This year has already proven to be rough around the edges. Between politics and worldwide devastation, 2017 may seem unforgiving. Luckily for us, fantastic albums aren’t always made in fantastic times. That being said, 2017 will absolutely go down in history as a great year in music. Here are the albums that are going to get us here at ACRN through the new year.
Eli Shively, General Manager: Vampire Weekend, TBA
I’m writing this exactly one year to the day since the news broke that Rostam Batmanglij had quit Vampire Weekend. Like so many other longtime fans who initially took an interest in the band due to Batmanglij’s trademark stylistic mix of world music and danceable electronic pop, I was pretty disappointed — but at the same time interested to hear what they would come up with in his absence. A turn for the conventional and well-worn “mainstream indie” path seems plausible, as a good chunk of the band’s most recent release, Modern Vampires of the City, seemed to wind up in that area (“Unbelievers” and “Diane Young” still bore the living heck out of me), but it also seems a bit naive to predict an immediate loss of character post-Batmanglij, given Ezra Koenig’s similarly sized penchant for the subversive. Throw rumors of a potential major label debut into the mix, and it gets even harder to predict what VW will do next. Whatever it is, given their now-solidified reputation as one of the most consistently good acts in the indie-sphere, it’s hard not to have high expectations despite everything that’s changed.
Jon Fuchs, Music Director: Gorillaz, TBA
Gorillaz is coming out with a new album. GORILLAZ ARE COMING OUT WITH A NEW ALBUM. Just try to say that phrase without sheer giddiness – You can’t. This will be the band’s first album since their 2011 record, The Fall, which was considered by most an underwhelming and mediocre way to say goodbye, especially since it followed their bright and experimental Plastic Beach, which was a huge highlight in the band’s career.
Since that last record, endless rumors have been flooding the Internet about the band getting back together to make another album, but the evidence hasn’t really been there until 2014, when the man behind the project, Damon Albarn, announced they’d be going back into the studio for another record. After that, fans began seeing more and more hints that a record was near, including photos of Albarn with De La Soul (who have teamed up before for “Feel Good Inc.”), a very strange Instagram that continued the backstories of each of the band’s animated members and, as of last week, a new song, which has people more hyped for this record than ever. Whatever Gorillaz have planned for us in 2017, we know it’s going to be amazing.
Eric Perzanowski, Programming Director: Pallbearer, Heartless
Last summer, Pallbearer dropped a three-track EP titled Fear & Fury at a great time. It had been two years (almost to the exact day) since the release of their sophomore album Foundations of Burden, and personally, I’ve been impatiently awaiting new material from the group since shortly after it was released. Fear & Fury was a wonderful appetizer, consisting of one original tune and covers of Black Sabbath’s “Over and Over” and Type O Negative’s “Love You to Death.” The Little Rock doom quartet is set to release its third full-length, Heartless, this upcoming March. Pallbearer has become a standard-bearer in the world of doom metal, and with Heartless, the group is expected to incorporate elements of prog, proto-metal, and alternative rock. Whether these influences mean a departure from the band’s massive sound or an expansion on it remains to be seen, but needless to say, I’ll be waiting this March with an open mind and ears.
Sam Tornow, Editorial Director: Father John Misty, Pure Comedy
Father John Misty knowingly toes the line between high-brow and mainstream culture with grace. Often sneered at by non-fans in the same fashion as haters of The New Yorker, the sardonic showman is preparing the first release since his critically-acclaimed, ham-fisted I Love You Honeybear.
Earlier this month, Father John dropped his (admittedly) heavy-handed title-track, “Pure Comedy,” along with a documentary of the same name. The song streamlines Misty’s views on what he calls “The comedy of man,” calling out everything from religion to Youtube poop. In the middle of the single’s music video, amongst clips of Trump, memes, and a slew of consumerist clips is a video of his own breakdown at a festival earlier this year. It’s dense, and he knows it. Pure Comedy is looking to fit snuggly into the Misty discography as a witty, showy and quite honestly, sadly hilarious album.
Devon Hannan, Features Editor: Fleet Foxes, Ylajali
This may be a bold statement, but one of the world’s best modern folk bands, Fleet Foxes, is returning. The man himself, Robin Pecknold, has been in and out of the studio, working diligently on the band’s third, and most anxiously awaited album yet, Ylajali. And given the band’s six-year hiatus, this album better be pretty damn good. In addition to Ylajali, Pecknold is expected to release a solo album before the already rumored fourth Fleet Foxes LP – all in a matter of 24 months. What did I do to deserve this?
