2018 In Music: What Happens Next?

As is always the case, a new year offers endless opportunities, both good and bad.

For music, that could mean the return of longtime favorites, the chance for up-and-comers to make good on their hype, or for active artists to keep their momentum. 2017 was a pretty packed year, one that had me asking who was left to try and blow our minds in 2018. We may be only a few days into the new year, but it’s already looking like we’ll have no shortage of amazing music moments over the next 12 months.

Belly’s first album in 23 years

Yes, you read that right! Longtime alternative rock darlings Belly are back! The group released two excellent, jangly and dreamy albums in the early-mid 90s before breaking up. Since then, the acclaim around Star and King have only grown. Now, more than two decades later, the band has reunited and is prepping for the release of Dove. Due out on April 8, this is one of the most anticipated comeback records in recent memory. Does Belly still have fire after such a long time away? We’ll find out!

Chromatics finally release Dear Tommy

After synth-rock band Chromatics released their critically-acclaimed album, Kill for Love, fans have been eager to see what the group would do next. The band announced the follow-up, Dear Tommy, back in 2014, releasing several excellent singles. But in the years since, the record has failed to materialize. There are signs of progress though. Chromatics performed on Twin Peaks and Johnny Jewel’s manager revealed that the band member destroyed all copies of Dear Tommy, re-recording it after a near-death experience.

Damon Albarn stays busy

Seriously, does Damon Albarn ever sleep? With him running from one project to the next year after year, it sure doesn’t seem like it. After releasing a new Gorillaz album, Humanz, last year, Albarn stated that he plans to release another record from the virtual band this year! The band even premiered a new song, “Ode to Idaho” during the Humanz tour. On top of that, he’s reconvened supergroup The Good, The Bad & The Queen (featuring Paul Simonon, Simon Tong and Tony Allen) for a new album with longtime David Bowie producer, Tony Visconti. Keeping busy? Yeah, you could say that!

David Byrne’s American Utopia

David Byrne recently announced his latest album, American Utopia, his first solo work after more than a decade of collaborations. The music serves as a component of a larger multimedia project called Reasons to Be Cheerful, an effort to spread positivity. In these chaotic times, we could use some good vibes. The album drops on March 9. If that’s not enough good news, Byrne also stated that his tour in support will be his most ambitious since the legendary “Stop Making Sense” tour with the Talking Heads. This will be a must-see experience.

The Distillers return

After building up a collection of furious punk in the early 2000s, The Distillers went their separate ways, pursuing other projects. Guitarist Brody Dalle in particular kept busy with the band Spinnerette and her solo album, Diploid Love. But earlier this month, the band posted a video teaser of new music, generating the sound of a typhoon in 30 seconds. Soon afterwards, the band announced their first show in 13 years, at the Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta. There’s not much more news out there at the moment, but something’s coming. And if their track record is anything to go on, it will be excellent and furious.

Florence and the Machine’s fourth album

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful was the strongest and most complete work Florence and the Machine have released to date. In the three years since, the band went on a worldwide tour and contributed some soundtrack songs, with Florence Welch due to drop a book of poetry this year. In an interview with The Telegraph, Welch revealed that work on their fourth album is underway. The new work will explore the “black hole” she fell into at the end of a recent relationship during the making of her last record. As usual, expect Welch’s pain to come out through stunning vocals and music.

Grimes does something awesome

This title is a bit redundant. Ever since Grimes broke through with Visions in 2012, everything she’s done has been awesome, especially her most recent album, Art Angels. The last couple of years have been quiet as the electronic artist has buried herself in the studio, working on her next release. But we’ve gotten some hints that we’ll hear new music soon. She told a fan on twitter that new songs were “guaranteed” this year, and wrote on Instagram that she had all the songs but they needed vocals. She also posted that the album is inspired by the video game Dark Souls III. Like I said, awesome.

Justin Timberlake gets in touch with his roots

After another break from music to pursue his acting career, Justin Timberlake is aiming to have a big 2018. First, he was announced as the Super Bowl halftime show headliner. Then, he announced his fifth studio album, Man of the Woods. He said the record is “really inspired by my son, my wife, my family, but more so than any album I’ve ever written–where I’m from.” “Filthy” doesn’t reflect the rootsy sound he’s aiming for, but based on teasers, you may get a mix of party bangers and earthy tones.

Kanye West comes out of hiding

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that every Kanye West album release is an event. The controversy surrounding his lyrics and antics are only matched by his limitless creativity as a producer and songwriter. His last record, The Life of Pablo, proved to be his most contentious. During the supporting tour, West seemed to be going off the rails, canceling dates and being admitted for psychiatric observation. Since then, he’s been quiet, working in the studio. Whatever he releases, it’s guaranteed to cause a reaction.

Snail Mail’s debut album

How can an artist have such an anticipated debut album? You release a stellar EP, led by a song as catchy and relatable as “Thinning.” Then you hit the road all year, with great sets that get people talking. That is exactly what Maryland band Snail Mail has done. Last year, the group appeared on NPR’s “Tiny Desk” concert series and signed to Matador Records for their first album. Powered by singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan’s strong, emotional voice, Snail Mail is one of those bands that you keep hearing about for all the right reasons. Get on board now, as they’re set for a fantastic takeoff this year.