most anticipated albums of 2018

featured image courtesy of minimally minimal –

as 2017 draws to a close, we naturally shift our focus to 2018 and the bevy of albums slated to be released throughout the year.  admittedly, the following list largely focuses on albums due out in the first quarter, with a couple of pipe dreams sprinkled in.  for those still trying to soak up as much of 2017 as possible, check out our favorite releases of the year here.  for those looking to forge ahead, read on.  links to pre-order are embedded if available.

rhyerhye – blood (february 2nd || loma vista)

three strong singles have thus far precluded rhye’s long-awaited sophomore full-length.  after returning this summer with “please,” rhye closed out 2017 with the supple one-two punch of “taste” and “count to five.”  if the samplings and album art are any indication, mike milosh’s work remains as intimate and sensual as ever.

 

Hovvdy Cranberryhovvdy – cranberry (february 9th || double double whammy)

austin duo hovvdy released one of 2016’s most enduring – and endearing – albums in taster.  cranberry, their first since signing to the venerable double double whammy, seems poised to flesh out the warm, lived-in aura that permeates their disarmingly honest work.  case in point: lead single “petal” drips with nostalgia, its assured pace gently giving way to tender falsetto.

 

quiet friendquiet friend – quiet friend (march 9th || elestial sound)

after years of releasing music by himself under the moniker mister lies, nick zanca has shifted into collaborative mode to build quiet friend with steven rogers.  the duo, along with a rotating cast of other contributors, sculpt an audiophile’s dreamscape; lead single “safe” is a whirlwind, but is also just a hint of what quiet friend have in store throughout their self-titled debut.

– other notable releases – 

a grave with no name – passover (january 19th || forged artifacts)

nadine – oh my (january 26th || father/daughter)

triathalon – online (february 16th || broken circles)

s. carey – hundred acres (february 23rd || jagjaguwar)

lucy dacus – historian (march 2nd || matador)

half waif – lavender (tbd || cascine)

helena deland – tba (tbd || luminelle)

ness nite – dream girl (tbd || pow recordings)

pat moon – tba (tbd || track & field)

yours are the only ears – tba (tbd || team love)

 

most anticipated albums of fall 2016

– featured image courtesy of minimally minimal –

the home stretch of each year always provides a plethora of new albums vying for contention in year-end best-of reviews.  invariably, at least one heavy-hitter holds onto a project until the quarter is almost over before unleashing it and messing with the internet’s ballots by proxy (here’s looking at you, the weeknd and lorde).  the full list for this fall is exhausting; google searches and metacritic are good tools to keep yourself in the know, but we’ve also compiled a handful of albums we’re especially itching to dig into.  read on for more detailed explanations.

mick-jenkins-the-healing-componentmick jenkins – the healing component
september 23rd (free nation)

after years of building anticipation, mick jenkins will finally release his long-awaited debut album, the healing component, tomorrow.  if early looks like “spread love,” “drowning,” and “fall through” are indicatives of the album’s tenor, then the healing component should more than clear the high bar jenkins has imposed on himself.

jenny-hval-blood-bitchjenny hval – blood bitch
september 30th (sacred bones)

only a little more than a year has passed since jenny hval released her excellent apocalypse, girl, but the norwegian composer and songwriter has already completed a follow-up album, blood bitch.  hval’s new effort is billed as an about-face from its predecessor and has been bolstered by the strengths of lead single “female vampire” and “period piece,” a standout component of this year’s adult swim singles series.

unnamed-1moses sumney – lamentations
september 30th (self-released)

moses sumney’s live performances are a wonder to behold, and his recorded music is nearly emotive.  after thriving off of a handful of singles and his debut ep, mid-city island, sumney will self-release his latest extended play at the end of this month, but be on the lookout for his much-anticipated debut album sometime soon after.

takuya-kuroda-zigzaggertakuya kuroda – zigzagger
october 7th (concord records)

those not familiar with japanese bandleader and trumpeter takuya kuroda would do well to pick up his 2014 album, rising son, a perfect union of jazz, hip-hop, and r&b.  kuroda and his band continue to hone that aesthetic on zigzagger, his fifth studio album and first for concord records.  for a primer, start with the album’s lead-off single, “r.s.b.d.”

ricky eat acid talk to you soon.pngricky eat acid – talk to you soon
october 28th (terrible records)

sam ray will return to his ricky eat acid moniker at the end of next month to release the project’s first full-length in over two years.  2014’s three love songs is a timeless masterpiece, and ray’s divergence from its ambient magnetic pull on subsequent singles, mixtapes, and eps suggest that talk to you soon may be broader in scope and ambition, but almost certainly as uniquely emotive as its predecessor.

