Albums you’ll want to hear in 2017

2017 albumsWritten by Josh Herwitt //

For as bad as 2016 might have been, there’s no question it yielded some excellent albums. So, what’s in store for 2017? It’s still early, but from what we know right now, there’s plenty of new music on the horizon — and a lot of it we can’t wait to get our hands on.

Here are 10 upcoming albums (in chronological order by release date) that you’ll want to hear and could very well end up being on some “Best of 2017” lists in another 12 months.

Bonobo – Migration

Bonobo - Migration

Release date: January 13th
Record label: Ninja Tune

British musician, producer and DJ Simon Green has organically built a loyal following among electronic music fans for almost two decades with a unique sound that combines downtempo electronica with trip-hop and world-music influences. Since 2013’s The North Borders, he has moved to Los Angeles and recorded his sixth LP Migration, which boasts a few notable guest appearances from Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker), Rhye and Hundred Waters.

The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

The Flaming Lips - Oczy Mlody

Release date: January 13th
Record label: Warner Bros.

Wayne Coyne and his psychedelic sidekicks have been busy over the last few years, recording Beatles cover album With a Little Help From My Fwends in 2014 and releasing a collaborative LP with Miley Cyrus the following year. On their 15th studio effort, the difficult-to-pronounce Oczy Mlody that drops on Coyne’s birthday, the Lips return to the days of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and get a little help from their pop-star “fwend” on closing track “We a Famly”.

SOHN – Rennen

SOHN - Rennen

Release date: January 13th
Record label: 4AD

London native Christopher Taylor has been known for working extensively with such artists as BANKS, Lana Del Rey and Rhye, but his transition in becoming a legitimate solo act was cemented with the release of his 2014 debut LP Tremors, which peaked at No. 31 on the UK charts. Now calling LA his home, he has spent the last three years constructing Rennen, his second record as SOHN that’s led by “Signal” and its frighteningly beautiful music video.

The xx – I See You

The xx - I See You

Release date: January 13th
Record label: Young Turks

No impending album in the first quarter of 2017 may have as much hype around it as The xx’s I See You, their long-awaited follow-up to 2012’s Coexist. The build-up to its release in the last few months has seen the London trio perform on SNL, where they showcased lead single “On Hold” and debuted “I Dare You”, and play shows in Eastern Europe to go along with the news of guitarist/vocalist Romy Madley Croft’s recent engagement.

Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound

Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound

Release date: January 27th
Record label: Carpark Records

Lo-fi noise rockers Cloud Nothings have come a long way since Dylan Baldi started recording songs in his parents’ basement. With their last two LPs — 2012’s Attack on Memory and 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else — garnering critical acclaim from the music media, the four-piece will release Life Without Sound, its fifth studio album and first with lead guitarist Chris Brown now officially a member of the band, later this month.

Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life

Japandroids - Near to the Wild Heart of Life

Release date: January 27th
Record label: ANTI-

Known for their DIY approach and high-energy performances, Brian King and David Prowse are back after what some may have considered a brief hiatus since touring in support of their 2012 studio album Celebration Rock. This time, the Canadian garage-punk duo is signed to a new label, with its third LP Near to the Wild Heart of Life set to drop on ANTI- in a couple of weeks before embarking on a 20-date North American tour this winter.

Elbow – Little Fictions

Elbow - Little Fictions

Release date: February 3rd
Record label: Polydor

2017 marks a big year for Elbow. The Mercury Prize winners have been going at it for 20 years, and to celebrate the occasion, frontman Guy Garvey and company are unveiling their seventh studio album Little Fictions, which features collaborations with The Hallé Orchestra and their choir after longtime drummer Richard Jupp announced in 2016 that he was leaving the group to pursue other creative projects, from expanding his drum school to various charity work.

