas this one you probably couldn’t. It’s been really nice for me to be able to show that, because life isn’t one constant party.”
What to expect: “When we started, we promised to make three records,” says Jamie Reynolds. “One each about the future, the past and the present. This record is very much about the present, an emotionally honest album about technological and personal progression.”
Who: La Roux
What to expect: “It’s a lot cheekier. Not ‘Touch my Bum’ cheeky or Carry On cheeky – just slightly suggestive,” says Elly Jackson.
Who: Lana Del Rey
Details: ‘Ultraviolence’, TBC.
What to expect: So far little has emerged about what Lana has planned. Perhaps even Del Rey herself doesn’t know.
Who? Laura Marling
What to expect? “‘Once I Was An Eagle’ sets a high bar; does anyone doubt she’ll soar over it?” we said after the release of Laura’s last album.
Details: ‘Mess’, March.
What to expect: In general, the lyrics toy with the idea of having a problem or a messed-up head, but then acknowledging that and utilising it,” says Angus Andrew. “Even though the reality of it is still fairly troubled and distraught, it’s fun and immediate – and you won’t have to spend too much time thinking about it.”
Who: Lily Allen
What to expect: We should expect something daring. “What pisses me off about music right now is the lack of support for being experimental and brave,” says Lily.
Who: Lykke Li
Details: TBC, May.
What to expect: “I see my albums as a trilogy, with ‘Youth Novels’ as the first one and hopefully this one as the last one in this chapter,” says Lykke Li. “In any woman’s life, 21 to 27 is an intense period. I’m starting to feel like a woman, but the concept is an abstract one.”
Who: Mac DeMarco
What to expect: “I just finished mixing and mastering my new album at Electric Ladyland in NYC,” says Mac.
What to expect: Felix White says: “‘Given…’ was quite a composed record, because we were so sure of the difference we wanted to make with it. We’re trying to make this one more direct, but still having that atmosphere and all that different stuff going on, too.”
Who: Manic Street Preachers
Details: ‘Futurology’, May.
What to expect: A forward-looking record with a more aggressive sound and a new cast of guests including from Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside and Super Furry Animals’ Cian Ciaran. “It’s the next step on from ‘The Holy Bible’ and ‘Journal For Plague Lovers’,” says Nicky Wire. “It’s quite intense but synthetic as well.”
What to expect: “It’s gonna be massive and insane, lots of epic greatness,” says drummer Brann Dailor. “There will be lots of huge riffs and new directions. It’s real weird, real math-y, real straightforward. It’s up, down and all around.
Who: Maximo Park
Details: ‘Too Much Information’, February 3.
What to expect: Field Music have assisted as producers.
Details: ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’, March 3
What to expect: ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ found The Men recording in a decent studio for the first time – “every other album we’ve done has been in ramshackle studios or practice spaces” – but, lest you fear this means self-indulgent rock piggery, understand they did the whole thing in two days.
What to expect: Carson Cox, frontman of Florida’s Merchandise, can sing. Beautifully, in fact – a deeply emotive croon. This isn’t the only thing to say about Merchandise, but it immediately places them far ahead of the pack.
Details: ‘Love Letters’, March 10.
What to expect: “There’s a nice tradition of these songs from the ’60s when astrology was the really cool thing to sing about, like ‘Age Of Aquarius’, that I wanted to be part of,” says Joe Mount.
Details: ‘No Mythologies to Follow’, February 24.
What to expect: The Danish performer’s new release is sure to be experimental.
Details: ‘Rave Tapes’, January 20.
What to expect: ‘Rave Tapes’ was recorded at the band’s Castle of Doom studio in Glasgow with Paul Savage, who has worked with them previously.
What to expect: It’s back to basics following ‘The 2nd Law’, with Matt Bellamy promising nothing more than “guitar, bass and drums”.
Who: Palma Violets
What to expect: Palma’s will be working on the follow-up to their debut ‘180’ this year, with bassist Chilli Jesson promising it will sound “bigger, but with all those youthful elements still there.” Tracks ‘Goat Gangs Go’ and ‘The Scandal’, debuted on tour last December, are expected to feature.
What to expect: Disco, opera, Motown and “intense, fuzzy, sexy groove rock” are on the agenda for the Birmingham boys on their second studio album as they look to repeat the success of last year’s debut ‘In Love’.
What to expect: After collaborations with Daft Punk and Robin Thicke gave him a glut of chart-toppers in 2013, the NERD man is set to capitalize this year with his first solo album in eight years.
Details: ‘All Love’s Legal’, February 10.
What to expect: Berlin-via-Bolton’s Jam Rostron is mixing her distinctive vocals with disco, techno and funk house on ‘All Love’s Legal’, with the hope of producing a bevy of radical feminist dance anthems.
Who: Real Estate
Details: ‘Atlas’, TBC.
What to expect: “I’ve been listening to a lot of ‘70s singer-songwriters: Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell,” says frontman Martin Courtney. “But this isn’t an introspective folk record. It’s the opposite, actually.” Intriguing stuff to come, then, from the Brooklyn-based band.
