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.

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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.

best of 2014: eps

the ep is the multi-purpose tool of musical formats; established acts can release them as placeholders before new albums arrive (see tennis, panda bear) or as containers to hold supplemental material from a recording session.  they’re the perfect companion for touring bands wishing to give their audiences extra incentive to purchase merchandise, but above all, the ep is a logical stepping stone for many young artists seeking to release something more cohesive than a single or free mixtape.  all five of 2014’s best eps fall into this final category.  this year saw a bevy of new artists vying for attention, but those on this list seem like they’ll be sticking around for awhile, regardless of whether or not they have major label support.  read our thoughts below.

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 bad habitat cover5. sayth – bad habitat

 it’s not a stretch to assert that eric wells is one of the hardest-working musicians in wisconsin’s diy scene.  while this blog has a soft spot for and a deep connection to the midwest, the fact that sayth’s second ep shows up on this list is not a concession to that relationship; it’s an acknowledgement of the artistic identity wells has crafted.  using alternative hip-hop as his delivery method, wells covers a lot of lyrical ground on bad habitat: being a gay rapper in a heteronormative climate, metaphysical musings attached to a video game, and the untimely death of a close friend.  bad habitat is billed as a solo effort but wells benefits from the help of his frequent collaborators, as north house provides some beats and wealthy relative drops by for “chirp,” a song that recalls the duo’s dream feast joint effort.  sayth may be stylistically indebted to other art rappers like open mike eagle and milo, but his content is always wrapped up in personal narrative.  on “esc,” by and far the ep’s most poignant cut, wells laments not only about the loss of a friend but the insensitivities that surrounded his death, leading him to conclude that “it feels so evil / this is why we name hurricanes after people.”

vsc winter cover4. vancouver sleep clinic – winter

last year’s recipient of our inaugural “best new artist” award followed through with an atmospheric ep that reflects its seasonal namesake while retaining a strong degree of warmth.  tim bettinson is the young architect of vancouver sleep clinic, and the maturity of winter is strikingly uncommon for a seventeen year-old high school student.  the ep is clearly anchored by bettinson’s pair of 2013 singles, “collapse” and “vapour,” but its other four songs are crucial in understanding his artistic vision and ambitions.  lush orchestrations and a fragile falsetto seem to be at the core of vancouver sleep clinic’s aesthetic, yet the surging sigur ros-indebted outro of “rebirth” suggests a very strong secondary interest, one that might be explored further on subsequent efforts.  bettinson should also be commended for his striking lyricism; after peeling away the layers of ethereal falsetto and effortless melodies, one can find a wealth of personal narrative blended with metaphor on cuts like “flaws” and “stakes.”  if vancouver sleep clinic keeps delivering music of this caliber, we’ll probably be talking about them again this time next year.

hell can wait cover3. vince staples – hell can wait

the fact that shyne coldchain vol. 2 is the better of vince staples’ two 2014 releases and that hell can wait ends up so high on this list should paint a clear picture of the sheer amount of talent and work ethic staples possesses.  he trades the short song durations and soulful loops found throughout vol. 2 for fully-formed, intense offerings throughout hell can wait.  staples’ sneering monotone has always been his calling card, and that abrasion is compounded by a punishing low end that prevails on the ep and is especially prevalent on “fire” and “blue suede.”  that sneer is also responsible for delivering some of the most brutally honest lyrics in rap music right now; staples is incredibly intelligent but does not mince words when discussing the polarities of his life, especially his relationship with gang culture and its impact.  the synth tone that dictates “blue suede” is as piercing as the song’s content, which not only details a materialism enticed by drugs and violence but staples’ own admission that a focused music career has kept him out of prison and the grave.  perhaps the most important track on hell can wait is “hands up,” a no-bullshit critique of the rampant police brutality against people of color which carries extra weight in light of the non-indictments in ferguson and new york.  “paying taxes for fucking clowns to ride around” indeed.

yumi zouma cover

2. yumi zouma – yumi zouma

we’ve already heaped praise on yumi zouma here, but some of that praise bears repeating.  the new zealand trio breathed originality and stability into a genre that seems to be in a perpetual state of reinvention with a sharp self-titled ep that many have likened to the golden years of kate bush.  particular comparisons aside, yumi zouma was undoubtedly on point throughout their debut effort.  “a long walk home for parted lovers” is indicative of the trio’s aesthetic: muted, bass-heavy minimal synth-pop delivered with a shrug of apathy.  yumi zouma’s music is a counter to the over-the-top ambitions of so many of their peers, a counter that’s been especially welcome this year.