Sampha – Process

Sampha - Process

Release date: February 3rd
Record label: Young Turks

Sampha Sisay, who performs under his mononymous stage name, has built much of his reputation on working with high-profile artists like Drake, Kanye West and Solange. But almost seven years after unveiling his debut EP Sundanza, the South London electronic musician, singer-songwriter and producer is finally dropping his own full-length effort, highlighted by previously released singles “Timmy’s Prayer” and “Blood on Me”.

Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Ryan Adams - Prisoner

Release date: February 17th
Record label: PAX AM/Blue Note

At the age of 42, Ryan Adams is as prolific as any musician out there right now, with Prisoner marking his 16th LP and the follow-up to his Taylor Swift cover album. And while he has been teasing the record for about six months, originally hinting at a possible November release, the alt-country songwriter gets ready for his next chapter, which he says was inspired by 80’s rock giants like Bruce Springsteen and AC/DC despite coping with a very public divorce at the time.

The Shins – Headworms

The Shins - Heartworms

Release date: March 10
Record label: Columbia

By the time The Shins unleash their fifth LP this March, it will be nearly five years between album releases for the Portland-based outfit. Of course, it’s no secret that bandleader James Mercer keeps a tight schedule between The Shins and Broken Bells, but on Heartworms, the Albuquerque native made sure to include “So Now What”, the song he wrote for the “Wish I Was Here” soundtrack that he later said was “one of the best things” he has ever done.

The following artists and bands are expected to release new albums in 2017 but have yet to confirm an official release date and/or an album title:

Arcade Fire
Broken Social Scene
Bruce Springsteen
Depeche Mode
DJ Premier
Grizzly Bear
Jesu/Sun Kil Moon
John Mayer
Kanye West
The Killers
LCD Soundsystem
Lupe Fiasco
Major Lazer
Modest Mouse
My Morning Jacket
The National
The Offspring
Sky Ferreira
St. Vincent
Troye Sivan
Vampire Weekend
Wyclef Jean
Zack de la Rocha

Albums you’ll want to hear in 2016

2016 albumsWritten by Josh Herwitt //

Now that we’ve said our goodbyes to 2015, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2016 and what lies ahead when it comes to new music. Although it’s still rather early and new albums are sure to be announced after this writing, there’s plenty of ear candy that’s already set to be released in 2016.

Here are 10 upcoming albums (in chronological order by release date) that you’ll want to hear and could very well end up being on some “Best of 2016” lists in another 12 months.

David Bowie – ★ (Blackstar)

David Bowie - Blackstar

Release date: January 8th
Record label: RCA/Columbia

The 20th studio album from Ziggy Stardust will be one of the first to hit stands in 2016, and although the 68-year-old legend has said that his touring days are over, Bowie is still capable of making an intriguing record, much like he did in 2013 with The Next Day. From what we’ve heard on ★, be it the 10-minute title track or in recent weeks “Lazarus” (the song that Bowie is also using in his off-Broadway musical by the same name), we’re eager to hear the rest.

Tortoise – The Catastrophist

Tortoise - The Catastrophist

Release date: January 22nd
Record label: Thrill Jockey

It’s been more than six years since Tortoise last released an album, but the Chicago post-rock outfit will unveil The Catastrophist, led by first single “Gesceap”, later this month. Featuring vocal contributions from Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley and Todd Rittmann of Chicago bands U.S. Maple and Dead Rider, the new LP was inspired by music closely tied to Chicago’s jazz and improvised music scenes that the city commissioned the band to write back in 2010.

Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger

Ty Segall - Emotional Mugger

Release date: January 22nd
Record label: Drag City

Segall announced his eighth studio album by mailing a VHS tape to Pitchfork less than two months ago, and if that wasn’t eccentric enough, the prolific garage rocker followed it up with a dedicated website for the LP, which includes a hotline number to call and two videos — one that shows him and the band wearing baby masks and another that sees him playing a doctor while explaining what “emotional mugging” is. Despite Emotional Mugger not extending quite as long as Segall’s previous solo effort Manipulator did, many of the track names are worth a chuckle, from “Breakfast Eggs” to “Baby Big Man (I Want a Mommy)”.

