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The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017

on December 28, 2016, 12:00am
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Artwork by Cap Blackard

By now, you’re probably sick of hearing about the shit year that was 2016 — the deaths, the hatred, the election, yada, yada, yada. The good news is that the next 52 weeks look pretty, pretty … pretty good. Arcade Fire, St. Vincent, and LCD Soundsystem are coming back into the flesh, while a number of veterans like Roger Waters, Blondie, and Bruce Springsteen are ready to start.

And to think, that’s only a handful of the crop. Ahead, you’ll find the other 44 releases that will likely tickle a number of your fancies, and while we can’t guarantee that all of them will come out (we’re looking at you, Tool), we feel prettyi confident in the overwhelming majority. Bottom line: You’re going to like what you’re listening to in 2017.

That we can guarantee.
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SchoolboyqSchoolboy Q

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: The L.A. emcee was raised on the G-Funk of Snoop and Dr. Dre, and his short career has been an endless stream of batshit bangers chock-full of pistol punchlines and funked-up flavors. 2012’s Habits & Contradictions marked him as the best of a loaded crop of new SoCal rappers — at least until label mate Kendrick Lamar went inferno on the rap scene. But while Kendrick’s been taking up all the oxygen, ScHoolboy Q has quietly put out two more great albums of his own. 2016’s Blank Face LP snagged a couple of Grammy nominations, and many musicians would have been content to coast until the award show in February. So fans perked up at an Instagram post from December 18th, where Q said, “…[N]ew album 2017 fuck a break I’m already ready.” If it’s as good as his other efforts, then rap fans are ready, too. His subject matter may be dark, but his touch is light, and while other emcees think you have to be humorless to be hood, ScHoolboy Q is never less than joyous, funky fun. –Wren Graves

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Nine Inch NailsNine Inch Nails

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Trent Reznor wants to be an overachiever again. Nine Inch Nails came back from hidden shadows to release Not the Actual Events, a new EP that serves as the band’s first follow-up to 2013’s Hesitation Marks, earlier this month. Then, the band announced they’re reissuing their 1999 seminal album, The Fragile, as a four-disc box set, complete with alternate and unreleased tracks. And then, Reznor told Zane Lowe during his Beats 1 show that Nine Inch Nails have “two new major” projects planned for 2017. On top of all of this, Reznor asked longtime collaborator Atticus Ross to finally be an official member of Nine Inch Nails, a change in title that’s long overdue. Considering Ross is a member of the band, it’s safe to assume some instrumental and cinematic cuts the two created in their downtime may appear on one of the releases. Will it be a full-length? Will it be an EP? Will it be some giant release that sees the band out-doing themselves again? Probably. Now that we think about it, was there ever a time Trent didn’t strive to overachieve? –Nina Corcoran

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drake The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Drake

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Drake’s Views proved to be one of 2016’s more divisive releases by a major artist. Some critics pondered the necessity of its bloat, while others pointed to the inescapability of hits like “One Dance”, “Controlla”, and “Hotline Bling” as evidence of Drizzy’s cultural dominance. Whatever you think of Drake, the rapper’s next move is shaping up to be even more polarizing. In October, he announced that his next release will be titled More Life and won’t be an album at all, but rather a playlist. “I’m off like mixtapes, I want to do a playlist,” he said on his OVO Sound Radio. “I want to give you a collection of songs that become the soundtrack to your life.” That’s a pretty vague description, but Drake later revealed via his stylist, Ian Connor, that revenge is a big theme of More Life. Whether the “playlist” will be a celebration of life or a savage take-down of Drake’s enemies, we can’t wait to hear what the 6 God has in store for us. –Collin Brennan

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fjm The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Father John Misty

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: There’s a touch of intrigue to Father John Misty’s music: Is this his character singing? Is it a glimpse at J. Tillman himself? Where do the lines blur? There’s a bit of blur in his own brain right now, it seems, but it’s not an identity crisis. A recent song, “Holy Hell”, is decidedly political, though he’s also recently decried entertainment as an inadequate force of social change (and after this election, who would disagree?). Rather than simply lament the state of our country, signs point to Father John Misty asking bigger questions about how artists can make an impact in these potentially regressive times. Whether he does it earnestly or through his own brand of satire is yet to be seen. –Randall Colburn

Listen:

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blondie The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Blondie

