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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

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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

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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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real estateReal Estate – TBA

Release Date: TBA 

Why We’re Excited: Real Estate may have spent their time between albums cracking open their own beers, but let’s not forget they also spent 2015 and 2016 at work in the studio, too. When interviewed about his side project Ducktails, guitarist Matt Mondanile told FACT Magazine that Real Estate’s fourth album will likely be even more LA-sounding than before because of his recent move to California. Then he up and left the band, being replaced by Julian Lynch and leaving the identity of Real Estate somewhat in question. The band has unveiled their new lineup with 2016 live dates, trying out new material along the way. Our last big update from the group was in August when they were mixing the new release, giving reason to believe that the group’s fourth album should be announced shortly. –Nina Corcoran

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u2 songs of ascent The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017U2 – Songs of Experience

Release Date: TBA 

Why We’re Excited: U2 have been grasping at straws for relevance ever since the notoriously botched release of Songs of Innocence, which is remembered less as a surprisingly solid late-career album (it is) than as a plague on everyone’s iTunes account. But as Achtung Baby and All That You Can’t Leave Behind have reminded us before, the Irish rockers are masters of reinvention and tend to learn from their colossal mistakes. Sure, the inclusion of OneRepublic frontman and studio superstar Ryan Tedder as co-producer smacks of desperation, but desperation and brilliance share the same area code in the world of U2. And let’s be honest, it’s hard to call them desperate when they’ve written, according to The Edge, over 50 songs for the album with lyrics “stronger than War.” Besides, even if the album’s a total bust, we’ll at the very least get to see them perform The Joshua Tree this year — not to mention, at The Farm for Bonnaroo. –Collin Brennan

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grandaddy The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Grandaddy – Last Place

Release Date: March 3rd on 30th Century Records

Why We’re Excited: It’s been a decade since Grandaddy last released an album, with only a small set of reunion dates in 2012 to speak of in terms of activity. And the news of the album didn’t take the form of some grand announcement, but rather a series of tweets from mastermind Jason Lytle that casually documented his work on what will be Grandaddy’s fifth album. Lytle has steadily been releasing music under his own name for the past 10 years, so the return to the Grandaddy project hopefully will speak to some inspired songwriting and a reason to get the band back together. The group’s track record is very strong, and it seems unlikely that Lytle would want to tarnish the best thing to ever come out of Modesto, California. If the early singles, including the excellent “Way We Won’t” are any indicator, we’re in for a return to form. –Philip Cosores

Listen:

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Depeche ModeDepeche Mode – Spirit

Release Date: Spring

Why We’re Excited: Depeche Mode narrowly missed induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017, but the progenitive ectro-pop outfit fortunately have better things to do than live off their vast credentials. Next year will see the release of Spirit, the band’s 14th studio effort and first since 2013’s Delta Machine. Details so far are scarce, but what little we do know sounds promising. James Ford of Simean Mobile Disco manned the album’s production, and frontman Dave Gahan told Rolling Stone that Ford’s input helped “guide” the band. That’s not very surprising given the sonic debt that Simean Mobile Disco owes the band, and it will be interesting to see what kind of inspiration Depeche Mode takes from one of their most prodigious followers. Snippets from the record that have so far been released sound reliably dark, complex, and catchy, so the band at the very least sounds like they’re in their comfort zone. –Ryan Bray

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phosphorescentthumb The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Phosphorescent

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Matthew Houck, the man behind the Phosphorescent moniker, took a relatively easy path through 2015. He released a live album in February 2015, but wasn’t on the road much after that until a scattering of 2016 dates that felt designed for his band to shake off some rust. His Instagram has been filled with pictures of the band working in a makeshift living room studio apparently set up in Nashville. Some of the images include dueling drum kits, outdoor acoustic sessions, and imposing scores of cables. All this leads one to believe that the follow-up to 2013’s magnificent Muchacho is shaping up to be one of Phosphorescent’s most ornate albums to date and hopefully as lush and moving as ever. –Ben Kaye

