Most anticipated albums of winter/spring 2016

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Seven days into 2016, it’s hard not to buy into the promise of how great a year of music it’s likely to shape up to be. Not that we really know that for sure. It’s possible that, by May, we’ll be facing a historic creative slump. But somehow that doesn’t seem likely. Not with the list of releases that we know about so far: A rock icon’s innovative new project; a young post-punk band’s intense second effort; the umpteenth release by a prolific rock ‘n’ roller; and the third in a hip-hop duo’s ongoing series of unstoppable LPs. Granted, 2015 was a pretty great year in terms of challenging and rewarding music, but we’re not about to be stuck in the past. So with a new year and a fresh outlook, here’s 20 of our most anticipated albums of spring 2016 (even if technically many of them are out in winter).

bowie-blackstarDavid Bowie – ★ (Blackstar)
(ISO/Columbia; Jan. 8)

Bowie’s followup to 2013’s The Next Day, which re-established his artistry in the most major way possible, is being touted as his most challenging and experimental work ever, including his radical Berlin trilogy. (Full disclosure: I’ve heard the whole thing and that statement’s probably accurate.) Pre-released individual cuts “Lazarus,” “Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)” and the title track have all revealed sharp turns towards sinisterly dark chambers, the kind of planned frenzy and inexactness that recalls the late-period work of Bowie’s hero Scott Walker. Without giving too much away, let’s just say the level of self-examination, dystopian resignation and existential drama brings about yet another Bowie persona that he’s never shown quite this way before. – PP

daughterDaughterNot to Disappear
(Glassnote; Jan. 15)

It’s easy to forget that English alt-folk outfit Daughter made a high-profile late night TV appearance months before 2013’s If You Leave was released. It seems like small fry for the trio now, such has been the caliber of their achievements since. Their imminent sophomore LP Not to Disappear has hinted at considerable maturation, its sound more grandiose than before yet no less devastating; “Doing the Right Thing,” a song written from the perspective of Elena Tonra’s Alzheimer’s-stricken grandmother, served as its lead single, a taster of what will surely be a beautiful and brutal listen. – GO’M

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 AbbathAbbathAbbath
(Season of Mist; Jan. 22)

Olve Eikemo has stepped away from his Immortal fame after the band’s official breakup announcement last year, and has since moved on with his Abbath solo project. And there’s reason to have high hopes for his self-titled album after hearing “Winter Bane,” “Fenrir Hunts,” “Count the Dead” and “Nebular Raven’s Winter,” all killer songs that encapsulate the icy ferocity of Abbath’s music. Abbath’s talent is unquestionable, and this is already shaping up to be one of the stronger metal releases of 2016, at least so far. Abbath is the voice of Immortal, and all signs point to that voice remaining firmly intact. Black metal fans should have no trouble finding something to love. – CD

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 jesu skmJesu/Sun Kil MoonJesu/Sun Kil Moon
(Caldo Verde; Jan. 22)

Justin Broadrick (Jesu, Godflesh) and Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon) have had a long-standing friendship for a number of years now. This self-titled collaborative album was hinted at by Kozelek back in January of last year and ultimately confirmed by Broadrick a few months later. Needless to say, it’s been a long time coming. Broadrick’s Jesu is his post-rock/metal side project that formed after a Godflesh hiatus, though he hasn’t released anything with Jesu since 2013’s Everyday I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came (the new Godflesh material is pretty otherworldly, however). Kozelek and Sun Kil Moon, meanwhile, released Universal Themes to much critical acclaim this past summer. What’s most exciting about this album is the potential to hear these two musicians channel their musical backgrounds into one cohesive project. Broadrick’s industrial and post metal background coupled with Kozelek’s indie/folk rock should prove an interesting listen. – CD

Savages Adore LifeSavagesAdore Life
(Matador; Jan. 22)

Few 2013 albums had as much raw power as Savages’ debut Silence Yourself. Based on advance singles like “The Answer” and “T.I.W.Y.G.”, the London quartet isn’t diverting from its blueprint of pitch-black post-punk propelled by firebrand vocalist Jehnny Beth’s calls to emotional arms for its sophomore album. Now let me be clear—there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Chatter indicates that Adore Life will be heavier than its predecessor, but whether that’s true or not, one thing is for certain: Their shows in support of it will be among the most intense live music experiences you’ll have if you go. I did in 2013, and it remains one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen. Our editor in chief saw them even more recently, and he’ll definitely back me up. – LG

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 Ty SegallTy SegallEmotional Mugger
(Drag City; Jan. 22)