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Blondie knows how to stay relevant. In its 40-plus-year career, the band’s collaborated with artists from across the musical spectrum to help broaden their sound and stay in touch with cultural trends. That looks to be the case with their forthcoming album as well, what with hotshot producer John Congleton at the helm and a veritable who’s who of guests that includes Sia, Charli XCX, Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes, Nick Valensi, Joan Jett, The Gregory Brothers, and Johnny Marr. What that confluence of influences will sound like is reason enough to seek out Debbie Harry’s latest effort, which she suggests will be rather universal: “What happens for me and the songs is that the lyrics are always about relationships for the most part, and then there’s this musical aspect, the component of emotion that exists in the music exclusively without any lyrics. When those two things are combined, whatever happens to the listener is truly individual. That’s probably why everyone is so in tune with music. You can’t help it; it’s just something that you can’t help.” God willing. –Randall Colburn

Listen:


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sviibThe Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

Release Date: January 13th via Warner Bros.

Why We’re Excited: Uh, why aren’t we excited? The fact that 2017 is starting out with a new Flaming Lips record seems to bode well for the new musical year. The insane spectacle of the Lips’ live show has stolen some considerable thunder from their records over the past decade-plus, which is a shame, because few bands can make complex, psychedelic chamber pop sound so strange but sweet. Oczy Mlody, due out January 13th, is the Oklahoma City band’s latest collection of warped pop rock, the kind that has always proved to be completely unique. What little that’s been released so far sounds good, not just the work of a veteran band being weird for weird’s sake. “Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)” has plenty of hallmark Lips-isms, from Wayne Coyne’s off-key voice to the band’s quirky love of orchestral space pop. Good or bad withstanding, Flaming Lips records have never failed to be interesting, a fact that makes Oczy Mlody worth checking out by itself. –Ryan Bray

Listen:

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atdiAt the Drive-In

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: When post-hardcore legends At the Drive-In reunited in 2012, the experience left a distaste with fans expecting the same acrobatics as their heyday (guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez was stricken with grief during the run). Their latest reunion has received flack for a different reason, with founding member Jim Ward opting to not take part. Still, the 2016 dates recaptured some of the energy present in the early aughts when the Texan band suddenly disbanded at the height of their popularity, and the prospect of their first album under the AtDI banner is exciting even without Ward. At the Drive-In 2.0 didn’t need a new album to make their existence worthwhile, but the promise of new music might mean the band is back to stay. –Philip Cosores

Listen:

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SheerSheer Mag

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Let’s not pussyfoot around the only observation that matters here, which is that Sheer Mag kick a lot of ass. The Philadelphia punks earned a coveted spot on our Top 10 Punk Songs of 2016 list for their rugged power-pop anthem “Can’t Stop Fighting”, a Thin Lizzy-esque tune that perfectly encapsulates their talent for balancing ‘70s rock cheese with a punk-friendly worldview. The only knock on Sheer Mag thus far has been the conspicuous absence of a proper full-length debut; the band recently compiled their first three 7-inch records into a single LP, but that’s not enough for those of us who want to hear them let loose and rip in a 12-song format. Let’s make a deal, Sheer Mag: Give us the hooks, and we’ll stop making fun of you for wearing sunglasses indoors. –Collin Brennan

Listen:

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fleet foxes The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Fleet Foxes

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Remember Fleet Foxes? We won’t blame you if your memory is a bit hazy. After all, the band’s last proper release was 2011’s Helplessness Blues, an album that sounds downright antiquated now that the indie-folk bubble has officially burst (thanks for that, Mumford & Sons). During the band’s five-year hiatus, frontman Robin Pecknold went back to school at Columbia University and seems to have gained a big dose of perspective. He’s promising a new album that departs from Fleet Foxes’ traditional “folky” sound and embraces new influences in a way that isn’t totally reactionary. That’s one reason we’re excited, but we’d also love to see a new rock rivalry take root between Pecknold and former Foxes drummer Josh Tillman (aka Father John Misty). Come on, guys, take the gloves off and give the people what they want. –Collin Brennan
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sampha process The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Sampha – Process

Release Date: February 3rd via Young Turks

Why We’re Excited: Considering how many people he’s worked with and how many guest spots he’s appeared on over the years, it’s strange to realize Sampha still doesn’t have a full-length debut to his name. All of that’s about to change. On February 3rd, he releases Process via Young Turks, a 10-song LP that includes previous singles “Timmy’s Prayer” and “Blood on Me”. The UK crooner made it worth the wait, and for that, he can’t be blamed. When everyone from Frank Ocean to Solange reach out for help with their albums, you start to lose track of your own project for the greater good of music. Hopefully, that means his own record will be just as moving, if not as much of an event, as theirs. –Nina Corcoran

Listen:


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