As we embark on a new year, what better way to get psyched for the upcoming months than a preview of some new music? In this day and age of surprise releases things are always bound to change, but here’s a look at what we know is coming up to kick off 2016.
David Bowie, *Blackstar (Jan. 8): *Shrouded in mystery and hype, Blackstar is Bowie’s most hotly anticipated album in over two decades; critics who have heard it hail it as an experimental masterpiece. For an idea of what Bowie is up to, take a look at his deeply surreal video or listen to the 10-minute atmospheric mix of electronica, jazz and art rock on his “Blackstar” single. According to longtime producer Tony Visconti, Bowie’s brave new sound is inspired by none other than hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar. Now, that sounds awesome.
Savages, *Adore Life (Jan. 22): *These Londoners’ roiling 2013 debut netted a lot of comparisons to gloomy ‘80s post-punks like Joy Division and Siouxsie and The Banshees. It’s true Savages use a lot of echo, but “The Answer” — the advance single from the upcoming album Adore Life — emphasizes the band’s swirling, mosh-ready pummel that accelerates and then spirals into something more like hardcore.
Megadeth, *Dystopia (Jan. 22) : *Preceded by a turmoiled 2014 that saw family members dying and band members departing, Dystopia adds guitarist Kiko Loureiro from Brazil’s Angra and (temporarily) drummer Chris Adler from Lamb of God to the Megadeth fold. Country musician Steve Wariner guests on pedal steel, and Dave Mustaine has warned of classical influences as well. Singles “Fatal Illusion” and “The Threat Is Real” are paranoid thrash whirlwinds.
Eleanor Friedberger, *New View (Jan. 22): *On The Fiery Furnaces albums, Eleanor Friedberger accompanies her brother Matthew’s burbling multi-instrumental sprawl with a cascade of deadpan verbiage — except when her sweet, scratchy voice is singing country-licked indie rock songs (see The Furnaces’ EP and Widow City and two witty and weird solo outings on Merge Records). Her Frenchkiss debut, New View, will follow from those as evidenced in the wistful amble of the single, “He Didn’t Mention His Mother.”
Sia, *This Is Acting (Jan. 29): *What’s supposed to make the Australian electro-pop sprite’s seventh album “acting” is that, with one exception, the album comprises songs she originally pitched to other artists. Spacey, swooping survivor anthem “Alive” and piano ballad “Bird Set Free,” already released as singles, were meant for Adele, for instance; other tracks were earmarked for Beyoncé, Shakira and Rihanna. She’s not so much expressing herself, Sia has said, as trying on costumes.
The Nevermen, *The Nevermen (Jan. 29): *A bi-coastal collaboration you didn’t expect between TV on the Radio‘s Tunde Adebimpe, Faith No More‘s Mike Patton, and L.A. rapper and Anticon Records co-founder Doseone, The Nevermen have released a pair of playful, squelchy singles (“Tough Towns” and “Mr. Mistake”) and their 10-track debut was recorded over a period of eight years, so expect something dense.
*More notable January releases: *R&B artist Tinashe hopes to finally realize her potential as a buzzy pop heroine with Joyride. Country music fans should also expect new albums from The Brothers Osborne, Hank Williams Jr. and the Randy Rogers Band, all dropping on January 15. Aubrie Sellers, who has been touring with the likes of Chris Stapleton, Hayes Carll and Ralph Stanley, also just happens to be the daughter of country singer/songwriters Jason Sellers and Lee Ann Womack. Look for her new album January 29.
Elton John, *Wonderful Crazy Night (Feb. 5): *Sir Elton’s 33rd album, produced by T-Bone Burnett and co-written with Bernie Taupin, also marks the first time in a decade he’ll be backed by the Elton John Band, which includes drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone from the ‘70s. Preview singles “Looking Up” and the title track are rollicking, piano-driven bounces, with touches of rockabilly and boogie-woogie.