Bloc Party – Hymns

Bloc Party - Hymns

Release date: January 29th
Record label: BMG

Long known for pioneering a sound that bridged the gap between indie rock and electronic music, Bloc Party return in early 2016 with their fifth studio album and their first with new members Justin Harris (bass, keyboards) and Louise Bartle (drums). Debuting material from Hymns, including newest single “The Good News” at FYF Fest (read our festival review here) in August, the British quartet will also offer a deluxe edition of the LP with four bonus tracks.

St. Lucia – Matter

St. Lucia - Matter

Release date: January 29th
Record label: Columbia

Jean-Philip Grobler released the debut LP for his Brooklyn-based, synthpop project St. Lucia toward the end of 2013, and late this month, the South African native will unveil his follow-up to When the Night. If you were curious as to how Matter will sound in comparison to his first full length, Grobler has a geographical analogy to describe both: “If the last album sounded like the tropics, this album is the desert.”

Black Moth Super Rainbow

Black Moth Super Rainbow - SeeFu Lilac

Release date: N/A
Record label: N/A

Thomas Fec has become well-regarded in indie-electronic circles for his work as Tobacco over the last several years, but for more than a decade, he has also served as the frontman of Black Moth Super Rainbow, the Pittsburgh psych-rock group that’s preparing to drop its sixth studio album later this year. As BMSR fans await the LP’s official release, the band surprised many in mid-November by streaming its new mini-album Seefu Lilac, which features “neon flavored outtakes from a 6th album that doesn’t yet exist.”

Animal Collective – Painting With

Animal Collective - Painting With

Release date: February 19th
Record label: Domino

After streaming new material on loop at Baltimore’s BWI Airport the day before Thanksgiving, Animal Collective are now just a few weeks away from the release of their 10th studio album. Taking some much-needed time off after its latest tour so that David Portner and Noah Lennox could focus on their own side projects, the band refined its songwriting approach for Painting With, removing the long, ambient passages that were often synonymous with their previous LPs and also collaborating with Welsh musician John Cale and multireedist Colin Stetson.

Wild Nothing – Life of Pause

Wild Nothing - Life of Pause

Release date: February 19th
Record label: Captured Tracks

Jack Tatum remains the brains behind his indie-rock/dream-pop project Wild Nothing, having been its founder and lone songwriter since 2009. Feeding off the success of 2012’s Nocturne, Tatum consciously wanted to reinvent himself as a musician while recording Life of Pause in Los Angeles and Stockholm with producer Thom Monahan, and if his double-sided single “To Know You”/”TV Queen” is any indication, we’re starting to see what he means.

Poliça – United Crushers

Poliça - United Crushers

Release date: March 4th
Record label: Mom + Pop

Poliça lead vocalist Channy Leaneagh may have been pregnant last year, but you wouldn’t have known it from the way this Minneapolis synthpop group has continued to work in the studio. In following up its successful sophomore effort Shulamith from 2013, the five-piece takes a more political approach on its third full-length album United Crushers, which boasts first single “Lime Habit”.

Charles Bradley – Changes

Charles Bradley - Changes

Release date: April 1st
Record label: Daptone Records

You have to wonder if Charles Bradley was a Black Sabbath fan growing up as a kid, because his new album Changes draws plenty of inspiration from the legendary heavy metal group’s Vol. 4. While his cover of the famous Sabbath hit serves as the LP’s title track, the “Screaming Eagle of Soul” continues to win us over with his rags-to-riches story (Bradley was at one time homeless before becoming a cook and working various odd jobs) and his undying charisma.