– other notable releases –

bon iver – 22, a million (september 30th)
danny brown – atrocity exhibition (september 30th)
s u r v i v e – rr7349 (september 30th)
ahem – just wanna be (october 7th)
jagwar ma – every now & then (october 14th)
american football – american football (october 21st)
the radio dept. – running out of love (october 21st)
forth wanderers – slop (november 11th)
the weeknd – starboy (november 25th)
childish gambino – pharos (tba)
chromatics – dear tommy (tba)
vancouver sleep clinic – tba (tba)

 

 

thermostat check – dimestore saints

therm check fog lakewelcome back to thermostat check, the recurring feature that’s helped us take the temperature of the year in music so far; if you haven’t read our guests’ contributions yet, please take the time to do so.  after polling a handful of our most-trusted peers, we decided to offer up our picks as well.  the same structure applies: links to album streams are embedded in their titles, and a brief sample is provided at the end of each paragraph.  dig in.

the caliber and quantity of music released in the first half of 2016 has been staggering.  major artists have largely eschewed the traditional album-release protocol, instead opting to use platforms like hbo specials, fashion shows, and streaming services other than spotify to launch their music.  beyoncé, kanye west, chance the rapper, rihanna, kendrick lamar, radiohead, and james blake are all such obvious year-end contenders that it feels beyond redundant to dedicate this space to them, especially after some have already been covered in this series.

album-length projects have long been my preferred barometer to truly test an artist’s potency, so all five slots are dedicated to the format.  and to be completely honest, this list is not binding in any sort of way; it’s just what i feel most passionately about at the time of writing.  before beginning, i’d like to rattle off another laundry list of artists: explosions in the sky, alexei shishkin, kaytranada, william tyler, maria usbeck, weaves, told slant, pity sex, chairlift, mitski, daughter, yg, florist, mutual benefit, whitney, lucy dacus, margaret glaspy, pillar point.  all have released stellar efforts that deserve to be lived in.  now, without further ado, here are five others that have resonated particularly deeply with me in 2016.

beaconbeacon – escapements

ghostly international is a quintessential purveyor of mood music, but sometimes that mood is ambiguous.  tycho feels synonymous with sunrises, but also lends itself well to summer drives through the mountains.  com truise recalls a metropolis at night, yet his prolific remixing also renders him thrillingly volatile.  beacon, on the other hand, harbors an exclusively nocturnal mood.  escapements has spent many a night on my turntable, regardless of season, and the result is always the same: soothing, aqueous textures that percolate through every fiber of my being.

singing saw album coverkevin morby – singing saw

kevin morby’s rustic sensibilities are right at home with the rest of his dead oceans/secretly canadian/jagjaguwar cohorts.  his third solo album still finds morby sonically indebted to bob dylan (singing saw also happened to arrive pretty damn near the fiftieth anniversary of blonde on blonde), but his brand of listlessness and wanderlust is firmly rooted in the twenty-first century.

morby runs the gamut, from searing commentary on eric garner’s death at the hands of a new york city police officer (“i have been to the mountain”) to an earnest ode to his beloved guitar on “dorothy.”  the titular saw also creeps up in passing on many songs, often maintaining some sort of mythical status, while its sonic presence was prominent enough for my dad to e-mail me and propose we try to make one of our own saws sing sometime.  this album gets extra points for spurring father-son bonding time.

if the new steve gunn and william tyler albums resonated with you this year, singing saw will as well.  it’s purposeful alt-country, with impeccable guitar work intertwined through rich full-band arrangements that lend themselves particularly well to breezy summer afternoons.

mothers album covermothers – when you walk a long distance you are tired

i try not to reduce art to ranking, but the debut album from mothers is probably my favorite of the year so far.  when you walk a long distance you are tired is a complex weave of emotions, be it from kristine leschper’s sparse confessionals or from the band’s seemingly endless layers of complex, multi-metered arrangements that unfurl over the album’s eight tracks.  most songs can trace their origins back to leschper’s use of the moniker as a solo outlet, but the final products feel less like beefed-up, straight-ahead full-band renditions and more like each member’s heartfelt interpretation of the song’s thesis superimposed on top of one another.  this album appropriately soundtracks the long walks i take down back country roads, and its ability to repeatedly help me recognize and come to terms with my imperfections and shortcomings is nothing but cathartic.

pinegrove cardinal coverpinegrove – cardinal 

cardinal has been floating around in the ether for as long or longer than any other album on this list, but i didn’t become smitten with it until relatively recently.  pinegrove’s earnestness initially captivated me upon the album’s release, though it was quickly swept under the rug by a succession of equally-earnest albums.  i didn’t revisit cardinal until i caught steven hyden’s interview with frontman evan stephens hall on hyden’s celebration rock podcast a couple of months later, and it’s been in heavy rotation ever since.

i don’t think cardinal is a revelatory album.  there’s a sense of urgency underneath its exterior that can certainly be discerned after spending a considerable amount of time with it, but pinegrove takes more cues from the unassuming demeanor of 1990s indie rock than they do from whatever wave of emo they are often lumped into as a point of reference.  cardinal‘s potency isn’t realized by the fifth, sixth, or even tenth listen; it could be two years until i fully feel its weight.  that’s the beauty of hall’s songwriting: he can eschew the trends of instant gratification and universal acclaim that feel so prevalent this year in favor of a slow-growing album with the potential to become timeless.

yumi zouma yoncalla coveryumi zouma – yoncalla

i’ve shamelessly used dimestore saints to gush about yumi zouma for so long that i feel like their debut full-length needs little context or justification for earning a spot on this list.  the new zealand quartet makes some of the finest pop music in recent years, and yoncalla is further proof that they can accomplish this feat for an extended period of time.  if you need any more convincing, feel free to revisit our review, but it’s probably best to just click the streaming link above and dive right in.