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wolf paradeWolf Parade

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Six years out from releasing their last album, there was very little reason to suspect that Wolf Parade would be returning. Main songwriters Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug had each further developed their unique voices, the former culminating in the superb 2016 Operators LP, Blue Wave, the latter most recently with another album in collaboration with experimental Finnish rockers Siinai. But then the rumbling started, rumor that the long-gone group were up to something. And, lo and behold, Boeckner, Krug, Arlen Thompson, and Dante DeCaro dropped an EP in May, proof that not only were they ready to return, but that that return would be as thrilling as their sterling initial run. “The focus was to be creative together again. It wasn’t to learn how to play our old songs together,” Krug told Pitchfork, and that passion and intensity came through in the EP and subsequent live performances. There’s a loose, honest feeling to the whole reunion, a good sign for whenever that new album decides to drop. –Lior Phillips

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grizzly bearGrizzly Bear

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: In October, Grizzly Bear tweeted a promising bit of hope for 2017: “Album 90 percent done. Last update until you hear it.” Given the band hit the studio in June, their rate of recording suggests the album will come out sometime in the second, if not first, quarter of the year. It’s the indie rock giants’ first record since 2012’s Shields, a record of fierce guitar and even more dramatic swirls of percussion than previously heard from the band, especially on “Sleeping Ute” and “Half Gate”. If Ed Droste’s Instagram is any indication, this record could pack quite a political punch with a touch of piano balladry, too. –Nina Corcoran
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my morning jacket The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017My Morning Jacket

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: In an interview with Rolling Stone, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James said he plans on recording the follow-up to 2015’s The Waterfall in the spring. Oddly enough, most of these new songs were written during the recording of The Waterfall, though he’s giving them space to grow and evolve. “You never know what’s actually gonna happen when you get down to recording,” he says. He has, however, described the new stuff as “propulsive” and rock & roll,” an approach that dovetails nicely with the band’s third album, It Still Moves, which they re-released in 2016. –Randall Colburn

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Spiritualized 2012Spiritualized – TBA

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Because patience is truly a virtue. In January of 2015, Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce revealed via Facebook he was enlisting the talents of Killing Joke’s YOUTH to produce his yet-to-be-titled eighth full-length studio album. At the time of the post, the duo had already started work at YOUTH’s London-based studio, embarking on a venture that was to be completed mid-2015 in Spain. Since those initial murmurs, virtually zero details surfaced of the ongoing project until a series of tweets revealed 2017 release intentions. The silence wasn’t totally unprecedented; while Spiritualized’s 2003 effort Amazing Grace was recorded in just three weeks, 2008’s follow-up, Songs in A&E, was delayed due to a lengthy illness. The last we heard, Pierce indicated this might be the final album of his career, increasing the weight that its release carries. –Derek Staples
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dirty projectors 2012Dirty Projectors

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: “I don’t know why you abandoned me,” Dave Longstreth begins on “Keep Your Name”, presumably the first new track from the upcoming album from Dirty Projectors. And, for the rest of the song, he sounds entirely alone, letting the sadness drip, shifting his voice into a downturned mourn, sampling the vocals from a love song that he sang with his now conspicuously absent bandmate/partner. “We don’t see eye to eye,” the sample loops. For fans only recently acquainted with the project, the lack of soaring harmonies and approachable, hook-y structures might be even more stunning than the raw emotion; but the shivering electronic percussion recalls The Getty Address, and the open-hearted insular solo vocals echo the The Glad Fact, Longstreth returning to the tools he’d used to create masterpieces long before he and Amber Coffman had struck upon the pop majesty of “Stillness Is the Move”. “Keep Your Name” also features a Dan Deacon sample and modular synths from former Battles frontman Tyondai Braxton, signalling more eccentric choices are in store. –Lior Phillips

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bss The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Broken Social Scene

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited:  The best bands feel like home. Safe spaces, little communities — and the best communities provide comfort in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Such was the case with Broken Social Scene, as the Canadian indie rock collective rejoined after the Bataclan terror attack. “The whole reason we got back together was after the shootings in Paris,” Kevin Drew said in a recent interview. “Everyone sort of got on the phone within the small tribe of us and said, ‘I want to play some shows.’” As the darkness of the world increasingly impinges upon us, it’s good to know that Drew and co. are feeling it too, unwilling to go gently into that night. Instead, they are bringing the community together around the scorching fire of frustration. That energy should fuel plenty of material, making an excellent return for their first record in six years rather likely. –Lior Phillips
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hard love strand oaks album The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Strand of Oaks – Hard Love

