It’s a new year, full of possibilities both exciting and terrifying. More than usual, music will need to meet the zeitgeist of today. The question remains of what shape this year’s big releases will take. Will our favorite songs and concerts be means of rebellion or escape, anger or joy, divisiveness or unity? In any case, these are the focal points in music for 2017 I’m looking forward to, no matter where they lead.
Alex Lahey’s first U.S. tour
Alex Lahey is the latest up-and-comer from the red-hot city of Melbourne, Australia. Following in the footsteps of Courtney Barnett, this year should be Lahey’s breakout moment. After the release of her sardonic but emotionally-direct EP, B-Grade University, the singer-songwriter will bring her grungy riffs and witty lyricism to the U.S. in March. Get tickets while you can. I guarantee you won’t see her in venues this small again.
Arcade Fire’s fifth album
How does Arcade Fire follow the wonderful Reflektor and its dazzling tour? We should find out sometime this spring! While the band played several festivals last year, they didn’t preview any new music. The only hint comes from a performance of “I Gave You Power” by Win Butler and Régine Chassagne in Paris last year. According to drummer Jeremy Gara, the recording process is done and the LP will be followed by a massive two-year tour. Arcade Fire has never put out a bad record, so this is one to watch.
Elbow – Little Fictions
On Feb. 3, English band Elbow will return with Little Fictions, their first album in three years. Since their last record, lead singer Guy Garvey released an excellent solo album and drummer Richard Jupp left the band. How will these shifts influence the group’s seventh record? The first single, “Magnificent (She Says)” finds the band flirting with synth lines, creeping between subtle guitar and windy strings. The LP will also feature The Hallé Orchestra and their choir.
This one is a surprise! In 2012, Gorillaz masterminds Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett had a public falling-out, putting the band on hiatus. Luckily, those wounds healed. Last fall, Gorillaz posted interactive media stories around the lives of each of the fictional band members since the break began. Noodle even got her own OKCupid account and Instagram page! The album is due sometime this year, though details are scant. Potential guests for the album include: Liam Bailey, Jean-Michel Jarre, Vic Mensa and Massive Attack.
LCD Soundsystem emerges from the studio
The reunion of LCD Soundsystem was one of the biggest news stories of 2016 in music. Playing music festivals across the globe, the dance-punk band hadn’t lost a step after five years away. After playing hits like “I Can Change” and “All My Friends” to ecstatic fans all year, the group disappeared into the studio, even cancelling part of their tour to focus on recording their first album since 2010. Every LCD Soundsystem record is immense in its own way. Time to see if that magic remains.
Lorde’s sophomore album
When an artist has a breakout hit, it’s tempting to spin that into quick follow-ups, tons of guest spots, TV appearances, etc. But after Lorde’s 2013 debut Pure Heroine dropped, she kept her projects down to a slow drip. She worked on a Hunger Games soundtrack, paid tribute to Nirvana and David Bowie, and had a guest spot with Disclosure. Otherwise, she took her time with a follow-up that she said will be completely different to her debut. Given Lorde’s unique voice and her ability to create trends rather than follow them, we should be in for something special.
Los Campesinos! – Sick Scenes
I don’t think there’s a more underrated band out there than Los Campesinos! The English six-piece combines arty, angular guitar lines, bouncy synths and a literary wordplay for songs that will have you jumping around. Their boundless energy and singalong choruses mask a dark comedic outlook of life. Following their best LP yet, No Blues, the band looks to continue their momentum with Sick Scenes. If “I Broke Up in Amarante” is anything to go on, they’ll succeed.
St. Vincent’s fifth solo LP
With every record she releases as St. Vincent, Annie Clark evolves her sound by leaps and bounds. For her fifth LP, due this spring, well, I think I’ll let her do the talking.
“I think it’ll be the deepest, boldest work I’ve ever done. I feel the playing field is really open for creative people to do whatever you want, and that risk will be rewarded. The personal is political and therefore the political can’t help but influence the art. And only music that has something pretty real to say is gonna cut the mustard.”
Clark has never been one for fluff. If she thinks it’s her best and most meaningful record yet, in a career full of them, that should make any fan eager for winter to end.
Bruce Springsteen’s first solo record in more than a decade
The Boss had a busy 2016! After The River anniversary tour, releasing his long-awaited memoir, putting out a new compilation and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, you would think Bruce Springsteen would take it easy in 2017. Nope. Instead, he’s preparing his first solo record since 2005’s Devils & Dust. Every one of his efforts in this vein (including Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad) have been a strong reaction to the political climate. There’s no reason to think it won’t be the same case this time around.
U2’s Joshua Tree Anniversary Tour
U2 has always been resistant to any type of nostalgia, preferring to look forward. But not every band writes an album like The Joshua Tree. So for the first time in the group’s career, they’ll play the record in full to honor its 30th anniversary. The stadium tour, including a headlining gig at Bonnaroo, will see the Irish lads dusting off rarities like “Red Hill Mining Town,” “One Tree Hill” and “Exit,” along with a smattering of other songs. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you should not miss.