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The 12 Albums you need to hear in 2013

2012 was a strange year for music, with unthreatening singer-songwriters such as Emeli Sande and Ed Sheeran ruling the album charts, and Calvin Harris-style dance-pop very much still dominating the singles market. The likes of the Vaccines were almost alone in flying the flag for guitars, while the breakthrough act of the year was arguably Lana Del Rey, who came from nowhere to bring some much-needed glamour and mystique to proceedings.

We lead you through the albums to look out for next year: a mix of returning giants, acts poised for greatness and hotly-tipped newbies.

Images: Rex

Villagers - Awayland

With Elbow taking a year off, the big question is which well-respected, but moderately-selling, act will 'do an Elbow' and make the leap into wider public consciousness. Having toured with them last year, it could well be Ireland's Villagers. Ostensibly the vehicle for frontman Conor O'Brien, they were nominated for the Mercury with their debut Becoming a Jackal in 2010 and have spent the time since touring and diligently building their fanbase. Heartful, beautiful and intricate songs are their speciality and - if they choose to - they could make the step into the big league. Mind you, Elbow took four albums and 10 years before they went into supernova, so it might be a little early - a great album should be expected nonetheless.

Release date: 14th January

Biffy Clyro - Opposites

After the huge success of Only Revolutions, which spawned the hits Mountains, Bubbles and Many of Horror - the song even Matt Cardle couldn't kill - the stage is set for Biffy to properly join the rock elite. Never ones to take the easy route, Opposites is poised to be a double album, with the two sides' names already being revealed as The Land at the End of our Toes and The Sand at the Core of Our Bones. Of course.

Release date: 28th January

Foals - Holy Fire

It is fair to say that Foals' comeback single Inhaler took nearly everyone by surprise when it emerged recently. Gone was the defiant 'indieness' and introspectiveness of previous album Total Life Forever and in was widescreen production (courtesy of Flood and Alan Moulder), confident vocals and one MASSIVE METAL RIFF which wouldn't have been out of place on a Deftones record. If the rest of the album matches up to it, we could be in for a highly unexpected treat.

Release date: 11th February

Azealia Banks - Broke With Expensive Taste

After all the hype, the conflicts and the long, long wait - will the queen of cool produce an album to justify it? Banks - on her second record label already - blasted her way into the public consciousness with the profanity-happy single 212 (of which Samantha Cameron is famously a fan), which got everyone very excited indeed. However, that was back in 2011 and, despite being tipped everywhere, 2012 has come and gone with only a mixtape to show for it and spats with various critics. We would be sceptical, except that master producer Paul Epworth (producer of Adele's 21 amongst many others) is at the helm and he very rarely gets it wrong. It could be well worth the wait.

Release date: 12th February

Atoms for Peace - Amok

The idea of a supergroup is often better in theory than reality, but we're hoping Atoms for Peace will buck the trend. Formed of Radiohead's mainmain Thom Yorke, the Chili Peppers' bass legend Flea, together with producer Nigel Godrich, REM and Beck collaborator Joey Waronker and percussionist Mauro Refosco, the outfit could not have a better pedigree musically. Anyone hoping for a return to early-Radiohead sonics will be disappointed: going by the evidence of lone single Default, it seems more likely to be an electronic affair, in the style of Yorke's previous solo album The Eraser. However, if it's anywhere near as good as that effort, we'll be very happy.

Release date: February 25th

AlunaGeorge - TBC

AlunaGeorge - comprised of singer Aluna Francis and producer George Reid - have been slowly amassing underground cool points since their release of the effortlessly stylish You Know You Like It in 2011. Even so, it was a surprise to see them recently named as one of the three contenders for the Brits' Critics Choice Award, which practically guarantees a successful year given past winners (Florence, Jessie J, Adele). They are the most interesting of the three, and should create a great album regardless of whether or not the hacks agree.

Release date: Early 2013

The Prodigy - How To Steal a Jetfighter

2009's Invaders Must Die marked a triumphant return to form for The Prodigy, helped in no small part by the return to the recording setup of Keith Flint and Maxim. An enormous world tour followed, reminding everyone what an incredible live act they are. The new record should see a continuation of this purple patch; Liam Howlett has stated that it will not be dubstep, but will be "fresh" and "darker". When it comes to The Prodigy, darker is usually a good thing.

Release date: Early 2013

Lady Gaga - ARTPOP

Yes, like her or loathe her, you can't ignore her. And 2013 will see the Gaga juggernaut roll on with the release of ARTPOP. She apparently wants to "make history" and there are rumours of a double album: frankly, anything could happen. Usual producers RedOne and White Shadow are on board, so perhaps there won't be a tremendous departure from her trademark GinormoEuropop sound but who knows what she's got up her sleeve. If she can top the meat dress we'll be impressed.

Release date: Spring 2013

Eminem - TBC

Shady revealed his new album was on the way with a baseball cap bearing the years of his previous records, together with 2013 - but 3 years have elapsed since his previous effort Recovery - will he still be able to mix it with the youngsters? Going on previous form, you'd have to say yes: Recovery was critically acclaimed; spawned the mega-hit Love The Way You Lie and Slim still rides high in the social media world, being the second most-liked artist on Facebook (65m - only just behind Rihanna). An Eminem record is always a huge event, and this should be no exception.

Release date: Summer 2013

Palma Violets - TBC

Head of Radio 1 George Ergatoudis has declared that "guitar music is definitely on the way back" and, if it is, then the NME's favourite new band Palma Violets are sure to be at the spearhead of it. Their track Best of Friends was voted the magazine's Single of Year, Zane Lowe is a massive fan and they're on the BBC Sound of 2013 longlist. Very much from the Libertines school sonically and signed to Rough Trade to boot, if they can produce the tunes, 2013 is theirs for the taking. Mind you, guitars were supposed to be back in 2011, remember Viva Brother?

Release date: Summer 2013

Arctic Monkeys - TBC

After stealing the show at the London Olympic Opening Ceremony with an electrifying performance, Arctic Monkeys established themselves as a national treasure and their fifth album will be a highly-anticipated affair. Remarkably, frontman Alex Turner is still only 26, so there should be plenty left in the creative tank yet. The band have said that the songs will be more like the heavier tracks from previous album Suck it and See and, with rumours that the band were recording in the US desert, it could be a return to the Humbug stoner rock style. Whatever happens, we just hope Alex keeps that fantastic quiff.

Release date: Summer 2013

The Strokes - TBC

An interview in the pages of this here ShortList magazine revealed that everyone's favourite NYC indie band had already begun work on their fifth album in March this year. A further interview with Albert Hammond Snr revealed that guitarist Jnr was describing the material as "incredible" However, we shouldn't get too excited quite yet - the Strokes are never ones to rush things and, with no news of a release date or title, let alone any news of finished songs perhaps we're jumping the gun; but, if we're lucky, then hopefully it'll emerge towards the end of the year.

Release date: Late 2013

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