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Major Lazer
Album Title: Free the Universe
Release Date: April 16

Due to artistic differences, Major Lazer producers Diplo and Switch have parted ways leaving Diplo alone to pilot the mainstream reggae revival currently underway. Diplo’s manager told Billboard that he’d like the audience to see Major Lazer as a band or crew. Whether or not the album’s featured artists will perform on Free the Universe tour dates is still up on the air, but appearances by Santigold, Amber of Dirty Projectors, Peaches, Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, Shaggy, Wyclef Jean, Bruno Mars and Tyga would make this quite the supergroup.

Album Title: Monomaia
Release Date: May 7

Deerhunter’s 2010 album Halcyon Digest was a masterpiece of the shoegaze folk-rock that makes up one of the band’s multiple personalities. Their new album has been described by them as “NOCTURNAL GARAGE” and “avant garde(?) but only in context not form (original intent of avant garde (1912-59) / before logic: FOG MACHINE / LEATHER / NEON.” If the album’s first single is an indicator, Monomania will likely represent a return to the squalling, noisy, rockabilly side of things.

The National
Album Title: Trouble Will Find Me
Release Date: May 21

The National’s last album High Violet was a milestone in their oeuvre, the crystallization of several ideas and sounds the band had been honing and perfecting over the course of five albums. In lead singer Matt Beringer’s own words:

"For the past 10 years we'd been chasing something, wanting to prove something. And this chase was about trying to disprove our own insecurities. After touring High Violet, I think we felt like we'd finally gotten there. Now we could relax-- not in terms of our own expectations but we didn't have to prove our identity any longer."

As if that weren’t enough hype, the album also features St. Vincent’s Annie Clark, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, Sharon Van Etten and Sufjan Stevens.

Sigur Rós
Album Title: Kveikur
Release Date: June 17

Sigur Ros lost multi-instrumentalist Kjartan Sveinsson this year when he went to pursue other interests besides the band but that may not be a bad thing. After 2012’s glacial Valtari, who wouldn’t long for the propulsive drums and crunching guitar of classics like "Popplagið" and the whimsy of "Gobbledigook." Either the band heard the call or they themselves got tired of churning out glistening ballads. Regardless, early tracks from Kveikur show signs of a return to the punishing hysteria of their early work.

Album Title: Nothing Was the Same
Release Date: TBD

Aside from making YOLO a popular tattoo among inner city youth, Drake’s second album Take Care pushed him higher than Jay Z for the most number one singles in the history of Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, won the Grammy for Best Rap Album and sparked the highest grossing hip hop tour of 2012. Needless to say anticipation is high for the follow-up but the first two singles retain Drake’s trademark atmospherics while introducing a bigger sound. This is Drake winning.

Drake ~ 5AM In Toronto from OctobersVeryOwn on Vimeo.

TV (Spoilers ahead!)

Vice on HBO
Premiere: April 5

Already at the forefront of gonzo underground reporting, Vice has been steadily gaining ground in the mainstream through partnerships with CNN, Intel and now HBO. Vice’s specific brand of immersion journalism presents an unflinching look at the violence and chaos in our world in a way that Fox News and the other majors wouldn’t ever dream of. Required viewing.

Mad Men, Season 6
Premiere: April 7

At the end of season 5 of one of the most beloved shows on TV it seemed as if Don Draper had come right back to where he started. Show creator Matt Weiner has been tight-lipped about what season 6 holds in store but he did say this in an interview with USA Today:

"I always think 'Here we go again' is kind of the human condition. For Don, he has never confronted what made him marry that woman or what makes him do anything. To me, the theme of the season is, people will do anything to avoid anxiety, Don's not going to be seeing a shrink — that's a spoiler alert — but he is in a state of anxiety, and that marriage, at least last year, really alleviated some of it."

Other details regarding the season premiere have emerged including allusions to Dante’s Inferno and Dick Whitman. As much as Don tries to escape his past it seems more and more likely that he will be forced to finally confront it.

Breaking Bad, Season 5 (last six episodes)
Premiere: July 15

The one question that has been looming over this series ever since W.W. first crossed the line into a life of crime is what happens when Hank finds out. In the cliff hanger at the end of the first half of Breaking Bad’s last season, Hank finally found out. What happens next is anyone’s guess but the prelude to season five’s first episode featured Walt with a full head of hair and a bag of money in exile in New Hampshire trying to disappear. One clue came straight from the mouth of series creator Vince Gilligan. In an interview with Vulture, Gilligan explained, “We’re always asking ourselves, How does this relate to The Godfather? In the finale, we may give even a more overt tip of the hat.” With only five more episodes before the series finale, Breaking Bad has a lot of ground to cover but one final showdown between Hank and the man named Heisenberg is inevitable.

Read Part 2: Summer Movies

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