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The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017

Here's a stack of reasons to get totally pumped up for the new year

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    Artwork by Cap Blackard

    By now, you’re probably sick of hearing about the shit year that was 2016 — the deaths, the hatred, the election, yada, yada, yada. The good news is that the next 52 weeks look pretty, pretty … pretty good. Arcade Fire, St. Vincent, and LCD Soundsystem are coming back into the flesh, while a number of veterans like Roger Waters, Blondie, and Bruce Springsteen are ready to start.

    And to think, that’s only a handful of the crop. Ahead, you’ll find the other 44 releases that will likely tickle a number of your fancies, and while we can’t guarantee that all of them will come out (we’re looking at you, Tool), we feel prettyi confident in the overwhelming majority. Bottom line: You’re going to like what you’re listening to in 2017.

    That we can guarantee.
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    SchoolboyqSchoolboy Q

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: The L.A. emcee was raised on the G-Funk of Snoop and Dr. Dre, and his short career has been an endless stream of batshit bangers chock-full of pistol punchlines and funked-up flavors. 2012’s Habits & Contradictions marked him as the best of a loaded crop of new SoCal rappers — at least until label mate Kendrick Lamar went inferno on the rap scene. But while Kendrick’s been taking up all the oxygen, ScHoolboy Q has quietly put out two more great albums of his own. 2016’s Blank Face LP snagged a couple of Grammy nominations, and many musicians would have been content to coast until the award show in February. So fans perked up at an Instagram post from December 18th, where Q said, “…[N]ew album 2017 fuck a break I’m already ready.” If it’s as good as his other efforts, then rap fans are ready, too. His subject matter may be dark, but his touch is light, and while other emcees think you have to be humorless to be hood, ScHoolboy Q is never less than joyous, funky fun. –Wren Graves


    Nine Inch NailsNine Inch Nails

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    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: Trent Reznor wants to be an overachiever again. Nine Inch Nails came back from hidden shadows to release Not the Actual Events, a new EP that serves as the band’s first follow-up to 2013’s Hesitation Marks, earlier this month. Then, the band announced they’re reissuing their 1999 seminal album, The Fragile, as a four-disc box set, complete with alternate and unreleased tracks. And then, Reznor told Zane Lowe during his Beats 1 show that Nine Inch Nails have “two new major” projects planned for 2017. On top of all of this, Reznor asked longtime collaborator Atticus Ross to finally be an official member of Nine Inch Nails, a change in title that’s long overdue. Considering Ross is a member of the band, it’s safe to assume some instrumental and cinematic cuts the two created in their downtime may appear on one of the releases. Will it be a full-length? Will it be an EP? Will it be some giant release that sees the band out-doing themselves again? Probably. Now that we think about it, was there ever a time Trent didn’t strive to overachieve? –Nina Corcoran


    drake The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Drake

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: Drake’s Views proved to be one of 2016’s more divisive releases by a major artist. Some critics pondered the necessity of its bloat, while others pointed to the inescapability of hits like “One Dance”, “Controlla”, and “Hotline Bling” as evidence of Drizzy’s cultural dominance. Whatever you think of Drake, the rapper’s next move is shaping up to be even more polarizing. In October, he announced that his next release will be titled More Life and won’t be an album at all, but rather a playlist. “I’m off like mixtapes, I want to do a playlist,” he said on his OVO Sound Radio. “I want to give you a collection of songs that become the soundtrack to your life.” That’s a pretty vague description, but Drake later revealed via his stylist, Ian Connor, that revenge is a big theme of More Life. Whether the “playlist” will be a celebration of life or a savage take-down of Drake’s enemies, we can’t wait to hear what the 6 God has in store for us. –Collin Brennan


    fjm The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Father John Misty

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: There’s a touch of intrigue to Father John Misty’s music: Is this his character singing? Is it a glimpse at J. Tillman himself? Where do the lines blur? There’s a bit of blur in his own brain right now, it seems, but it’s not an identity crisis. A recent song, “Holy Hell”, is decidedly political, though he’s also recently decried entertainment as an inadequate force of social change (and after this election, who would disagree?). Rather than simply lament the state of our country, signs point to Father John Misty asking bigger questions about how artists can make an impact in these potentially regressive times. Whether he does it earnestly or through his own brand of satire is yet to be seen. –Randall Colburn