Fleet Foxes have also replaced percussionist, Josh Tillman, more commonly known as Father John Misty (who also has an album due out this year titled Pure Comedy) with a fellow by the name of Neal Morgan. (I’m not sure why this is such a big deal, as Tillman wasn’t even on the band’s first full-length, Fleet Foxes, but WHATEVER.) However, given the circumstances, I’m not too worried about the quality content that Ylajali is set to unleash. Pecknold has been releasing three-second clips on his private Instagram since late last year and every single post has been absolutely gorgeous and utterly tantalizing. Mixed with sweet Pet Sounds-esque harmonies and air punching jazz influence, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried just listening to the short teasers. (It’s 8.)
Tanner Bidish, Staff Writer: All Five of the King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard Releases
The Australian psychedelic rock group had a solid record last year with Nonagon Infinity, but that’s not enough for King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. This year, amongst touring, they plan to release five full-length albums! That’s nuts! That’s an album every two and a half months. I’m excited to see how each compares to the last, as King Gizzard usually has a contrivance to their albums. Whether it’s the infinite loop of Nonagon Infinity or the whimsical mood of Paper Mâché Dream Balloon, the band has a specific theme that they try to elaborate on and I’m curious to see what they’ll explore throughout the year. Maybe the spectrum of agape and eros? Maybe an ode to their native Australia? Anything could happen. The first of the five is titled Flying Microtonal Banana and drops February 24 (the same day as the new Xiu Xiu album, Forget, which is another much-anticipated release for me).
Justin Cudahy, Staff Writer: Gorillaz, TBA
The hype train for the new Gorillaz album has seemed everlasting since its announcement late last year. Over the course of the last few months, the band has taken to social media with several teasers in the form of new artwork by artist and co-creator Jamie Hewlett, a short online series chronicling each of the members’ journeys since Plastic Beach, and interviews with different magazine outlets.
Fans were finally given something to listen to with the release of “Hallelujah Money” last week, a tour de force of a song that people will either love or hate. Its Anti-Trump rhetoric comes in the form of Benjamin Clementine, who provides the haunting, yet beautiful vocals which all come together in a rather disturbing, but also powerful, music video. As polarizing as it may be, it still proved to listeners that the band hasn’t changed their style and sound during their six-year hiatus.
As someone who has grown up listening to Gorillaz, the past few months have been very nostalgic for me. I can still remember the first time watching the music video to “Clint Eastwood,” or jamming to “Feel Good Inc.” on my iPod Shuffle way back in the day. Excited isn’t a strong enough word to describe how much I am looking forward to this album.
Marvin Dotiyal, Staff Writer: Oceans Ate Alaska, TBA
Oceans Ate Alaska officially announced on their Facebook page that they are hitting the studio to record their second full-length album. They also announced the departure of their vocalist, James Harrison.
For starters, Oceans Ate Alaska is a unique British metalcore band; think old Bring Me The Horizon meets Rings of Saturn. With dissonant guitar effects, technical drumming and 432Hz concert pitch tuning, their music can get super chaotic, but catchy. Their songwriting ability and musical talent are absolutely phenomenal, and that’s what I am primarily looking forward to in their forthcoming release. Just check out the guitar and drum play-throughs of “Blood Brothers.” They are flawless live, and it’s always so fascinating to see how Chris Turner incorporates jazz drumming with metal.
Not much has been leaked about the album, but the band says that it is “by far our proudest work of art yet.” Although it is unfortunate to hear of Harrison’s departure, I am beyond excited to see them hone their creativity. Lost Isles was mind-blowing enough, so what could possibly go wrong with their next release?
Claire Klodell, Staff Writer: Father John Misty, Pure Comedy
Since I was raised in a reformed Jewish household, I have never known the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. No sentimental meaning resonated within me when those words were spoken until I discovered Father John Misty early on in my high school purgatory. (Yes, I am equating Josh Tillman with a Christ figure.) We’re still searching for our messiah!
Amid the tension of our current political climate, Father John Misty released a politically charged music video for his new six-minute single, “Pure Comedy.” With his onomatopoeia of a last name, our current president made multiple guest appearances. Josh Tillman may have eradicated his social media footprint, but still, does not hesitate to tease the world about his new album through other means. He has already shared a 25-minute film about the making of the album, which you can watch here. Not long after, he teased the album again, with a 1,850-word essay using an opening quote from Ecclesiastes. Regardless of what his teasers seemingly implicate, he has promised that his new material will be “reggae influenced and non-political.” Pure Comedy will be released on April 7, 2017.