Release Date: February 17th via Dead Oceans

Why We’re Excited: 2014’s HEAL made Strand of Oaks a feel-good story on several fronts. The album traced the shedding of personal demons for Timothy Showalter, but as it found an audience, its story became one of a band rising above years of obscurity to find critical acclaim and relative commercial success. Yes, the material was particularly strong, but a more expansive, festival-ready sound was also responsible. February’s Hard Love won’t find Showalter looking backward, as he promises an album with a “loose, hedonistic vibe.” First single “Radio Kids” is wild and anthemic, signaling a project that continues to tap into vitality. –Philip Cosores

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sigur ros The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Sigur Rós

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: When a band writes “we can only ask you to trust us on this one” in a surprise statement filled with phrases like “new unreleased songs” and “some other *new* things,” a unique feeling of optimism blossoms within you. Your anticipation begins to build slowly, and if you’re a fan of Icelandic post-rock pioneers Sigur Rós, it’s a feeling that feels like home, and within it is a vast space worth exploring and savoring. After 2013’s impassioned and kinetic Kveikur, fans are anxiously awaiting whatever it may be that Jónsi, Georg Hólm, and Orri Páll Dýrason have in store for us in 2017. Last year brought us expectation of new material, including dates with some new music, but more announced touring for 2017 would hopefully mean that an album is on the horizon. –Sean Barry

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jay z The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Jay Z

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited:  When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When wife gives you Lemonade, you better be ready to explain yourself. Last year, a new Jay album seemed imminent; titles and track lists were floating around the Internet until, suddenly, the rumors dried up. It’s not hard to see why. Beyonce’s Lemonade was about to drop, and with its candid portrayal of infidelity and a marriage on the rocks, the album is a statement that can’t be ignored. Club tracks about hoes and Hublot’s just aren’t going to cut it. For that reason, Jay Z’s newest album is expected to be his most personal. –Wren Graves

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the shins 600 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017The Shins – TBA

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Whether it’s the case of The Shins firing out a crisper sound on their second album, Chutes Too Narrow, or the musical chairs crafted by lead singer James Mercer in parting ways with his longtime bandmates before 2012’s Port of Morrow in a shuffle countless people dubbed a “firing,” we know the pioneering American indie rock band thrive off change. They’ve got a clear MO and feeling – they make tactile simplicity physical and heart-centered even while remaining folkier than most pop. But that core sound keeps their minimalism intact while reaching for ambitious new heights of sincerity and sonic drama. “The record is done, basically, and mixed,” Mercer said in August, noting that the label was delaying its release for better advertising and festival positioning. That didn’t stop the band from unveiling a few tunes on the road in 2016, including first single “Dead Alive”, from an album that is set to release in early 2017. –Lior Phillips

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screen shot 2016 12 22 at 3 51 06 pm The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life

Release Date: January 27th via ANTI-

Why We’re Excited: It’s hard to put anything as lofty as saving rock and roll on the backs of an unassuming duo from Vancouver, but fans of fast and aggressive anthems are rightfully salivating ahead of January 27th. Yeah, Near to the Wild Heart of Life is a title keeping with the earnest-as-all-hell ethos of the pair, and our first tastes don’t find the band straying from their punk rock Springsteen sound. But that doesn’t mean it will all be business as usual for the group. They are on a new label with ANTI- and there is a notable production step forward taken on the album’s title track. In the album’s press release, Japandroids set themselves up within rock’s traditions, citing the likes of Patti Smith, Metallica, The Stooges, Talking Heads, and Television as their forbearers. It might not be rock’s resurrection, but it certainly wants to be a chapter in its story. –Philip Cosores

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cloudnothings2013 thumb1 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound

Release Date: January 27th via Carpark Records

Why We’re Excited: It was tempting to include Cloud Nothings’ brilliant new single, ”Modern Act”, among our Top 50 Songs of 2016, but the four-minute rocker sounds more like a harbinger of great things to come than something that belongs in a retrospective list. If “Modern Act” is indicative of what we can expect out of Life Without Sound, Dylan Baldi and co. have another winner on their hands. The follow-up to 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else was recorded with producer John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie) in El Paso, and it promises an even more potent blend of loud guitars and introspective lyrics. As Baldi said in a statement, “This record is like my version of new age music. It’s supposed to be inspiring.” That’s cool, man, as long as it doesn’t sound too much like new age music. –Collin Brennan

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screen shot 2016 12 22 at 4 07 37 pm The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Beck

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: It’s tempting just to answer, “Because it’s Beck, dummies.” I’m now going to spend another 100 words or so pretty much reiterating those five. Staying the course for Beck has always meant swerving off the road the moment the rest of the world seems to also be traveling in his direction. Most every album in his catalog, if measured by what came before, feels like a drastic stylistic detour, a sea change owing less to an identity crisis and more to a realization that no one style or genre can hope to contain his multitudes. And damn near every one of those records we now hold up as modern classics. So, while many peers may have cringed at his poppy lead single, “Wow” (as if “luminous moose” can’t hold its lyrical own against “beefcake pantyhose”), and scrambled back to their comfy copies of Morning Phase, I’m “like wow” wishing I had Beck’s new album “like right now.” Um, because it’s Beck, dummies. –Matt Melis

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alice glass solo debut The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Alice Glass

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: While nothing has officially been announced about a full album coming in 2016, 2015 marked the solo debut of Alice Glass, the former vocalist of Crystal Castles, in an eye-opening fashion. Glass and former bandmate Ethan Kath had a public falling out over social media as Glass responded to what she called “manipulative statements” by Kath in which he tried to diminish her accomplishments with the former band. Three months later, Glass released her first solo single, the frenzied and powerful “Stillbirth”, accompanied by a letter detailing her experience in an abusive relationship. The song itself was a welcome change of pace from her old band, keeping the intensity of the former duo’s dark dance music, but channeling the rage towards catharsis, with an affirming message of being able to start again and move past abuse. “Emotional and psychological abuse can be just as damaging [as physical abuse] and it is extremely difficult to remove yourself from,” Glass said in her message, trying to offer her story as a sign for others in similar situations to find a way out. Glass’ note concluded with a promise of more music, and while we’re still waiting for that, if it’s anything like what we’ve heard so far, the songs could very well be essential listening in 2017. –David Sackllah

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zach de la rocha The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Zach De La Rocha

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: For years, Zack de la Rocha’s solo debut felt like hip-hop’s answer to Chinese Democracy. Rumors would rekindle whenever Rage Against the Machine would reunite for a headlining gig or the ex-frontman’s name would sporadically surface on smaller projects like One Day as a Lion, but the airwaves remained silent. After multiple false-starts over the years, it felt like the project had finally been shelved – both de la Rocha and all but the most die-hard RATM comrades having lost interest. Then in September came the news that a full-length was finally on its way, the thumping El-P-produced track “Digging for Windows” acting as a proof of life. One thing’s for certain: Between his single and two ripping collabs with Run the Jewels, the music world hasn’t been this curious about de la Rocha’s elusive solo debut in some time. So, what better place than here? What better time than now? –Matt Melis

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Image (8) charlixcxfeat.png for post 414935Charli XCX

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Charli XCX is back with a vengence. The British pop star took her Fader cover story by storm and, by the sounds of it, her third full-length, too. The upcoming release won’t drop until May, but she’s already confident she tried to make “the best pop album of 2017.” It’s safe to assume frequent collaborators like PC Music giant Sophie or Stargate will feature guest production on most of the songs, but Charli XCX is wild enough to opt for entirely new hooks. After all, this is her most “pop-commercial” record yet. She set her eyes on the ultimate party record, and she’s eager to dance — and to make everyone else dance, too. –Nina Corcoran
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Chromatics - 2015Chromatics – Dear Tommy

