Back in 2013, Phosphorescent released the gorgeous and elegiac Muchacho, which may have been the year's best record. Then, after a two year break, Matthew Hock, the mastermind behind Phosphorescent issued the stunning Live At Music Hall, which focused primarily on the beautiful tunes found on Muchacho and 2010's Here's To Taking It Easy. 2017 seems to be the year that we'll be treated to more new music from Hock and company. As yet, there is no concrete release info, but Hock has shared myriad images on social media to tease fans with photos of recording sessions and studio setups to build anticipation for the follow up to Muchacho. If Phosphorescent's last three releases are guide, the next LP is sure to figure highly in our 2017 listening plans.
It's been nearly 14 years since Grandaddy released the beautiful concept LP Sumday. In 2012 there were a few reunion shows to excite fans. A few more European shows last year re-energized the rumor mill amongst the Grandaddy faithful. On March 3rd, the wait is finally over as Last Place will be released on 30th Century Records. If the lead off single "Way We Won't" (watch the video below) is any indication, Last Place ought to be an exercise in pure joy.
3. THE SHINS
Sure, Port Of Morrow from 2012 was hit or miss. But, it's impossible to deny James Mercer's penchant for melodic hooks and catchy choruses. The last few years have seen lineup changes and a renewed focus on the simplicity of song-craft that point in the direction of an exciting new Shins record. For his part, Mercer mentioned over this past summer that the new record was in the can. The expected lead single and video - the bouncy "Dead Alive" - will have to sate our appetites until official release info is released.
English shoegazers RIDE made a triumphant return in 2014 and toured throughout the world for the last couple years. Of course, after this return run the band became dogged by the question of whether or not there would be any new music. Via social media, RIDE have answered that question with a resounding yes. The as yet untitled record is slated for a release sometime this Summer and of course we hope there will be a tour in support. Granted, it's impossible to know what level of record to expect since RIDE have released nothing new in more than 20 years. Fingers crossed they're back with a bang.
In all honesty, Spoon's last release They Want My Soul from 2014 was a bit of a letdown. That said, a slightly disappointing new record from Spoonis almost certain to be better than 90% of the stuff that you'll find in the new release bin. This particular Spoon record - which is slated for a March release - has the added benefit of production by studio auteur Dave Fridmann. Singer Britt Daniel has stated that he feels the band are "covering some new ground" on this record. New ground or not, new Spoon is worth paying attention to.
6. ARCADE FIRE
Much like the aforementioned Spoon, Arcade Fire's most recent release Reflektor was a letdown. Sure, there were moments of brilliance, but the mammoth length and fixation with disco tendencies just left a feeling of heaviness and boredom. Arcade Fire's fifth LP could figure to be a critical point in the legacy of the band. Up through The Suburbs, it appeared the Montreal outfit could do little wrong. The band have teased progress on the new album, much of which was recorded in Paris, but have made no formal announcements on release dates titles. Let's hope that whatever it's called and whenever we can get our hands on it,it's a return to form.
7. VAMPIRE WEEKEND
Unlike the last two bands we mentioned, Vampire Weekend did more than deliver with their last release, 2013's Modern Vampires Of The City. That record, the third of their career was their best and most fully realized record thus far. While that momentum bodes well for the fourth Vampire Weekend LP, the departure of Rostam Batmanglij from full time service within the band could create a dynamic shift and/or a sonic hole in the band's recorded output. Let's mark this one up as cautious optimism.
8. THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN
The Reid brothers - Jim and William - have achieved an almost cult-like status amongst a certain sort of indie music lover. Their chaotic, cacophonous and bare brand of rock and roll has been a hallmark of the English pop scene for more than thirty years. However, 2017's Damage and Joy marks the bands first new LP since 1998. Warner Music will release the new album on March 24th, so we have just a scant three months to wait for what figures to be the triumphant return of the Jesus & Mary Chain. "Amputation", Damage and Joy's first single/video is below. It sounds like just like The Jesus & Mary Chain. Isn't that we hoped for?
9. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
The Boss didn't release any new music in 2016 and still managed to create enormous buzz. His revelatory Autobiography opened a remarkable window into Springsteen's depression, his manic work ethic and his doubts about his own success and worth. Now, in 2017, he appears poised to hold our attention again with an expected full length of brand new music. Like many aging icons, Springsteen's latter day work has been inconsistent, but his voice remains relevant. Can't you just imagine how Springsteen's characters might fit into the narrative of Trump's America?
10. REAL ESTATE
Here is another entry for the cautious optimism file. 2014's Atlas from Real Estate was a highlight of the year. The quiet simplicity of Real Estate's brand of pop feels much like your favorite blanket on a cold winter's evening. Until recently, a new LP from Real Estate would have come with hearty dose of unbridled enthusiasm, but in May, 2016 the band announced that guitarist and original member Matt Mondanile had left the band and would be replaced by Julian Lynch. While the songs will still be penned mostly by singer/guitarist Martin Courtney, it's hard to imagine that Mondanile's effortless guitar hooks won't be missed to some degree. Let's hope that the new lineup can swing it.
11. DEPECHE MODE
Sure, it's easy to bag on an act like Depeche Mode at this point. They haven't made a great record in a quarter century and to a large degree they have continued to churn out serviceable techno pop built on a very old model that made them international superstars. But to do that, would be to miss greater point; DM have managed to release a handful of very good songs in their last few albums and simply seeing them continue to do quality work is, in itself, enough to bring many of us a noticeable amount of joy. It would be jumping the gun a bit to expect their new effort, Spirit to be in the running for record of the year, but based on past experience and the teaser for the LP they have released, it seems a pretty sure bet there will be a song or two worth digging into when the record hits shelves this Spring.
12. THE FEELIES
New Jersey's The Feelies are almost certainly, the least known band on our list of 2017's most anticipated albums. The band formed in 1976 and then called it quits in 1991. But the band reformed in 2008 for a string of shows and then released a record of new songs in 2011 called Here Before. Now, The Feelies have announced they'll release another full length called In Between on February 24. Here's hoping this new slate of songs will bring some acclaim and attention to a band whose charm and quirkiness have to this point been under-appreciated.
Some other records we have our eye on in 2017 include:
Ty Segall - Ty Segall
Magnetic Fields - 50 Song Memoir
Surfer Blood - Snowdonia
The Sadies - Northern Passages
Son Volt - Notes Of Blue
Blondie - TBA
LCD Soundsystem - TBA
Spiritualized - TBA
Here are some forthcoming albums you're sure to hear about a shitload, and here is why we aren't that pumped about them:
Father John Misty - This is a band/dude we just can't seem to get excited about. Frankly, I have no idea what all the fuss is about. Misty's records have all of the energy of Iron & Wine on quaaludes and enough of a hipster quotient to make a Mumford & Sons fan recoil. Okay, that's a bit harsh, but we just aren't feeling it.
Fleet Foxes - While we have a slightly higher opinion of Fleet Foxes than Father John, many of the companies are the same. Helplessness Blues was a solid enough effort, but we'll leave the breathless anticipation for the folks at NPR. You know they're already peeing their pants over this one.
The Flaming Lips - This is a band that hasn't made anything nearing a good record since Yoshimi, and it feels like every record since then is just a blemish on an otherwise solid legacy. Maybe this is the one where we get proven wrong. Let's wait for that moment to surprise us instead of expecting it to be fact and being disappointed . . . again.
U2 - The band has promised their new LP Songs of Experience sometime in 2017. Let's hope that "Experience" sees that they have learned the lesson of shoving a record down everyone's throats via iTunes before wondering who might actually want it.
Ryan Adams - There is always a $64,000 when Ryan Adams puts out a record; which Ryan Adams are we going to get? On 2017's Prisoner, we will be left again to wonder if we'll get the guy who can write a heartbreaking hook better than almost anyone making records today, or the guy who can't seem to get out of his own way. Let's hope we get a more measured and mature Adams this time around.