Prolific guitar slinger Ty Segall has yet to find a corner of the rock ‘n’ roll spectrum that he can’t conquer. From his early garage rock lo-fi sounds to later forays into heavy psych, jangle, glam, acoustic rock and even a set of T-Rex covers, Segall finds new ground to cover every time. With Emotional Mugger, it would appear that Ty’s back to making some good old-fashioned fuzzed-out fun, as evident in new song “Candy Sam,” the video for which depicts Segall and his band performing in creepy baby masks. So there’s bound to be some weirdness here, but we can at least count on one thing: It’ll be rock ‘n’ roll. – JT

Tortoise the CatastrophistTortoiseThe Catastrophist
(Thrill Jockey; Jan. 22)

Seven years after the harsh, swiftly propulsive Beacons of Ancestorship, Tortoise are set to drop The Catastrophist. And, if early single “Gesceap” is any indication, the Chicago vets haven’t lost any of the relaxed wallop they’ve packed since their landmark work in the ’90s. Armed with a synthesizer pattern you’d feel comfortable slipping into and wearing all day, the track hints at their own floating (and criminally overlooked) Standards without pulling a complete rehash. This new album promises another great set of songs that are not quite post-rock, not quite jazz, and completely unlikely to come from any band not named Tortoise. – KN

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 PorchesPorchesPool
(Domino; Feb. 5)

Judging by Porches frontman Aaron Maine’s recent releases (Ronald Paris, “Ronald Paris House” and Pool’s captivating single, “Hour”) there’s reason to believe his guitar might’ve taken a vacation for Pool, the band’s first full-length since 2013’s Slow Dance in the Cosmos. However, what we do know is that Greta Kline (Frankie Cosmos) will be blessing us with her presence for at least one song. Though it’s safe to expect a cleaner, more electric sound from Porches’ new album, I’m expecting to be left with that same wonderfully gritty feeling which first got me hooked on the band. – PS

SVIIBSchool of Seven BellsSVIIB
(Vagrant; Feb. 12)

It’s been just over a year since Ben Curtis died of cancer, his untimely passing a devastating end to both a young talent and a band in its prime. Not only was Curtis an otherwise healthy, young member of the music scene, having put in time with Tripping Daisy and Secret Machines before starting School of Seven Bells with Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, but his current and former roommates all pretty much agreed he was a super sweet guy. And the music he crafted with SVIIB was sweet too, in the trippy, dream-pop sort of way. So the band’s final, self-titled record is to be a bittersweet affair, with sole remaining member Alejandra Deheza using Curtis’ pre-recorded instrumentals to assemble one last hurrah for the innovative shoegazers. R.I.P. Ben—we hope SVIIB is one hell of a tribute. – ATB

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 Oranssi PazuzuOranssi Pazuzu – Värähtelijä
(Svart/20 Buck Spin; Feb. 19)

For nearly a decade, Finland’s Oranssi Pazuzu have been fusing psychedelic rock and black metal in ways that not only feel natural, but breathe new life into two genres that are perpetually in need of refreshment. Värähtelijä is the band’s fourth album and follow-up to 2013’s Valonielu, one of that year’s best metal albums, and though the band haven’t released any tracks from it just yet, they describe it as “the heaviest and most atmospheric album we’ve done so far.” Somehow, this band’s ambition just keeps on growing more massive, and that’s promising for anyone who craves innovation in heavy music. – JT

Wild Nothing Life of PauseWild NothingLife of Pause
(Captured Tracks; Feb. 19)

Jack Tatum has come a long way since the release of his bedroom-recorded breakout debut, Gemini. Like so many other artists recording on laptops in the late aughts and turn of the decade, the next logical step for Tatum’s Wild Nothing was to take his talents to a proper studio, where the project’s blend of ’80s and ’90s-inspired dream-pop could reach new heights. Material already released from Wild Nothing’s forthcoming third full-length album, Life of Pause, gives the impression that Tatum has gotten the hang of fully realizing his pop visions, moving past nostalgic nods into territory that is truly his own. “To Know You,” for instance, has obvious roots in New Wave and New Romanticism, but the track’s prominent bass line and synth flourishes sound like a creation entirely of this generation. Likewise, the marimba-laden “Reichpop,” recorded with members of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, is arguably one of Tatum’s most exciting, original and beautiful compositions to date. – ASB

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 mothersMothersWhen You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired
(Grand Jury; Feb. 26)

When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired, the upcoming debut release from Athens-based Mothers, documents the group’s metamorphosis from solo folk outing to visceral full-band behemoth. Originally the creative outlet of singer/muti-instrumentalist Kristine Leschper, Mothers began to take new shape in 2014, when Leschper approached drummer Matt Anderegg to help flesh out the songs she had been writing and performing by herself over the course of the year. Recorded at the tail end of 2014 with engineer Drew Vandenberg (of Montreal, Deerhunter, Toro y Moi), and finished in early 2015, When You Walk serves as a glimpse at a band excitingly coming into their own. Whether accompanied by a mandolin and an arrangement of strings or at the fore of a mathy electric guitar breakdown, Leschper’s poignant voice sounds unlike any other; the way she examines herself, relationships, and the world at large is singular but maintains a relatable, universal appeal. Mothers’ first proper album is bound to be a striking statement from a band that’s already made leaps and bounds since its recording. – ASB