The following artists and bands are expected to release new albums in 2016 but have yet to confirm an official release date and/or an album title:

Band of Horses
Chairlift – Moth
Chromatics – Dear Tommy
Crystal Castles
Death Grips – Bottomless Pit
Diddy – No Way Out 2
DJ Premier – Last Session @ 320
Drake – Views From the 6
Frank Ocean
Gary Numan
GZA – Dark Matter
James Blake – Radio Silence
Kanye West – SWISH
Kings of Leon
LCD Soundsystem
Lupe Fiasco – Drogas
M.I.A. – Matahdatah
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Major Lazer – Music Is the Weapon
Mark Kozelek
Modest Mouse
My Morning Jacket
No Doubt
Pete Yorn – Arranging Time
Rihanna – Anti
The Jesus and Mary Chain
The Killers
The Strokes
Zeds Dead

ANTEMASQUE sell out GAMH with Le Butcherettes

ANTEMASQUE_postPhotos by Pedro Paredes // Written by Scotland Miller //

ANTEMASQUE with Le Butcherettes //
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco
August 12th, 2014 //

The harsh aftermath that are the days following Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival was soothed by a special sold-out Tuesday at the Great American Music Hall. Two bands that are sure to draw crowds wherever they go, ANTEMASQUE and Le Butcherettes, delivered a power-packed night of music complete with dropped jaws and torn vocal chords.

Pedro Paredes Haz-3

On support of their new album entitled Cry Is for the Flies, Le Butcherettes is fronted by vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Teri Gender Bender and drummer Lia Braswel, with production support from Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. They are billed as a garage-punk band from Mexico and rely heavily on the simplistic formula that is “screw you, I’m gonna play what I want.”

This tactic of sonic shock rock is accompanied by Gender Bender’s politically-charged lyrics and her onstage antics, which included a bloodied kitchen apron, a broomstick crucifixion, a deep-throat of the microphone and a bit of crotch-first crowd surfing. To put it lightly, this girl is an eye-catcher on stage and will certainly make you a fan after a live performance. She even hit the bass player in the face with her shoe from across the stage! The energy that emanates from this group is shocking and undoubtedly best appreciated live.

Pedro Paredes Haz-7

A new project called ANTEMASQUE emerged earlier this year from longtime friends and familiar duo Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala, formerly of The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In. They are also joined by fellow TMV drummer David Elitch, as well as efforts from the Red Hot Chili Peppers legend Flea. Originally intended to release only a few singles in April of this year (“4AM”, “Hangin’ in the Lurch” and “People Forget”), the project evolved into the digital release of a 10-track self-titled album (read our review here) released in July with a subsequent quick two-week tour, finishing up with two shows in Los Angeles. They put a progressive spin on blues rock and punk music in a way that feels very new, which admittedly is a holy grail in the music industry. Fans of The Mars Volta shouldn’t be disappointed with this new material, but instead should recognize the new direction of these talented musicians.

Pedro Paredes Haz-23

At the exact moment of conclusion of Le Butcherettes’ opening set, the crowd immediately elbowed their way closer to the tiny stage at The Great American. A giant mass of cookie-cutter faces with stretched earlobes, flannel over shirts, IPA T-shirts, corduroy jackets, fedoras and beards all pushed forward to get a closer look at their heroes. It’s amazing the ferocity that such artists can evoke in their fans. It was refreshing to see. Not only was the reception of this performance accepted with nothing but screams of elation, but every single lyric for every song was also spouted by the vast majority of the audience. This might not be much of a notable occurrence, if it weren’t for the fact that most of this music has only been available to the public for a matter of about five or six weeks.

Pedro Paredes Haz-24

The setlist consisted of about an hour of material not quite encompassing the entirety of their self-titled release. The energy level achieved by the opening act never let up. Some of the highlighted performances came during a vibrantly charged rendition of “Hangin’ in the Lurch,” and a ripping guitar solo and jam session during “Providence.” There were a few moments of story time where Cedric explained how his grandmother was responsible for his being allowed to sing as a kid, and a quick comment about how ANTEMASQUE as a band were able to defy the music reviewers and make some music that was “all proggy prog prog” and didn’t have “a bunch of crazy time changes,” but these moments were offset by the pure magic that this pairing of musicians produced.

The sounds of ANTEMASQUE are different enough from that of their previous works, which sets this project apart from being just another time waster. Music fans will surely enjoy this act if they are ever lucky enough to see it in person.

