16 new albums to watch for in 2018

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Kanye West, Kanye, Yeezy

Kanye West performs at the SAP Center in San Jose on Nov. 17, 2016. Photo: Paige K. Parsons

Goodbye, 2017. It was great knowing you! Not really. Actually, 2017 sucked … except for the music; the music was great!

Hello, 2018. It’s time to look forward to what is to come this year. Below, I have compiled a list of new albums from artists that are scheduled to be released or hopefully will be released in the coming year. Enjoy.

MGMT — Little Dark Age — MGMT is set to release its first full-length in more than four years, titled Little Dark Age, which is due out in February. Ever since tracks “Kids” and “Electric Feel” stormed the alt-rock airwaves in 2008, the eccentric band has struggled to find its footing. Needless to say, the first two singles from their upcoming project, “Little Dark Ages” and “When you Die,” have provided naysayers and hesitant fans a glimmer of hope. The aforementioned tracks parade the zany outfit at their most electro-driven selves since their stunning debut Oracular Spectacular, but with a darker and more ‘80-inspired posture of production. If these two singles are an indicator of what’s to come for MGMT, expect a return to form for the once-beloved indie darlings.

Brian (fka Rich Chigga) — Amen — Like many young up-and-coming rappers, Brian emerged to prominence through the lens of meme culture. After breaking the internet with his tongue-in-cheek and much-talked-about debut track, “Dat $tick,” early in 2017, the 18-year-old Indonesian-born rap prodigy took to social media on Dec. 19 to announce his debut album, Amen, which is set to drop on Feb. 2. In spite of his “ironic” lyricism, Brian possesses a traditional, husky flow, unlike his burgeoning contemporaries, and has validated his legitimacy through collaborations with the likes of 21 Savage and rap icon Ghostface Killah, to name a few. With all of this in mind, Brian is much more than a meme rapper; he is a serious talent to reckon with and is someone you should take seriously once Amen drops.

Tool — TBA — For a little over a decade now, the wait for a new Tool record has persisted into a grueling interval to say the very least. In spite of the eternal wait, relief may have finally surfaced, as drummer Danny Carey confirmed that the upcoming year will “definitely” yield a new record. Fans should swarm in excitement for the release of the band’s new project (their first since 2006’s 10,000 Days) within the first half of the year, according to Carey in an interview with Loudwire. If Carey’s confidence does not inspire enough hope for new material, Prophets of Rage guitarist Tom Morello took to Instagram on Dec. 11 to announce that he “had the honor of being the first outsider to hear new #TOOL music today!!” In all honesty, I’m not expecting anything great from Tool if they do finally release new material. However, it’ll be nice to experience for the sake of nostalgia.

Spiritualized — TBA — It’s been five years since the last Spiritualized project, 2012’s Sweet Heart Sweet Light. Nonetheless, fans of the neo-psychedelic, shoegazing project should expect a new album in 2018. Unfortunately, frontman Jason Pierce said in an interview with The Quietus in August that the band’s upcoming record will most likely be its last. With this in mind, Pierce has been hard at work on an album that he wanted to be “really, really worthy of existing and worthy of being out there.” This should make all music lovers excited, as Pierce has done nothing but refine his craft throughout the years into something unparalleled. With the amount of effort and care Pierce has reportedly been putting into his upcoming and possibly last album, expect Spiritualized’s next release to rival the greatness of their groundbreaking 1997 record, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, one of the crown jewels of ‘90s music. 

A$AP Rocky — TBA — Admittedly, I’ve never really been a fan of A$AP Rocky. While I initially enjoyed his debut album LongLiveA$AP, his follow-up was, in my books, a sophomore slump. In fact, the release of At.Long.Last.A$AP, made me realize that the Harlem rapper’s debut was just an overhyped compilation reliant on guest features and ridiculously good production. With that being said, A$AP has proven nothing when it comes to his skill as a rapper, as his sluggish flow and notoriously sparse bars have continually rubbed me the wrong way. However, the rumored upcoming release by the almost-30-year-old still has me excited. The fact that A$AP oozes with style and moxie gives me hope that I can soon buy into the hype surrounding his music and that the album will rekindle the initial awe I had experienced with his debut. My fingers are crossed for a reinvented and improved A$AP Rocky.

