Whatever else could be said about 2016, it was a year with plenty of great music. While we probably won’t see the stars align again with new Beyoncé, Kanye West, Radiohead, and Frank Ocean albums in 2017, there’s still no shortage of promising releases on the horizon. Here are 32 prospective albums that give us reason to hope this year could be even better (if only musically) than the last, listed in alphabetical order by artist and including album titles, artwork, release dates, and new music where available. Of course, as with everything in the music biz nowadays, all info could change at any moment, so stay tuned to our news section for the latest.
Prisoner was inspired by Ryan Adams’ divorce from singer and actress Mandy Moore—but, based on the riff-rocking first single “Do You Still Love Me?” a wonderfully goofy recent interview with Lil Bub, and some live previews of new tracks, the 12-song record does not look to be a complete cryfest.
During a Reddit AMA over the summer, when asked about the release date of Arcade Fire’s fifth album, band member Will Butler responded: “Probly next spring? No definite schedule though. It’ll be done when it’s done.” Since then, the Montreal-based group has played new material at a secret show and announced a round of summer festival dates starting in June, so it looks like Butler’s prediction could very well hold up.
Last month, the reunited rock band announced plans for a follow-up to 2000’s beloved Relationship of Command and shared their first new song in 16 years, “Governed by Contagions.” The band’s Omar Rodríguez-López is producing the new LP, and they’re also set to play some shows in March.
A couple of release dates have already passed by for Beck’s follow-up to 2014’s Morning Phase, a low-key record that catapulted him to an Album of the Year Grammy, memorably drawing the ire of a certain Kanye West. But given the music he’s released since—including “Dreams,” “Wow,” and “Up All Night”—it looks like the ever-changing artist is switching things up again and going into metapop party mode. The new record was reportedly produced by Greg Kurstin, who’s worked with Sia and Tegan and Sara, to name a few, and also includes songs titled “No Distraction” and “Dear Life.” In the meantime, Beck also contributed to Lady Gaga’s Joanne, co-writing the masturbation ode “Dancin’ in Circles.”
Bing & Ruth
No Home of the Mind
It’s easy to connect Bing & Ruth’s music to minimalist forebears like Terry Riley and Steve Reich, but there’s no resisting the almost devotional quality in their mesmerizing drifts of piano, woodwind, upright bass, and tape delay. The shape-shifting New York collective led by composer and pianist David Moore makes its 4AD debut with No Home of the Mind, led by the dream-like video for gorgeous opener “Starwood Choker.”
Chromatics’ brand of artsy ’80s nostalgia has only gotten more intriguing since they first stepped out of the fog in the 2000s. And, as bandleader Johnny Jewel told us almost two years ago, the group’s forthcoming album Dear Tommy could be their last. It’s been a long time coming. The follow-up to 2012’s Kill for Love was originally teased for a February 2015 release date. The tracklist, first announced in December 2014, was still officially the same as of last September. So far, Chromatics have shared the title track, “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around,” “Just Like You,” “In Films,” and “Shadow.” “Cherry” and “Camera,” originally from 2013’s After Dark 2 comp, were also on the tracklist.
Following a move to Los Angeles, the winsomely goofy singer-songwriter hit a snag while recording his new album earlier this year. “I just had penis enlargement surgery so my balance is all out of whack and I can’t play my drums properly right now,” he explained. “But soon enough I’ll get used to this new piece.” Apparently the adjustment period was short, as DeMarco recently finished mixing his proper follow-up to 2014’s Salad Days, according to a bottle-popping recent Instagram post.
Late last year, Dirty Projectors shared some snippets of new music, along with the new track “Keep Your Name.” The glitchy ballad seems to herald another reinvention for Dave Longstreth’s ever-morphing project. The upcoming record will be their follow-up to 2012’s Swing Lo Magellan as well as the first Dirty Projectors release since guitarist/singer Amber Coffman, who wasn’t credited on “Keep Your Name,” announced plans for her own solo album, City of No Reply.
As of late, Drake has been recovering from an ankle injury and celebrating one of the most commercially successful albums of 2016, VIEWS. Originally penciled in for December, More Life—which, according to Drake, isn’t a mixtape or album so much as a playlist—may include the 21 Savage collaboration “Sneakin’” as well as “Two Birds, One Stone” and “Fake Love.” And, perhaps, a Taylor Swift collaboration?
“I refuse to put out something that isn’t honest,” Sky Ferreira said a year ago regarding new music. At that point, a song and short film she’d teased for summer 2015 had already been delayed over health issues and scheduling conflicts. She later said her next album, Masochism, would arrive in summer 2016. It didn’t. But, as we all know, honesty takes time. She has called her recent Playboy cover appearance, which she produced and directed, the first visual introduction for the album.
Fleet Foxes have shared plenty of hints about their next project. Frontman Robin Pecknold has also revealed he’s working on a solo album. In November, when asked about their new record, the band replied, “Alllllmost done.” They have plans to tour. Last month, Pecknold indicated the LP will have 11 tracks, be “55ish minutes” long, and include what a fan called “folk-soul songs.” We can alllllmost hear it now.