this all but concludes our mid-year assessment of music, though any outstanding drafts will certainly be published, should they come in.  i hope this has been beneficial, that you’ve either found a new album to cherish or have circled back to give another one a second chance.  our regularly-scheduled content will resume, along with a few new features, and we’ll of course reassess 2016 in music come mid-december.  thank you, as always, for stopping by.

thermostat check – vacant magic

therm check vacant magic“thermostat check” is a feature we’re running throughout the rest of the month to both take the temperature of music in 2016 so far and to broaden the spectrum of the dimestore’s coverage.  we rounded up proprietors of other music sites and asked them to sound off on their five favorite bodies of work that dropped during the first half of the year; today’s installment comes from jon allmond, who runs the blog and tape label vacant magic, and who used to oversee the now-defunct but forever-excellent cassette rewind jon sounds off about a handful of impressionable albums, a certain mixtape, and an especially powerful track for his five picks of the year so far. dig in.

the fall of troy album coverthe fall of troy – ok

when i first heard that the fall of troy was not only reuniting but also putting together a new album, both high school me and current me were ecstatic.  unsurprisingly, that excitement was not misplaced.  although the fall of troy hasn’t been on the scene for close to a decade now, ok is the result of a band that has grown and matured with time while still steadily holding on to their roots.  erratic and aggressive, ok is a post-hardcore powerhouse that stands as a testament for “reunion” albums; after spinning it almost endlessly, it’s just as if the fall of troy never left.

chance coloring book cover.jpgchance the rapper – coloring book

honestly, i’m fairly late to the game when it comes to chance the rapper, but his latest mixtape, coloring book, was so hyped up that i couldn’t miss out.  though i went into it not knowing what to expect, i ended chance’s latest effort in tears, and i’m not writing that just to be dramatic.  not only was coloring book more than i expected, but the exuberance shining throughout was absolutely infectious and hard to shake.  that, combined with an eclectic feature list and chance’s charming wordplay, makes coloring book redefine what many think a mixtape can accomplish in comparison to an actual album.  considering that coloring book may – and rightfully should – be the first mixtape to bring about a new category to the grammy’s, there’s really no reason why everyone shouldn’t at least give it a chance (no bad pun intended).

weaves s:t cover.jpgweaves – weaves

when i first heard of toronto’s weaves a few years back, they gave me the raw spirit of yeah yeah yeahs with a eccentric, psychedelic dash torn from of montreal.  now that their debut self-titled album has hit my ears, those comparisons still stand, but they no longer solely define the peculiar brand of noise pop that the band has done so well to craft out in the time since their ep.  weaves’ self-titled lp is a blistering whirlwind that’s fun from the first time you hit play; even though the offbeat quartet can seem to be scatterbrained at times, there’s a method to their madness that makes it hard to look away and even harder to not move along to.  listening to weaves is as close to an aural sugar rush as one can get, and in their short time as a band, they’re already expanding what pop can be with a new noise and attitude confidently in tow.

jorja smith blue lightsjorja smith – “blue lights”

if there was any one song that struck a chord with me unlike any other this year so far, it’d be jorja smith’s “blue lights” all day long.  back in february, i called it “unsettling and haunting” and even now, thanks to smith’s powerful vocals and her equally strong message, it still has the ability to stop and grab my full attention.  since then, smith has added another new track to her belt, “where do i go,” and gained about twelve thousand fans on soundcloud.  if that’s any indication of where this newcomer is headed from here, then i’m sure this won’t be the last best-of list that we’ll see her on.

gallant ology cover art.pnggallant – ology

i’ve read that maryland-based r&b wonder gallant was once seen as an underdog that wouldn’t ever be where he is now, yet after listening to his debut album, ology, almost religiously i can’t see how anyone could ever come to that conclusion.  even though it’s only been out for three months, ology has quickly become my most listened-to album in 2016 so far; with christopher gallant’s silky falsetto at the forefront, it could easily be regarded as one of the best r&b releases to hit this year.  i first caught wind of the singer not long after i first started cassette rewind and ever since, i’ve been hoping that more people would catch on.  now that gallant is making television appearances and filling starbucks with his smoky over-the-counter pain-killer-titled hit “percogesic,” it won’t be long before everyone else starts to feel the same.  i heard usher on the new yuna album and thought it was gallant, so that should tell you that this dude is something special.

that self-titled weaves album is just one of many stellar albums released last friday that should be digested as soon as possible.  it’s also refreshing to see the fall of troy back making invigorating music more than a decade after their heyday, and chance and gallant speak for themselves; there’s more than enough material here to fill a long weekend.  be sure to check in on vacant magic on twitter and facebook, and stop back here early next week for the final installments of this feature.

thermostat check – hi54lofi

therm check flowers“thermostat check” is a feature we’re running throughout the rest of the month to both take the temperature of music in 2016 so far and to broaden the spectrum of the dimestore’s coverage.  we rounded up proprietors of other music sites and asked them to sound off on their five favorite bodies of work that dropped during the first half of the year; next up to bat is jeremy sroka, head honcho over at hi54lofi, who has so kindly dropped off words on five of his favorite albums.  links to stream are inserted in the caption below their respective cover art.  dig in.