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: When Chromatics said early in 2015 that Dear Tommy would be out in time for Valentine’s Day, they never specified which year. Nevertheless, they’ve been tiding fans over. 2015 Singles “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around” and “Shadow” have shown consistency in quality and growth in style for the band, while the stream of music continued in 2016 with the title track. Still, the album is largely a mystery. Producer Johnny Jewel has referred to Dear Tommy as the most rebellious album he’s ever made. That’s a bold statement with the meticulousness that’s gone into masterworks like Kill for Love and Night Call. But the band does have oft forgotten punk rock roots. Channeling that sense of anarchy with slick hooks sounds enticing. If there’s any band bold enough to pull it off, it’s Chromatics. It’s gotta come come out this year, right? Right–Dusty Henry

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SpoonDoYou

Spoon

Release Date: March via Matador

Why We’re Excited: We barely have to wait three months until music will make us dance again. No shade to recent albums, but nothing makes people move like the brilliant indie rock genius of Spoon (don’t you evah doubt it), and Britt Daniel confirmed their ninth studio album will be out soon. “I feel like we are on to something — we’re covering some new ground,” he told EW after saying the record will drop in March. Not only is it the band’s first record on Matador (!) since 1996 debut LP Telephono, but it sees them teaming up with producer Dave Fridman for “multidimensional jams” that boast “oddball studio effects.” The only new song we’ve heard so far — “I Ain’t the One”, which, presumably, will be on the record — is slow and swoony, but still carries the usual punch of groove Spoon packs. We can’t help but let our finer feelings get the best of us. –Nina Corcoran

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the xx i see you The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017The xx – I See You

Release Date: January 13th via Young Turks

Why We’re Excited: “Winter studio hibernation.” With three words, The xx confirmed over Facebook that they’re buckling down to wrap up work on the follow-up to 2012’s Coexist. A few Instagram photos surfaced nearly two years ago of all three members recording in the studio, but they presumably took a break when Jamie xx kept us dancing for months with In Colour, his debut LP (and one of the best albums of 2015). Since unveiling lead single “On Hold” a couple months ago, the track has already made it to alt radio, signifying that the band might make a commercial leap with their third LP. –Nina Corcoran

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the jesus and mary chain damage and joy The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017The Jesus and the Mary Chain – Damage and Joy

Release Date: March 24th via Warner Music

Why We’re Excited: After covering The Jesus and Mary Chain in early 2015, I described the experience as “stepping into Psychocandy,” as if their debut record could quite literally be inhabited. That precise ratio of sweet and demented, of sad and diabolical that brothers Jim and William Reid can concoct together sounds as euphoric today as it did three decades ago. The problem, of course, has always been getting the siblings in a studio together and keeping them there long enough to finish an album. Well, here it comes, for the first time in nearly 20 years, a new Jesus and Mary Chain record. Titled Damage and Joy (seems fitting) and preceded by restrained but chaotic single “Amputation”, we’re more than ready to welcome the lads from East Kilbride back to our turntables once again. –Matt Melis    

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thenationalthumb The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017The National

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: It’s hard to believe that it’ll be four years this May since The National released a proper studio album. Then again, quality takes time, and they’ve never fallen short on that. Look at this tyrannical post-debut run: 2003’s Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, 2005’s Alligator, 2007’s Boxer, 2010’s High Violet, and 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me. That’s five must-own albums in a decade, so let’s not throw a tantrum if Berninger, the Dessners, and the Devendorfs want to take their sweet-ass time. Though, to be fair, it’s not like they’ve been kicking around dust. Between festivals, side projects, campaign trails, and one curious Grateful Dead phase, The National have been busy bees, working diligently like the artsy farsty wunderkinds they’ve always been. They’ve also been hammering at their seventh album for the past couple of years, teasing it with a single and a few live cuts here and there. This year, we’re thinking time’s finally up. –Michael Roffman

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bruce springsteenBruce Springsteen – TBA