New Music: ANTEMASQUE – Self-titled


ANTEMASQUEAntemasque //

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“I Got No Remorse”
“In the Lurch”
“Drown All Your Witches”

Album Highlights: Control freak or not, Omar Rodríguez-López has certainly kept himself busy since the breakup of The Mars Volta. The former TMV bandleader/guitarist teamed up with Le Butcherettes vocalist/guitarist Teri Gender Bender and former TMV drummer Deantoni Parks to form experimental alt-rock outfit Bosnian Rainbows in 2012, and earlier this year, he joined forces with former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante and Swahili Blonde drummer Nicole Turley to release Kimono Kult’s debut EP Hiding in the Light (read our review here). While rumors of a TMV reunion surfaced in February when Rodríguez-López and former lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala started speaking to each other again after going their separate ways for a couple years, fans were eventually informed in early April that there would be no reunion, but instead, a new project from Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala dubbed ANTEMASQUE. Featuring RHCP’s Flea on bass, the rock ‘n’ roll legend is not considered to be an official member despite letting Rodríguez-López, Bixler-Zavala and former TMV drummer Dave Elitch use his recording studio and being included in the band’s teaser video that dropped three months ago.

What came out of those sessions at Flea’s studio is the groundwork that makes up the supergroup’s 10-track, self-titled debut, which fuses the frenetic punk-rock elements of Rodríguez-López’s and Bixler-Zavala’s first band, At the Drive-In, with the prog-rock roots of TMV. The album’s first single “4AM” kicks things off in a hurry, as Bixler-Zavala shouts his way through the upbeat, yet short-lived track that sees Rodríguez-López use a guitar effect reminiscent of The Cure’s Robert Smith during the song’s verse sections. The ensuing number, “I Got No Remorse”, picks up the pace even more thanks to Elitch’s drumming, making it easy to see why the ATDI comparisons will come fast and furious for ANTEMASQUE. “In the Lurch,” on the other hand, bridges the gap between progressive rock and punk rock better than any other tune on the LP, with a breakdown midway through that lets Flea’s groovy bass line shine through.

But unlike any song on the album that precedes it, “Drown All Your Witches” takes a much different approach, with Rodríguez-López exchanging his electric guitar for an acoustic one. Surprisingly enough, it stands as one of the album’s top tracks, even if Bixler-Zavala’s lyrics are still relatively cryptic, as he demonstrates in this verse: “All I ever done is hold a love as this / I’m used to just watching without a sound / On that day with our backs against the wall / Is that how you drown all your witches?” It’s not long, of course, before we’re transported back to the charging punk that rounds out the rest of Antemasque, as we come to discover with “People Forget” and “Rome Armed to the Teeth.”

Album Lowlight: As excited as ATDI and TMV fans should be to see Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala back together making music, Antemasque doesn’t come anywhere close to topping ground-breaking albums like 2000’s Relationship of Command and 2003’s De-Loused in the Comatorium that thrust both bands into the mainstream spotlight. That’s not to say that this record is completely unlistenable, but it’s far from complete. “Ride Like the Devil’s Son” has the potential to be one of the album’s best offerings, but it falls flat when the chorus kicks in. “50,000 Kilowatts,” meanwhile, serves as another departure from the punk-prog concoction that dominates most of Antemasque, but its pop/rock vibe and cookie-cutter formula sounds rather contrived. On the whole, it’s hard to ascertain what the band’s identity truly is, as it mixes prog, punk and alt-rock over the course of just 35 minutes.

Takeaway: Although fans of TMV will likely find Antemasque too straight-forward for their liking, more traditional punk enthusiasts may be able to get behind what Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala have put together here. It’s worth nothing that Elitch’s work on the skins is absolutely exquisite throughout, driving the music forward while also lying back at certain times when it’s appropriate. There’s no doubt that Rodríguez-López, Bixler-Zavala and Elitch are all talented musicians, but you’ll want to keep your expectations to a minimum before hitting the play button.

~Josh Herwitt