What will be the must-hear records of 2013? It's too early to know, but here are 10 albums I'm definitely excited to get my hands on. They're listed in alphabetical order by artist...
Alice in Chains
Arcade Fire won the Album of the Year Grammy for their last disc, The Suburbs, cementing this Canadian collective's critical standing. If all goes well, their next album will be arriving by the end of 2013, although there's no set timetable for its arrival. "[W]e're in the studio pretty much full-time just doing what we do," drummer Jeremy Gara said in October 2012. "And we kind of shut the door... We're just working on music and growing beards and living at home a lot and going out to dinner together."
Atoms for Peace
When Radiohead leader Thom Yorke wanted to tour behind his 2006 solo joint The Eraser, he recruited a supergroup, including Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea. That collective, now dubbed Atoms for Peace, will be putting out their debut album, Amok, on February 26. The songs we've heard so far, like the dazzling "Default," suggest Amok will lean heavily on electronic-influenced rock, just like The Eraser did.
Disturbed unleashed Asylum in 2010, but a year later the group announced they were going on an "indefinite hiatus." But frontman David Draiman isn't retiring from music: He's formed a new group, called Device, which will be putting out their debut in April. Describing the album to a follower on Twitter, Draiman said that Device is "JUST AS HEAVY AT TIMES [as Disturbed], BUT VERY DIFFERENT. TASTY AS F*** THOUGH."
How to Destroy Angels
How to Destroy Angels have been around since 2010, producing two moody EPs in the process. In 2013, though, the group (led by Nine Inch Nails head honcho Trent Reznor) will finally be releasing their first full-length effort. Neither the title nor the release date has been confirmed, but Reznor has indicated that HTDA will be touring in the New Year.
Kings of Leon
Moving from cult heroes to mainstream darlings thanks to 2008's Only by the Night, Kings of Leon have faced some hard times since, most notably rehab rumors surrounding frontman Caleb Followill in 2011. The Southern rockers will try to put all that behind them with their followup to Come Around Sundown.
Queens of the Stone Age
Queens of the Stone Age haven't put out an album since 2007, even though frontman Josh Homme has been busy working with Them Crooked Vultures and Eagles of Death Metal in the meantime. But 2013 should be the year that we finally get a new QOTSA disc. The record will feature his buddy Dave Grohl, not to mention Trent Reznor on one track.
30 Seconds to Mars
For years, 30 Seconds to Mars lead singer Jared Leto insisted that he was serious about music, putting his acting career on the back burner. He still does the occasional movie role, but 30 Seconds have been dominating his time, touring at a feverish pace. The trio will be following up their hit 2009 album This Is War, although Leto admitted that the group's future wasn't always so secure. "People started to ask us about a new album," he said in November 2012. "We had been on the road for almost two and a half years and I didn't know... I had no idea what the future held. I don't think any of us knew." But it sounds like they're in a better place now.
If the New Year is a time for optimism, then maybe, just maybe, we'll actually get a new record from Tool in 2013. Of course, these guys have left us dangling for years about the possibility of a new record, but in 2012 the alt-metal veterans suggested they'd be returning to the studio at last. Tool haven't put out an album since 2006; fingers crossed, we'll finally get new music from them in the next 12 months.
Initially, it seemed like U2 wanted to quickly release the follow-up to 2009's No Line on the Horizon, but then years went by with no new records. (Part of the problem might have been that the Irish lads had too much material from which to draw.) Could a new album finally arrive in 2013? Their record label sure thinks so, although that's hardly a guarantee since the band members haven't made any formal announcement. Still, U2 didn't tour at all in 2012, and they have no tour plans thus far for 2013. Perhaps they've been spending that time focusing on a record?