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The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016

on December 28, 2015, 12:00am

pusha t1 The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016Pusha T – King Push

Release Date: June 30th via Def Jam Records

Why We’re Excited: As an intoxicated Kanye West once said, “Everything is a Pusha T.” While that may have been a funny statement in the moment, it feels prophetic for the year Pusha T is about to have. Last month, G.O.O.D. Music announced that Pusha T would be taking over as president. This also came with the revelation that his previously announced album, King Push, would be delayed until 2016. In the meantime, he decided to release Darkest Before the Dawn: The Prelude. If that record was the opening act, King Push promises to be one of the biggest rap albums of the year. DBTD showed just how mean Pusha T can be with the right slick beats. He’s been rapping about selling cocaine since his Clipse days, yet he still makes it feel fresh. With his current presidential position, it’s safe to say that he’s not going to stop grinding for the top of the heap. If everything wasn’t a Pusha T already, it’s sure as hell going to be. –Dusty Henry

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ANOHNIAnohni – Hopelessness

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited:  ANOHNI’s previous work with Antony and the Johnsons was marked by an icy quiet. With her first single from Hopelessness, “4 Degrees”, she immediately shakes off that old cast. The song marries big band brass with complex, rolling drumbeats, elevating her singularly recognizable voice to a level of urgency and desperation we’ve yet to hear from her. “4 Degrees” scans as a climate change protest song, but one that positions its singer as ultimately responsible for the devastation of the planet. If Hopelessness is a political record, it sounds like it’ll parse this century’s political quandaries with the same intimacy and empathy that ANOHNI’s songwriting has always carried. Sometimes there’s more comfort in being joined in your hopelessness than in being shaken out of it. –Sasha Geffen

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band of horsesBand of Horses – TBA

Release Date: TBA 

Why We’re Excited: Band of Horses have, in recent years, seemed like one of those groups whose career is regressing instead of moving forward: they followed up the lush, rewarding, and fully conceived works that were Funeral (2006) and Cease to Begin (2007) with the clunkers Infinite Arms (2010) and Mirage Rock (2012). The je ne sais quoi (which could very well be attributed to Ben Bridwell’s high-pitched croon or those happy guitars that could be both gentle and loud) that made Band of Horses distinguishable from the rest of the late-aughts indie rock ilk seemed to have dissipated into thin air, leaving behind a residue that just wasn’t going to cut it for all but the most dedicated fans.

So, the question is: dare we hope for a return to the Cease to Begin heyday with this new album, slated to be released sometime in the spring of 2016? Bridwell has said that sonically, it shares more in common with Infinite Arms, but we can choose to be optimistic, right? It’s being produced by Jason Lytle of the band Grandaddy, known for their big-scale cinematic tendencies, so maybe the joy inherent in the group’s earliest work will come rushing back to fill our ears with the unique brand of euphoria that only a crescendoing Band of Horses tune can bring. –Katherine Flynn

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beyonce naughty boy runnin lose it all The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016Beyoncé – TBA

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited:  Almost exactly two years ago, Beyoncé unleashed a landmark pop record she had been working on in secret. Beyoncé was her best, boldest, and least single-indebted album yet, and by releasing it in mid-December without a hint of advance warning, she went out of her way to prove she didn’t need any aid from advance promotion or year-end accolades to re-sign her lease on pop’s throne, uncontested. So now that that’s settled, what comes next? Aside from the occasional hint of a possible collaboration in the works — including ones involving Future and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony — we have very little to go on. We should expect nothing more from a Beyoncé album cycle at this point, and given how it played out last time around, we should prefer it that way. –Steven Arroyo

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james blake mix bbc The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016James Blake – Radio Silence

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Over a year ago, a rumor started floating around that both Kanye West and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon would appear on James Blake’s next studio album, Radio Silence. The UK crooner finally cut to the chase this July in an interview with Esquire: “If it doesn’t end up on the album, you know it hasn’t worked.” Let that sink in. If Vernon and West’s samples drag down an album, well, the songwriting on said album must be pretty dang solid. Live renditions of the title track suggest it’s full of moody piano, thick dub, and nightmarish vocals that linger (as usual). Until a studio version pops up, we’ll keep spinning his cover of “The Sound of Silence”, an obvious album teaser by title alone. –Nina Corcoran