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, aka our 2016 Band of the Year, had a marathon year without even issuing a new album. That’s because The Boss always knows how to keep busy, and the last 365 days were no exception: In that time, he published a best-selling autobiography, kept things political with various campaign appearances, and performed a number of record-breaking concerts in support of his recent reissue, The Ties That Bind: The River Collection. Now all that’s left for him is a new record, which he previously described as being “more of a solo project.” Not much is known about the still-untitled album, but the LP will be Springsteen’s first full-length studio album with new content since 2012’s Wrecking Ball (considering that 2014’s High Hopes was made up of reworked material and old, deep cuts). Though, if Springsteen aims to continue the unabashedly political narrative threads of Wrecking Ball, he’s probably rewriting most of the material in the wake of this recent disturbing election. To paraphrase the Jersey prince himself, these aren’t better days. –Michael Roffman

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ryan adams prisoner vinyl barnes noble exclusive The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Release Date: February 17th via PAX AM

Why We’re Excited: Ryan Adams is as prolific as any singer-songwriter of his generation, about to release his 16th studio album of the new millennium. And we’re not anywhere near sick of him yet. That’s not meant to be a smart-ass comment. It’s a testament to Adams’ sincerity and the trust that he’s earned among fans that we tune in each time out, whether it be for a record safely in his wheelhouse or one of his many musical trips down the rabbit hole. We’ve learned that a free-range Adams may leave us scratching our heads sometimes, but it’s that same fickleness that always has him on the cusp of a potentially great harvest. After hearing the first two post-breakup singles from Prisoner — one sounding downhome and the other down in the basement – it’s anyone’s guess what the rest of the album might sound like. But nobody should be surprised if Adams once again spins heartbreak into gold. –Matt Melis

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Taylor Swift // Photo by Philip Cosores

Taylor Swift

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Don’t we have every reason to be? Not only is it the follow-up to 2014’s 1989, aka the album that never stopped giving, but it’s also coming in the wake of some major controversies in Swifty’s career. The not-so-pleasant breakup with Calvin Harris? The feud with Kim Kardashian over “Famous”? The whole voting issue? The dumb jury duty thing? John Mayer’s latest dig? It goes on and on with her, and considering she’s not exactly the type of person to forget these “trivialities,” she’s bound to offer up her own two cents in song. Right now, she’s reportedly “exploring a new urban sound” with Drake in the studio, where she hopes to capture “a real mix of edgier hip-hop and R&B sounds.” While some critics may think that’s a “horrible fucking idea,” they’re also not seeing the bigger picture. Like Jacko before her, she’s going to have to tackle whatever’s the latest hot potato, and right now, those two genres are scorching. It’ll be a challenge for her to crossover, but let’s not forget how her fanbase quadrupled when she went from country to pop. Needless to say, she’s not out of the woods yet–Michael Roffman

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Image (1) Lorde_press.jpg for post 362969

Lorde

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: It’s been over three years since the New Zealand songstress dropped her triumphant debut, Pure Heroine. In the time since, she’s become besties with Taylor Swift, been the subject of a South Park conspiracy theory, and was recognized by the late David Bowie as “the future of music.” Suffice to say, there is more than a little pressure on the “Royals” singer to deliver with her sophomore effort. However, reading a Facebook post Lorde made shortly after her 20th birthday last month, it sounds like she’s ready to stun once again. In the meantime, we’ll just have to hit the tennis courts. –Zack Ruskin
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Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Here’s a fun fact for you: Each album that Vampire Weekend have released has wound up in the top five on CoS’ Top Albums of the Year lists. That’s a pretty impressive streak that would seemingly need to end at some point. LP4 certainly has some odds to overcome as well, as one of the group’s key members at defining their sound, Rostam Batmanglij, left the group to pursue his own endeavors. Little else is known about what awaits Vampy Weeks fans, as all its members aside from lead Ezra Koenig spent the last few years working on their own projects. Word has spread that it will be their major label debut, as Columbia Records is expected to be the album’s home. –Philip Cosores
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katy perry profile The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Katy Perry

