If press releases and rock stars' quotes can be considered reliable (cue laugh track here), we'd venture to say that 2011 could be one of the most stellar years in recent history in terms of quality album releases. We're realists here at Ultimate-Guitar.com, however, and know that the tricky combination of production costs/creative roadblocks/marketing schedules usually tends to put a monkey wrench in the best-laid plans.
This year we will still hold out hope that the musical grapevine is to be trusted. Perusing the numerous confirmed release dates (and more than a few To Be Announced), it's difficult not to transition into giddy fan-boy-or-girl syndrome. Granted, the most eagerly awaited records for us tend to fall in that dreaded TBA list, but we're still going to take a cautiously optimist outlook this year.
So get your calendar and Sharpie ready because we've created a list of 2011's most anticipated rock and metal albums. While a good chunk of them are safely etched in stone date-wise, there are also plenty that will only be available if all the cards fall into place. Long story short: We're keeping our fingers crossed that these particular bands don't pull an Axl Rose on us. Let's raise a glass to all those reliable bands out there because we're ready to make a dent in our pocket books just for you.
Cake: Showroom of Compassion
After seven years one of the lengthier spans in between albums for our 2011 list the crushing guitars and blazing horn section of Cake have returned. The Sacramento natives' sixth studio album Showroom of Compassion is easily one that has us most curious, particularly given the fact that the lengthy studio break could have a fairly dramatic effect on a band's sound.
Cake has been actively touring in 2010 and playing selections off of the new record, however, and no fans have cried foul as of yet. Two-and-a-half years in the making, Showroom of Compassion is still remaining under the radar as far as leaks, but frontman John McCrea has given this little morsel to wet our whistle: He describes the new material as very different. A little morsel, indeed.
Cage The Elephant: Thank You, Happy Birthday
If the term buzz band is still in existence in the alternative world, Cage the Elephant is one of the few still holding strong to the title. After the release of its critically acclaimed debut record in 2008, Cage the Elephant return this year with Thank You, Happy Birthday and hope to avoid the sophomore slump that has plagued a good number of those buzz bands over the past few decades. Producer Jay Joyce (the man behind the eponymous record) was brought in once again following the band's rather intense songwriting process, which included the quintet locking themselves in a cabin and listening to old LPs from the likes of The Butthole Surfers and Mudhoney. Not necessarily the usual musical influences that are given a shout-out, but Cage the Elephant may prove that its unconventional method once again makes them a critical darling.
After a fairly successful stint with an Extreme reunion and a not-so-hot reception to his go-round as Van Halen's frontman, Gary Cherone is looking to his family tree for inspiration. His latest project Hurtsmile was formed with his brother Mark, an accomplished guitarist and songwriter in his own right. According to Cherone, the urge to write with his brother has been a long time coming, and the collaboration has produced songs touching on everything from political themes (Tolerance Song) to broader, more introspective topics (Set Me Free).
Extreme fans curious about the newest Cherone project won't have to wait long, as the self-titled debut CD from Hurtsmile is set to be released on January 21 in Europe and on February 8 in North America.
Mr. Big: What If
Paul Gilbert disciples, take note: Mr. Big is back and set to release an album titled What If this February on Frontiers Records. Sixteen years after the release of the album Hey Man and side projects galore, the new record features all four original members (Gilbert, Eric Martin, Billy Sheehan and Pat Torpey,) and was written primarily through jam sessions. Fans of the supergroup don't have long to wait with a February 8, 2011, release, and a world tour is set to follow soon after the album's launch. Start breaking out those old Gilbert instructional videos in preparation, my friends
Mogwai: Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
If album titles indicate quality on a record, we predict great things for Mogwai's 7th release Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. The Scottish band returned to its Castle of Doom Studios in Glasgow to mix the latest record, which features such cuts as You're Lionel Richie, Death Rays, and How To Be A Werewolf.
And if the usual 10-minutes-or-less songs are just leaving you cold, you'll want to get your hands on the limited edition version that include a 26-minute-long piece called The Singing Mountain.
PJ Harvey: Let England Shake
The ethereal and haunting 2007 release White Chalk marked a striking departure from PJ Harvey's alternative rock niche, with the piano-driven album being hailed as everything from cobwebbed gothic-folk (www.guardian.co.uk) to having a cold pastoral kind of chill (Rolling Stone). This time around Harvey has enlisted the aid of longtime collaborator Mike Turner in the songwriting process, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the singer/songwriter has any intention of replicating herself. Case in point? She wrote about half of Let England Shake on quite an unexpected instrument: the autoharp.