*Wynonna Judd & the Big Noise, self-titled (Feb. 12): *As a solo artist, Wynonna Judd has always played on her gritty, soulful side, so it’s with great excitement that we hear some of the songs on her upcoming Wynona Judd & the Big Noise were written by CMA Album of the Year winner (and fellow soul lover) Chris Stapleton. Guests that joined in on the sessions include Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Jason Isbell and Eagles’ bassist Timothy B. Schmit.
Wolfmother, *Victorious (Feb. 19): *Wolfmother is gearing up for a huge 2016 with their fourth full-length, the Brendan O’Brien-produced Victorious. If lead singles “City Lights” and “Victorious” are any indication, the group’s songwriting chops are sharper than ever and reflect their profound love for high-decibel hard rock and retro heavy metal. Andrew Stockdale — Wolfmother’s primary composer and lone original member — also sounds older and wiser, with a newfound love for Beatles-esque hooks and proggy, analog synthesizers.
Bonnie Raitt, *Dig in Deep (Feb. 26): *Bonnie Raitt’s 2012 Slipstream, earned the rock icon a Grammy for Best Americana Album and helped put her back on the commercial map. Having fallen back in love with the rootsy blues and rock of her youth, she sounded absolutely re-energized. Raitt attempts to repeat the success with Dig in Deep, her 20th full-length album, which features five originals (the most since 1998’s Fundamental).
Field Music, *Commontime (Feb. 26): *This cool, wry Northern English band hasn’t released a studio album since 2012 — though brothers David and Peter Brewis kept busy with side projects and Field Music provided the ambient, aquatic soundtrack for a re-release of the 1929 North Sea documentary Drifters. New single “The Noisy Days Are Over” is an assured return: a breezy, spacious, ’80s-crisp indie pop song.
The 1975, *I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are so Beautiful Yet so Unaware of It (Feb. 26): *We don’t know whether the sophomore album from these precise Mancunian art-poppers will be as go-for-broke maximalist (or as faintly creepy) as its title, but advance singles — “Love Me” and “Ugh!” — point toward a hip-popping combination of dry, post-punk guitars and looping pop-radio hooks. It’s crisp, clipped white-boy funk, with the potential to be as dryly sexy as Jarvis Cocker or as twitchy as Talking Heads.
Anthrax, *For All Kings (Feb. 26): *Jarred by the Charlie Hebdo attack and recent mass shootings, Scott Ian wrote “Evil Twin,” a rampaging, melodramatic single that takes on fundamentalist terrorism: “Slaughtering the innocent!,” Joey Belladonna rages. “You’re no martyrs!” More than three decades since their debut, the New York thrash band’s first album in five years promises more such timely aggression.
More February releases: Country music veteran Vince Gill releases Down to My Last Bad Habit, which features appearances by Little Big Town and Cam on February 12 and country singer/songwriter Chuck Wicks releases Turning Point on February 26.
Loretta Lynn, *Full Circle (March 4): *The iconic country singer Loretta Lynn is expected to release her first album in a decade. Full Circle was produced by John Carter Cash and Patsy Lynn Russell. Lynn, whose last album was the 2004 Jack White-produced Van Lear Rose, duets with Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello on the aptly-titled Full Circle. Also included is a re-recorded version of her sassy, whip-smart 1968 hit, “Fist City.”
Jeff Buckley, *You and I (March 11): *Fans of the late singer/songwriter are eagerly awaiting the arrival of You and I. Culled from sessions he did in 1993, the “lost album” is heavy on covers, including a folk-rock rendition of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everyday People.” You and I also boasts the previously unreleased original “Dream of You and I.” To ensure artistic integrity, Buckley’s mother, Mary Guibert, personally oversaw the project.
Bon Jovi: *This House Is Not for Sale (March): *After releasing the quasi-compilation Burning Bridges, Bon Jovi is set to unveil new material with This House Is Not for Sale. In recent interviews, Jon Bon Jovi has described the record as “going back to the beginning,” and the band even returned to the studio where they recorded their 1984 debut. Fans surely will be stoked to hear them re-embrace their hard rock roots.
