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.

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.

vancouver sleep clinic – winter

tim bettinson alludes to the album artwork of winter within the first lines of “collapse.”  he lingers on the phrase “and they’re all frozen over” ever so slightly before the understated electronic drums enter in the foreground, and then vancouver sleep clinic takes off.  it’s not as if we haven’t heard this song before; “collapse” has been floating around the internet since late last year and “vapour” has been around even longer, but both songs hold more significance within the context of the rest of the band’s debut ep.  it’s easy to pinpoint contemporary influences throughout winter, with bettinson’s falsetto evoking bon iver’s justin vernon and the sleep clinic’s instrumentation referencing minimalists like james blake, but there’s a stark sense that the trio is contributing to the advancement of this little ethereal niche, instead of merely emulating their heroes.

up until the release of winter, the songs offered up by vancouver sleep clinic had all been relegated to the realm of pop; “flaws” is a three-minute slice of downtempo goodness, complete with metaphoric heartbreakers like “tangled in the bones of this love/melding to the flow of your blood,” and “vapour” belongs in a hypothetical pantheon of dreamy, soft-rock perfection, but the rest of the ep tests boundaries on either side of radio-edit length.  “stakes” is the most expansive offering found on winter, with a false ending and subsequent coda that is almost majestic, complete with brass swells that complement bettinson’s laments.  the song is juxtaposed with “(aftermath),” a short, simple piano interlude that proves vancouver sleep clinic doesn’t only excel at extravagant.  closing number “rebirth” is an extended exercise in this simplistic practice, with acoustic guitar arpeggiations wandering off into the distance.

it shouldn’t matter that the three members of vancouver sleep clinic are only seventeen, but their age in comparison to the maturity of their music speaks volumes about the body of work they have created.  winter is a collection of songs that all complement one another, with no single track standing out ahead of the pack.  but that’s the way it’s supposed to be; bettinson waxes poetic about the basic emotions of adolescence in a way few others are capable of.  do yourself a favor and spend twenty-five minutes getting lost in the sounds of vancouver sleep clinic.

8.2/10

listen to a new song from vancouver sleep clinic

on the heels of an impressive 2013 and in anticipation of their debut ep, the ethereal new zealanders known as vancouver sleep clinic have let another track go, and it’s gorgeous.  “flaws” is wrapped up in layered vocals and tim bettinson’s heartbreaking falsetto, but clearer timbres like acoustic piano and electric guitar sneak in through the ambient pads.  take a listen below, courtesy of the band’s soundcloud page.

listen to a new song from vancouver sleep clinic

it’s not very often that you find a band with a name that so accurately describes their intended aesthetic.  aside from the slight geographical misdirection (the sleep clinic is based out of brisbane, not vancouver), tim bettinson’s music functions just as you would expect.  he openly admits that his songs are catered towards fans of bon iver and james blake; i see the former much more than the latter in his new song “vapour.”

it’s airy and driven by a very similar falsetto and acoustic guitar tandem approach to the one that appeared on justin vernon’s first album, but “vapour” also retains some discernible electronic elements, perhaps creating a loophole for people who would be quick to write him off as another rustic cabin wannabe.  if it’s any consolation, i live in eau claire and think this song is worth a listen.  check it out below and see for yourself.

james blake – overgrown

overgrown

the portrait of james blake is much more clear on the cover of his sophomore effort than on his self-titled debut.  on overgrown, blake really comes into his own, shining on more polished productions and singing with a confidence and smoothness that had escaped him at times on previous endeavors. the handling and promotion of this album was curious to me, most notably universal records’ incessant unveiling of tracks from overgrown.  before the album dropped today, half of its content was available for streaming or to download on legitimate websites on the internet.  perhaps that’s why blake says that he doesn’t really care if people pirate his album.

 

turning to the music, blake seems to trade the dubstep tendencies of his 2011 effort in favor of an increasing exploration of r&b.  the simple groove and particular timbre of “take a fall for me,” a collaboration between blake and rza, evokes slight memories of kanye west’s production on 808’s and heartbreak, although the harmony could be lifted straight out of motown.  on “retrograde,” the album’s lead single that we’ve all heard a thousand times, blake laments in a wordless vocalization over a simple beat that conjures up images of an electronica-worshiping church, a nod to blake’s incorporation of gospel elements into overgrown.

there’s no question that the music james blake creates is beautiful; incredibly cohesive yet minimalistic in his orchestration and instrumentation, blake has manufactured songs that beg to be consumed in an extremely intimate setting, and leave me to wonder what he will be capable of doing next.

8.5/10