30 Albums To Make Your Life Bearable In 2013

Seven weeks into 2013 and it’s already shaping up to be a vintage year, what with Everything Everything, My Bloody Valentine, Johnny Marr, Foals, Christopher Owens, Local Natives, Villagers, A$AP Rocky, Darwin Deez, Foxygen and Biffy Clyro all setting a formidable pace and Primal Scream already giving the year its own official anthem in ‘2013’. And there’s still so much to come, so here’s a rummage through what 2013 still has to offer.

  1.    Arctic Monkeys
  2. Twitter rumour around an Arctic Monkeys album being due in 2013 seems rather more reliable though, since it came from Matt Helders’ mum: “lads are in the desert,” she tweeted, “now we start on 5th album titles!” With the cat having clawed its way out of the maternal bag that the Monkeys were likely to be recording at Josh Homme’s Rancho de la Luna studio in Joshua Tree – the same studio where the band recorded ‘Humbug’ – Alex Turner hinted that the sound would reflect the harder rock direction of stop-gap single ‘R U Mine’. So ‘Humbug 2’ then.


       Arcade Fire
    “We’re just working on music and growing beards and living at home a lot and going out to dinner together,” said Arcade Fire drummer Jeremy Gara of the forthcoming fourth album, which is a bit like an exploding white dwarf star saying “what have I been up to? Pfftt, y’know, not much, just hanging around spewing out billions of tons of thermal energy in plumes of luminous light visible from the other side of the universe, maybe a bit of floating…” With James Murphy on production duties and 35 songs in the mix including the live-aired ‘Crucified Again’, it could end up as a real behemoth on its “late 2013” arrival. It’ll be, pffft, y’know, monumental or something.

       Kings Of Leon
    Speculation is only now gathering over a Kings Of Leon release in 2013 around UK dates and possible major festival appearances in the summer. “Caleb’s been writing a lot and I think it’s going to go really well,” said Jared, hinting at a completed album by the start of 2013. Rehab permitting.

    Currently doing the three-times-a-day rounds on the NME stereo, The Strokes’ fifth album ‘Comedown Machine’ is awash with electro pop and woozy psychedelia, underpinned with their trademark guitar pop spikiness and gleaming melodic grit. “The best Strokes album since ‘First Impressions Of Earth’,” says one NME staffer who didn’t particularly like ‘Angles’. What more recommendation do you need? Out: March 26


    “I’d like this record to sound like a punch in the face,” says Jehnny Beth, suggesting the influence of late-era Oasis or any-era The Fall. But more likely to appear are all of the scintillating pop noir songs that made them unmissable throughout 2012, dissected and pinned out with the help of Johnny Hostile and xx producer Rodaidh McDonald. Will presumably come with a free mouthguard.

    NME cover stars Haim are gearing up for a late spring release of their debut, produced by James Ford and possibly including some percussion from the dad who put them together as part of a family covers band as kids. Pride of place will be the recent Fleetwood backtrack single ‘Falling’, the Kate Bushy pagan R&B banger that came with a video of the girls catching arrows out of mid-air and fish out of streams like short-shorted karate kids. Expect airy hip-pop of just such precision throughout. Out: late spring

       Palma Violets
    2013’s Great Guitar Hopes resoundingly deliver on this soon-come debut ‘180’, a sizzling and scratchy garage rock roar with touches of Morricone western, beat poet pop and an unhealthy obsession with fast food in ‘Johnny Bagga’ Donuts’ and ‘Chicken Dippers’. Not the least tasteful of their habits though – Sam Fryer claims he was, ahem, turned on to one of guitarist Chilli’s riffs to ‘We Found Love’ when he overheard it while knocking one off in the tourbus toilet. Insert your own ‘violet palm’ joke here. Out: February 25

    Currently doing the 27-times-a-day rounds on the NME stereo, Peace’s debut sounds like a major 2013 hit thanks to its bubbly pop nous aligned to a cultish ultramodern psych soup. The band are particularly proud of the track ‘Delicious’, which frontman Harrison Koisser describes as “an album’s worth of content in four minutes, all squashed down.” So best update your brain’s in-built aural winzip. Out: March

    Most songwriters, when racing to pen their second album, will lock themselves in a lavatory for two weeks with a large bag of speed and all of their good reviews and try to knock out the same thing again, only ‘more Fleetwood Mac’. Not Jordan from Howler. He went busking and snuck into Bristol university philosophy lectures for inspiration. Then he took all of the spare change and Freudian theories he’d accumulated into a studio with Jon Spencer and started writing songs with a “folky vibe, sort of like Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan or Pete Seeger” called things like ‘Aphoristic Wasteland Blues’. The typical ‘terrificult’ second album, then. Out: summer

    Also tinkering around Josh Homme’s Rancho De La Luna studio are Warpaint, although they’re tinkering in a “non-committal” style. One tune called ‘Chic U’ has been played live in all its spectral-funk Joy Division glory but otherwise what we can expect and when is anybody’s guess.