big thief masterpiece coverbig thief – masterpiece

if you are like me, then you probably also fell madly in love with both sides of the perfect adrianne lenker and buck meek collaboration from 2014.  and, if like me, you wander around through life with your headphones on, blissfully ignorant of what the back story is to most albums you’re listening to, it may have also taken you longer than it should have to realize that big thief is another adrianne lenker and buck meek collaboration.  i don’t think i clued in until “lorraine,” where the obvious detective in me was awoken with the thought of “woah, this sounds lovingly familiar; best head to google straight away for further investigation.”  so i guess we can both call off our two-year wishing campaign for adrianne and buck to make some more music together, because they have, and the result is once again excellent.  much like big star, masterpiece an aptly-titled debut album.

pony bradshaw bad teeth coverpony bradshaw – bad teeth

it’s not that i hated the new sturgill simpson or hayes carll albums, it’s just that i didn’t like them as much as i would have liked the albums i hoped they were making ever since i heard they were making new albums.  that previous sentence is one of the reasons i’ve been digging pony bradshaw’s highly anticipated (by me) debut so much.  not only did it meet the very high expectations that developed in my head last year after the first single, “josephine,” blew my socks off and knocked the beer out my hand, but their debut also filled that very-hard-to-fill void of a solid, rough-around-the-edges country album.  y’know, like the kind sturgill and hayes were putting out the previous years.

nap eyes thought rock fish scale covernap eyes – thought rock fish scale

i don’t know, but i think thought rock fish scale is my favourite album this year.  (at least so far; we are only half way through this year so don’t go holding me to this statement when end-of-year list season starts knocking in august.)  the opening track just really rubs my spirit animal in all the right places, and once that is done, you’ve kinda won me and my spirit animal over. especially when track number two is carrying treats in its pocket.  before i know it, “roll it” is reaching out of the stereo to roll down the window, and my spirit animal and i have our heads stuck out in the breeze, banging a drum beat out on the roof.  pretty sure my spirit animal is a dog.

lucy dacus no burden coverlucy dacus – no burden

listening to this album really reminded me of the first time i listened to courtney barnett’s a sea of split peas.  one track after another, the same thought: “wow, that was a really great track.”  eventually (about two-thirds of the way through the album) it becomes blindingly obvious that you’re not just listening to a bunch of great tracks, or even just a great album; you’re listening to a really special artist.  can’t wait for more (and i hope lucy’s star rises just as appropriately fast as courtney’s has.)

sonny smith sees all knows all coversonny smith – sees all knows all

the trouble with making lists the size of half the number of fingers you have (assuming you have all ten) is the inevitable hernia-causing worry about who doesn’t make the cut.  i know we are only halfway through the year, but there’s been a lot of outstanding releases so far.  so this final spot goes to sonny smith’s weird-but-somehow-totally-worked-for-me album sees all knows all, not because it is necessarily better than the ten other albums that could have also ended up as my number five, but because it inspired my most-inspired album description yet.  for a guy who has trouble writing about why he likes what he likes or what an album sounds like (as shown in the the previous four attempts) this really gave sonny the edge.  here is that description: imagine a sun kil moon record pressing pause on inherent vice to grab another sixer out of the fridge and roll a joint on the back cover of a bukowski novel.

five excellent full-length albums yield several hours of auditory bliss.  there will be plenty of time to catch up on all of the above, along with the content from yesterday’s inaugural post, because this segment won’t return until friday.  use your time wisely.  oh, and go follow hi54lofi on facebook and twitter.

thermostat check – all around sound

therm check all around sound“thermostat check” is a feature we’re running throughout the rest of the month to both take the temperature of music in 2016 so far and to broaden the spectrum of the dimestore’s coverage.  we rounded up proprietors of other music sites and asked them to sound off on their five favorite bodies of work that dropped during the first half of the year; kicking off the week’s festivities is a guest post from dante allington, the founder of all around sound.  links to stream entire eps or albums are inserted in the caption below their respective cover art, while standalone tracks will be embedded within the post.  dig in.

despite the fact that 2015 gave us one of the best years of music in recent memory, 2016 is proving no slouch in that department.  featuring much anticipating debuts from acts like aurora, big thief, and yumi zouma, as well as spirited returns from the likes of chairlift, marissa nadler, and mutual benefit, it’s certainly been the year that keeps on giving.  the year is only half over and there’s already been so many absolutely stellar albums released and announced that i can hardly wait to see what the rest of 2016 holds.  but while waiting over here with bated breath, here are some of all around sound’s favorite releases from the year so far.

adult jazz earrings off coveradult jazz – “earrings off!

leeds-based quartet adult jazz are one of those rare and wonderful bands that, due to patience and thoughtfulness, arrive with a fully-realized creative vision.  releasing their incredibly underrated debut full-length, gist is ,in 2014, the band’s been a bit home-bound but very recently came out of a hiatus of sorts with “eggshell,” the first single from their earrings off! ep.  the song introduces a much more lucid approach to harry burgess’ songwriting and the title track does a wonderful job linking the stream of thought that began on adult jazz’s debut.  