Vampire Weekend — Mitsubishi Macchiato — I’m sure everyone expected this one to make the list. In fact, everyone had anticipated that Vampire Weekend would drop something before the end of 2017, once frontman Ezra Koenig stated that the group’s next album was “80 percent finished” this past summer. Obviously, that did not happen. Considering that the New York band has stood as the pinnacle of indie rock ever since its 2006 inception, the five years since their last release, Modern Vampires of the City, have been restless for fans. While the frontman has dabbled with multiple projects since Modern Vampires of the City, such as his Netflix show Neo Yokio, Koenig stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he has been working on the new album off and on for these past five years and full time for the past two. It’s been reported that the band has been focusing heavily on tapping into their potential as songwriters and in storytelling during this timeframe, while focusing less on altering their style and sound. With their next album set to be released any moment now, expect a much more mature Vampire Weekend, but with the same sound that we have grown to love over the past decade.

Vampire Weekend, Ezra Koenig, Chris Baio, Chris Tomson, Rostam Batmanglij

Vampire Weekend performs at Outside Lands Music Festival in Golden Gate Park on Aug. 11, 2013.

Parquet Courts — TBA — Frontman Andrew Savage and New York post-punk act Parquet Courts have been a busy bunch since the release of their fantastic 2016 album Human Performance. Between releasing a collaboration project with composer Daniele Luppi and Savage dropping his solo debut all in 2017, the post-punkers have also been putting in work for the follow-up to Human Performance. Fans should expect a fiery, pissed-off Parquet Courts in 2018, as Savage, in an interview with DIY, described the quartet’s next album as a compilation of, “Things you can dance to and things I could harness my anger into, which is plentiful being in America right now.” With the above in mind, there’s nothing better than some fury-driven post-punk.

Death Cab For Cutie — TBA — This past November, Ben Gibbard, the iconic frontman of Seattle band Death Cab For Cutie took to social media and hinted at the possibility of new material with the caption: “LP9 // 2018.” While the band has been mostly dormant since their 2015 album Kintsugi (with the exception of Gibbard, who released a solo album titled Bandwagonesque this past year), this update gives us at least a timeline for when to expect the new Death Cab album. Although Kintsugi was widely considered an underwhelming record from Gibbard and company, there’s hope that the band has something extra special in store, given that 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the first Death Cab For Cutie album, 1998’s Something About Airplanes.

Death Cab For Cutie, BottleRock, DCFC

Death Cab For Cutie at BottleRock on May 31, 2016. Photo: Jon Ching

Ought — Room Inside The World — Despite releasing an underwhelming solo debut in 2017, Tim Darcy and his band Ought are set to release their forthcoming record Room Inside the World, out Feb. 18 via Merge Records. Coming off their phenomenal 2015 sophomore record Sun Coming Down, the Montreal-based post-punk outfit is experimenting with a more textured and synthier style of production, as indicated by their upcoming album’s groovy first single, “These 3 Things.” While their sonic approach seems to have changed with their new wave-y single, the four-piece band appears to have maintained its iconic, paradoxical mix of cynical and optimistic lyrics synonymous with the current wave post-punk (e.g. Parquet Courts, Preoccupations).

Sun Kil Moon/Mark Kozelek — TBA (Two records) — After releasing Common As Light And Love Are Red Valleys of Blood under the Sun Kil Moon moniker and a solo EP, both in 2017, Mark Kozelek announced via his official website that he’s got two more Sun Kil Moon records on the way … two albums! Despite Sun Kil Moon’s 2017 release being one of my least favorite of Kozelek’s (man was that a long listen), it was still an incredibly solid record. Having said that, I expect a complete rebound from one of the greatest songwriters and most talented musical minds alive.

Cardi B — TBA — Bronx-born rapper Cardi B owned 2017 without even dropping an album. Her first single under a record label (Atlantic Records), “Bodak Yellow,” continues to dominate airwaves and even garnered the honor as Pitchfork’s number one song of 2017. While her smoldering, Grammy-nominated hit single continues to put fame to her name, there’s nothing about Cardi B that screams one-hit wonder. From her chart-topping single to her guest feature appearances with G-Eazy and Migos, the 25-year-old phenom has displayed an unheralded rapping ability. With her sudden success and consistent onslaught of fiery bars, it’s easy to envision the rapper achieving even more success, especially with the anticipated release of her debut album for the upcoming year. Back in October, the Carli B announced that she would soon drop her first official debut LP, but fans have since been in the dark about the date. Even though there has been little to no information surrounding the 2018 release, expect nothing less than impassioned excellence from the new queen of rap.