Primal Scream, *Chaosmosis (March 18): *The venerable Scots have been everything from jangle poppers and shoegazers to acid house hedonists and confrontational anti-capitalist dance-punks. They recently found a rich late-career groove with 2013’s pulsing, psychedelic More Light, so basically anything could happen here.
Vektor, *Terminal Redux (March): *The most scientifically minded new thrash band to emerge this decade, Philadelphia-via-Arizona dudes Vektor promise a concept album that “tells the story of a test subject and his rise to power within the all-controlling Cygnus Regime,” whatever that means. Pre-release single “Ultimate Artificer” is a real whopper that explores distant galaxies. The band is slated to tour with Voivod starting in March and the album is even said to feature Philly soul singers!
More Upcoming Releases
Rihanna, *ANTI: *Last November, rumors abounded that Rihanna’s ANTI would drop before Thanksgiving. But all we got were an announcement of an upcoming tour, the unveiling of the album’s cover art, and a promotional “ANTIdiaRy” website. Surprise releases are now industry practice, so her first album in over three years could literally appear any day now.
*Kanye West: *When will he release his eighth album? The question hung over most of 2015 as West teased potential titles — first So Help Me God, then SWISH — and released a handful of new tracks. The muted reception to his singles “Only One” and “All Day” fueled concern that SWISH may be his first flop. At the moment, Kanye has a golden reputation for classic albums. Can he make one more?
*Drake: *He’s one of the biggest sellers of the decade, but can his forthcoming Views of the 6 (rumored to be dropping in January) certify him as a hip-hop GOAT (Greatest of All Time), and not just a product of the era?
Usher’s taken so long to release a new album that no one talks about it much anymore, even though he continues to release one-off hits like “I Don’t Mind.” However, expect the hype surrounding his follow-up to 2012’s Looking 4 Myselfto resurface when it finally arrives. Other anticipated R&B releases include upcoming projects from Kehlani, Adrian Marcel and BJ the Chicago Kid.
*Deftones: *The last we heard was that the adventurous alt-rockers’ eighth studio album was in final mixing. The band hasn’t released an album since 2012’s Koi No Yokan, but frontman Chino Moreno’s minimal, dream-poppy side project ††† suggests the omnivorous spirit that helped lift Deftones above their Californian nu-metal peers two decades ago hasn’t disappeared.
M.I.A., *Matahdatah: *We think this exists. Two video-accompanied 2015 tracks from the global beat connoisseur — “Swords” and the hypnotic “Broader Than a Border,” a spiraling, addictive chant that mashes up immigration policy with clipped Internet memespeak — were billed as part of a multimedia project called Matahdatah, to be deployed in installments and to be “truly global and characteristically DIY.”
Ariana Grande, *Moonlight: *While making amends for a rather wacky donut-licking controversy last summer, the 22-year-old has been dropping hints about her third album for months. Lead single “Focus” has a percolating rhythm, funk horn parts, and chanting from Jamie Foxx, but Grande claims the album is very different; whether it’s a move toward EDM or R&B, as scuttlebutt variously suggests, remains to be seen.
There’s plenty of anticipated hip-hop releases, including Young Thug, who wants to capitalize on the drama surrounding his “official” debut Hy!£UN35, while his rival Lil Wayne will try to resolve an ongoing contract dispute with Cash Money Records and issue Tha Carter 6. A$AP Ferg’s Always Strive and Prosper could certify A$AP Mob as the first important East Coast crew since the days of Dipset and G-Unit. And Macklemore & Ryan Lewis plan to top the success of their Grammy-winning, platinum-certified 2012 album The Heist.
–Compiled by Chuck Eddy, Justin Farrar, Linda Ryan and Mosi Reeves