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 SantigoldSantigold99¢
(Atlantic; Feb. 26)

The thing that’s most appealing about Santigold (as both a producer and a performer) is that, even though the music she performs is definitely in the realm of pop, she doesn’t really seem to care what other people think of her art. So it’s exciting to see the promo campaigns leading up to her new record play with a concept of how pop culture is mass-produced, packaged and commodified—indicating the potential for a massive pop record with a very self-aware tongue in its cheek. And, if you ask me, Santigold’s just the player to make that kind of high-concept sensationalism hit the perfect spot. – ATB

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 Big UpsBig UpsBefore a Million Universes
(Exploding In Sound; March 4)

Big Ups put out one of my top records of 2014, Eighteen Hours of Static, so I am more than stoked to see new material surfacing less than two years later. Based out of New York City, the bombastic quartet combines powerhouse post-hardcore with eclectic transitions, epic choruses and a distinctly millennial view on the punk rock ethos. And if new track “Capitalized” is consistent with the rest of the band’s new record, we can expect more of the same, with just a slight added touch of experimentation and production savvy. Hot damn. – ATB

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 IhsahnIhsahnArktis
(Candlelight; March 4)

In the same vein as Abbath’s solo project, the sixth-full length album from Emperor’s Ihsahn is one worth watching as well. The black metal icon is back for another round of heavy darkness as an independent artist. And while the amount of material to be heard from this album is still quite limited, the one song out there, “Mass Darkness,” bodes well for the album. Ihsahn has a knack for tinkering with his solo stuff, and each album seems to sound a little different. So exactly what we get this time around remains a compelling mystery. – CD

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 The BodyThe BodyNo One Deserves Happiness
(Thrill Jockey; March 18)

The Body are one of the more prolific bands in metal today—in 2015 alone they released collaborations with Thou, Krieg, and Vampillia. Their next offering, No One Deserves Happiness, promises to be “the grossest pop record of all time,” though the industrial, goth beats and soothing female vocals from Humanbeast’s Maralie Armstrong on lead single “Shelter Is Illusory” are not so out of left field as to be cause for alarm. While The Body may appear provocative in their relentless defiance of convention, the same familiar themes and contradictions we’ve come to expect from them will likely be present on No One Deserves Happiness—despondent but elegant, bleak but gorgeous. – BB

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 Katy BKaty BHoney
(Rinse; TBD)

It’s a shame Katy B hasn’t earned much recognition from the American pop charts. Since 2010, she’s been stretching the boundaries of what dance-pop can do. Whether it’s the dubstep-indebted anthems of her debut On A Mission or the more two-step/’90s house stylings of what will be Honey’s first single, “Calm Down” (a Four Tet/Floating Points collaboration), she always properly adjusts her wide-ranging voice to the material. While I don’t know yet if the skittering excellence of “Calm Down” will be the primary blueprint for the sound of Honey, I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t end up being one of the better pop albums of 2016. – LG

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 PJ HarveyPJ HarveyTBD

There’s no need to overhype any PJ Harvey record—the singer/songwriter (and phenomenal guitarist) has been pushing out consistently striking work since 1992’s Dry and her upcoming ninth record is not likely to be an exception. In fact, it’s looking to be a pretty special affair, consisting of brand new songs that she recorded in front of audience as part of a museum exhibit. If the album’s teaser trailer is any indication, it looks to be a minimalist, gritty affair of an LP, and just the sort of grimy masterpiece that really lets Harvey’s talent shine through. – ATB

most anticipated albums of spring 2016 run the jewelsRun the JewelsRTJ3

Not much to go on regarding the third album by the Killer Mike/El-P dynamic duo. As of now, only a few snippets of beats exist on El’s Instagram account—one released last May, the other just before the new year. But if the first two records are any indication, all matters profound, political and profane should be up for discussion in the form of furious hip-hop. In just two years Run the Jewels has become one of rap’s most compelling groups, so there’s little doubt that their latest salvo will take your attention with the immediacy of a fist to the face. – LG

(Young God; TBD)

Swans are arguably in the prime of their career, which is a strange thing to say for a band six years into a second wave that began 14 years after their initial breakup and 30 years after their inception. But albums such as The Seer and To Be Kind have shown the kind of ambition and power they currently harness, as well as their unexpected commercial appeal—the latter is their first ever to chart on the Billboard 200. After half a decade, however, frontman Michael Gira says that their next album will be the last of this current iteration of Swans, which is cryptic enough to not necessarily mean the end. It’s hard to say, but Gira also calls this record an “insatiable beast,” so if it is the last Swans album, they’re not going out without a grand vision. – JT

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