    You mean it’s my actual job today to stare at a cute picture of a cat shared via Twitter? This is the only source of information about what the new MGMT album sounds like. “This tiny kitten has just heard new MGMT songs,” went the tweet from the studio where New York’s wobbliest are putting together their third album, having only set one new tune ‘Alien Days’ loose live as yet. The wide-eyed kitten we were linked to looked as though it’d just experienced the crab nebula being sucked into its earlobes, expanding its cute little brain to the size of a grapefruit and then spewing out of its eyes like psychedelic lazer beams of pure acid pop dementia. Or it really needed a shit. Out: June

       Wild Beasts
    “By nature the songs were more metaphysical before,” said Hayden Thorpe of Wild Beasts, “previously it was definitely about the nature of the body; and maybe more now, it’s about the nature of the mind… I offer myself up to see the crookedness.” So WB’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed ‘Smother’, currently in “foetal gestation period” between Leeds, the Lake District and their East London studio, will be a kind of musical version of Embarrassing Psychologies? For such a formative album with only Herman Hesse’s 1927 novel Steppenwolf as a reference point so far, time will tell.

    Hopping between sessions in Paris and Willesden, Babyshambles’ latest – originally set to be a Pete solo album – is taking shape under the beady eye of ‘Shotters Nation’ producer Stephen Street and abetted by songwriter John Robinson and new drummer Jamie Morrison, ex-Noisettes. The record is due to include a full-band version of ‘Bird Cage’ from Pete’s film Confessions Of A Child Of The Century and a contribution from guitarist Mick Whitnall called ‘Nothing Comes To Nothing’ which, Whitnall claims, includes “bits and pieces of music pilfered all over it.” Out: late summer

    A record “about sex and death” apparently, which makes it sound like Hurts have somehow channeled a new album from James Brown rather than the slick electro-croon pop of second album ‘Exile’, complete with children’s choir, R&B tinges and touches of – no, really – Nine Inch Nails. To these ears it sounds like Enrique Inglesias week on X Factor, but two million Austrians can’t be wrong. Well, there was the anschluss of 1938 but that was a one-off.

    Amongst the most successful recapturings of the ‘old magic’ in recent memory, Suede’s joyous and hit-rammed live outings are now followed by a long-awaited sixth album imagining what might’ve happened had they made the follow-up to their commercial peak ‘Coming Up’ with regular producer Ed Buller. And it really is classic Suede, following the story of a tumultuous relationship from the exuberant riot pop of taster tune ‘Barriers’ to the new ‘Trash’ of ‘It Starts And Ends With You’ and on into darker, more obsessive and destructive emotional waters. The comeback to beat in 2013.

    With Reading & Leeds headline slots confirmed and a gap left for a new one in a list of his albums on the side of a promotional baseball cap, little is known of Marshall’s 2013 opus other than that Jay-Z producer No ID and Dr Dre have their fingers in the pie. Our money’s on a cap-in-hand album of folk ballads called ‘Apology’ saying sorry, track-by-track, to everyone he’s offended over the years. Which is exactly the sort of reason we urgently need to join Gambler’s Anonymous.

       David Bowie
    As we speak, reviewers of David Bowie’s surprise new opus are being ferried one-by-one under cover of darkness to a secure location to hear it under strict warnings that his label will remove one finger for every tweet they post about it. So all we can type with our remaining digits is that producer Tony Visconti has promised more of a rock slant than the birthday ballad ‘Where Are We Now?’ suggested and lyrics concerning ancient monarchs and tyrants, Russian wars and WWII bayoneting chants. Out: March 11

       Radiohead/Atoms For Peace
    With Radiohead planning to regroup at the end of the summer, focus is currently on the soon-come debut album from Thom Yorke’s solo touring band featuring Flea, Nigel Godrich, drummer Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco, who recorded a nine-track album as Atoms For Peace at the end of Yorke’s tour for ‘The Eraser’. NME’s track-by-track described it variously as sounding like “a kettle whimpering after an electrical fault”, “a mistake Yorke made on a sampler”, “Super Mario’s funeral”, “a quickening heartbeat”, “a sci-fi movie from the 1970s”, “a ghost in a field of robotic crickets” and, unsurprisingly “not exactly ‘Creep Part Two’.” Out: February 25 (Atoms For Peace)

       Frank Turner
    “There’s a fair amount of Weezer influence on this record,” Frank Turner told NME from his LA studio where he was busy whittling 25 songs down to an album that “should fit on one side of a C90 cassette”. But for all the geek rock, Neil Young and Ryan Adams influences he’s claiming, he’s still striving to retain the “self-consciously English” feel that made his 2011 album ‘England Keep My Bones’ such a Wembley-levelling breakthrough. Hence dollops of barbershop, vaudeville, UK hardcore and Queen on the album’s preview track ‘Four Simple Words’. Out: April 22

