As we enter the final days of 2014, it is time to set our sights on 2015, which has the potential to be a huge year for music after a more or less mediocre one (in similar fashion to 2006-2007, and 2012-2013 to an extent). This year featured albums from artists with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, such as debuts from Schoolboy Q and FKA twigs, releases from veterans like Aphex Twin, The New Pornographers, and Jack White (if you count his pre-solo work, of course), and ones who broke through a little earlier and are working towards long-lasting staying power, such as Mac Demarco, Foxygen, and The War on Drugs. Here’s what y’all can look forward to in 2015:
Death Cab For Cutie
Last release: Codes and Keys (2011)
Genre: Emo, alternative rock
Seattle’s emo outfit Death Cab For Cutie will return with their eighth studio album in early 2015, possibly around March. This release is notable due to it being the last to feature founding member and guitarist Chris Walla, who announce his departure over the summer following several tour dates (I was lucky enough to see them in Dallas in mid-August). He played his last show in September, but has stuck around to record the final album. Walla, a renowned producer in his own right, will be missed in the band, but frontman Ben Gibbard is excited to see what lies ahead for the band. In an interview with Stereogum, Gibbard said, “I do think from start to finish it’s a much better record than Codes And Keys. If that record turned anybody off, I feel pretty strongly that this one could win them back. There are threads in this one that connect back to our earliest stuff that people love.” This will also be the first Death Cab album not produced by Walla. If you’re looking to get a taste of Death Cab For Cutie, I would recommend songs such as “Crooked Teeth” and “I Will Possess Your Heart”.
Sources: Stereogum, Rolling Stone
Will Butler: Policy
Genre: Art rock, baroque pop, blues rock
The hype behind Arcade Fire’s Will Butler’s debut solo album has been pretty high in relation to the sparse details behind it. So far, all we know is that it is called Policy, it will be out March 10th through Merge Records, and that there is one single, “Take My Side”. Personally, I’m extremely excited for this album. Will Butler’s brother Win, Arcade Fire frontman, has always stolen the show, and Will seems ready to make his mark, especially after receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score for Her. The single is an upbeat, alt-rock track with hints of blues influences. In addition, Butler played a solo set in Brooklyn in November, debuting more tracks off the album, available online.
Last release: Comedown Machine (2013)
Genre: Garage rock, post-punk revival
Since the five-year hiatus inbetween 2006’s First Impressions of Earth and 2011’s Angles, The Strokes have been pretty active, at least in the studio. As far as touring goes, they have only played a few shows, mostly festivals, supporting Angles and the more recent Comedown Machine. Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. told Gigwise that “I know that when The Strokes tour again, it will be because we put something out.” It should also be noted that 2015 would fit into The Strokes’ album release cycle, as 2011 and 2013 both saw albums, in March and May, respectively. However, Julian Casablancas did also spend a good chunk of 2014 recording his second debut album Tyranny. So, this may have disrupted some Strokes recordings. However, I feel much more confident that they will put out an album, or at least a single, sometime within the next 365 days than I did this time in the late 2000s, when there was little activity with the band. To reinforce this, Julian Casablancas told NME that the chemistry in the band is strong and that they are able to work more professionally together than in recent years. To get a feel for these New York rockers, check out “Last Nite” and “Undercover of Darkness”.
Sources: Gigwise, NME
Last release: Yeezus (2013)
Genre: Hip-hop, industrial hip-hop
I was reluctant to include the “industrial” tag in the genre, because only Yeezus really fits that label, and we have no idea if this next album will sound anything like it. But that’s the beauty of Kanye West’s music: both of West’s last two studio albums are heralded by critics and fans alike as masterpieces, as essentials in 21st century hip-hop, but after that the comparisons are slim. Kanye West has spent the better part of the last 15 years releasing critically acclaimed albums, and producing many more, and they all have extremely distinct sounds. Kanye West brings extreme diversity in the sounds of hip-hop as we know it today. Examples of this are abundant when looking through his discography: 808’s and Heartbreak’s R&B influenced-tracks are drastically different from arena and party-friendly’s Graduation, released only fourteen months earlier (Using months, as if we’re talking about young children). Moral of the story is that we have no idea what this album will sound like, but it will be big when it arrives. Part of one single, “All Day”, was leaked but taken down quickly. I can’t remember what it sounded like to make a call, and finding an authentic copy online is nearly impossible now. As West previously speculated a late 2014 release, an early-to-mid 2015 release is what I’m predicting, possibly around May.
Last release: good kid, m.A.A.d. city (2012)
Genre: Hip-hop (West Coast), gangsta rap
By the time 1993 rolled around, the East Coast vs. West Coast hip hope debate was raging on with no end in sight, as Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle and Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) had been released within three weeks of each other. By the 2000s, many of the G-funk and gangsta rap artists had faded into history. In the present day, we are reminded of the genres and styles that Dr. Dre (who is working on this album) and the rest of N.W.A., along with rappers such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac helped pioneer through Kendrick Lamar’s music. Like Kanye, Kendrick Lamar’s third studio album was planned on being released in 2014, so an early 2015 drop would not be surprising. So far, one single has been released, “i”, featuring a somewhat new sound. Despite this, it received overall positive reviews from critics, and I am very excited to see how good kid, m.A.A.d. city’s successor turns out.
Last release: The King of Limbs (2011)
Genre: Alternative rock, experimental
Since 2011’s The King of Limbs, the members of English indie rock darlings Radiohead have been keeping themselves busy. In addition to supporting the album on tour, several members, including frontman Thom Yorke, worked on and eventually released solo albums and side projects. However, those days are over, and Radiohead is looking to the future, according to guitarist Jonny Greenwood in an interview with BBC in November. The amount of details is pretty slim right now, but I would anticipate a later release for this one. Greenwood even says they are unsure of the direction they’re heading in this album, which can mean a wide range of sounds, as this band’s discography shows. It’s impossible to capture their sound in one song, so I’ll just leave The Bends, one of their earlier tracks, and one of my personal favorites.
Sources: BBC Radio, Consequence of Sound