Albums To Look Forward To In 2017
With the seemingly endless stream of highly publicized celebrity deaths, the geopolitical scene being turned on its head every other day, and one of the most uncomfortable political elections of all time; it’s as good a time as any to remember that a new year promises a new opportunity for great music. 2017 promises, at the very least, to be an interesting year, and with an interesting year comes interesting music. Here is just a sampling of what 2017 promises in terms of tunes.
At the Drive-In, TBA (Spring 2017)
At The Drive-In have been effectively defunct since their release of their critically acclaimed third studio album, Relationship Of Command in September of 2001 (and their subsequent messy break-up months later). Any idea of them getting back together again seemed all but impossible, especially considering that this seemingly impossible reunion already happened once before in 2012 and didn’t lead to anything other than a few shows. Everyone was caught by surprise by the news that the cult post-hardcore outfit decided to re-reunite in the summer of 2016. It would also be safe to say that everyone was even more surprised by the band’s causal announcement of a world tour followed by their teasing of the first new At The Drive-In track in 16 years, “Governed by Contagions.” No release date has officially been announced for the new album, and the fact that band co-founder and guitarist Jim Ward quit the band shortly before the reunion kicked-off has thrown a shadow of uncertainty over the whole thing. For now, though, tentatively as it may be, the rest of the band are shooting for a Spring release.
Depeche Mode - Spirit (Spring 2017)
Depeche Mode are four years removed from their last album, Delta Machine, which means they’re just about due for another eye-popping world tour with an accompanying slew of new songs in their wake. If their teaser is anything to go by, Spirit promises to be a throwback to the even more icy and electronic influenced sounds of Depche Mode’s Exciter and Ultra era. Frontman and songwriter David Gahan has already said that Spirit will “have something for everyone.” Suffice to say, any year with new Depeche Mode music is better than one without.
The Jesus & Mary Chain - Damage and Joy (March 24, 2017)
How’s this for significance? The Jesus & Mary Chain haven’t released an album in 18 years, and yet somehow remain still as great as ever at putting together brand new, catchy electro-pop; that is, if their teased single “Amputation” is anything to go by. Produced by Killing Joke bassist, Youth (and coincidentally featuring him on bass), as well as boosting the dual percussion section of Brian Young and Phil King to accompany the Reid brothers, all the moving parts are there to make this easily the most anticipated comeback record of 2017.
Raekwon - The Wild (March 17, 2017)
Simply put, when anyone of the Wu-Tang Clan announces a new album, people listen. Raekwon, one of the more accomplished lyricists of the iconic rap outfit, set the hip-hop world on fire with the announcement of a title and release date for his upcoming follow up to 2015’s Fly International Luxurious Art. While no new singles have been leaked (yet) and the album’s sound remains shrouded in mystery, it’s not a stretch to assume that if it’s an album that, according to rumor, features Snoop Dog, 2Chainz, Busta Rhymes, French Montana and A$AP Rocky, along with the fire-spitting Raekwon himself; it’s bound to be an interesting ride.
Lorde - TBA (Spring 2017)
We now stand four years from Lorde’s chart topping monster, Pure Heroine. Since then, the 20-year-old platinum-selling singer has been popping up here and there, staying busy. Performing at a touching David Bowie Tribute concert one day, penning a song for The Hunger Games movie soundtrack the next. But she’s been awful quiet about details for her follow up record until now. Virtually nothing is known at this time about the record other than 1) it’s currently slated for an early spring release and 2) apparently she more or less finished the album on her 20th birthday, which means a single can’t be too far off in the future.
Charli XCX - TBA (May 2017)
Charli XCX had actually had some success in her native UK with her debut album, True Romance. However, most people this side of the pound know her as being the best part of Iggy Azalea's “Fancy," in 2014, and the second best part of Icona Pop’s “I Love It," in 2012, which she also co-wrote. Since then, she’s been keeping busy collaborating with and writing for the likes of Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, and Neon Jungle. A Charli XCX album has the potential to be the runaway pop-smash of the year; especially with the seeming dearth of other major pop releases scheduled for the summer by all the usual suspects (looking RIGHT at you Beyoncé and Taylor Swift), and the talented pop writing resume she backs. Get ready to feel the XCX summer loving.
Mastodon - TBA (Summer 2017)
It’s been a good run for the Atlanta metal outfit Mastodon. Their last couple of albums, The Hunter and Once More Around the Sun, found the band pursuing a more stripped-down, riff-heavy approach to their music; as opposed to the concept heavy albums of their earlier releases. But for fans hoping for a return to the heady, dark themes that defined their early, progressive sound, you will rejoice! Mastodon's going back to the lab, and they’re not coming out till they’ve got a brand new concept album in tow. The theme? If drummer Brann Dailor’s statements are anything to go by, it’s going to be an album that explores cancer and the concept of mortality and regret, so it's probably going to be a great listen.
