In an effort to fill in some time when music dies down (probably something to do with Christmas), we’re going to be running through a few of the most anticipated releases of next year. Some are 2015 no-shows, some are records that have been in gestation for a long time, and some might just be random drops from more prolific artists.
David Bowie – Blackstar (8/1/16)
Something of a surprise after The Next Day was considered to be his swansong, Blackstar (or ★ if we’re being specific) continues where his last album ended, diving into experimentation once again with the jazz-prog first single, ‘Blackstar’ and the slightly less weird next taster, ‘Lazarus’. David Bowie really could release an album’s worth of cow noises and the people would eat it up, so expect it to get rave reviews. However, ‘Blackstar’ showed that Bowie could still innovate decades after creating personas like Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane that altered musical style with each release. Expect lots of smooth jazz and lyrics that surprise.
Hinds – Leave Me Alone (8/1/16)
For all of the disappointment we receive when Hinds make another version of the same song, they always bring fun and smiles to the serious face of rock music. Maybe it’s some of that Madrid sunshine bleeding through into their clunky but endearing style, which resembles more of a couple of friends learning how to play instruments together rather than a tightly-knit instrumental machine. This is definitely a band that wants to make you move, primarily, and everything else comes second.
Savages – Adore Life (22/1/16)
Even if Savages replicated the same moody post-punk of Silence Yourself, Adore Life probably would have sated the appetite of fans, but so far both singles for the album have been harsh, unforgiving and utterly gripping. The band have matured even further, with Jehnny Beth’s lyrics offering a light/dark perspective on love, Ayşe Hassan’s bass buzzing away, Gemma Thompson’s combination of soft and buzzsaw guitar and Fay Milton driving the band along on the brutal ‘The Answer’. They might just be the next greatest rock band.
DIIV – Is This Is Are (5/2/16)
We’ll be honest – Oshin did nothing for us. If you compare it to DIIV’s live sets, where they amp the pace up considerably, Oshin was sluggish, many of the tracks blurred together and Zachary Cole Smith’s vocals barely floated on the surface. That all changed with recent singles such as ‘Dopamine’ and ‘Mire (Grant’s Song)’, where they’ve become more dream-pop that shoegaze, falling into the territory of a faster, more instrumental Beach House. A lot has happened since Oshin to DIIV, but SI This Is Are should hopefully set the record straight considering all of the controversy and criticism that the band have drawn.
Animal Collective – Painting With (19/2/16)
Yeah, we didn’t especially like ‘FloriDada’ too much, but you have to admit that song was weirdly catchy. An Animal Collective release is always an event, and Painting With is no exception – it’s already been played in an airport. The fans have been calling it a return to their most successful records: Merriweather Post Pavillion and Strawberry Jam, but the hype could be what kills the record. Animal Collective have always liked to go off the beaten psychedelic path, so something weird and wonderful isn’t out of the question. After Tame Impala’s all-conquering Currents, the second-best psych flag-bearers have a lot to live up to.
PJ Harvey – TBA
So far she’s only teased a thirty-second clip and some live events (plus that special recording experience), but PJ Harvey’s next album looks to be another war-based record dragged out of the muddy heroism and futility of WW1 that came with Let England Shake and into a more modern setting. So far ‘The Ministry of Social Affairs’ and ‘Chain of Keys’ have been played live, both being entirely different tracks with ‘The Ministry…’ harking back to To Bring You My Love’s backwater rock. It’s probably going to be very political, more intense and win another Mercury Prize.
Rihanna – Anti – TBA
2015, when Rihanna did the least she’s ever done, was actually one of her biggest years. Her songs that she did release (‘Bitch Better Have My Money’, ‘American Oxygen’, ‘FourFiveSeconds’) were lightning rods for thinkpieces, worlds away from ‘Diamonds’ or ‘Rude Boy’. She partnered up with Kanye for her album and the single ‘FourFiveSeconds’ (which also featured Paul McCartney of all people) and made a $25 million deal with Samsung for Anti, which is a bit like what Jay-Z for his last album Magna Carta Holy Grail, which was swamped by Kanye’s Yeezus and doesn’t bode well for Rihanna if Kanye releases Swish next year if history does repeat itself, though Rihanna and Kanye are hardly rap enemies. Then again, if ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ says anything, Kanye might have a hard time beating out Anti.