“earrings off!” is inspired by anecdotal story about burgess’ normally well-behaved brother’s violent reaction to critique of his masculinity as a boy, and largely turns it a critique of forced masculinity itself.  paired with adult jazz’s uniquely complex brand of experimental pop, it sinks right into that sweet spot of being enjoyable music with an important message; the video, directed by sam travis, further explores the theme with its flexing trophy figures.  

adult jazz have always made it a point to challenge themselves (and, by extension, the listener) and they certainly don’t let up here, pairing their complicated composition with food for thought.  

andy shauf the partyandy shauf – the party

saskatchewan singer/songwriter andy shauf proved a talent for melancholic narratives with his debut, last year’s the bearer of bad news.  for his next effort, shauf turned his gaze even more intimate, abandoning plans to record in germany in favor of at home alone in regina, saskatchewan, and drawing from a significantly smaller pool of songs than he did on the bearer of bad news.

the result is the party, a collection of songs bonded together by a pseudo-concept of the album’s namesake that continues shauf’s streak of engaging songwriting and craftsmanship.  the songs on the party are polished with arrangements reminiscent of a 1970’s singer/songwriter, and shauf’s narratives, which occasionally carry over and compound from song to song, are as effective as ever.

bayonne appeals single artbayonne – “appeals”

while live music videos are certainly no new thing, bayonne’s roger sellers attacks the medium with the sort of innovation that lifts his music above that of merely a loop artist.  the video, a collaboration between directing duo nofun and digital collective dawn of man, essentially brings the energy and majesty of bayonne’s live set to your home. 

one of his most complex compositions, “appeals,” features sellers’ high intensity multi-tasking presented in a way that’s absolutely mesmerizing, and establishes sellers as one of the new breed of electronic artists not content to just sit behind a computer screen but to actively engage with the music they’re creating.

show me love remix coverhundred waters – “show me love” (skrillex remix)

from their earliest days as the backing band to gainesville’s levek, hundred waters have always had a deep-seated reverence for the art of collaboration that’s informed not only their recording process but their live sets as well.  teaming up with owsla label head skrillex, hundred waters’ sparse opening number from sophomore effort, the moon rang like a bell, is turned into a full-blown jam without losing its poignant message.  the “show me love” remix is more rework than remix, featuring a number of new verses from singer/songwriter moses sumney and chance the rapper, arrangements from rhye’s robin hannibal, and production from skrillex.

mal devisa kiidmal devisa – kiid

perhaps one of this year’s best debut records came from northhampton-based singer/songwriter mal devisa.  a great deal of why the album works so well is its refusal to be easily defined.  taking inspiration from everything from soul to folk, mal devisa’s deja carr practically devours experiences and uses them to inform her emotionally-sincere songwriting.  kiid is an album of emotional extremes, but steadily paced and built over time.  for every “in my neighborhood,” there’s an opposing “sea of limbs”; for every “live again,” there’s a contrasting “dominatrix.” 

deja carr refuses to let her musical style be pinned down.  the sum of her musical influences, and kiid, is all the better for it: a solid album whose consistency lies in its raw, emotive force.

most of what dante selected did not even register on our radar, and for that we are ashamed.  if you want dante to publicly shame you while also providing impeccable running commentary about music both new and old, follow him on twitter; you can also find all around sound on facebook.  watch this space in the coming days for another installment.

most anticipated albums of 2016

most anticipated 2016kanye snubbed us in 2015.  frank ocean snubbed us in 2015.  rihanna snubbed us in 2015.  james blake snubbed us in 2015.  for every high-profile album that did emerge this year, there seemed to be one that was withheld; as we inch closer to 2016, we’re taking a look at fifteen albums that will hopefully see the light of day in the new year.  alphabetical order is your friend.  dig in after the jump.

———

chairliftedchairlift – the two singles chairlift released this fall indicate that the brooklyn duo’s forthcoming album moth, due out january 22nd, will be a bit darker and more ominous than its predecessors, but still more than capable of delivering a smattering of memorable hooks.

daughter banddaughter – not to disappear will most likely be the first impressionable full-length of 2016.  both “doing the right thing” and “numbers” double down on the themes of isolation and incredible sadness explored on if you leave, and the trio’s instrumentation is as lush and expansive as ever.

field divisionfield division – 2015 was a quiet year for the nashville-via-iowa duo, but we’re hoping that field division drop off their full-length follow-up to 2014’s excellent debut reverie state sometime very soon.

florist bandflorist – emy sprague’s appropriately-bucolic quartet florist popped up on our radar earlier this fall with holdly, a compact ep crammed with sharp songwriting and memorable melodies that thankfully serves as a placeholder for the birds outside sang, a full-length coming january 29th via double double whammy.

frank oceanfrank ocean – who knows where frank ocean is at?  the follow-up to his profound 2012 album channel orange is still missing-in-action, and probably will be for some time.  here’s to hoping that 2016 is the year that it finally surfaces.

james blakejames blake – radio silence was due in the spring of 2015, then the fall, and now the album is promised in the early months of 2016.  we’ll wait; hopefully it arrives in the dead of winter and provides solace for those cold, cruel months.

kanye westkanye west – yeezy season is perpetual.  kanye teased snippets of what could be on swish – “all day,” “fourfiveseconds,” “only one,” “wolves” – throughout 2015, but the album’s name could change again, and its release date certainly isn’t set in stone.  expect the internet to collectively lose it when new kanye material does drop, though.

mmryhsememoryhouse – one of the more pleasant surprises of this year has been the reemergence of memoryhouse.  the canadian dream-pop duo are prepping their sophomore album, soft hate, for a january release, and sneak peaks “dream shake” and “arizona” suggest the two have picked up right where they left off in 2012.

