Now that the calendar has been reset, it's time to take the temperature of anticipated new music. 2013 holds much promise for indie music in the Bay area and beyond. There are lots of new releases and new bands making their way onto the scene. There was some great music released in 2012. Is 2013 up to the challenge? These three albums start the year off right.
January 15: Yo La Tengo, Fade
Indie icon Yo La Tengo gave us a bit of a tease this past year with the release of the Stupid Things E.P., their first release since Popular Songs in 2009. They promised to follow up the E.P. with a full length in early 2013 and have delivered with purpose. Yo La Tengo's thirteenth album, Fade, released by Matador Records, is the first album on my radar this new music year. The first and last song were released by the band on YouTube. And they bookend the album nicely with powerful, airy builds backed by Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley's luscious, but quiet, vocals. This album is patient, providing the stretched-out, noisy instrumentals we know so well, while harnessing the band's jovial nature. Constant distorted guitar noise creates a wall of sound for the ricochet of poppy bass lines, upbeat drums, whispery intimate lyrics, and delicate string and horn parts. Upon first listen this album is one of Yo La Tengo's simpler sounding records, but given time the complex subtleties this band carefully crafted surface for a delightful listening experience.
January 29: Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob
Power ladies Tegan and Sara are bringing the energy into the New Year with some '80s pop flashbacks, synthy keyboards, and mordern sounding dance beats. Heartthrob sneaks in at the end of January from Warner Bros., and it's safe to say Tegan and Sara are officially recognized as a prize on the indie music scene. Their loyal and cult-like fan base is not far behind, but these Canadian twins have been hard at work touring, guest appearing with musicians like Astronautalis and Morgan Page -- oh yea, and getting a Grammy nomination. Tegan and Sara have finally harnessed their quirky style and are using its powers for good. Phil Collins-style drums have been checked at the door for the majority of this album and replaced by lyrics circling around infatuation and obsessive unrequited love. Based on the newly released single, "Closer" we can expect nothing less than an edgy and confident Heartthrob.
January 29: Local Natives, Hummingbird
Local Natives are providing us with arguably the most anticipated album of 2013. Be glad the time frame for this wait is short with a January 29 release, because Hummingbird deserves your full attention. I don't want to spoil too much of the surprise since you can expect a feature piece from me on Local Natives shortly. Hummingbird, however, is the one and only album my heart has skipped a beat for in a good long while. For Local Natives, this Frenchkiss Records release is a bit darker than usual, pulling them out of the sunny depths of Los Angeles and into a more serious musical direction both in content and musical style. Recorded in NYC with The National's Aaron Dessner, Local Natives treats us to a more dynamic, smooth, and emotional alt-rock album. The single, "Breakers" stands on its own as a strong song with smart lyrics and energetic melodies, but it is one part of a larger, cohesive whole. Keep a look out for my chat with Matt Frazier, Local Natives' drummer, for more spoilers on Hummingbird.