Summer music preview

WEEKEND previews this summer's big albums



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“Electra Heart” Marina and the Diamonds, April 30

There isn’t nearly as much hype about this album as there should be. Marina continuously feeds her pop-craving hipsters with consistent, dance-worthy ear candy. Among the ranks of Robyn and Florence Welch, “Electra Heart” is bound to satisfy her audience with her promising single “Primadonna” and has the likelihood of one-upping her peers. Her heavy beats and heartbreaking croons are bound to turn heads.
Hype: 4
Expected Quality: 7

—Francisco Tirado

“OFF!” — OFF!, May 8


Four vicious EPs got this hardcore punk supergroup a lot of buzz from more than just the usual places. Expectations are high for the band’s first full-length, even if “full-length” will be something of a misnomer when it undoubtedly clocks in under 25 minutes.
Hype: 6
Expected Quality: 8
—Brad Sanders

“Neck of the Woods” — Silversun Pickups, May 8


Silversun Pickups singer and guitarist Brian Aubert told SPIN magazine that the songs on the band’s third album, “Neck of the Woods,” sound “like a horror movie.” But a listen to the floaty, 1990s dream pop sound of their single “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” might indicate that the album will be a bit more inviting. Jacknife Lee (U2, Weezer, R.E.M.) has signed on as producer to help bolster the band’s already thunderous and swimming guitars.
Hype: 6
Expected Quality: 7

—Brian Welk

“Bloom” — Beach House, May 15

I hope you’re feeling romantic. Out May 15, “Bloom” is destined to satisfy the dream-pop needs of lovelorn Beach House aficionados everywhere. The already-released “Myth” and “Lazuli” don’t sound like much of a departure from the band’s expanded sound on 2010’s “Teen Dream,” but that won’t deter folks from blasting Victoria Legrand’s pipes long into the summer night.
Hype: 7
Expected Quality: 8
—Patrick Beane

“Cancer for Cure” — EL-P, May 22

Entertainment law apprentice-turned-proven MC EL-P has made it clear that on his next album, more so than on his others, he’ll be airing out a chip on his shoulder. “This is a fight record. Like, ‘Goddamn it. Enough is fuckin’ enough,’” he said in a recent interview with Pitchfork. He’ll have some major selling to do on the whole dark horse thing, but this does bring to mind a certain star child actor-turned-proven MC named Drake.
Hype: 5
Expected Quality: 7
—Steven Arroyo

“Valtari” Sigur Rós, May 28

“Valtari” means “steamroller” in the band’s mother language of Icelandic and is the first studio album the band has released since its critically acclaimed “Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaus.” The ambient Icelandic group of post-rock sprites has a diehard American following. Though with the release of its single “Ekki Múkk,” I’m unsure whether the compilation will deliver with quite the power of “steamroller” or if it will be able to carry its North American tour. Its 2008 masterpiece doesn’t seem like it’s going to be outdone, but if you need something to fall asleep to, “Valtari” could be there for you.
Hype: 8
Expected Quality: 6
—Francisco Tirado

“Heaven” The Walkmen, May 29


Have the Walkmen become the most quietly consistent rock band of the 21st century? Despite five acclaimed full-length albums since 2001, they’ve somehow always seemed perpetually doomed to remain in the indie universe’s friend zone. They’re on the hottest streak of their career, too, coming off of two straight commanding and identity-cementing efforts: “Lisbon” and “You & Me.” “Heaven,” out this May, will largely revolve around the members’ family lives, as alluded to in recent band interviews; emerging press photos of the members with their wives and children; and the lyrics of the title track — one of two songs to emerge from the album so far, and a fantastically Walkmen-esque one.
Hype: 6
Expected Quality: 8
—Steven Arroyo

“This Is PiL” — Public Image Ltd., May 29

With a string of awkward televised Sex Pistols reunions now under his belt, John Lydon isn’t exactly the same anti-establishment punk he was in 1977. The first Public Image Ltd. record in 20 years will determine whether he can still be a subversive post-punk weirdo. The strength of lead single “One Drop” suggests that he can.
Hype: 6
Expected Quality: 7
—Brad Sanders

“Celebration Rock” — Japandroids, June 5

On its 2009 debut album, “Post-Nothing,” this young Vancouver noise pop duo flexed its sweaty, anthemic garage muscle to put themselves the map. “The House that Heaven Built,” the thrashing lead single from the upcoming “Celebration Rock,” is actually even more anthemic than anything on “Post-Nothing,” suggesting that Japandroids will stick to their loud, rapid-fire guns for the sophomore effort.
Hype: 6
Expected Quality: 8
—Steven Arroyo

“Stoned Immaculate” — Curren$y, June 5

What’s it mean to be the best weed rapper? Curren$y has always brought a special charm and nuance to a genre often clouded by dumb punch lines and lazy songwriting. If lead single “What It Look Like” is any indicator, Spitta will deliver the goods with killer guest verses and majestic instrumentals.
Hype: 420
Expected Quality: 7
—Patrick Beane

