This article is from Issue 50: Mar/Apr 2011

2011 New Music Guide

The return of the legends, the rise of the giants and lots of yacht rock.

Music previews are alternately the best way to look incredibly smart and the easiest way to look kind of dumb. It’s really fun to predict the ways the music industry will change and shift in the next year—especially when it turns out you’re right. It means your musical knowledge is clearly the best in the world and everyone else isn’t as cool as you. And sometimes those predictions are even easy—if you said High Violet would probably be great at the end of 2009, it’s not like that was a hard leap. It’s kind of like saying, “Radiohead’s new album will likely be good.”

But sometimes predictions fail. Then you scrape the egg off your face, muster up your courage and admit that M.I.A.’s album wasn’t as good as you wanted it to be. And there are always those albums that come out of nowhere—who knew Mumford & Sons would take the world by storm in 2010?

That’s part of what makes these previews so fun. You might be wrong, but if you’re right, it’s all the better. We’re not trying to read tea leaves, predict fortunes or be the Miss Cleo of music. We’re excited about the music of 2011, and we think you should be, too. So here are some of the trends, movements and bands that are certain (and by “certain” we mean “pretty likely”) to make the next musical year one to remember.

Hello, Old Friend

Every year, we see long-lost bands make another run at success. In 2010, Guided by Voices, Pavement and Soundgarden came back and played a bunch of shows, but none of them really recorded anything new (the one track Soundgarden tacked on the deluxe edition of their greatest hits album doesn’t count). This year, the reunions might be a little more meaningful as bands we’ve missed for years return with new material, big festival dates and (hopefully) tours as well.