Avril Lavigne: Goodbye Lullabye
We know from past UG Xmas wish lists that Miss Avril Lavigne was someone you wouldn't mind finding under the tree during the holidays. That being said, you'll at least get somewhat of a Lavigne fix when the singer's fourth studio album arrives in the early part of 2011.
Lavigne will be officially debuting her first single What The Hell on Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve, and the full album Goodbye Lullabye is set to launch on March 8. Two years in development, Goodbye Lullabye is said to be propelled by a more raw and organic sound.
J Mascis: Several Shades of Why
The man otherwise known as Dinosaur Jr.'s figurehead has once again delved into life as a solo artist, but don't expect to hear any of the sonic riffage that you might typically associate with singer/guitarist. Several Shades of Why, the solo follow-up to 2005's J and Friends Sing and Chant For Amaa, is an acoustic album that strays from the alternative/stone sludge sound that Mascis has delivered over the past few decades. The single Not Enough has been swirling around the Internet already and proves that Mascis has a knack for beautiful harmonies and folk goodness just as much as penning a killer amped-up solo.
|March 2011 (precise date not specified)|
Now that Julian Casablancas, Nikolai Fraiture, and Albert Hammond, Jr. have checked solo albums off of their to-do lists (not to say those albums weren't impressive offerings), The Strokes may at long last be inching closer to a release date for their follow-up to 2006's First Impressions of Earth. With record sales never quite living up to the band's incomparable debut, The Strokes have often been rumored to nearing their end in terms of this particular band collaboration. Here's hoping that the band's classic chemistry can also translate to solid record sales come this March's release or it may just be solo records for the long haul.
The Devin Townsend Project: Deconstruction and Ghost
The always imaginative and eclectic Devin Townsend is offering two new studio albums by the time early Spring arrives. Although Deconstruction is technically meant to be released as the third installment in The Devin Townsend Project series, the highly complex record (Townsend himself described it as a bit of a nightmare) was actually recorded after the mellower Ghost. Look for both albums to drop around the same time, which will coincide with a European tour starting on March 3 in the United Kingdom.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Five years have passed since the release of Stadium Arcadium, and since that time many Chili Peppers fans were left wondering if/when any new material would see the light of day. Between guitarist John Frusciante departing and drummer Chad Smith's side projects Chickenfoot/Bombastic Meatbats, the next release has been pushed further and further back. With new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and cohesive schedules finally in the picture, the quartet has mentioned that a mid-2011 release is entirely feasible. While the tone/sound of the record is under wraps, Smith did relay this statement to Ultimate-Guitar.com: Is it different? Yeah. We're always changing and growing and trying to get better and write better songs. It's definitely the Chili Peppers.
Death Cab For Cutie: Codes and Keys
In an age where the majority of bands probably have some trepidation of keeping the label and/or general public happy, Death Cab For Cutie are in a fairly comfortable position. The alt rockers' previous record Narrow Stairs was certified gold and marked their first time in the #1 position on the Billboard 200. Death Cab could easily maintain the status quo, but apparently the band is experimenting with the use of more keyboards a la The Postal Service for its Spring release Codes and Keys. Guitarist Nick Harmer emphasized there are still a good number of guitar parts on the album, but this time around many of the core ideas were derived from frontman's Ben Gibbard's acoustic experimentation.
The powerhouse that has endured decades (and still doesn't show any signs of yielding) is about to deliver its 15th studio album. Recorded in Berlin with veteran producer Jacknife Lee, the yet-to-be-titled album hasn't been given a solid release date as of yet. What is known about the new material is that at least one song has been inspired by guitarist Peter Buck's latest side project Tired Pony, which also features Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody. This doesn't necessarily mean that REM is about to morph into Snow Patrol (descriptions of the new album's style/sound have remained hush-hush), but given the respective track records of both Lightbody and Buck, any type of collaboration couldn't be the worst thing to happen.
