Most Anticipated 2017

Most Anticipated of 2017

2016 was a helluva year for music and 2017 is shaping up to be pretty damn good as well. The world may be falling apart around us, but at least we have a little something to look forward to. I talked about the albums I was most anticipating on a recent episode of Encore, but I wanted to reach out to some of our contributors and see what albums they were looking forward to most as well.

Father John MistyPure Comedy

Release Date: April 7, 2017
Anticipated by: Aaron Mook

Josh Tillman has one of the most divisive personalities in indie rock, but the same cannot be said about his ambition. In an August 2015 interview just six months following the release of his sophomore album, I Love You, Honeybear, he claimed to have already finished writing his third album as Father John Misty, and that it was not about “love” but would rather follow in the footsteps of album cut “Holy Shit.” “Pure Comedy,” the title track and opening number from this third LP confirms that notion, a six minute piano ballad that doubles as a detailed list of humanity’s shortcomings since the dawn of man. Meanwhile, a previous Souncloud one-off slated for the album titled “The Memo” concerns itself with narcissism, the legitimacy of art and the public recognition that often follows it. While none of these topics seem particularly new (especially coming from Tillman), their quality paired with Tillman’s polarizing performance at Philadelphia’s XPN festival could mean we’re gearing up for some very personal revelations and Tillman’s defining artistic statement.

Manchester OrchestraTBA

Release Date: Unknown
Anticipated by: Aj LaGambina

This April, it will have been three years since we first heard COPE, Manchester Orchestra’s loudest, most aggressive offering to date. They’ve since done a ton of touring, released an acoustic/orchestral version of the album, and worked on some movie soundtracks, but I think it’s high time we hear something new from them. We know that they’ve been in the studio, and that the record is in the mixing process now, so it’s not like we have to wait that much longer, but the sooner we get a new single the better. There’s a debate in our community about which way the band might lean with their sound, whether it be aggressive in the vein of COPE, or something with a bit more dynamic range, like their earlier work. Either way I’m fairly certain that I will fall head over heels in love with new music from these guys.

Brand NewTBA

Release Date: Unknown
Anticipated by: Becky Kovach

Another year, another chance to put Brand New on the “Most Anticipated” list. It feels like we’ve been talking about the band’s 5th studio album since Daisy was released in 2009 but it looks like we might actually be nearing the finish line. What with their initial plans to release a full length last year – delayed because they felt the songs they had were “not complete enough, refined enough, or edited thoroughly enough” – and the studio time they’ve supposedly got booked for February, it sounds like Brand New could be finishing up the full length we’ve all been so impatiently awaiting.

That’s not to say they haven’t kept the last few years interesting. They’ve released two singles since 2015, “Mene” and “I Am A Nightmare,” toured with somewhat increasing frequency, and released new merch with the ominous 2000-2018 design.

So if 2018 is a self-proclaimed expiration date, is 2017 the year we finally get an album? I like to think it could happen.

SpoonHot Thoughts

Release Date: March 17, 2017
Anticipated by: Blake Solomon

It’s not clear yet whether Hot Thoughts, Spoon’s first release since 2014’s They Want My Soul, will be overtly political, but the band have certainly made their displeasure with our governmental upheaval more than clear. Britt Daniels was never one to stay quiet about anything, especially not the kaleidoscope that is his inner psyche. And it’s this slightly psychedelic shift that has informed more and more of the band’s songs (see: 2014’s “Inside Out”). So while Hot Thoughts may end up being the break from reality most of us sorely need, more than likely it will contain more than a few doses of eye-opening honesty – whether we want it to or not.

Julien BakerTBA

Release Date: Unknown
Anticipated by: Craig Ismaili

Julien Baker is my favorite songwriter on the planet. Even with just 12 officially released songs under her name, Baker already has more gems in her discography than most artists stumble upon in half a dozen albums. Every song is more vital and honest than the one that came before it.

When I heard her debut Sprained Ankle for the first time fourteen months ago, it rearranged my entire world. Its commitment to confessional songwriting, the uplifting power of a joyous refrain even in the darkest, heaviest moments, the vulnerability of its recording, these things made me believe in music again. In a moment where I was starting to believe I would never find an album again that would speak to me in quite the ways the albums of my adolescence spoke to me, Sprained Ankle, an album from a vulnerable, scared young women found me and made me fall head over heels with the discovery of music again. So obviously my anticipation for her follow up to Sprained Ankle is at a lifetime high. Baker is currently putting the finishing touches on the follow-up and if the mix notes are any indication of what she has in store for fans, this record is going to blow people away. “Just piano and screams” read the notes for one of the songs, which she mentions in the replies to the tweet means that she is channeling “Speak” off of The Chariot’s incredible album One Wing. I can’t wait to see what other directions she can take her sound on this record. The seemingly off-the-cuff, “hit record and play” nature of Sprained Ankle would be impossible to replicate, and I highly doubt she tries to do so. Instead, she now has the backing of Matador Records, meaning she has the freedom to experiment and continually invent her sound.

