New Year, New Music, New Attitude


So the world economy is in a spiral. So every creative industry is in financial freefall. So looking forward to anything at all might seem hopelessly 2006. So what! Art—and/or Morrissey—will rise above. Here are five albums we can’t wait to hear in 2009.

1. Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion (January 20, Paw Tracks)
The most abstruse band you’ve ever loved locates dance music within environmental chaos. An album made for these times.

2. Janelle Monae, Chase Suite II and III (February)
The most bracingly original debut act of 2008 (now Grammy-nominated for “best urban performance”) returns with the concluding chapters of a concept album that, via funk-outs and trilly arias, depicts an android battling back a futuristic oligarchy. She’s been called the female Outkast; I think she’s more like Rihanna’s existential nightmare.

3. AC Newman, Get Guilty (January 20, Matador) and Neko Case, Middle Cyclone (March 3, Anti)
Let’s count two New Pornographers as one: Newman’s first solo album, 2004’s Small Wonder, was a power-pop masterpiece, and Neko Case always brings it, be it springy hooks or serial-killer balladry.

4. Grizzly Bear, Title TBA (Warp, May)
The Brooklynites spent last summer in the studio; an early listen to the results indicates that they’ve reconciled their pop leanings and abstract tendencies into gorgeously accomplished harmonies evocative of the Beach Boys and the Beatles.

5. Morrissey, Years of Refusal (Decca, February 17)
With the world experiencing the same existential funk that birthed the Smiths, the cold comfort of a new Morrissey album soothes more than usual. Typically titled tracks such as “Something is Squeezing My Skull” and “One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell” are delivered with a “garage urgency,” according to Moz’s keyboardist, Roger Manning. That’s resistance to change we can believe in!