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    blondie The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Blondie

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: Blondie knows how to stay relevant. In its 40-plus-year career, the band’s collaborated with artists from across the musical spectrum to help broaden their sound and stay in touch with cultural trends. That looks to be the case with their forthcoming album as well, what with hotshot producer John Congleton at the helm and a veritable who’s who of guests that includes Sia, Charli XCX, Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes, Nick Valensi, Joan Jett, The Gregory Brothers, and Johnny Marr. What that confluence of influences will sound like is reason enough to seek out Debbie Harry’s latest effort, which she suggests will be rather universal: “What happens for me and the songs is that the lyrics are always about relationships for the most part, and then there’s this musical aspect, the component of emotion that exists in the music exclusively without any lyrics. When those two things are combined, whatever happens to the listener is truly individual. That’s probably why everyone is so in tune with music. You can’t help it; it’s just something that you can’t help.” God willing. –Randall Colburn

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    sviibThe Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

    Release Date: January 13th via Warner Bros.

    Why We’re Excited: Uh, why aren’t we excited? The fact that 2017 is starting out with a new Flaming Lips record seems to bode well for the new musical year. The insane spectacle of the Lips’ live show has stolen some considerable thunder from their records over the past decade-plus, which is a shame, because few bands can make complex, psychedelic chamber pop sound so strange but sweet. Oczy Mlody, due out January 13th, is the Oklahoma City band’s latest collection of warped pop rock, the kind that has always proved to be completely unique. What little that’s been released so far sounds good, not just the work of a veteran band being weird for weird’s sake. “Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)” has plenty of hallmark Lips-isms, from Wayne Coyne’s off-key voice to the band’s quirky love of orchestral space pop. Good or bad withstanding, Flaming Lips records have never failed to be interesting, a fact that makes Oczy Mlody worth checking out by itself. –Ryan Bray

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    atdiAt the Drive-In

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: When post-hardcore legends At the Drive-In reunited in 2012, the experience left a distaste with fans expecting the same acrobatics as their heyday (guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez was stricken with grief during the run). Their latest reunion has received flack for a different reason, with founding member Jim Ward opting to not take part. Still, the 2016 dates recaptured some of the energy present in the early aughts when the Texan band suddenly disbanded at the height of their popularity, and the prospect of their first album under the AtDI banner is exciting even without Ward. At the Drive-In 2.0 didn’t need a new album to make their existence worthwhile, but the promise of new music might mean the band is back to stay. –Philip Cosores

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    SheerSheer Mag

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: Let’s not pussyfoot around the only observation that matters here, which is that Sheer Mag kick a lot of ass. The Philadelphia punks earned a coveted spot on our Top 10 Punk Songs of 2016 list for their rugged power-pop anthem “Can’t Stop Fighting”, a Thin Lizzy-esque tune that perfectly encapsulates their talent for balancing ‘70s rock cheese with a punk-friendly worldview. The only knock on Sheer Mag thus far has been the conspicuous absence of a proper full-length debut; the band recently compiled their first three 7-inch records into a single LP, but that’s not enough for those of us who want to hear them let loose and rip in a 12-song format. Let’s make a deal, Sheer Mag: Give us the hooks, and we’ll stop making fun of you for wearing sunglasses indoors. –Collin Brennan

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    fleet foxes The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Fleet Foxes

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: Remember Fleet Foxes? We won’t blame you if your memory is a bit hazy. After all, the band’s last proper release was 2011’s Helplessness Blues, an album that sounds downright antiquated now that the indie-folk bubble has officially burst (thanks for that, Mumford & Sons). During the band’s five-year hiatus, frontman Robin Pecknold went back to school at Columbia University and seems to have gained a big dose of perspective. He’s promising a new album that departs from Fleet Foxes’ traditional “folky” sound and embraces new influences in a way that isn’t totally reactionary. That’s one reason we’re excited, but we’d also love to see a new rock rivalry take root between Pecknold and former Foxes drummer Josh Tillman (aka Father John Misty). Come on, guys, take the gloves off and give the people what they want. –Collin Brennan
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    sampha process The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Sampha – Process