Jason IsbellTBA

Release Date: Unknown
Anticipated by: Craig Manning

Bold claim number one: Jason Isbell is the best songwriter of his generation. Bold claim number two: Jason Isbell’s two most recent albums—2013’s Southeastern and 2015’s Something More Than Free—are both among the 10 best records released so far this decade. Needless to say, Isbell’s next record is something I’m looking forward to greatly—especially since it’s almost certainly coming out in the next six months. On New Year’s Eve, Isbell tweeted “Looking forward to making a new album in a couple weeks with my rock and roll band. Got a bunch of good songs.” On January 15th, he tweeted again, saying that tracking for the new album was set to begin the next day. With super producer Dave Cobb behind the boards once more (Cobb produced both Southeastern and Something More Than Free), there’s almost no question that Isbell will make another masterwork this time around. What it will sound like is the bigger question. Some have speculated that Isbell’s tweet about his “rock and roll band” might indicate plans for that this record to be a little louder, a little looser, and a little less goddamn heartbreaking than his last two. (Though, I personally don’t think Isbell can keep himself from writing masterful tearjerkers like “Speed Trap Town” and “Elephant.”) Regardless of where Isbell goes next, though, it’s safe to expect vivid storytelling, stellar full-band work from his band, The 400 Unit, and plenty of emotional resonance. Following Album of the Year Grammy nods for Isbell’s closest contemporaries—Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson—I’m holding out hope that whatever this album ends up being will earn Isbell his own nomination for the biggest prize on “Music’s Biggest Night.” A man can dream, right?

Minus The BearVOIDS

Release Date: March 3, 2017
Anticipated by: Blake Solomon

Minus The Bear’s last album, 2012’s Infinity Overhead, was merely ok. But as these things happen, the mid-album track “Listing” became a favorite of mine only within the past few months. Its lyrics are mostly defeatist: “No one can see me listing…Don’t you miss it, watching me sing?” And I think many of the band’s fans do miss MTB; or at least, the MTB that enveloped us in neo-noir stories where the cities didn’t sleep and the clocks were set by feel. So with a new album called VOIDS and a first song called “Invisible,” you wonder what sort of introspection the Bear Boys have been through this past half decade. But one thing is certain from our all-too-short taste: even if we’re the only ones out there, there will be a dance floor.

Twenty One PilotsTBA

Release Date: Unknown
Anticipated by: Eric Wilson

Twenty One Pilots has been riding on a huge wave of success with the release of their 2015 album Blurryface. Now more popular than ever, the band has embarked on massive world tours, had chart topping singles, and received multiple Grammy nominations. Having been a fan of the band early on, watching them rise to this level of success has been a lot of fun, and I’m excited to see what they have to offer next.

While currently unconfirmed, given the band’s general two year album life cycle between each release, I’m hoping 2017 will see the release of a new album. What excites me the most about new music from this band is that you never know what to expect sound-wise. I’m excited to see what direction they take with a new album, and what sounds they will experiment with for a follow up. I’m interested to see if they continue to blend genres with each track, or go an entirely different route. Regardless, I see this next release being their biggest yet.

BleachersTBA

Release Date: Unknown
Anticipated by: Craig Ismaili

It feels like Jack Antonoff has been working on the follow-up to Bleacher’s world-conquering Strange Desire for years now, but in reality it’s only been a little over a year since he finished up touring behind that first record. Even so, if fans are getting impatient, it’s because it has been three years since “I Wanna Get Better” dropped and set the stage for all that would come after. “I Wanna Get Better’s” refrain became a mantra of mine throughout the summer of 2014, but even today the songs on Strange Desire are still just as vibrant and forward-thinking as the day they were released. Whatever Antonoff decides to do next obviously has a lot to live up to, but certainly there is still room for improvement as well. While Strange Desire had undeniable powerhouse songs like “Rollercoaster” and “Shadow,” it also had disappointing guest appearances in hindsight from Grimes and Yoko Ono. Now, with a slate of festival appearances for this coming summer, it looks like the end of the wait is nigh for LP #2. I’m sure we’ll see more collaboration on this record as well, especially coming on the heels of Terrible Thrills Pt. 2, Antonoff’s collaboration with a dozen different female artists. Is it too much to ask for a Bleachers song with guest vocals from collaborator and former Shadow of the City festival performer Carly Rae Jepsen? Or perhaps Antonoff trading verses back and forth with Sara Bareilles? Or perhaps some kind of collaboration with a hip-hop artist like Noname? The possibilities seem limitless, just like the potential for another great Bleachers record.