Girlpool’s Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker “are symbols of the rawness and honesty that our entire society lacks,” Willow Smith recently told The Fader. She’s not wrong. The Philadelphia-based duo’s debut album, 2015’s Before the World Was Big, had a minimalism rarely heard in indie-pop since a fellow guitars-and-vocals duo, the Softies, moved onto other projects in 2000. The follow-up is reportedly keeping things streamlined at 12 songs in just 28 minutes and was recorded in Los Angeles.
It has been more than two years since Alice Glass broke away from Crystal Castles, her duo with Ethan Kath, for “reasons both professional and personal.” Glass’ Twitter account has been essential reading ever since, but her only solo material so far has been 2015’s thrilling “Stillbirth,” a thunderous electro-punk statement of autonomy. In April, she said she was hoping to complete an album in 2016. “It’s incredibly personal,” she noted, adding that she has worked with multiple collaborators.
Last June, Kanye West released the posse cut “Champions” and said it was the first song from the long-speculated sequel to 2012’s Cruel Summer compilation. In September, crew member Travis Scott said he was executive producing the forthcoming group effort. But, given Kanye’s recent tour cancellations and health issues—not to mention his support of Donald Trump, defying many of his fans and peers (including G.O.O.D. Music president Pusha T, who vocally backed Hillary Clinton)—it’s especially difficult to say what will happen in West’s world in 2017.
Gorillaz sure are acting like a (virtual) band that’s about to release a follow-up to 2010’s Plastic Beach. They’ve recently been doing absurdist interviews, sharing a series of multimedia narratives, and, why not, joining Instagram. Past collaborators De La Soul and Snoop Dogg have reportedly recorded parts for the new record. And co-founders Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn turned up in the studio together this spring, with Albarn confirming in July the next album “should be ready fairly soon.”
In October, Grizzly Bear tweeted that their fifth album was “90 percent done.” The band had started recording in June. In 2015, band member Ed Droste explained that Grizzly Bear were “feeling more adventurous with the sonic directions,” though their new LP would not be “a techno dance album.”
In July, Haim canceled their European tour dates because they were “at a critical point of finishing up” recording the follow-up to 2013’s Days Are Gone. Earlier in the year, they said they had written more than 12 new songs, which they hoped to release by the fall. That didn’t happen, but Haim did debut two ingratiating tunes, “Nothing’s Wrong” and “Give Me Just a Little of Your Love,” on their U.S. tour last spring. Before that, the trio had been hunkered down in Days Are Gone producer Ariel Rechtshaid’s studio; they also recorded some songs with the producer, Hamilton Leithauser collaborator, and former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij.
Near to the Wild Heart of Life
The Canadian band’s new LP was recorded mainly in Vancouver with longtime producer Jesse Gander. In a recent Pitchfork interview, the band talked about expanding their spartan sound to include synths and drum loops. “In some ways, we’re approaching this like it’s our very first record,” singer/guitarist Brian King said. “We’re removing all the self-imposed rules that led to the songs and the sound of our whole career up until now. When you do that, you can try anything.”
Kelela staked out a place as one of forward-thinking R&B’s leading voices with 2013’s Cut 4 Me mixtape. On 2015’s Hallucinogen EP, she only got better. Oh, and have you heard “Scales,” her gorgeously languid duet with Solange, from A Seat at the Table? Early last year, Kelela said she had said been working on her debut album with producers Arca, Jam City, and Bok Bok. Back then, the as-yet-untitled LP was set for a May 2016 release date—which makes us think it could come out any moment now.
A man of many monikers, the London artist born Archy Marshall has been a talent to watch since we only knew him as an audaciously-coiffed teen called Zoo Kid. His late-2015 project under his own name, A New Place 2 Drown, was stunning, and he has said the next King Krule album will be “similar” to his brilliant 2013 debut, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon; if Marshall can apply the gorgeously textured production of A New Place to his song-oriented work as King Krule, the results will be something to behold. He performed an unreleased song in October and reputedly said his next album was on the way.
The reunited LCD Soundsystem hit the road last year, and James Murphy revealed they were working on a new record, too. In February, news emerged that LCD Soundsystem had signed to Columbia, and the original goal was to release the album in 2016. A music festival curated by the band was recently canceled, but LCD have already announced their first show of 2017.
LIV is a new group with Lykke Li and Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt sharing vocals. Rounding out the lineup are Li’s longtime collaborator Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John, Wyatt’s Miike Snow bandmate Pontus Winnberg, and producer Jeff Bhasker. They have more than an album’s worth of songs, but as of early October they weren’t necessarily dead-set on releasing a traditional album. Describing their sound, Li told us, “It has this Swedish melancholy in the melodies, but the soundscape was really influenced by Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk or Crosby Stills & Nash.” So far, they’ve shared the songs “Dream Awake” and “Wings of Love.”