What to expect: They’ve been keeping their cards close to their chest, and no-one’s any the wiser as to how it will sound, but Maxim, Liam Howlett and Keith Flint have been in the studio working on material for their first new album since 2009’s ‘Invaders Must Die’.
Who: Purity Ring
What to expect: We described their 2012 album ‘Shrines’ as “crisp and precise, but dense with feeling, filling a gulf between clinical sheen and lung-collapse heartbreak.”
Details: ‘Wiki93’, November
What to expect: With lyrics like ‘I don’t bag bitches I drag bitches and bag critics/ Tie em up and then spit it’, expect something controversial from the NY boys.
Who: Real Estate
Details: ‘Atlas’, March 3.
What to expect: The band are teasing the EP with a video of new track ‘Talking Backwards’.
What to expect? Royksopp and Robyn are set to team up for a joint European tour in 2014. Maybe the band will have an influence on her album?
Who: Rolo Tomassi
Details: TBC, Autumn 2013.
What to expect: The Sheffield mathcore band are thinking big and bold for the follow-up to 2012’s ‘Astraea’, with James Spence likening their new material to a “film soundtrack” with “massive orchestral strings”.
What to expect: The new darling of US hip-hop, who’s worked with Drake, Solange and many more in the past couple of years, says his forthcoming album will be “more beat-driven” than his past material.
What to expect: Details of Aaron Jerome’s next full-length album are thin on the ground – but he did reveal a collaboration with Jessie Ware in January of this year. You can listen to ‘Runaway’ here.
Who: School Of Language
Details: ‘Old Fears’, April 7.
What to expect: Field Music’s David Brewis has made another solo LP under his School Of Language moniker. You can listen to the taster <‘Between The Suburbs’ at NME.COM.
Who: Sharon Van Etten
Details:‘ Are We There?’, May 2014.
What to expect: While 2011’s ‘Tramp’ focused on Sharon’s decade-old relationship with an abusive ex, this time she’s mining her current romantic set-up for material – focusing both on “how beautiful it’s been, and what a struggle it’s been.”
What to expect: The producer well and truly whetted our appetite for his next album when he posted his piano-led retake on The Smiths’ classic ‘This Charming Man’ last December. Colour us excited for what comes next.
Who: Sky Ferreira
Details: ‘Night Time, My Time’, March 17.
What to expect: The singer-songwriter’s debut LP finally gets its long-awaited UK release this year, with the record set to come out this March. It was released in the US last October.
Who: St Vincent
Details: ‘St Vincent’, February 24.
What to expect: Fresh from her ‘Love This Giant’ collaboration with David Byrne, Annie Clark’s been embracing the grooves of Parliament Funkadelic on her new LP. “This is definitely a more aggressive, extroverted, freer record,” she says. “Guitar-centric riff-o-rama, these moments of total frenzy.”
Who: Swim Deep
What to expect: Never shy of lofty aspirations, the Birmingham baggies are going head-to-head with the Eagles on the follow-up to last year’s Where The Heaven Are We: they’ve penned a track called ‘Hotel California’ for the record. Dave Fridmann (Sleator-Kinney, MGMT) is set to be in the producer’s chair for the LP.
What to expect: They’ve only got a handful of songs in their live sets, but that’s not stopping Matt Cook from thinking about an ambitious bigger picture. “We want to make sure every sonic spectrum is filled up,” he says.
Details: ‘Sun Structures’, February 10.
What to expect: The Kettering band’s eagerly-anticipated debut will take in psychedelic ‘60s pop and ‘70s glam rock – and some pretty hippy-ish ideals, too, with bassist Tom Warmsley confiding: “There’s a lot of references to spirituality and mythology.” Sounds trippy…
Who: Thurston Moore
Details: ‘Sexy Secrets’, June 2014.
What to expect: The former Sonic Youth man has relocated to London, and has a new moniker –and album – to go along with his transatlatntic move. “The album is a potpourri,” he says. “It’s me in all different kinds of places.”
Details: ‘Sink-O’ (working title), TBC
What to expect: The fantastic Merrill Garbus has been working on a new album. “I’m trying anything and everything rhythmic, and sometimes it sounds like an out-of-control beast I cannot begin to tame,” she said. “But the rule is: don’t try to get it right, just be in the middle of it.”
Who: TV On The Radio
What to expect: Last year, Tunde Adebimpe revealed that he and his bandmates had started work on their first new album since 2011. He’s been tight-lipped since, but they did unveil the new track ‘Mercy’ at ATP festival last July.
Who: Two Door Cinema Club
What to expect: “We’re at the point where we’re really starting to think about it. We’re gonna spend most of next year in the studio writing and getting the record together,” said Alex Trimble in June 2013.
Who: War On Drugs
Details: ‘Lost In The Dream’, March 17.
What to expect: Adam Granduciel has had relationships and vulnerability on his mind for his latest effort – and he’ll also be pushing the sound of his 2011 record ‘Slave Ambient’ into epic, rockier territories that, he says, are perfectly suited for late-night driving.
Who: Wild Beasts
Details: ‘Present Tense’, March 2014.
What to expect: “In some ways, this album is less about sex,” says Tom Fleming of a record that owes debts to Talk Talk. Check out the gallery of albums from A-J here.