“Americana” Neil Young & Crazy Horse, June 6


Is it better to burn out than to rust? Seems like Neil Young & Crazy Horse are rusting. While the band proved they could still rock at the Paul McCartney tribute in February, they need to prove an album’s worth of Americana covers is worth listening to. I’m the biggest Neil Young fan I know, but I don’t know if we need rock ’n’ roll covers of “This Land Is Your Land” and “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain.”
Hype: No one asked for this.
Expected Quality: I have no idea.
—Patrick Beane

“There’s No Leaving Now” — The Tallest Man on Earth, June 12


Dead Oceans artist Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man On Earth, has been touring like crazy to promote his upcoming album, playing shows in locales from Europe to Chicago. Expect this LP to draw from his folksy and indie-rooted sound his fans have come to adore.
Hype: 4
Expected Quality: 8
—Rachel Hanley

“Oceania” The Smashing Pumpkins, June 18

It’s been obvious for some time that the Smashing Pumpkins is not the band it once was in the 1990s, no matter how Billy Corgan masks his latest solo project. And a listen to 2007’s pitiful “Zeitgeist” will not reassure anyone that five years has done the new Pumpkins lineup any favors. But Corgan actually surprised people with two free EPs made available for download last year, “Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.” This album will have none of those tracks, but there’s always hope for something decent.
Hype: 1
Expected Quality: 3
—Brian Welk

“Believe” — Justin Bieber, June 19

Here’s the problem: J. Biebs is something of a deity in the kingdom of mainstream pop, and with the fourth release of a music video clip for his single “Boyfriend,” he has girls squirming, sobbing, dying with anticipation of his work. And yes, his balls dropped, everyone. We know. But no matter how swelteringly sexy and Timberlake-esque his whispers and falsettos are, there’s no way the quality of the tween idol will match expectations. It’s near impossible. I do, however, have high hopes he’ll follow through with something big for the rhythm and blues world. “Boyfriend” really is that good.
Hype: 9
Expected Quality: 6
—Francisco Tirado

“The Idler Wheel...” Fiona Apple, June 19

No other artist on this list besides Justin Bieber has more pop star draw than Fiona Apple, and no other artist besides Public Image Ltd. is coming off a longer hiatus between albums, so it makes sense that the music world has been brimming with anticipation of “The Idler Wheel...” Apple’s new material, which she’s debuted during the past couple months to many a sold-out audience, doesn’t provide much reason to expect that she’s seriously re-invented herself in the past seven years, so you probably shouldn’t.
Hype: 10
Expected Quality: 7
—Steven Arroyo

“Class Clown Spots a UFO” — Guided by Voices, June

Robert Pollard puts out either a solo album or an LP under the moniker of his long-running band Guided By Voices every six months or so. Lately, the quality has reflected that, but the second album (after January’s “Let’s Go Eat the Factory”) with GBV’s classic lineup might give him his groove back. Still, optimism should remain cautious given his recent track record.
Hype: 2
Expected Quality: 6
—Brad Sanders

“Handwritten” — The Gaslight Anthem, June


The phrase “next Springsteen” has been bandied about for years, but the Gaslight Anthem might be the first act given that moniker that the Boss himself has embraced, even making cameos during a handful of their shows during the years. On the band’s fourth record, frontman Brian Fallon has promised a return to the retro sounds of its breakout sophomore album, “The ‘59 Sound.” Springsteen-tinged punk about late-night car crashes, reluctant adulthood and the working class. The band has yet to make a bad record, and if the reflective “Biloxi Parish” is any indication, it’s not starting anytime soon.
Hype: 5
Expected Quality: 9
—Max McCombs

“Swing Low Magellan” — Dirty Projectors, July 10

“A lot of the songs are about horror or fear,” Dave Longstreth said in a SPIN interview. It sure sounds like it. Our only preview of “Swing Low Magellan” is the guitar-less “Gun Has No Trigger,” on which Longstreth sounds like a bona fide singer more than ever before. It’s a sparse, trip-hoppy track with paranoid lyrics and a funky chorus. If the lead single’s freshly menacing melody is any indicator, we’re in for a monster mash of poppy goodness this July.
Hype: 8
Expected Quality: 9

—Patrick Beane

“Wolf” Tyler, the Creator, Summer

“‘Yonkers’ dropped and left them craniums mind-fucked,” Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator rapped on the title track from last year’s “Goblin.” True enough, but almost everything he’s done since has disappointed. “Wolf” marks Tyler’s chance at redemption in the form of an album that, according to him, will be heavy on the beats and light on the rapping. Here’s hoping it actually comes out by its expected release date in May.
Hype: 5
Expected Quality: 7
—Brad Sanders

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