Summertime is usually kind of slow for new releases, leaving me time to look forward to what’s coming in the fall. That isn’t quite the case this year, with often several great albums coming out nearly every week. In fact, I put extra focus on the new releases from the likes of Dawnbringer, Gojira, Baroness, Orcus Chylde, At Devil Dirt, Kadavar and Alunah just to avoid going crazy wondering whether Colour Haze would ever finish their album! But with 13 Before ’13 — Albums Not to Miss Before the End of 2012, The Obelisk reminded me that there is indeed much to look forward to. Until recently, I wasn’t even sure if Colour Haze, Graveyard and Spiders were even coming out at all this year. To me, this top 13 is almost too good to be true!
1. Colour Haze – She Said* (Elektrohasch) Sep 11(?)
Its release was originally announced two years ago, but was delayed and re-recorded due to a cock-up in the original recording. Stefan Koglek decided to build himself a new studio from scratch in the meantime, which hopefully enabled him to get his latest double album masterpiece to sound just right. Given how nearly every Colour Haze album has been better than the previous one, I am freakin’ dying to hear this.
*The title “She Said” was only mentioned once in the oldest press release, and since then, they’ve been cagey about it, referring to it as “Already Untitled.” It’s possible it could end up with a different name.
2. Graveyard – Lights Out (Nuclear Blast) Oct 26
I truly thought a new Graveyard album in 2012 was too good to be true. They talked about doing another one right away, but most bands are all talk, then nothing for years. But Graveyard are on a roll and unstoppable after releasing one of the very best albums of the year last year. The cover art has yet to be revealed, but they promise we won’t be disappointed. [Edit, the cover came out and I was disappointed. Oh well, it’s understated, but just a cover. Stall have high hopes for the music!]
3. Witchcraft – Legend (Nuclear Blast) Sep 21
Five friggin’ years, man. Witchcraft are in many ways the band that really popularized the trend in retro stoner blues/psych/proto-metal/prog this past decade. Their three albums managed to refer back to the smoky analog glories of the early 70s while still adding something new to the genres they’ve cherry-picked from. Then they disappeared for so long we weren’t sure they were ever coming back. It was truly exciting news when it was first announced that they’ve been signed to Nuclear Blast and have a new album coming out with a tweaked lineup. Here’s hoping it’s worth the wait!
4. Ufomammut – Oro: Opus Primum (Neurot) Sep 18
In my eyes, this will be part two of the album that’s already number one this year so far. I have a fairly decent idea of what it will be like, so the real question will be if Colour Haze, Graveyard and/or Witchcraft can surpass it! Oro mutates the Italian palindrome which translates to “gold” with the Latin translation of “I prey.” From there, Ufomammut extrapolates some typically cosmic stoner philosophy. From the musical representations we’ve heard so far, the results are glorious.
5. Spiders – Flash Point (Crusher) Oct 5
Spiders is a sort of Gothenburg, Sweden supergroup formed in 2010 with members of Graveyard and Witchcraft. They were featured in Metal Sirens due to lead singer Ann-Sofie Hoyles. They’ve put out a cracking EP and some singles that I’m addicted to, and destroyed the audience at Roadburn. The first 7″ single, “Weekend Nights” will be released on September 7, backed with “Lies,” a cover of Sweden’s garage heroes The Strollers. The song is tight and hooky, and measures up to their best songs so far. I can’t wait to hear the whole album to see what else is up their sleeves. All signs point to a new favorite band.
6. Wo Fat – The Black Code (Small Stone) Nov 13
Like Graveyard and The Vaccines, Wo Fat’s new album is kind of a surprise, coming so soon after 2011’s Noche del Chupacabra, a captivating album of crunching rock and swirling psychedelic flourishes, and even some Bitches Brew-inspired jazz influences (those go all the way back to their fist album The Gathering Dark (2006) where they covered Miles Davis’ “Runnin’ the Voodoo Down”). I suspect this is a band on the cusp of greatness, and can’t wait to hear what they’ve come up with.