mick jenkinsmick jenkins – the healing component is the end game that mick jenkins has hinted at all along.  2014 delivered a very well-received mixtape in the water[s] followed by a new ep this year, wave[s], so it stands to reason that a proper full-length would come next.

pillar pointpillar point – scott reitherman will continue to hone his signature brooding electro-pop on marble mouth, out january 22nd via polyvinyl.  “dove” is already pillar point’s best work to date, accentuating both extremities of reitherman’s timbral spectrum; the rest of the album should at least be on par.

pity sexpity sex – michigan quartet pity sex effortlessly blended shoegaze with bits of pop-punk and emo on their excellent 2013 debut feast of love, and now the band is gearing up to drop white hot moon this coming spring via run for cover records.  be ready for ample amounts of forlorn looks.

the 1975the 1975 – if you want a huge pop record in 2016, you probably won’t have to look any further than the 1975.  matt healy’s manchester outfit is slated to release i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it in february, and its early singles hint at a massive, killers-esque synth-pop romp.

tychotycho – scott hansen and company have decamped to work on the follow-up to 2014’s excellent awake.  if analog synth-driven ambient soundscapes are your thing, you’ll be particularly enthused when the new tycho album drops.

vancouver sleep clinicvancouver sleep clinic – the vancouver sleep clinic camp was frustratingly dormant all year, but project architect tim bettinson has promised something substantial in 2016.  whether that something is an album or an ep remains to be seen, however.

wild nothingwild nothing – jack tatum will deliver a new wild nothing album, life of pause, february 19th via captured tracks.  it’s the band’s first record in nearly four years, and will be a welcomed addition to an already-stellar discography.

most anticipated albums of fall 2015

braun turntable 2the home stretch of each year always provides a plethora of new albums vying for contention in year-end best-of reviews.  invariably, at least one heavy-hitter holds onto a project until the quarter is almost over before unleashing it and messing with the internet’s ballots by proxy (here’s looking at you, kanye and frank).  the full list for this fall is exhausting; google searches and metacritic are good tools to keep yourself in the know, but we’ve also compiled a handful of albums we’re especially itching to dig into.  read on for more detailed explanations.

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mind out wandering coverastronauts, etc. – mind out wandering
september 18th (hit city u.s.a.)

anthony ferraro has seen his exploratory outlet into the realm of pop music grow from a solo project to a full-band endeavor.  already armed with a quartet of impressive singles, astronauts, etc. should offer up a strong and nuanced debut full-length with mind out wandering.

every open eye coverchvrches – every open eye
september 25th (virgin/glassnote)

chvrches wrote and recorded their sophomore album over the span of six months, a quarter of the amount of time they spent touring in support of their massive debut the bones of what you believe.  still, the glaswegian trio’s penchant for huge melodies and their uncanny ability to weave downtrodden aspects of indie rock into massive stadium-ready anthems (see “leave a trace”) argues that every open eye will likely be a well-deserved victory lap.

new bermuda coverdeafheaven – new bermuda
october 2nd (anti)

remember that deafheaven is a substantially different band than the one that churned out sunbather two years ago.  the sense of urgency derived from a dire economic situation that permeated the band’s critically-acclaimed breakthrough album may be subdued, but this is a creative force bent on melding genre confines into a fluid product.  at the very least, new bermuda will not fall short on intrigue.

are you alone? covermajical cloudz – are you alone?
october 16th (matador)

speaking of critically-acclaimed albums from 2013, the duo responsible for our favorite record that year are returning with a new full-length in october.  are you alone? comes on the heels of an arduous touring regimen for majical cloudz, including a support slot for lorde that necessitated a re-write of most of the new material the band had fleshed out.  “silver car crash” finds devon welsh singing as directly as ever, and his easy command of a higher register suggests a newfound confidence; subsequent singles that emerge this month and next should paint a clearer picture of the album’s direction.

foxing dealer coverfoxing – dealer
october 30th (triple crown)

st. louis quintet foxing emerged from the recent emo resurgence as a clear frontrunner that could endure the waning fad and continue to contribute meaningful material.  their breakthrough the albatross juxtaposed moments of agitation with sustained introspective passages, a formula that will prove beneficial for a young band given ample time to hone their craft.

– other notable releases –

lana del rey – honeymoon (september 18th)
kurt vile – b’lieve i’m going down (september 25th)
milo – so the flies don’t come (september 25th)
youth lagoon – savage hills ballroom (september 25th)
chad valley – entirely new blue (october 2nd)
alex g – beach music (october 9th)
saintseneca – such things (october 9th)
beach house – thank your lucky stars (october 16th)
pure bathing culture – pray for rain (october 23rd)
gems – kill the one you love (october 30th)
the japanese house – clean (november 6th)
goldlink – and after that we didn’t talk (november 13th)
james blake – radio silence (tba)

in defense of kanye west

kanye 1folks with access to basic cable television and/or an acceptable internet connection were treated to another exciting installment of kanye west’s unorthodox public relations practice last sunday night.  as critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter beck began his acceptance speech for his album of the year award at the grammys, west briefly stormed the stage in what turned out to be mock protest before returning to his seat, ostensibly docile and in good spirits.  the ensuing internet documentations of audience reactions bordered on priceless: numerous screen grabs and forever-looping vines captured multiple celebrities uttering phrases not suitable for television, while a clip of beyoncé mouthing “no, kanye, no!” as jay-z looks on in absolute horror went viral for an appropriately hilarious reason. 