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Looking back, it’s clear that Katy Perry takes her time between each release, though mostly because she wrings the most out of every album. She had four Platinum singles off 2008’s One of the Boys, nine off 2010’s record-breaking Teenage Dream, and five off 2013’s Prism. Couple those records with her jaw-dropping world tours and you have one busy, busy star. Still, she doesn’t like to rush things, and as she told Ryan Seacrest this past summer: “I’m just having a lot of fun, but experimenting and trying different producers, and different collaborators, and different styles.” Around that time, she dropped “Rise”, which served as the official theme of NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics. It’s not a great song, per se, but it’s perhaps indicative of the path she’s going down for album numero five — serious anthems with serious tones. Let’s just hope she still brings the party because, really, nobody throws a better party than Ms. Perry. –Michael Roffman

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tool The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Tool

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: This past year marked the 10th anniversary of Tool’s last album, 10,000 Days. To celebrate, the band toured alongside Primusheadlined a festival or two, and published a scathing newsletter against the naysayers who have complained about the new album that’s been teased time and time again. “This newsletter is about positive thinking versus negative thinking,” frontman Maynard James Keenan wrote. “It’s also about cleansing negative energy and boosting positive energy. When it comes to the subject of the new Tool album, even though those whose negative thoughts and actions (running from pessimistic to antagonistic) are in the small minority, their negative attitudes are having consequences that extend far beyond the next Tool record.” Ouch. Well, considering they reportedly have two albums’ worth of material ready and are headlining Governors Ball Festival this summer, maybe that means they’ll finally release some — oh, fuck it. Odds are we’ll keep writing this entry again and again and again and again and again–Michael Roffman

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haim.2013HAIM

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: HAIM are going to drop one whopper of a sophomore album. Since 2013’s Days Are Gone, the California sisters have collaborated with an eclectic rogues gallery of artists, ranging from dance (Calvin Harris, Major Lazer) to hip-hop (Kid Cudi, Pusha T) to pop (Lorde, M83) to rock (Tame Impala, Tobias Jesso Jr). What’s more, they’re close fwends with the biggest star in the world (see: Taylor Swift). So yeah, their highly anticipated follow-up has the potential of being a lush and brilliant collection of guest-heavy spectacles. Fortunately, that’s not what they’re doing, as Danielle Haim recently explained: “We needed just it be the three of us in the beginning. We just wanted to get back in the zone.” As such, the only outside influence on the album has been producer Ariel Rechtshaid and ex-Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij. Based on the two tracks they teased this summer — “Nothing’s Wrong”, “Give Me Just a Little of Your Love” — we’re inclined to believe Este when she says, “You don’t even know what’s coming for you. I’m warning you. You. Don’t. Even. Know.” We’ll see this summer. We’ll see. –Michael Roffman

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arcade fire The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017

Arcade Fire

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Last time Arcade Fire released a new album, the Reflektor rollout tested the patience of fans and critics with its elaborate nature (perhaps feeding into an age of surprise releases). This might mean we get something a little more traditional from the Canadian troupe when it comes time for them to offer up LP5. The group returned to touring with a handful of festival headline appearances in 2016 and have already announced high-profile gigs at Primavera and Rock Werchter, but none of these shows have yet to leak out much news in terms of the next album. Word is that the band recorded this year in Paris and have plans for a spring release, but that could all get pushed back if the album is not yet completed. At least we know to expect Arcade Fire to be in the spotlight in 2017 and that new songs are on their way in some capacity. –Philip Cosores

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43-Sky-FerreiraSky Ferreira – Masochism

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: The journey to Sky Ferreira’s sophomore album, Masochism, has been both wonderful and strange — and it’s far from over. This time last year, we were talking about how her second effort would be “radically different from her underrated 2013 debut, Night Time, My Time,” and how she’s been “working with Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie and Andrew Innes, hinting at a Charli XCX collaboration, and seen in the studio with familiar producers Ariel Rechsthaid and Justin Raid in addition to new faces like Rahki and Mike Dean.” That all still may be true — at this point, who knows what she’s kept and she’s scrapped — but that mystery has only been exacerbated by her recent self-produced Playboy cover (a first for the magazine) and her undisclosed stint on David Lynch’s forthcoming reboot of Twin Peaks (she also played his festival). In other words, nothing’s changed, yet everything’s changed. –Michael Roffman
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gorillaz 2d book1 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Gorillaz