Have the trials and tribulations of the Van Halen clan put any kinks in the legendary band's musical chemistry? While Diamond Dave and company have earned raves for their live concert performances recently, it remains to be seen whether that will still translate into a new set of stellar songs. Regardless of this verdict, scores of us are still eagerly anticipating the next Van Halen release, which Warner/Chappell has stated as being due for release in 2011. Vague. There has been more consistent chatter about another tour in the making (including one possibly with supporting act Triumph), but we're more curious to see if Eddie still has another Eruption for 2011 up his sleeve.
Bono has issued more than a few updates on the follow-up record to 2009's No Line on the Horizon, and it seems like the whole process has been full steam ahead. U2 manager Paul McGuinness has said the record may possibly be called Songs of Ascent, although there has not been full confirmation on the title or track list. The band worked heavily with Danger Mouse, and from Bono's own commentary it's safe to assume the word raw won't necessarily enter into the equation this time around. The vocalist stated, U2's remixes in the 1990s were a real treasure, so we wanted to make a club sounding record. We have a pile of songs.
Will 2011 be the year that people start considering Marilyn Manson a viable, money-making, and intriguing artist again? With Interscope Records dropping Manson and the singer's scare appeal pretty much a thing of the past, 2011 could be considered the time for a clean slate. British label Cooking Vinyl has signed the shock rocker, and managing director Martin Goldschmidt told Billboard that Manson's in that mood where he really wants to come back fighting." Little has been discussed in terms of the song material, but given the new horizon at hand, we're hoping he has at least one more song/video in him that's as creepy as The Beautiful People.
Queens of the Stone Age
I want the next Queens record to be like a condensed firework show where it's all grand finale, QOTSA frontman Josh Homme told Rolling Stone back in July. It's an intriguing prospect for the follow-up to 2007's Era Vulgaris. What could possibly set the record back? Well, Homme's own schedule. Both QOTSA and the supergroup Them Crooked Vultures have been hinting at 2011 releases, which would mean double the satisfaction that is, if Homme can find time to balance it all out. Given the frontman's knack for being prolific, we're going to put our money down that at the very least he'll be finished with one record before we welcome in 2012.
Dave Grohl is obviously in the same position as Homme with his double duties in Foo Fighters and Them Crooked Vultures. Even so, Grohl has been actively working on the next Foo Fighters record, which features a familiar face from his past: Krist Novoselic. His former Nirvana bandmate has been enlisted to play some bass lines and accordion on the new record, while Butch Vig (the producer behind Nirvana's Nevermind) is at the production helm. With those two Nirvana-era figures helping out with the new record, it will be interesting to see if Grohl plans on revisiting the grunge sound that put him on the musical map.
Little is known about the follow-up record to In Rainbows, but it is certain that the new album will once again be released as an Internet download. While musically it's still a mystery what Radiohead will conceive musically, there may be even more novel ways of distributing the new material. Bassist Colin Greenwood stated, We are trying to find ways to put out our music that feel as good as the music itself. The ability to have a say in its release, through the new technologies, is the most empowering thing of all.
As much as we'd love to report that Megadeth has been furiously composing new material (with the Dave Mustaine/Chris Broderick dynamic duo, it wouldn't surprise us), unfortunately the possibility of a new album in 2011 is looking only like a marginal maybe. Drummer Shawn Drover reported to Free! Magazine, During a sound check we recorded a few ideas but we're going to finish this world tour and then come together and start working out these ideas. Drover emphasized that the ideas are very few at this point, but we're still crossing our fingers that Mustaine and company will be teeming with inspiration by the end of the tour. In the meantime we do have to thank Megadeth for giving a little taste of what's to come with the newly released track Sudden Death, which shows up on the Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock soundtrack.
There are multiple fan forums dedicated to the topic of when Metallica will drop its next album, with everyone having a theory as to when we'll receive the follow-up to Death Magnetic. Much like with Megadeth, this one is an iffy situation. The site antiMUSIC reported that drummer Lars Ulrich is most certainly gearing up for new material, however. There's a bunch of balls in the air for 2011, but I think the main one is we want to get back to writing again, Ulrich stated. Unless they have the most insane burst of inspiration they've ever experienced in the coming months, it looks like we may have to settle for 2012 or 2013.
Tool/A Perfect Circle
Given the fact that Maynard James Keenan tends to never release music until he and his collaborators feel it's perfect, we're not getting too excited about the possibility of a new 2011 release from either Tool or A Perfect Circle. Could just writing about it make it more of a possibility? That's what we're banking on
By Amy Kelly