ScHoolboy Q — TBA — At the heels of label-mate Kendrick Lamar dropping DAMN. back in April, TDE hinted at the possible release of a new ScHoolboy Q album in the near future. A few months later (Sept. 22), the West Coast rap virtuoso posted a video on Instagram of him training at the gym and in the video’s caption, “Q” revealed his upcoming album was 90 percent done. With this piece of news in mind, it’s worth noting that Q was featured on a new track with fellow TDE artist SiR, titled “Something Foreign.” With SiR’s label debut rumored to drop on Jan. 19, expect Q’s next album to follow. With 2016’s Blank Face LP asserting Q as the best West Coast rapper outside of Kendrick, his next project just might solidify him as K-Dot’s equal.

ScHoolboy Q

ScHoolboy Q performs at Golden Gate Park at Outside Lands on Aug, 13, 2017. Photo: Alessio Neri

Porches — The House — One of the most underappreciated musical talents around, Aaron Maine of New York’s own Porches is about to drop what will undoubtedly be Maine’s best and most sonically intricate work on Jan. 19, titled The House. After their 2016 breakthrough album Pool placed the band under a larger spotlight with dancier, synth-driven production, Maine appears to have taken his talent as a producer to a new, ass-shaking level. While Porches’ first single off The House, “Country,” is extremely atmospheric and considerably melancholic, the album’s second single “Find Me” is quite the opposite, as the house-inspired production makes you want to just get up and dance the night away. With Porches’ latest reportedly receiving contributions from the talents of Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), (Sandy) Alex G, Bryndon Cook (Starchild & The New Romantic) and even Maine’s own Father, anticipate a phenomenal effort from the underexposed Porches.

My Bloody Valentine — TBA — In an interview with Rolling Stone, Kevin Shields, lead vocalist and guitarist of the pioneers of shoegaze, My Bloody Valentine, announced that a new MBV album will “definitely” drop sometime in 2018. Shields was incredibly candid and transparent during the interview, as he provided all the information we needed to kick into full excitement over the band’s prospective follow-up to 2013’s MBV: “This one is like if somebody took that and dropped some acid on it or created a dimensional clash or something. It’s more all over the place.” If what is described by Shields proves to be even slightly accurate, I am betting on some serious AOTY material from one of the greats.

Blood Orange — TBA — Dev Hynes, under the moniker Blood Orange, released arguably the best album of 2016 with Freetown Sound. Now Hynes, who has built himself up as a staple of New York’s music scene over the past decade, is set to release the follow-up to his incredibly poignant and reflective effort from almost two years ago. After revealing that work was under way on his next album this past summer, Hynes went on to discuss his new record at The New Yorker Festival this past October, revealing that his next album was “78% done.” He also discussed the themes that will be explored on the record. “A lot of the new songs on the new album deal with growing up and childhood in England… looking at the country that made me.” Blood Orange, whose genre-blending approach has influenced much of what is considered “good” pop music (Empress Of, Porches, Carly Rae Jepsen, Solange and Sky Ferreira), appears ready to take its potent pop image to the next level.

Kanye West — Turbo Grafx 16 (This might change, actually; we’re talking Kanye here) — I mean, what else did you expect to be the most anticipated album of 2018? It should be everyone’s. Whether you love him or hate him as a person, Kanye West is one of the most influential artists, rappers and producers of the 21st century, and there’s really no argument against this notion. While his last album, The Life of Pablo, was initially off-putting, it still wound up as one of my favorite Kanye releases to date. With The Life of Pablo having been released almost two years ago, there’s no way we exit 2018 without another Kanye album—am I right? Kanye is pushing the boundaries of what music can be; he’s a ceaseless innovator who is a surefire candidate to do something we haven’t seen in the music industry every time he drops something new. Expect the unexpected from Kanye in 2018.

Follow writer Kyle Kohner at Twitter.com/kylejkohner.

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