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited:  Sure, they might be a bunch of cartoon characters, but there’s always been something a little darker-than-meets-the-eye going on with Gorillaz — they are pockmarked and weathered, garish, rough around the edges, the residents of Banksy’s Dismaland as counterpoint to Mickey, Donald, and pals. Based on the reported guest list for their upcoming album, things just might get a little more dystopic. There’s the now-equally cartoony Snoop Dogg and the always amazing De La Soul, but also the angular, moody trip-hop of Massive Attack and Vic Mensa, who has spent the last year speaking out aggressively against police brutality. But that’s the magic of Gorillaz: Despite their cartoon visages and the massive swirl of genre shards ranging from alt-rock to pop, hip-hop to new wave, they never lack for subtlety or depth. Heck, they even spent some time “On Melancholy Hill”, a rather nuanced emotion expertly conveyed by some digital apes. Speaking of which, that song and video might be a good signpost for those ready to dig back into their catalog in preparation of their now-delayed new material — we’re all just the little jellyfish getting sucked up in an engine in the song’s video, shredded and pulped in anticipation of the return of 2D, Murdoc, Russel, and Noodle. –Lior Phillips

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up lcd soundsystem e1354894016332 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017LCD Soundsystem

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited:  Now, don’t get twisted up when I use the word arousal when related to the return of LCD Soundsystem. It isn’t necessarily sexual, per se, but all the physical signs are there: thumping heart, eyes widening, hormones pumping, butterflies in the stomach. The completely unbelievable has happened, though, and James Murphy and co. are back, and I’m certainly not the only one feeling all tingly at the thought. I was able to catch them multiple times on their reunion tour, and the feelings were mutual — Murphy seemed thrilled to be among old friends, playing the hits, and creating a spirited dance party at every stop. And if things were this much fun dragging out the old stuff, just imagine what vibrant new material they might have up their sleeve for the next album. Things must be going pretty well in the recording process, as Murphy decided to cancel a swath of Asian and Australian tour dates in order to wrap things up. The butterflies in the stomach are so powerful they’re starting to feel more like eagles! –Lior Phillips
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roger waters music heals The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Roger Waters – TBA

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited:  While David Gilmour and Nick Mason may have officially called it quits as Pink Floyd in August 2015, ex-bandmate Roger Waters has shown no signs of slowing down and becoming just another brick in the wall. Let’s run down the former Floyd frontman’s 2016: He received a Grammy nomination for Best Music Film for his Wall documentary; performed a free concert for 200,000 in Mexico City; turned his Desert Trip set into an all-out assault on Donald Trump; announced a 40-date 2017 North American Tour; and has confirmed he’s currently working on a solo album with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. So, what might we expect from Waters’ first rock album since 1992’s Amused to Death? According to Waters, it’ll be “part magic carpet ride, part political rant, and part anguish.” However, the true anguish may be what Pink Floyd fans feel if this record doesn’t actually drop in 2017. –Matt Melis
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screen shot 2016 12 22 at 4 58 49 pm The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017St. Vincent

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: There are very few artists whose career trajectory has been more exciting and rewarding than Annie Clark’s awe-inspiring run. Next year marks the 10th anniversary of her debut, Marry Me, and since then, she’s delivered nothing but one masterpiece after another. (Hell, she even managed to out-do David Byrne on their 2012 collaboration, Love This Giant.) Now, she’s back with another, and, according to her, it’s primed to be her best. “I’ve been able to step back and reflect and not just be in the tour, record, tour, record cycle that I’ve been in for about 10 years,” Clark explained to Guitar World. “I think it’ll be the deepest, boldest work I’ve ever done. I feel the playing field is really open for creative people to do whatever you want, and that risk will be rewarded—especially now that we have such high stakes from a political and geo-political standpoint. The personal is political, and therefore the political can’t help but influence the art. And only music that has something pretty real to say is gonna cut the mustard.” Rest assured, we’re losing sleep over this one; it can’t come soon enough. –Michael Roffman

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