what initially seemed like a humorous reference to west’s infamous 2009 tirade was quickly reframed by a post-grammy interview, in which west asserted that beyoncé was the rightful album of the year winner and that the award ceremony would do well to recognize true artistry. 

understandably, the internet erupted once again.

west elaborated even more the next morning to a tmz reporter at john f. kennedy international airport, assuring the gossip columnist that he did indeed enjoy beck’s music, but morning phase was not album of the year and even beck himself should know this fact.  again, for someone with a history of being vociferous at uncomfortable (or perhaps just inconvenient) times, this clarification still did not bode well for west.  social media was quick to collectively point out that beck played all of the instruments on morning phase and had a hand in its production and engineering yet beyoncé relied on a large team to create her own masterpiece, while a wide spectrum of people – ranging from forgettable high school acquaintances on facebook to michael mcdonald – asserted that west’s outburst was nothing more than a cry for attention from an untalented musician with an oversized ego.

west had been depicted as the villain once again, although this time his detractors merely proved the most salient points of his arguments.  as one of my more level-headed friends pointed out on facebook, “it’s 2015 and artistry is cultural relevance,” a position at the center of west’s post-grammy interview.  beck’s album was undoubtedly well-crafted, a nod to his near-thirty years as a recording artist, but was it memorable?  did it have substantial cultural impact? 

in comparison, beyoncé was surrounded by one of the most massive secret rollout campaigns in music industry history and has subsequently dictated how major recording artists consider unveiling their next highly-anticipated project.  the album also featured a one-to-one ratio of songs and music videos – another unprecedented and game-changing alteration to the album format – and spawned a handful of singles that resonated deeply with large audiences throughout late 2013 and into 2014.  was beyoncé’s album the best of 2014, if examined exhaustively and cohesively under a microscope?  probably not, but it arguably carried more cultural weight and ingenuity than beck’s contribution. 

west’s outburst also needs to be understood in the context of the grammy awards themselves, and the increasing antiquity of industry standards that they represent.  the music industry has had a long and complicated relationship with non-white, non-male artists, and with black artists in particular.  hip-hop was not recognized as a legitimate musical category until almost twenty years after it began to impact large swaths of american culture, and the category of best rap album has subsequently been whitewashed with artists like eminem and macklemore winning a collective 35% of the awards since its inclusion.  the grammys also created an “urban contemporary” category in 2013, a confusing addition that at best allows p.o.c. artists more chances at winning an award but, at worst, comes dangerously close to officially segregating the awards ceremony into white and non-white pop categories.

these antiquated issues are well-documented and are rehashed in some form each year before the awards show airs; in some ways, the committee’s white paternalism can be an ample source of humor and satire, a sign that the old guard is on the decline and drastically out of touch with cultural reception of music.  but the fact that race issues in the music industry are still so transparent midway through the second decade of the twenty-first century is incredibly frustrating to a wide variety of people, and must be especially so for those p.o.c. artists that routinely record grammy-caliber work.  that beck – a white male with a long, positive history in the music business – received the highest accolades for an album that broke or challenged few boundaries while beyoncé – a black female with an equally positive, albeit slightly abbreviated history in the music business – was snubbed for one that restructured the album experience and continued to expand the confines of modern pop and r&b music underscored this skewered patriarchal and racist perception of the grammy awards.

cultural relevancy is – by and large – the main focus of west’s position against the grammys and against that particular award, but his manner of speech and timing inevitably spawned other critiques of his opinion.  for those making secondary or tertiary arguments against kanye or in defense of beck, let me weigh them out and provide a bit of counter-intelligence.

first, the claim that beck is more deserving of the grammy because he played all of the instruments on morning phase does not hold up in the slightest.  while that feat may indicate an impressive musical talent and a prolific compositional ability, it does not automatically indicate that said musician will create a superior product.  that aspect also seems to have no bearing whatsoever on the industry’s decision in awarding artists, as recent recipients of the same grammy, like daft punk and adele, have had a host of collaborative artists, songwriters, and producers to assist them.  countless multi-instrumentalists (see ty segall, mikal cronin, etc.) self-produce fantastic albums year in and year out, yet they are never in serious contention for an award so venerated as album of the year.  i don’t believe that beck’s studio mastery had as much to do with defining his grammy nomination as it did to partially justify his win after the fact.

second, there is still a wild notion adopted by many that kanye west does not understand music, cannot intelligently construct a musical idea, and as such should not be allowed to pass judgement on what constitutes “good music.”  such notions are likely cultivated by only witnessing kanye west the celebrity and not researching or understanding kanye west the musician.  apparently it bears repeating that before he established a successful career as a rapper, west produced jay-z’s the blueprint and had a hand in crafting the sound of early 2000s hip-hop artits like ludacris.  the barebones constructs of beats that would be approved for use by multi-million dollar rappers must have an adequate, consistent rhythm and at least some harmonic and melodic variance, basic elements of musical knowledge west time and again has demonstrated his grasp of.  at this point, one could theoretically truncate the rest of west’s successful career and still use this brief period to illustrate his possession of musical knowledge and an ability to articulate opinions on other music around him.

