Album Analysis: 2013 has potential; no albums stand out yet

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Nearly two months in, 2013 hasn’t seen much more than rookie rappers relying on auto-tune and indie placeholders; however, there is hope.

Chart-toppers and acclaimed acts have slated album releases for sometime this year. Because of label politics and the ever-changing industry, speculating over these projects is a crapshoot, and it’s hard to tell which ones are worth excitement.

Get thrilled

If both Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire release albums, indie rock will rule 2013. Interestingly, promotion methods contrast in every way. Vampire Weekend marketed “Modern Vampires of the City” with numerous ploys, hinting at a May 7 release. Arcade Fire, though, has kept all information quiet.    

Since Arcade Fire’s recording details are mostly undisclosed, guessing at their fourth album’s sound is just that—a guess. However, the band is working with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, and depending on his creative pull, the project may feature an electric theme throughout.

Vampire Weekend’s new record can catapult them toward Arcade Fire-like acclaim, which makes it the most note-worthy release.

“Unbelievers,” a track on “Modern Vampires of the City,” hints at an Elvis Costello-ish, ‘70s punk vibe; choppy, acoustic power chords bound for a large portion of the song. In addition, the band’s third album is much longer than 2010’s “Contra,” so we’ll see if less isn’t more.

Gigantic 2013 releases aren’t only about indie youngsters.

Initially, the thought of David Bowie releasing an album scared me; he hasn’t created anything great since 1977’s “Heroes.”

Bowie must’ve realized that too.

“The Next Day,” set for a March 12 release, features album artwork that plays on the photo for “Heroes,” and the first single chimes mid ‘70s Bowie—with cosmic keys and slow rhythms. Apparently I’m not the only excited person for his newest effort. Beck recently wrote an ambitious Bowie cover.

Might bring excitement

Justin Timberlake’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds” is a guilty pleasure in the worst way, and “Take Care” by Drake implemented slow raps with luscious R&B beats. For these reasons, the two superstars future projects should garner much anticipation.

Mediocre first singles raise concerns, though.

With “Suit & Tie,” Timberlake has a malaise hit, despite Jay-Z’s guest appearance—a shock, since a Jay-Z verse laments most songs as hits. Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” isn’t terrible until listeners realize he spends more time chanting one phrase than showing why “Take Care” was so successful.

I also anticipate releases from alternative kings The Strokes and Radiohead’s lead singer Thom Yorke’s side-project, Atoms for Peace. However, I wouldn’t get too excited for either project for a couple of reasons: Neither of The Strokes’ first two singles come close to 2011’s “Under Cover of Darkness,” an exceptional single on a poor album, and super-groups like Atoms for Peace rarely find success.

Don’t believe the hype

50 Cent and Akon dropped big albums six years ago. Afterward, Kanye West pummeled 50 Cent in an album-sales showdown, and Akon threw people off stage; small events added up, destroying both their careers.

Both hip-hop icons could’ve conveyed the struggles that came with failure in new music. Instead, they stuck to the same ridiculous themes of selling drugs and consuming absurd amounts of alcohol.

50 Cent and Akon’s problems show artists must evolve sounds; a few certain rock bands slating album releases for this year could listen and learn.

The thought of any band that rocked the late ‘80s or early ‘90s releasing an album in 2013 sounds questionable. AC/DC, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam are all working on new projects, and I’ll pass on them. None of these bands have offered quality music lately, and bands quite similar failed to earn success in the last two years: Soundgarden and Jane’s Addiction both released crummy albums recently.