This month one of hip-hop's rising stars as well as several acts from the opposite end of the musical spectrum will put out albums meant to make you dance, while a legendary indie band keeps going strong after nearly 30 years. Yeah, it looks like 2013 is going to be an amazing year for new music.
Ra Ra Riot, Beta Love (January 22)
A change of scenery from New York City to a recording studio in Oxford, Mississippi, saw Ra Ra Riot (pictured above) tone down their string section and turn up their synthesizers, resulting in a sound akin to a slightly less danceable Passion Pit, with a violin in place of scratchy samples. It's the band's catchiest, most optimistic album to date.
A$AP Rocky, LongLiveA$AP (January 15)
A$AP Rocky's self-proclaimed "best fucking record ever" would sound like hollow boasting if the Harlem-based rapper hadn't already found commercial success with just a few mixtapes. He certainly doesn't lack famous friends, with Skillrex, Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, Santigold, and more contributing to his long-anticipated studio-album debut.
Yo La Tengo, Fade (January 15)
The band that pretty much invented indie rock releases its 13th studio album, Fade, which they compare to past melancholic masterpieces And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out and I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. If the first single, "Ohm," is any indication, we can expect lush, layered songs that prove that Yo La Tengo is just as relevant now as they were when they got together in 1984.
Toro y Moi, Anything in Return (January 22)
Toro y Moi, a.k.a. 25-year-old Chaz Bundwick, set the "chillwave" standard with his last two albums of dreamy electro-pop. On Anything in Return, things get a little more organic and funky as the South Carolina native tries his hand at what he calls "sincere pop."
Canada's talented twin sisters move away from their indie-folk roots and embrace their inner Cyndi Lauper with Heartthrob, a new studio album (their seventh) filled with hooks and keyboards galore. Don't worry, longtime fans. The duo's earnest, emotional lyrics and stellar vocal harmonies are still there; they're just glossed over with an '80s-pop sheen.
Justin Bieber, Believe Acoustic (January 29)
Hey girl. You want Biebs to slow things down? You got it. He's taking the hits from 2012's Believe and stripping them down to just his voice and a guitar. Middle-school students, take note: This is what you'll be awkwardly slow-dancing to in 2013.
—Keith Wagstaff is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him @kwagstaff.