12 Albums We're Looking Forward to in 2013 - Rolling Stone
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12 Albums We’re Looking Forward to in 2013

David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce and more lead off a big spring music season

We're only a few weeks into 2013, and it's already shaping up to be a big year for new music – with David Bowie, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and more all announcing major albums coming soon. Here are 12 of the first-quarter releases we're most excited about.

By Patrick Doyle

justin timberlake

Tom Munro/RCA Records

Justin Timberlake, ‘The 20/20 Experience’ (March 19th)

Justin Timberlake explained his long musical hiatus in a teaser video to fans recently: "I don't want to put anything out that I think is something I don't love," he said. "You don't get that everyday." Last year, he finally found a sound he loves. The first taste is the loose R&B groove "Suit & Tie," produced by Timbaland, Timberlake and Jerome "J-ROC" Harmon. "What I came up with is something I couldn't be more excited about!" Timberlake wrote in an online letter to fans. "It is full of inspiration that I grew up listening to and some newfound muses that I've discovered along the way."

Courtesy of Nasty Little Man

Atoms for Peace, ‘Amok’ (February 26th)

Thom Yorke's newest group established their chemistry together while rehearsing songs from the Radiohead frontman's 2006 solo album The Eraser for a set of live dates in 2009 and 2010. "It fell into this record," Yorke recently wrote. The band – Flea (bass), Nigel Godrich, (keyboards, guitar), Mauro Refosco (percussion), Joey Waronker (drums) – returned to the studio for this debut set of multi-layered jams and mind-bending electronic excursions. "It was about trying to get interesting grooves," Yorke recently told RS. "When we first hung out, we were at Flea's house. We got wasted, played pool and listened to Fela Kuti all night. It was that idea of trancing out."

Courtesy of Press Here

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, ‘Mosquito’ (April 16th)

The band recorded its fourth LP in Tornillo, Texas, with separate tracks produced by Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio) and Nick Launay (Arcade Fire, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) and James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem). "We took a more playful, lo-fi approach to songwriting," Karen O said recently. "Much of the music was demoed in our little basement studio in Manhattan with drum machines, a shitty sample keyboard and tons of delay – which we called the soup." She added, "I think this record has more moodier and tripped-out songs than you've ever heard from us. You might catch some roots reggae and minimalist psychedelia influences in there."

jim james

Neil Krug

Jim James, ‘Regions of Light and Sound of God’ (February 5th)

After falling offstage and injuring himself in 2008, Jim James had some rare free time at his home in Lousville, Kentucky – so he started recording some experimental music inspired by God's Man, a 1929 graphic novel by Lynd Ward. "I had this beautiful reawakening," says the My Morning Jacket frontman. "Stuff that happens in the book was happening to me, coincidentally, so it took on this heavy thing." The six-minute single "Know Til Now" evolves from percussive funk-pop into an instrumental jazz excursion, and James overdubs sweet electric guitar lines over acoustic fingerpicking on "Exploding." "I've been a fan of the less-is-more thing lately," he says. "I didn't want there to be any pressure other than me liking it."

James combined both analog and digital techniques, manipulating his string and vocal parts in Pro Tools. "That's the fucking cool thing about digital music," he says. "You can look at it as this new kind of jigsaw puzzle – reverse something and pull it into a million pieces and run it through reverb. It's like you can play with it visually."

vampire weekend

Napoleon Habeica

Vampire Weekend, Title TBD (May 7th)

In late 2010, frontman Ezra Koenig said Vampire Weekend's third album would draw inspiration from big-budget flop films like The Love Guru, The Rocker and Bride Wars. He was just kidding – the band actually took the recording process very seriously, spending more than 20 months perfecting the set. "There was a certain point where we kind of knew deep down that it didn't quite feel right," Koenig tells Rolling Stone. "We knew it could be better." They finally hit their stride during a writing retreat at a friend's house in Martha's Vineyard last spring, and later recorded the bulk of the disc in L.A. with producer Ariel Rechtshaid (Diplo, Snoop Dogg). Uptempo highlights include "Diane Young" and "Unbelievers." "Things that we might have found boring in the past, we've started to find more fresh," Koenig adds. "This record has more piano and acoustic guitar and organ. But at the same time, that means we needed to find ways to flip it."

aaron neville

Sarah A. Friedman

Aaron Neville, ‘My True Story’ (January 22nd)

"It was just a dream," says Keith Richards, who co-produced and played guitar on Aaron Neville's upcoming doo-wop LP, featuring soulful covers of hits famously recorded by artists like the Jive Five, Little Anthony and the Imperials and the Drifters. "I grew up with doo-wop and soul the same as Aaron," says Richards. "I knew all these songs well, but I never expected to play them!" The LP was cut with producer Don Was over a productive week at New York's Electric Lady Studios with a band including drummer George Receli, keyboardist Benmont Tench, bassist Tony Scherr and guitarist Greg Lease, who played live as Neville nailed classics like "Ruby Ruby" and "Money Honey." "Each night, when I opened the door to get back on the street, I was expecting a Fifties Studebaker to go by," Richards says with a laugh. "What a voice, man. You can't go wrong playing behind that."

The Joy Formidable

James Minchin

The Joy Formidable, ‘Wolf’s Law’ (January 22nd)

The Welsh trio return after a big 2012 that included opening for the Foo Fighters and breaking through on the Twilight: Breaking Dawn soundtrack. "There are certainly some great guitar moments on the record," says singer Ritzy Bryan, who produced the LP with bassist Rhydian Dafydd. The duo wrote their own string arrangement for the driving album opener, "The Ladder is Ours," and break out earth-shaking, Sabbath-style riffs on "Maw Maw Song." "There are a lot of tracks on the album that explore greed and materialism and desire," adds Bryan.

tegan and sara

Lindsey Byrnes

Tegan and Sara, ‘Heartthrob’ (January 29th)

"I realized I'd never written a love song or an infatuation song or even a sexual song," says Tegan Quin. Producer Greg Kurstin (Pink, Ke$ha) helped the Canadian twins produce their poppiest LP yet. "Pop music has really changed," she says. "You have Florence and the Machine and Gotye infiltrating pop – we fit right into that." Adds Sara Quin, "We didn't want to take a small step. We wanted to take a big step."


Courtesy of Fueled By Ramen

Paramore, ‘Paramore’ (April 9th)

Paramore nearly imploded when original members Josh and Zac Farro left the band in 2010, airing their grievances in a bitter blog post. "It was emotionally exhausting," says singer Hayley Williams. "By the time we got around to the point where we were going to start writing, we just really wanted to enjoy making an album." The band recorded in L.A. with producer Justin Meldal-Johnson (Beck, Garbage). Adds guitarist Taylor York, "I don't think we knew that we were going to write super poppy songs or dance-y songs, but it just kind of happened."


Courtesy of Fat Possum Records

Wavves, ‘Afraid of Heights’ (March 26th)

The California punks took a full year to finish their follow-up to 2010's King of the Beach, staging marathon sessions in L.A. with producer John Hill (M.I.A., Santigold). They dabbled in loops and samples, ranging from high-speed pop-punk ("Sail to the Sun") to spacey acoustic pop ("Everything is My Fault.") "It's definitely a different pace than anything we've ever put out before," says Williams, adding, "This past year has ruined my liver. I drank more during the recording process than I've ever drank."

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