field division reverie state cover1. field division – reverie state

field division bills themselves as “folkwave,” a portmanteau that accurately describes their sound to those that seek new music exclusively via genre tags.  in actuality, the five songs on reverie state are so much more.  they’re the byproduct of an incredible musical relationship between evelyn taylor and nicholas frampton, two iowa natives who linked up once they moved to nashville.  despite the duo’s relocation, reverie state still embodies the bucolic sounds characteristically associated with the midwest.  the rustic nature of “faultlines” and “modest mountains” is indebted to folk influences both new and old, but the marriage of that influence with more ambitious textures is what makes field division really stand out.  “of lives we’ve never known” is dictated by an absolutely huge bass line while the ep’s finest cut, “to innisfree land,” mixes in flutes and multiple guitar countermelodies to support taylor’s and frampton’s vocal duet.  after such a strong first outing with reverie state, a full-length effort from field division feels all but inevitable, yet the richness of these songs is so potent that there’s no rush for that album to come to immediate fruition.

field division – reverie state

fielddivisionepcoverartmusic conceived or created in the midwest often contains a distinct, singular tone.  regardless of the genre pursued, there always seems to be an acute awareness of the fragility that accompanies living in a four-season environment and a need to convey its emotional byproducts.  field division are champions of this musical mindset.  though currently based out of nashville, the duo’s origins are firmly rooted in des moines and their music frequently embodies the vast skies and endless open fields characteristic of iowa.  after slowly releasing five very strong songs over the past two months, field division has packaged them into a cohesive unit entitled reverie state, an ep that proves to be a grandiose, cathartic release.

while each song holds up on its own without question, the sequence in which they’re presented on reverie state provides some extra weight.  “faultlines” is an appropriate opener, one that finds evelyn taylor and nicholas frampton experimenting with chamber pop harmonies akin to those pursued by fleet foxes and other folk-minded outfits.  perhaps that’s why “of lives we’ve never known” feels so contrasting.  while “faultlines” explores the pastoral realm of field division’s sound, its immediate successor is much darker and more sinister in instrumentation, a subterranean bass line more so felt than heard holding the track together.  combined with taylor’s soaring vocal melody throughout the chorus and frampton’s spacious, rolled guitar chords, “of lives we’ve never known” finds the duo quickly flexing an equally-impressive dream-pop muscle.

genre confines aside, field division blends old with new very well.  “hollow body weather” is an amalgamation of the band’s two schools of thought, while “modest mountains” finds taylor and frampton enlisting the help of milo greene’s andrew heringer, a wise feature that enhances their already-rich vocal harmonies.  reverie state closes with “to innisfree land,” a conscious effort by field division to save their finest offering for last.  it’s the most texturally dense song on the ep – flute countermelodies and multiple guitar lines are constantly vying for attention – but the musical union of taylor and frampton is clearly front and center, their vocals mixed equally as they take on the song’s chorus in tandem.

reverie state is a concise package that showcases a young project of seasoned musicians with a bright future.  just as the colder months begin to set in, field division have provided a batch of songs to us warm while simultaneously stirring up nostalgia for the summer of yesteryear.  dig in.

8.4/10

listen to a new song from field division

nashville’s field division is prepping the release of their debut ep reverie state, due out october 28th, and the duo have shared another track.  “modest mountains” features some help from milo greene’s andrew heringer and is one of the more straight-ahead folk songs that field division has unveiled thus far, but the band again shows a propensity for crafting memorable hooks and melodies, regardless of genre.  take a listen below.

listen to a new song from field division

less than a week after delivering the goods on “hollow body weather,” nashville-via-des moines duo field division is back with “of lives we’ve never known.”  the single, taken from their impending debut ep reverie state, is comparatively subdued, with folk and trancelike qualities battling for dominance in its beginning and a slinking, mysterious bass line that gradually envelops the strumming of an acoustic guitar.  but field division once again showcase their propensity for crafting admirable chorus structures, this time employing a choral blend of voices and shimmering guitar chords to open up the back half of the song.  this is not a band to sleep on.  take a listen to “of lives we’ve never known” below, courtesy of field division’s soundcloud page.