the fact that west has maintained critically-lauded and commercially successful career under his own name erases any doubt of musical literacy, or of his qualifications to pass judgement on others.  without west’s eclectic musical taste and insatiable appetite for new sounds his 2007 album graduation would not exist, which would subsequently alter the contemporary hip-hop landscape.  graduation immensely expanded the sonic palate of mainstream hip-hop, rejecting the militant sounds of gangster rap that had dominated the landscape for nearly a decade in favor of electronic samples and references to house music.  his comparatively introspective lyrics throughout the album and its follow-up, 808s & heartbreak, ushered in a more cerebral, analytical breed of rappers like kendrick lamar and earl sweatshirt, while his shift to darker, moody undertones undoubtedly paved the way for artists in the vein of kid cudi and drake.

west’s capacity to understand artistry and cultural relevance is high, as he has seen the reception of his own work drastically change the musical playing field and has surrounded himself with artists capable of performing the same feat.  he doesn’t need to be humble, and he usually is not, although the fader has outlined instances in which west has relinquished his awards to artists he deemed more deserving, which should give pause to any accusations of a double-standard.

by and large, most of west’s deriders simply feel that he should have kept his mouth shut, that his comments were abrasive or insulting or unwarranted.  the non-confrontational nature of awards ceremonies may dictate that the time and place to speak one’s mind is elsewhere, but it is paramount that west went so convincingly against the grain, that he refused to adhere to an unwritten set of rules.  his comments solidified what many in the industry try to sweep under the rug: that recognition of true artistry often pales in comparison to a retention of the status quo and to keeping white male artists completely in the driver’s seat.  that so many subsequently lashed out against him is an unsettling reminder that it is midway through the second decade of the twenty-first century and a post-racial music industry is a spec on a five-dimensional plane that seems utterly unattainable.

most anticipated albums of 2015

2014 is all but in the books, and so we’re naturally turning our intention towards 2015 and all of the music it will potentially bring.  everyone is on the edge of their seats for the new kanye west album, and modest mouse’s first record in eight years should be interesting, but here are ten other acts with music coming out next year that we can’t wait to digest.  read on.

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chvrches – after touring relentlessly for nearly two years behind their excellent debut the bones of what you believe, glaswegian trio chvrches has returned to the drawing board to work on a follow-up.  no word on when that album will show up, but new songs that showed up on the re-worked drive soundtrack and the lorde-curated hunger games: mockingjay – part 1 may be indications of what’s to come.

daughterdaughter – everything that daughter has touched has turned to gold, including a couple of remixes and re-workings of songs off of if you leave with a ten-piece chamber orchestra in tow.  like chvrches, daughter just finished up a pretty extensive tour in support of their excellent debut, and the trio is holed up somewhere overseas working on a follow-up.

deafheaven – “from the kettle onto the coil” was the only offering from deafheaven in 2014, and the song yields absolutely no indication of what their impending new album will sound like.  regardless of the final product, it will be interesting to see what the genre-defying san francisco outfit comes up with on their third try.

elvis depressedly – we were supposed to hear new alhambra before this year was over, but mat cothran and company chose to sign with run for cover records to allow for wider dissemination of the record, among other things.  elvis depressedly’s much-anticipated new album will be out sometime in the spring of 2015, and we have the excellent “no more sad songs (n.m.s.s.)” to tide us over for the time being.

frank ocean – frank ocean’s follow-up to 2012’s channel orange was purported to be done this past april, then it was due out sometime this past summer; now, who knows.  ocean did release a snippet of a new song called “memrise” last month, enough to set the internet on fire, but there’s still no concrete release date for his new album.  then again, dropping something completely unannounced seems right up his alley.

james blake – james blake’s third album is reportedly seventy percent complete and should see a release sometime in the spring of 2015.  blake has been quietly building anticipation, teasing the prospect of collaborations with justin vernon and kanye west along with releasing a short ep entitled 200 press.  expect a single sometime early next year to dictate the aesthetic of the impending album.

kendrick lamar – kendrick delivered some promising material in 2014 but failed to provide what everyone wanted: the follow-up to good kid, m.a.a.d city.  his new single, “i,” seemed to indicate a departure from the grim undertones of his masterful 2012 concept album, but the untitled track lamar revealed on the colbert report swiftly contradicted that notion and leaves the tone of his new record completely up in the air.  but who knows when that will surface.

panda bear –  noah lennox is releasing his fifth solo album, panda bear meets the grim reaper, on january 13th via his new home, domino records.  the world always seems game for a new panda bear record, and it’s been about four years since lennox has delivered.  armed with the strong singles “mr. noah” and “boys latin,” grim reaper is poised to be one of the early standouts of 2015.

teen dazeteen daze – if all goes to plan, we’ll be able to hear not one but two new projects from teen daze in 2015.  he recorded the follow-up to his 2013 magnum opus glacier in san francisco this fall, and he’s also slated to release a placeholder ep entitled a world away for his european tour this winter.

their/they’re/there – this chicago trio is kind of like a birthday cake: the individual ingredients might not be significantly appetizing, but the sum of all its parts is quite desirable.  their/they’re/there released a pair of eps in 2013 that hinged largely on the impeccable guitar work of matthew frank, and rumor has it that they’ll offer forth a full-length sometime next year.