2015 was a blockbuster year for music, with fantastic new releases across all genres. Just about every single one of the year’s most hotly anticipated albums delivered on its hype, from Kendrick Lamar’s instant classic To Pimp A Butterfly to Sufjan Stevens’ deeply moving Carrie & Lowell to Adele’s long-awaited comeback 25.
So if that pattern maintains into 2016, we may be looking at one of the best years for music in recent memory, with some of the biggest and most important artists alive putting out new music. Here are the top 10 upcoming releases that we’re most excited to hear.
David Bowie – Blackstar – January 8
In my opinion, Bowie’s last album The Next Day gave us only a collection of tepid, predictable songs hardly meriting the singer’s return after a 10-year silence, so an announcement of a follow-up didn’t necessarily warrant excitement. But the eerie, nightmarish title track and accompanying music video proved Bowie could still innovate, setting the stage for what could easily be one of the most fascinating and intense albums of his career.
Savages – Adore Life – January 22
This all-female London post-punk band roared onto the scene in 2013 with the foot-stomping, heart-stabbing Silence Yourself, which many critics called one of the best albums of the year. What we’ve heard so far from their sophomore release promises more of the same – heavy guitar riffs, blasting bass drums, chilling vocals, and one lyrical feminist mission statement after the next. In this case, more of the same sounds like a very good thing.
Animal Collective – Painted With – February 19
Since AnCo’s worst-in-their-discography-but-still-not-that-bad 2012 release Centipede Hz, the members have had a bit of time to themselves; Avey Tare released a strong album with his new side project Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks in 2014 and Panda Bear delivered an even better solo album in 2015. But their new album’s fantastic lead single “Floridada” shows that they’re bringing out the best in each other again, infusing elements from each of their previous releases. If it’s any sign of what’s to come, the band’s got their groove back in a fresh new way.
Pusha T – King Push – June 30
Even though it’s half a year away, we got an appetizer for this one in the form Pusha T’s short album King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude that came out a couple weeks ago. At only 33 minutes, it still stood out as one of the strongest rap releases of the year, delivering bold production and raw yet complex lyricism on one song after the next. So if that was what the “prelude” delivered, we can only imagine the incredible material he saved for the main event.
James Blake – Radio Silence – TBA
We’ve heard nothing but good things from James Blake for some time now. First we got his fantastic 2013 sophomore album Overgrown, which established him as one of best modern singer-producers in electronic music. The next year came his vastly more experimental EP 200 Press, demonstrating even more expansive potential. As for a new album, Blake has announced the title and that he’s been working with Bon Iver and Kanye West in the studio. Now we just need a release date.
Kanye West – SWISH – TBA
It’s been a long, somewhat exhausting lead up to the new Kanye album, over the course of which he’s married Kim Kardashian, announced his decision to run for president in 2020, and generally become an even larger and more meme-centric celebrity than ever before. Along the way, he’s also released a slow trickle of songs ranging from the touching 808s-esque “Only One” back in 2014 to the milquetoast “FACTS” just days ago. Cut the crap, Ye, and just give us the damn album.
Gorillaz – TBA – TBA
Can Damon Albarn still make good music? We haven’t had much evidence of it in some time, from the throwaway previous Gorillaz album The Fall to his tonally confused, lyrically forced solo debut Everyday Robots to the uninteresting Blur reunion album The Magic Whip. But I can’t help myself from getting excited about the return of the strange fictional group that brought us some of the most eclectic and enjoyable music of the 2000s.
Frank Ocean – Boys Don’t Cry – TBA
Oh Frankie, how you play with our hearts. Ever since the R&B singer’s phenomenal debut album channel ORANGE, we’ve been waiting around for news of a follow-up, and last April he implied we’d get one in the form of an album-magazine combo in July. But July came and went with no album and no word as to why. It seems impossible that yet another year will pass without a single piece of Frank Ocean news, but here’s hoping it’s good news.
Radiohead – TBA – TBA
Like most other indieheads, I basically start frothing at the mouth at the very mention of a new Radiohead album. While the band hasn’t said much about their new work at this point, we did just get their first new song in almost five years a couple days ago, the rejected James Bond theme “Spectre.” If they follow the pattern of their last two albums and Thom Yorke’s recent solo album, chances are they’ll put out their new effort as a surprise without any prior announcement. So all aboard the hype train, boys.
LCD Soundsystem – TBA – TBA
Just a week ago, the idea of a new LCD Soundsystem LP sounded like pure fantasy. After the band announced their breakup in 2010 and staged an enormous goodbye show, it seemed we’d never see the likes of them again. And then we got the surprise Christmas song, and the surprise Coachella headlining slot, and James Murphy’s promise that the band would also be touring and releasing a new record, and to overcome the cynicism that will inherently come with this reunion he’s decided the new record “needs to be better than anything we’ve done before,” and we’re all sitting here pinching ourselves.