Pianos Become The TeethTBA

Release Date: Unknown
Anticipated by: Ryan Gardner

It will be interesting to see where Pianos Become The Teeth go with their highly anticipated follow up to 2014Õs Keep You. The album was a massive sonic departure from the viscerally heartbreaking The Lack Long After, trading in devastating screams for wonderfully calm vocals. The musicianship on the record was simply stunning, with guitars and drums creating a beautiful and tranquil landscape behind frontman Kyle DurfeyÕs vocals. The change from heavy to light was executed in a fashion that resulted in one of 2014Õs best record, and in turn, Pianos best album to date.

So, where do they go from here? The band has remained fairly quiet over the past year, but I can imagine (and hope) the 2017 record continue in the lighter direction of Keep You. Songs like ÒRepineÓ and ÒOld JawÓ bridged the gap between heavy and light, not necessarily veering toward screams but still carrying intensity paced by guitars, while ÒLate LivesÓ was serene. The new album could go anywhere in between, or who knows, maybe some screams return here and there. The unknown is what makes this record one of my most anticipated of 2017.

The MenzingersAfter the Party

Release Date: February 2, 2017
Anticipated by: Zac Djamoos

Oh my god, it’s been far too long since we last heard from The Menzingers. Thankfully, the band’s fifth full-length release After the Party is out next month. And if the singles are anything to go by, it’s shaping up to be their best album yet.

When they released “Lookers,” the album’s first single, months ago, I think everyone was taken aback just a little bit. Equal parts wistful and optimistic, it’s easily one of the best songs the band has ever released. If this is a preview of what the album will be like, it looks like we’re in for more of The Menzingers’ forte: nostalgic, roll-down-the-windows-and-scream-it-out-loud punk rock. They’ve already made one modern classic out of it, and I’m sure they’ve got another in them. – Zac Djamoos

Sorority NoiseYou’re Not As _____ As You Think

Release Date: March 17, 2017
Anticipated by: Drew Beringer

For many of us, the blank space in You’re Not As _____ As You Think – the title of Sorority Noise’s upcoming third album (and Triple Crown debut) – means something different. For vocalist/guitarist Cameron Boucher, it’s all about putting what life has given you into perspective. There have been few lyricists as honest and vulnerable as Boucher over the last few years, with his focus on mental health being a primary topic. On You’re Not As _____ As You Think, Boucher touches on how he’s dealing with the death of close friends, as tracks like “No Halo” and “Disappeared” allow an unfiltered look into his coping. Produced by Mike Sapone, Sorority Noise channel the spirit of Moneen and Brand New while still expanding their boundaries within emo and indie rock much like their peers You Blew It and Into It. Over It. Essentially, You’re Not As _____ As You Think aims to be one of 2017’s most exhilarating and visceral albums – a stark reminder that life is never as bad as it seems and that we’re all going to be okay.

Fleet FoxesCrack Up

Release Date: Unknown
Anticipated by: Blake Solomon

When a largely loved folk band announces their first album since 2011, the reaction is a bit different. A bunch of people whittle things in excitement. Red Rocks Amphitheater trends on Twitter. Woodworking apprenticeships are turned down with abandon. All so we can all be in the right headspace when Fleet Foxes finally releases their follow-up to urban-rural manifesto Helplessness Blues. As one Joshua Tillman became the band’s largest (and loudest) ex-member, it will be interesting to see what Robin Pecknold can do with such a lauded brand name. Grab the mason jars, everyone, we’re having a quiet and restrained party in the forest.

Animal FlagTBA

Release Date: Unknown
Anticipated by: Craig Ismaili

Animal Flag is probably not a name everyone is familiar with, but hopefully by the end of 2017 that will have changed. The Boston-based band is maybe the best emo band not named The Hotelier in the country. If that’s true it would mean that Massachusetts would lay claim to the two best bands right now. Animal Flag’s fittingly titled debut album LP was a tour-de-force in impactful songwriting, carefully crafted melodies, and sweeping crescendos.When you realize that the album is actually the band’s first two EPs combined together into one Voltron album, LP’s flow and cohesiveness is a remarkable achievement. Now hard at work on their sophomore album, I’m anticipating being absolutely blown away by what this band is capable of when they sit down and craft an album that is actually intended to be experienced as one collective piece of art. Just listen to the closing track “Cathedrals” off of LP and then try to tell me the sophomore LP from Animal Flag isn’t near the top of your most anticipated list.

Jason Tate
Jason Tate Jason Tate is the founder and editor-in-chief of chorus.fm. He can also be found at @jason_tate on Twitter and on Facebook.