    Release Date: February 3rd via Young Turks

    Why We’re Excited: Considering how many people he’s worked with and how many guest spots he’s appeared on over the years, it’s strange to realize Sampha still doesn’t have a full-length debut to his name. All of that’s about to change. On February 3rd, he releases Process via Young Turks, a 10-song LP that includes previous singles “Timmy’s Prayer” and “Blood on Me”. The UK crooner made it worth the wait, and for that, he can’t be blamed. When everyone from Frank Ocean to Solange reach out for help with their albums, you start to lose track of your own project for the greater good of music. Hopefully, that means his own record will be just as moving, if not as much of an event, as theirs. –Nina Corcoran

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    real estateReal Estate – TBA

    Release Date: TBA 

    Why We’re Excited: Real Estate may have spent their time between albums cracking open their own beers, but let’s not forget they also spent 2015 and 2016 at work in the studio, too. When interviewed about his side project Ducktails, guitarist Matt Mondanile told FACT Magazine that Real Estate’s fourth album will likely be even more LA-sounding than before because of his recent move to California. Then he up and left the band, being replaced by Julian Lynch and leaving the identity of Real Estate somewhat in question. The band has unveiled their new lineup with 2016 live dates, trying out new material along the way. Our last big update from the group was in August when they were mixing the new release, giving reason to believe that the group’s fourth album should be announced shortly. –Nina Corcoran

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    u2 songs of ascent The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017U2 – Songs of Experience

    Release Date: TBA 

    Why We’re Excited: U2 have been grasping at straws for relevance ever since the notoriously botched release of Songs of Innocence, which is remembered less as a surprisingly solid late-career album (it is) than as a plague on everyone’s iTunes account. But as Achtung Baby and All That You Can’t Leave Behind have reminded us before, the Irish rockers are masters of reinvention and tend to learn from their colossal mistakes. Sure, the inclusion of OneRepublic frontman and studio superstar Ryan Tedder as co-producer smacks of desperation, but desperation and brilliance share the same area code in the world of U2. And let’s be honest, it’s hard to call them desperate when they’ve written, according to The Edge, over 50 songs for the album with lyrics “stronger than War.” Besides, even if the album’s a total bust, we’ll at the very least get to see them perform The Joshua Tree this year — not to mention, at The Farm for Bonnaroo. –Collin Brennan

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    grandaddy The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Grandaddy – Last Place

    Release Date: March 3rd on 30th Century Records

    Why We’re Excited: It’s been a decade since Grandaddy last released an album, with only a small set of reunion dates in 2012 to speak of in terms of activity. And the news of the album didn’t take the form of some grand announcement, but rather a series of tweets from mastermind Jason Lytle that casually documented his work on what will be Grandaddy’s fifth album. Lytle has steadily been releasing music under his own name for the past 10 years, so the return to the Grandaddy project hopefully will speak to some inspired songwriting and a reason to get the band back together. The group’s track record is very strong, and it seems unlikely that Lytle would want to tarnish the best thing to ever come out of Modesto, California. If the early singles, including the excellent “Way We Won’t” are any indicator, we’re in for a return to form. –Philip Cosores

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    Depeche ModeDepeche Mode – Spirit

    Release Date: Spring

    Why We’re Excited: Depeche Mode narrowly missed induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017, but the progenitive ectro-pop outfit fortunately have better things to do than live off their vast credentials. Next year will see the release of Spirit, the band’s 14th studio effort and first since 2013’s Delta Machine. Details so far are scarce, but what little we do know sounds promising. James Ford of Simean Mobile Disco manned the album’s production, and frontman Dave Gahan told Rolling Stone that Ford’s input helped “guide” the band. That’s not very surprising given the sonic debt that Simean Mobile Disco owes the band, and it will be interesting to see what kind of inspiration Depeche Mode takes from one of their most prodigious followers. Snippets from the record that have so far been released sound reliably dark, complex, and catchy, so the band at the very least sounds like they’re in their comfort zone. –Ryan Bray

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    phosphorescentthumb The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017Phosphorescent

