Upcoming musical acts to look out for in 2010

Chris Letso

 While music journalists are still trying to categorize the music of the ’00s with catchy buzzwords and blanket genre statements, some of the best up-and-coming artists around have wasted no time in getting the new decade off to a great  start.

The newest releases by Beach House, Vampire Weekend, Spoon and a handful of others have satisfied fans’ expectations, and judging by the tentative release calendar for the rest of the year, the music world will not be slowing down anytime soon. Here are some of the most promising artists and their upcoming releases to watch for in 2010.



The wildly prolific hip-hop producer, DJ and jazz musician Madlib of Oxnard, Calif.will release more albums in 2010 alone than Radiohead has in its entire 18-year existence. The excellent Stones Throw label that he calls home will put out one Madlib album per month in an event called the “Madlib Medicine Show,” and nobody knows just how many albums will be released under his growing collection of pseudonyms. 

A sequel to one of the greatest independent hip-hop albums ever, 2004’s collaboration with MF DOOM, “Madvillainy,” has been all but confirmed for a 2010 release, as have a few jazz releases. Granted, none of this is a surprise if you believe the man when he says he owns four tons of vinyl and makes an album’s worth of music per week.


The National

“Alligator” was great, “Boxer” was good and according to The National’s front man Matt Berninger, the band’s new, currently untitled album “is going to be our best record… but it can’t be described as happy.” 

The perfect combination of frustration and hope that emanates from The National’s music is likely to come again, but nobody will be complaining as long as the songs are as tight and emotive as usual.



On “Stylo,” the first single from “Plastic Beach,” Damon Albarn’s animated band of miscreants takes a trip to the disco with Mos Def and Bobby Womack, foreshadowing what Albarn has described as “the most pop record” he’s ever made. 

The list of collaborators is too long to detail, but the group’s third album will feature guest spots from artists such as Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg, Mark E. Smith and De La Soul. “Plastic Beach” is out March 9 on Parlophone/Virgin.



After achieving high acclaim for their last two releases, “Drum’s Not Dead” and “Liars,” the Los Angeles based-band remains completely unpredictable and frightfully creepy. By the sounds of things, their fifth album “Sisterworld” amps up the darkness, the chaos and of course, the experimentation.


Joanna Newsom

“Indie-elf girl,” “creepy pre-pubescent singer,” “Andy Samberg’s fashionable girlfriend” — call her what you want, but Joanna Newsom will be making some noise this year. The talented harpist and pianist will release a triple album (you read that right) called “Have One On Me” on Feb. 23 via Drag City. 

She certainly has the ambition to expand her profile after gaining a cult following for the beloved “Ys” in 2006, though Newsom’s abnormal vocal tendencies may be too inaccessible for the masses. 



One of Animal Collective’s creative forces and the man behind “My Girls,” Noah Lennox will release “Tomboy,” the follow-up to 2007’s universally-lauded “Person Pitch” in 2010. 

Tentatively, the album is set for release in September on Paw Tracks, and based on interviews with Lennox, the music will abandon the hazy samples of his last album in favor of an electronic sound with guitars, raw rhythm and prominent vocals.


The Avalanches

Ten years ago, Australian electronic collective The Avalanches shocked the world with “Since I Left You,” an immense album that surpassed the known human capabilities of sampling.

 The album was supposedly assembled from about 3,500 vinyl record samples, and the result of this painstaking process was a true work of art and probably the most interesting dance music ever made. 

This is supposed to be the year for the long-awaited follow-up to that album, according to multiple sources. There is no title yet; all we know for now is that it will be released on Modular Records, and that the band has been clearing samples.


Big Boi/André 3000 (of OutKast)     It has been nearly two years since the first single from Big Boi’s often-delayed, upcoming solo effort “Sir Luscious Left Foot” made its way into the blogosphere. 

As of now, the tentative release date is March 23, but take that with a grain of salt; a record label has not yet been clarified, and it is, after all, a rap album. 

The exciting third single, “Shine Blockas” featuring Gucci Mane, was leaked in October and raised anticipation for the album tenfold. The other half of OutKast, André 3000, has said he will release a solo album in 2010 as well, and an OutKast album could follow.


Best Coast

Bethany Cosentino’s lo-fi, sun-drenched pop project Best Coast has been a hotbed for catchy love songs filled with nostalgia for California since last spring. 

With a plethora of singles already under her belt, including “Sun Was High (So Was I)” and “Something in the Way,” the debut full-length is scheduled to come out sometime this year. Here’s to hoping for a summertime release date.


Happy Birthday

 The man behind the little-known but much-loved King Tuff has a new band called Happy Birthday. Its signing to prominent indie label Sub Pop is sure to garner much exposure, and if the promotional single “Girls FM” is any indication, the self-titled debut will be one of the year’s catchiest albums.