Maria Lubanovic, Staff Writer: The Killers, TBA
The album that I’m most excited about in 2017 is The Killers new album. Yes, it’s actually happening! Their last album, released in 2012, was the underwhelming Battle Born, which failed to produce their signature sound or make a big impact. After releasing only a few Christmas singles and Direct Hits, I was afraid that they had stopped working on anything at all; Their website stopped updating and they even quit touring for a few years – but finally their dry spell has ended. The Killers have several festival gigs lined up this year, and vocalist, Brandon Flowers has confirmed that they have been in the studio recording new music for over a year.
I’ve loved The Killers for longer than I can remember. I would love if this album would be similar to either Hot Fuss or Day & Age. It might even be terrible, but I’ll still be pumped that they are even alive and performing.
Cailynn Beck, Contributor: St. Vincent, TBA
The time has finally arrived when the guitar shredding goddess, Annie Clark, or better known as St. Vincent, is finally releasing a new album. Since her last album release in 2014, St. Vincent has been working on her sixth studio album. In an interview with Guitar World, Clark exclaimed that it will be released this spring.
I’m mainly excited for this album to come out because it feels like ages since her last. I’m also huge fan of the art /rock/pop/noise genre that St. Vincent brings to the table. I grew up listening to Talking Heads and David Byrne with my dad, and when I listened to St. Vincent and David Byrne’s collaborative album, Love This Giant in 2012, I instantly fell in love with her sound. I’m also interested in listening to albums that have a political drive behind their construction. Annie Clark has used her platform as a way to share her ideas and thoughts politically, and we are in a period of time where lots of art is going to be created based off of politics. Clark states in the same interview with Guitar World that, “The personal is political, and therefore, the political can’t help but influence the art.” She also states that this is probably her boldest work in history as St. Vincent. When artists get excited and passionate about their own work, it only spreads to long-time listeners, and I can’t wait to see what art St. Vincent is going to share with us in the future.
Emily DiAlbert, Contributor: Arcade Fire, TBA
I distinctly remember the first time I heard an Arcade Fire song. As cheesy as this sounds, I was driving with friends one late summer night; The windows were down, the stars were glistening in the night sky, and the song “Wake Up,” from the band’s first studio album, Funeral, was playing on shuffle. That night I felt like Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. “Wake Up” was my tunnel song and it most certainly made me feel infinite. Its strong intro and symphonic harmonies captured both my mind and heart. I’ve been in love with the band ever since. Hearing that one of my favorite bands is releasing its fifth album sometime this year was the best news I’ve heard in months. I have no doubts that this album will be as good as Arcade Fire’s previous albums, although I don’t think anything will ever beat Funeral. The band released a new single last week titled “I Give you Power,”, which features the soulful Mavis Staples. Long explanation short, if the new album is anything like the single, it’ll be a good one.
Diana Powers, Contributor: St. Vincent, TBA
St. Vincent is one of my favorite artists of all time, so naturally, I’m excited to hear of a new album in the works. Annie Clark is an unbelievably talented musician. In fact, I’ve spent countless hours watching her live sets on YouTube, completely blown away by the herendless talent. It’s been about three years since the release of her 2014 self-titled album, St. Vincent, and I’ve been anticipating her next project ever since. Every St. Vincent album is a unique listening experience that I can’t get from most other artists. Clark has also hinted that her 2017 release will involve a completely new sound for her. As an artist that truly evolves with every album, it’ll be interesting to see what direction she goes in this time.
Alexander Sherry, Contributor: Flagship, The Electric Man
The album I’m most excited for is Flagship’s second studio record, The Electric Man. The North Carolina-based band hasn’t disappointed yet from their ethereal and emotional EP’s, Blackbush and Faded, to their full-length self-titled LP. Every track Flagship puts out is full of power and passion. The band just released “Mexican Jackpot,” their first single off of the new album. While the track has a cleaner and more meticulous tone, everything I loved about the band is still present. The thing that sets this band apart from other acts is Drake Margolnick’s vocals. He adds so much energy to every song, writing vocal melodies that instantly grab any listener’s attention.
There is no doubt in my mind that The Electric Man will be one of the best albums released in 2017, however, it probably won’t get the attention it deserves. The album is set for release on March 10th, so make sure not to pass this one up.