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01-Blink-182-2Blink-182 – TBA

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: The biggest story of Blink-182’s recent history was the messy, bizarre split between Tom Delonge and Travis Barker/Mark Hoppus, who have since recruited Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba to take over vocal and guitar duties. The new incarnation of the band took the stage for the first time last March, and Skiba proved a solid addition to the crew. Apparently, the new trio liked hanging out with each other enough to pursue a new record, with Barker recently telling NME that they have five songs, including one called “Punk Rock Cliché”, in the books. (After completing their last LP, 2011’s Neighborhoods, the band left Interscope, but have not since announced any signing.) While we know that Skiba can hold his own while performing Blink-182 classics, it’ll be interesting to hear what he brings to the table in terms of the sound he’s been known for with Alkaline Trio, and whether this will be a worthy new chapter for the pop-punk forefathers. –Killian Young

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blood orange dev hynes The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016Blood Orange – TBA

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Issues like inequality, race, sex, and poverty are inexorably linked, but the mainstream citizen seems to only have just recognized this potent connection. Part of this awakening is due to artists like Dev Hynes, who is a man with the ability to deliver a spoonful of synthpop sugar to help the social awareness medicine go down. The Essex-born extraordinaire used Blood Orange’s 2013 release — Cupid Deluxe — to give a voice to the downtrodden and marginalized in many communities without being pedantic or preachy.

Unfortunately, the years since that record dropped have birthed a renewed sense of concern and confusion, especially in the realm of widespread police brutality. Fans should expect a passionate response from Hynes, who has already released a mourning track, “Sandra’s Smile”, in honor of Sandra Bland, who was killed in police custody after a frivolous and patently racist traffic stop in Texas. Other demoed tracks, such as the understated “Delancey”, have found Hynes experimenting with strings and cellos to great effect, leading many to look forward to this record’s release, not just for its social impact but its sheer beauty as well. –Dan Pfleegor

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boniver.new_.3-581x391Bon Iver – TBA

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: While it’s hard to argue with the vision and seamless execution that Justin Vernon brought to his previous two releases (plus an EP) as Bon Iver, what really makes those works so precious is their rarity. The self-released For Emma, Forever Ago came out almost nine years ago, and its deceptive instrumental simplicity coupled with intense emotional depth, followed by the album’s considerable impact, was a game-changer for the genre. Vernon’s next release, Bon Iver, pushed his sonic limits even further, making us all reconsider everything we previously knew about folk music, Auto-Tune, and bearded dudes in flannel.

In more recent years, Vernon has stayed busy with side projects, the occasional casual Kanye West collaboration and now the annual Eaux Claires summer music festival in his hometown of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. While he has announced a string of tour dates for 2016 and debuted two new songs (neither of which currently seem to have titles) this past summer, he’s been reticent about announcing any plans for a new full-length. As a public persona, Vernon is characteristically low-key and mysterious. Will he pull a Beyoncé and drop a fully formed album into the iTunes store, unannounced, on some blessed early morning in 2016? Only time will tell. –Katherine Flynn

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Chromatics - 2015Chromatics – Dear Tommy

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: When Chromatics said earlier this year that Dear Tommy would be out in time for Valentine’s Day, they never specified which year. Nevertheless, they’ve been tiding fans over. Singles like “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around” and “Shadow” have shown consistency in quality and growth in style for the band. 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 inticing. If there’s any band bold enough to pull it off, it’s Chromatics. –Dusty Henry

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screen shot 2014 10 08 at 7 57 33 am The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016Crystal Castles – TBA

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Despite the dramatic 2014 exit of vocalist Alice Glass, Crystal Castles is not dead! Bred amidst darkness and electronic distortion in Toronto’s eclectic music culture, the 2016 Crystal Castles’ aesthetic holds tight to the original incarnation. Ethan Kath was quick to recruit another female vocalist — the enigmatically named Edith. Like the true identity of Kath’s new co-conspirator, the upcoming album’s title remains a mystery. However, Edith’s haunting ambiance has been showcased on both “Frail” and “Deicide”, each satiating the spirits who burn up a post-industrial dance floor. –Derek Staples

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