Lorde’s Ella Yelich-O’Connor has faced questions about the follow-up to her monumental debut album, 2013’s Pure Heroine, since… well, 2013. This past November, on her 20th birthday, the New Zealand singer-songwriter shared the first real insight into her sophomore effort, explaining that it will be about the time after “our teenage glory” and adding that “the big day is not tomorrow, or even next month realistically, but soon.” Between albums, she co-wrote Broods’ “Heartlines,” sang on a Disclosure track, curated the Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 soundtrack (including her first post-Pure Heroine song, the Golden Globe-nominated “Yellow Flicker Beat”), paid awards-show tribute to Nirvana and David Bowie, and appeared alongside both Kanye West and Taylor Swift. Pure Heroine producer Joel Little has indicated he’s working on the new record, and O’Connor keeps doing things with Jack Antonoff. Which brings us to the question: What had you accomplished by the time you turned 20?
In May, Real Estate replaced founding guitarist Matt Mondanile, aka Ducktails, with Julian Lynch, who should bring a promising new element to the band’s upcoming material. Then the New Jersey band’s remodeled lineup hit the road, where they performed a new song called “Harpsichord,” and teased footage from the studio. They apparently mastered the follow-up to 2014’s Atlas in late October, and have said the album is “tentatively slated for early 2017.”
Long a scene-stealer for others—from SBTRKT, Jessie Ware, and Drake early on to Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and Solange more recently—Sampha has kept fans waiting for a proper solo follow-up to 2013’s Dual EP. Finally, the London artist’s debut album, Process, is due out next month, with a 10-song tracklist that includes the devastating singles “Timmy’s Prayer” and “Blood on Me.”
The garage rock lynchpin has kept us following along across a discography that’s inevitably described as “prolific.” Segall’s follow-up to this year’s Emotional Mugger is actually his second self-titled album, following his 2008 debut. The restless artist will be touring this year, and he has already shared the gleaming psych-folk strummer “Orange Color Queen” as well.
St. Vincent’s Annie Clark has been busy since her self-titled 2014 record: She scored a new Kristen Stewart short film, signed on to write and direct for the horror anthology XX, and recently covered the Rolling Stones—with Kendrick Lamar associates Sounwave and Terrace Martin producing—for the film A Bigger Splash. In June, she performed a new original song‚ while dressed as a toilet. And in a recent interview, Clark said her as-yet-untitled new album will be a “real sea change” sonically, adding, “I think it’ll be the deepest, boldest work I’ve ever done.” Coming from an artist who has established herself as nearly unrivaled in her zone as an adventurously shredding art-rock storyteller, it’s an exciting prospect.
Earl Sweatshirt was none too pleased with his label Columbia’s rollout for his 2015 album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, which was announced only a week ahead of its release. He wasted no time unveiling new material, offering up a 10-minute project called Solace the following month, and performing unreleased songs live on multiple occasions. He has shared a host of new songs since, including “Pelicula,” “Wind in My Sails,” “bary,” “SKRT SKRT,” “Quest/Power,” and “silenceDArapgame,” plus the Knxwledge collaboration “Balance.” He also lent verses to 2016 records by Danny Brown and Samiyam, making it clear he’s still one of the sharpest MCs out.
Vampire Weekend are at a turning point. Musical mastermind Rostam Batmanglij left the band last January (though he didn’t rule out taking part in future Vampire Weekend songs). Frontman Ezra Koenig confirmed at the time that the group was at work on its fourth album: “There will be a lot of familiar faces in the studio but also some fresh, new ones.” Asked recently about collaborating with Vampire Weekend again, Rostam demurred, saying, “I want some surprises for 2017.” Meanwhile, VW drummer Chris Tomson recently announced his debut solo album as Dams of the West, Rostam has been busy collaborating with everyone from Hamilton Leithauser to Frank Ocean, and Koenig has been hosting his Beats 1 show and, oh yeah, just co-writing Beyoncé’s “Hold Up.” There are also unconfirmed rumors that Vampire Weekend might move from longtime label home XL to Columbia for the new record.
Recently, the Philly band led by Adam Granduciel has been posting on Instagram from the studio, leading us to believe that their follow-up to 2014’s Lost in the Dream is on its way. The social media shots also suggest Granduciel has been watching old episodes of “Seinfeld”—fans hoping for a War on Drugs concept album about puffy shirts, 2017 could be your year.
In 2016, Wolf Parade reunited after an extended hiatus, touring and releasing an EP of their first new material in six years. Both the EP and the live shows had a sense of (re)discovery about them that could bode well for a full-length. The indie-rock supergroup of sorts has too many affiliated bands to name here, and indeed, members Spencer Krug, Dan Boeckner, and Dante DeCaro all also issued music from other projects last year. But in early December, Boeckner’s Twitter account showed the band in the studio for a new album.
I See You
Producer Jamie xx’s 2015 solo album, In Colour, was vibrant proof that he could do much more than the familiar quietude of his main band. “On Hold,” the first single from the xx’s forthcoming third album, finds the band folding in some of those same brighter textures, along with an audacious Hall and Oates sample. The trio also debuted another new song, “I Dare You,” on “Saturday Night Live,” played two more, “Brave for You” and “Performance,” in their recent tour opener, and just released another album cut, “Say Something Loving.” The xx also talked about the new record extensively in our cover story from last week.