       The Horrors
    With a new MBV album now actually in our heads, there can (hopefully) be no more ‘Loveless’ plagiarism from The Horrors. So luckily for them they’ve been given experimental new keyboards to play around with on album four which may finally encourage them to discover a sound of their own. Although the only reference point they’ve dropped to date is hoary space-rock hippies Hawkwind. Hmmm, still, a slight step up from Simple Minds… Out: May

    Largely written alongside Tom Rowlands in a cottage in Lewes (plus none at all with Weller, obviously), Klaxons claim they’re returning to their rave roots for their third album due around spring. Nine songs are already in the bag including the catchy ‘Invisible Forces’ and the “semi-religious” ‘Rhythm Of Life’, all planning to “bring love back into the equation” and go “a little bit Blade Runner“. So expect it to make you feel like having your head crushed between a replicant Daryl Hannah’s thighs. Out: May

       Miles Kane
    Largely written with XTC’s Andy Partridge in a garden shed in Swindon (plus a bit with Weller, obviously), Kane promises a second album as inspired by the glam rock of The Sweet as the blues of Jack White and “a bit of the northern soul”. “Every track is a singalong,” he promises of the album currently being previewed across the UK on the NME Awards Tour and if the lead single ‘Give Up’ is anything to go by, we’ll all be singing along to songs about turning down supermodels. Out: spring

       White Lies
    Another ‘rom-con’ album, White Lies’ third follows the adventures of an immigrant couple hunting down the girl’s absentee father in a vast metropolis. They claim it’s “a really melodic record, much more than the last two” and that ‘Getting Even’ has made their manager cry (for all the right reasons). It’s ‘There Goes Our Love Again’ that’s getting the band excited during their sessions at ICP Studios in Brussels though – “it might be the most immediate White Lies song we’ve written,” said Harry McVeigh which, for a band whose songs often punch their way out of the speakers, grab you by the throat and scream ‘I AM A SONG!’ into your face, is certainly saying something.

       Azealia Banks
    Azealia’s debut album ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ is gearing up to be one of those ridiculously long-awaited hype-missers, due to arrive around 18 months after She topped NME’s Cool List in 2011. And still, aside from the fact that Paul Epworth’s manning the desk, details are sketchier than a 24-hour Fast Show marathon.

       These New Puritans
    “It would be amazing to get this out to a wider audience,” said TNP’s drummer George Barnett of the forthcoming follow-up to NME’s Album Of 2011 ‘Hidden’, but since the band are also hinting at a more intimate and intricate third album we suspect they mean adopting a touch of The xx’s minimalist populism rather than going Hurts or anything.

       Queens Of The Stone Age
    Josh Homme and Dave Grohl. With Nick Oliveri on ‘backing grunts’. Yes, we’re suddenly deeply sexually aroused as well. There’s something primally priapic about the news that Queens Of The Stone Age are revisiting their prime-era ‘Songs For The Deaf’ line-up (roughly), something that could throb the trousers of a cockless corpse. And the letter they sent us describing it as sounding like “running through a dream in a codeine cabinet” helped oil our pipes too.

       Vampire Weekend
    Previewed with a tune about religious conflict (‘Unbelievers’), featuring a tune called ‘Hudson’ tentatively described as “goth” and fraught with burn-outs and distractions during writing and recording, Vampire Weekend’s third seems unlikely to be as bright and breezy as previous outings, but no less inspiring. NME’s preview spins reveal a rich, dark and reflective sound, their trademark jerks and jolts honed and softened. Mature Third Album ahoy. Out: spring

       Noah And The Whale
    First they were folk pop. Then they were a sonic sob. Then they turned into Radio Petty FM. Next, Charlie Fink promises, they’ll be trying their hand at new wave nostalgia. “A lot of it deals with adolescence and growing up,” says Fink of N&TW’s forthcoming fourth, citing Talking Heads and Jarvis Cocker as touchstones and post-war sculpture and construction aesthetics as stylistic inspiration. So you may soon be actually dancing about architecture. Out: spring

       Beady Eye
    Describing it as “majestic”, “heavy”, “imperial”, “the album Oasis should have made”, “like rock’n’roll but fired into space” and the sort of record you’ll like “if you’re into drugs”, Liam Gallagher has been talking up the second Beady Eye album as the kind of sudden giant leap in songwriting prowess you’d least expect from all the same blokes who’ve been shovelling filler onto Oasis albums for well over a decade. And let’s not forget that Liam also promised that the debut Beady Eye album would be “as good as ‘Definitely Maybe’, if not better”. But the involvement of David Sitek certainly bodes well for a stylistic sea-change, and you’ve always got to give Liam a fair listen, for ‘Definitely Maybe”s sake. Out: spring

    More Londoners who absconded to LA to soak up the surfer vibe and channel the spirit of Neil Young, Tribes’ second album is a masterful filtering of Malibu sand through their Brit-glam fingers. Featuring gospel choirs and contributions from regular Dylan and Bowie players, it covers roaring epics about Sunset Strip comedowns, wild party pop tunes and hallucinogenic rattlers like preview track ‘Wrapped Up In A Carpet’. Widescreen stuff. Out: May 20