Earlier, while walking across the main quad clutching a rapidly warming iced coffee in some feeble attempt to battle the combination of grad school induced sleep deprivation and the oppressive heat and humidity of the Chicago summer, I was mulling over what I could write this post about. I had considered writing about upcoming albums I was excited about, but my mood swayed me to decide to write about albums I’m dying to hear that may or may not come out in the next year, if ever. So without further ado, let’s jump right into my three most anticipated albums without firm release dates.
I’ll start with the one that is most likely to be released; actually it’s pretty much a guarantee. That album is Sylvan Esso’s as yet untitled effort. Their first self-titled album was an instant hit, winning over the critics and earning them scores of fans. This duo’s indie coffee shop electro-pop sound proves to be almost endlessly appealing to me. I still listen to this album all of the time, while doing all kinds of different tasks. I’ll listen to it while reading scientific papers, working in the lab, writing, walking, driving, traveling along the L to some far-flung Chicago destination, and almost anything else. It’s endlessly catchy and features some fantastic songwriting.
The members of the band have spoken of their next album several times, have been recording in their home studio, and claimed as recently as April it was about 80% finished. They’ve also said they’re being a little more experimental with their sounds in the next one, which makes me feel pretty certain that the North Carolina based duo will continue to find their way into my most played artists month after month.
Now we hit a slight snag, I can’t say for sure which of the two albums on my list has a better chance of seeing the light of day. I’ll take a shot and say it’s the elusive third album from Seattle based modern indie folk band, Fleet Foxes.
The band went on hiatus in late 2011, partially so that leading man Robin Pecknold could go to university, and haven’t gotten back together yet. Their two released albums earned them massive praise, and rightly so. Fleet Foxes found a way to become one of the sounds of my home mountains, even though they hail from much younger, much grander mountains thousands of miles away. Their gentle folk sounds and pitch perfect harmonizing have the ability to call to mind the foggy, rolling hills of home. This may partially be because their two albums and their EPs long served as my “driving to Asheville, NC to hang out with my sister” soundtrack.
After years of silence and wondering if FF3, the placeholder name used by fans for their third album, would ever actually be created it seems there may finally be reason to hope. Pecknold recently performed new material in the US and Europe as an opening act for Joanna Newsom and has said that a third album is currently being worked on. Instagram posts from other members and Pecknold’s own AMA on Reddit seem to confirm the rumblings that Fleet Foxes is finally getting the band back together after all, sadly minus estranged member Josh Tillman. I’m currently cautiously optimistic that FF3 will one day be finished and when it is I can almost guarantee it will be my heaviest played album for a long time.
To end this list I’ll have to throw it back to an ambient band I wrote about in my first series of posts for the blog, the incomparable, but certainly not indefatigable, .
This famous duo, consisting of Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride, are absolute giants of the American ambient scene and have produced albums that have calmed me and provided accompaniment to thinking, studying, or just sitting in silence for years and years. Why do I think this album is the least likely to ever be created out of the three? Well, Stars of the Lid had clearly lost some of their energy to continue the project years ago. They titled their 2001 album The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid and its follow up six years later …And Their Refinement of the Decline. The growing space between albums and the naming practices don’t inspire confidence that another is on the way any time soon.
They also both currently have other projects they’re involved with. McBride in LA with Bell Gardens and Wiltzie with Belgium based A Winged Victory for the Sullen. Another piece of, admittedly anecdotal, evidence comes from when I had the chance to see AWVftS live here in Chicago. I was at the second of two shows played on the same day, when about halfway through Wiltzie stopped and talked to the audience a bit. During this asked if “you ever have those moments were you wonder what you’re doing with your life?” He continued that he wasn’t “looking for sympathy,” and that he was “just tired. Tired from touring and tired from writing music and sometimes I just wonder if I can really keep it up much longer.” Though admittedly everyone has those days and moments and in a recent interview with Rolling Stone he and McBride claimed they continued to collaborate on new material for Stars of the Lid, having hours of unreleased music. They said their process of creation is a slow one that includes music being sent back and forth between them and slowly refined. They spoke of how their last two albums were created when McBride lived in Austin and Wiltzie in Chicago, their work consisting of sending tapes back and forth through the mail for years.
If their, now digitally streamlined, creation process can serve them in equal capacity for a new album, and an Instagram post indicates that it is, and if that album is anything like their last two, then the wait will have been well worth it. It seems likely that if they do release another album there is a good chance it will be their last, and I both hope and expect it will solidify their spot in the pantheon of great ambient and electronic musicians.