Pissed Jeans - Why Love Now? (February 24, 2017)
Noise-punks, Pissed Jeans, are quite simply a tragically underrated band. Their 2013 record, Honey, was a near-perfect homage to the chaotic hardcore/noise rock scene of the 80’s, and on their fifth studio album, they show no signs of changing that direction. Why Love Now is purported to feature the band at their most noisy, and most obnoxious, sneering as they raise the middle finger to corporate America, and laughing at the face of anything resembling a safety net. In other words, a perfect early contender for “Album That Most Adequately Sums Up The Year."
St. Vincent - TBA (Spring 2017)
What else is there that can be said about the multi-instrumentalist wonder that is St. Vincent, AKA Ann Clark? With every record, she’s proven time and time again that she can throw together something that you’ve never heard before. Noise, shoegaze, rock, pop, whatever the genre label, she finds a way to blend it all together with a refined ear for arrangement and songwriting. Needless to say, any news of a new St. Vincent album is cause for rejoicing. St. Vincent has already gotten herself a Grammy for her last record in 2014 (St. Vincent). Just imagine how far she can push the envelope with that under her belt.
Gorillaz - TBA (Spring 2017)
When Damon Albran isn’t fronting Blur, he’s tooling around with this incredible, eccentric group of virtual, fictional artists called Gorillaz; all while collaborating (and presumably more tooling about) with his own exciting list of artists he apparently has on speed dial. A new Gorillaz album had been the hotly anticipated rumor for a quite a while now, with every new tease getting more and more outlandish. Albarn's far above the mere cryptic Facebook post. Too tame. How about instead his virtual guitarist Noodle getting her own OkCupid profile for a day (before being deleted), and then posting up a Soundcloud collab with Grimes, Laurie Anderson, Empress Of, and Kuwait electronic musician Fatima Al Quadiri? For all the talk and all the tease though, nothing concrete had ever been laid out. The sound of the new album has been left deliberately vague save for Albar's assertion in interviews that he wanted to go for a much faster-paced album in constant to the 2010's melancholy, Plastic Beach. There's finally reason to believe a Gorillaz album will be coming sooner rather then later, and will have been well worth the wait. Waiting right up till the 11th hour before Inauguration Day, the new Gorlliaz track "Hallelujah Money" dropped. Featuring UK singer-songwriter, Benjamin Clementine, the accompanying music video leaves no doubt that it's a less then-flattering shout out to the 45th President. The Gorlliaz are back and from the sounds of things, are going to have plenty to say about 2017.
Jay-Z - TBA (2017)
Rumors have been persisting that Jay-Z had already put the finishing touches on an album to be released in 2016. What surprised everyone was his wife, Beyoncé, releasing a groundbreaking, chart-topping album (2016’s highlight, Lemonade) which may or may not have been a painful recounting of all the shady business that he’d been getting into over the course of their marriage. However, the rumors of a Jay-Z an album featuring his side of the story haven’t gone away, and unlike a lot of long shots, at least all the moving parts are there to suggest we will be hearing a track from this album sooner rather than later.
LCD Soundsystem - TBA (2017)
It can't be said enough: LCD Soundsystem really are a band again. December of 2015 marked their first single since they broke up. Sure, it was a disposable Christmas tune most moved on to forget, but the fact remained that they were a group again; ready to tour and and blow our collective minds with their mix of psychedelic, feel-good, dancey jams. More importantly, there has been a promise to release a proper full-length since the electronic group’s reunion. Frontman James Murphy has insisted for the better part of all of 2016 that a new album was coming. Obviously that ended up never happening, but the news that they chose to cancel the rest of their Asia/Australia tour this year to work in the studio leaves things looking very promising.
Tool - TBA (2017)
It’s been almost ten years since Tool’s last album, not that frontman Maynard James Keenan has been hurting for work. His side gigs of fronting A Perfect Circle and Puscifer, along with running his vineyard and an organic produce market keep him quite busy. Rumors of a proper follow up to 10,000 Days have been hard to shake, but what makes this year different is that the band has actually confirmed two potential albums worth of material existing and that the reason there hasn’t been a release date is that songs aren’t up to their standards. Chalk this one up as a long shot. Great if the outfit gets it together and puts out one more album, but not the end of the world if they don’t. We’ll always have “Stinkfist."
Zac Del La Roacha - TBA (2017)
Hellooooo Mr. Chinese Democracy. I’m not even going to get into the crime that was the world being denied any new Rage Against The Machine during the entirety of the Bush administration. Let's just start with this persisting, oft-reported rumor that any minute now, RATM frontman, the explosive Zach del la Rocha, will release a solo hip-hop album. It’s one of those things that just makes perfect sense. He’s got a dynamite voice, and hearing him torch the man again with new material would be perfect. Rumors of his solo Rocha project have been up till now just rumors, but just as everyone had given up on ever thinking something would come out of this, out of nowhere, a track dropped in September called “Digging For Windows," and it's a barn burner. The warrior poet may very well have something concrete come Spring; just in time to be months deep into a Trump administration. How interesting that will be.