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: Matthew Houck, the man behind the Phosphorescent moniker, took a relatively easy path through 2015. He released a live album in February 2015, but wasn’t on the road much after that until a scattering of 2016 dates that felt designed for his band to shake off some rust. His Instagram has been filled with pictures of the band working in a makeshift living room studio apparently set up in Nashville. Some of the images include dueling drum kits, outdoor acoustic sessions, and imposing scores of cables. All this leads one to believe that the follow-up to 2013’s magnificent Muchacho is shaping up to be one of Phosphorescent’s most ornate albums to date and hopefully as lush and moving as ever. –Ben Kaye


    wolf paradeWolf Parade

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: Six years out from releasing their last album, there was very little reason to suspect that Wolf Parade would be returning. Main songwriters Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug had each further developed their unique voices, the former culminating in the superb 2016 Operators LP, Blue Wave, the latter most recently with another album in collaboration with experimental Finnish rockers Siinai. But then the rumbling started, rumor that the long-gone group were up to something. And, lo and behold, Boeckner, Krug, Arlen Thompson, and Dante DeCaro dropped an EP in May, proof that not only were they ready to return, but that that return would be as thrilling as their sterling initial run. “The focus was to be creative together again. It wasn’t to learn how to play our old songs together,” Krug told Pitchfork, and that passion and intensity came through in the EP and subsequent live performances. There’s a loose, honest feeling to the whole reunion, a good sign for whenever that new album decides to drop. –Lior Phillips


    grizzly bearGrizzly Bear

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    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: In October, Grizzly Bear tweeted a promising bit of hope for 2017: “Album 90 percent done. Last update until you hear it.” Given the band hit the studio in June, their rate of recording suggests the album will come out sometime in the second, if not first, quarter of the year. It’s the indie rock giants’ first record since 2012’s Shields, a record of fierce guitar and even more dramatic swirls of percussion than previously heard from the band, especially on “Sleeping Ute” and “Half Gate”. If Ed Droste’s Instagram is any indication, this record could pack quite a political punch with a touch of piano balladry, too. –Nina Corcoran
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    my morning jacket The 50 Most Anticipated Albums of 2017My Morning Jacket

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: In an interview with Rolling Stone, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James said he plans on recording the follow-up to 2015’s The Waterfall in the spring. Oddly enough, most of these new songs were written during the recording of The Waterfall, though he’s giving them space to grow and evolve. “You never know what’s actually gonna happen when you get down to recording,” he says. He has, however, described the new stuff as “propulsive” and rock & roll,” an approach that dovetails nicely with the band’s third album, It Still Moves, which they re-released in 2016. –Randall Colburn


    Spiritualized 2012Spiritualized – TBA

    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: Because patience is truly a virtue. In January of 2015, Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce revealed via Facebook he was enlisting the talents of Killing Joke’s YOUTH to produce his yet-to-be-titled eighth full-length studio album. At the time of the post, the duo had already started work at YOUTH’s London-based studio, embarking on a venture that was to be completed mid-2015 in Spain. Since those initial murmurs, virtually zero details surfaced of the ongoing project until a series of tweets revealed 2017 release intentions. The silence wasn’t totally unprecedented; while Spiritualized’s 2003 effort Amazing Grace was recorded in just three weeks, 2008’s follow-up, Songs in A&E, was delayed due to a lengthy illness. The last we heard, Pierce indicated this might be the final album of his career, increasing the weight that its release carries. –Derek Staples
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    dirty projectors 2012Dirty Projectors

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    Release Date: TBA

    Why We’re Excited: “I don’t know why you abandoned me,” Dave Longstreth begins on “Keep Your Name”, presumably the first new track from the upcoming album from Dirty Projectors. And, for the rest of the song, he sounds entirely alone, letting the sadness drip, shifting his voice into a downturned mourn, sampling the vocals from a love song that he sang with his now conspicuously absent bandmate/partner. “We don’t see eye to eye,” the sample loops. For fans only recently acquainted with the project, the lack of soaring harmonies and approachable, hook-y structures might be even more stunning than the raw emotion; but the shivering electronic percussion recalls The Getty Address, and the open-hearted insular solo vocals echo the The Glad Fact, Longstreth returning to the tools he’d used to create masterpieces long before he and Amber Coffman had struck upon the pop majesty of “Stillness Is the Move”. “Keep Your Name” also features a Dan Deacon sample and modular synths from former Battles frontman Tyondai Braxton, signalling more eccentric choices are in store. –Lior Phillips

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