7. Tame Impala – Lonerism (Modular) Oct 9
I’m not sure how it happened, but sometime after releasing their 2010 album Innerspeaker, Australian psych rockers Tame Impala crossed over to a pretty huge indie/mainstream audience. Not since Dungen has word of mouth spread so instantly for a band like this. I’ll be seeing them at Lollapalooza this Friday, and while I have some reservations about Dave Fridmann producing the album (in the past he tends to make everything sound like friggin’ Flaming Lips with that annoying clipped drum sound), I’m crossing my fingers.
8. The Vaccines – The Vaccines Come Of Age (Columbia) Sep 3
The Vaccines released one of the catchiest indie pop albums of the year in 2011, and were quickly recognized for it, playing Lollapalooza last year. Coming back quickly with a second album, we’ll soon find out if those songwriting chops were beginners luck, or if they really are as good a band as I hope they are.
9. The Soft Pack – Strapped (Mexican Summer) Sep 25
The Soft Pack’s self-titled 2010 debut has remained a strong presence in my playlist. I just can’t get enough of that catchy, garage noir surf rock mixed with a touch of Modern Lovers, to the point where I was seriously considering buying an import of their first EP they originally released as The Muslims for over $30. They played a small club and a street fest earlier this year in Chicago, and had absolutlely no merch to sell. No t-shirts, no CDs, only the promise of a new album in the fall. From what I could tell on hearing some of the new songs live for the first time, they’ve still got it.
10. My Sleeping Karma – Soma (Napalm) Oct 9
Another awesome alumnus of the Elektrohasch roster, My Sleeping Karma’s albums, like Tri (2010) take time to sink in, but tend to stick with their subtly mesmerizing psychedelic charms. Those who crave more of the likes of fellow German heavy psych bands Colour Haze, Rotor, Hypnos 69, Argentinia’s Los Natas, the Dutch The Machine and Sungrazer, and Danish Causa Sui should dig this.
11. Captain Crimson – Dancing Madly Backwards (Transubstans) Aug 29
Fellow Swedes Witchcraft and Graveyard have famously referenced and revived interest in proto-metal like Leaf Hound, November and Mountain. I was pleased when Germans Orcus Chylde and Kadavar showed that they can take those influences and come up with their own unique formulas without sounding rehashed. Captain Crimson is the latest new band to achieve just that. | Review
12. Gypsyhawk – Revelry & Resilence (Metal Blade) Aug 28
Gypsyhawk’s debut Patience And Persevereace (2010) was a blast in many ways. Fun, high-energy twin lead guitar riffing with a heavy Thin Lizzy influence, with great songwriting chops and a gifted singer. While it didn’t quite make my top 100, I still return to the album, and crave more from them.
13. Venomous Maximus – Beg Upon The Light (Cutthroat) Oct 14
I was all in with this Texan band’s brash, thrashy EP, The Mission(2011), and have been eager to here their official full-length debut. I saw them live recently, and they seem to be moving further in the sludgy direction of mid-period High On Fire, though I hope they retain their fun proto-metal influences too.
Honorable mentions would be Animal Collective, Bloc Party, The Darkness, Dinosaur Jr., Enslaved, No Doubt, The Sword, Swans, Vinum Sabbatum, Wild Nothing, the xx and Yeasayer. Those don’t even include the ones that don’t yet have a title/release date yet, by Black Sabbath, Burning Saviours, Church Of Misery, Cobalt, The Devil’s Blood, Franz Ferdinand, Ghost, Gozu, The Heavy Eyes, Kylesa, Kyuss Lives, Neurosis, Orchid, Phoenix, Queens Of The Stone Age, Shrinebuilder, Soundgarden, Tool, Truckfighters, Vampire Weekend and Yawning Man. Even if half of those get delayed until 2013, that’s a pretty amazing batch of music to look forward to.