Modest Mouse – Whatever (Rumoured) – TBA
The long-gestating Strangers To Ourselves came out in 2014 to mixed reviews, with the lead single ‘Lampshades On Fire’ aiming for ‘Float On’s pop appeal and though Isaac Brock’s delivery was as wild as ever, Modest Mouse were still lacking what they haven’t had since The Moon And Antarctica – a fear of implosion at any minute. Their next album, a companion piece apparently called Whatever, or misspelt Wbatever features Krist Novoselic, according to reports and should carry on themes that Strangers To Ourselves brought, although hopefully it’s a lot better.
Kanye West – SWISH
What’s the point of even thinking about what Kanye might do on his next album? ‘All Day’, ‘Wolves’ and ‘FourFiveSeconds’ were entirely different, unlike the crossover indie-hit of Yeezus that took inspiration from Death Grips (though Kanye would never admit that). His last two albums have been detours into autotuned pop (thus opening the door for Drake) and industrial-rap, so a return to his beloved trilogy would only be a step backwards for Ye. Nope, everything from here on out is new territory for the most polarising rapper around. No matter how much you hate him, he’s so famous your parents know him, and for any rapper that’s superstardom.
He won every award going when Channel Orange came out in 2012 and has been teasing music ever since, but Frank Ocean is yet to follow up the success of that album. It’s a bit like position Kendrick Lamar was in after Good Kid, M.a.a.d City; overcome with success and too much hype on his shoulders. Then he released To Pimp A Butterfly and that becomes the most important rap record of the last decade. Frank Ocean is in the same position; he has the ability to top it, but until he releases it there’s the issue that it might not be received as well. We’ll just have to wait and find out.
Being a Radiohead fan is hard. Bathing in a sweet new picture of Jonny Greenwood eating a sandwich is considered newsworthy at this point (slight exaggeration, but the point is there) but little spills out about the follow-up to The King of Limbs, which was a little so-so (watch the live version in the Basement, it’s ten times better than the album). Thom Yorke’s recent leanings suggest another electronic-influenced album, but Radiohead have always been a democracy so even poor Phil Selway will have a say in what style they dip into next. As long as nobody suggests EDM, we’ll be fine.
It’s been way too long since the XX released anything into the world. Granted, Jamie XX had a successful 2015 with his debut album In Colour and hopefully some of that summery electronica makes its way to the dark world of the XX. Coexist, their last album in 2012, was a bit of an anticlimax after their near-perfect first record, so hopefully the XX come back better with what they do next. It might also be important to say that if the XX rehash the same dimly-lit indie that formed their first two albums again the critics might not be as eager to slap on the five-star reviews as their reverby-schtick has been hopped on by everyone and anyone in the last five years. Jamie XX’s glossy side-project influences might just be what saves them.
Some people are quite excited for the new Crystal Castles record, which in no way will be a Crystal Castles record without the presence of Alice Glass. Instead Crystal Castles other-half Ethan Kath has employed another singer to fill Glass’ role, called Edith Frances. But now Alice Glass has struck out on her own, releasing the pummelling ‘Stillbirth’ which is roughly 15 times better than anything Kath has released since Glass left CC. Glass has said that there is a sister song to ‘Stillbirth’ which is more of a ‘lullaby’, so don’t expect everything that she releases to be as brutal as her first song as a solo artist.
M.I.A – Matahdatah
Matahdatah is looking a whole lot more exciting after M.I.A. dropped ‘Borders’ late in 2015. She’s back to her politically-charged best, plus her instrumental strength continues to be as modern as possible with her incorporation of world music and southern trap-rap. Behind all of the intense politics, there’s a catchy pop song behind ‘Borders’ and ‘Swords’ from her audio-visual project that emerged in the middle of 2015. Call-and-answer lines like ‘What’s up with that?’ are meant to be played big at festivals.If Kendrick Lamar soundtracked the civil rights movement in 2015, M.I.A. might just soundtrack the ongoing refugee crisis and terrorism.