Most Anticipated 2019

Most Anticipated of 2019

Last month we shared our favorite albums of 2018, now we’re back and looking at what we are most anticipating through 2019. What records do we think we’re going to fall in love with over the next few months? What albums can we just not wait to hear? A bunch of contributors have written up blurbs about the albums and artists we’re most excited about, and we’d love to hear what’s on your most anticipated list as well.

Blink-182 – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Jason Tate

Any band that gets to the size, longevity, and popularity of Blink-182 is going to be a tad polarizing with each new album release. Add in the drama of parting ways with longtime singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge, and you’ve got a band under a microscope before anyone has even heard a note of music. Given that, I think California was a good album that combined a variety of things I have always loved about Blink-182 with enough of a spin to update the pop-punk sound for the current time. It was the right album and had the right tone for getting the band back on the map, having a hit single, and reminding me of pop-punk summers that always went by a little too fast. However, it also relied a little too much on the nostalgia factor, and the themes and some elements (like the much joked about ‘na-na-nah’s’) were, once you noticed them, a little too apparent.

So where does the band go from here? Do they double down on what they did last time? Push forward with another album of pop-punk anthems that remind us of being 15? Do they try something more experimental and do what I’ve always wanted and walk between the (underrated) Plus-44 album and Alkaline Trio’s Crimson? Maybe the eschew all expectations and move farther into the pop-realm. Or perhaps we have no idea what they have in store for us. Whatever the case may be, I’m incredibly excited for this next era of Blink-182. I think Mark Hoppus has one of the best ears for melody in the game, Matt Skiba brings a new flavor of songwriting to the band, and Travis Barker’s influence can’t be overstated. What makes or breaks the album will be how all of this works together and what the goal for the band is this time out. They’re already one of the most popular pop-punk bands of all time, with multiple classics under their belt, and a bonafide career-defining album in the untitled record. They came back and saw success with “Bored to Death” and a massive tour. But this also feels like an exciting time to be a Blink-182 fan because they’re starting a new chapter. Are they hungry and feeling creative, or content while looking to work Matt more into the process? There are a million questions I have, and a million directions this new album could take. But, we won’t have the answers until it’s in our pretty little hands.

Copeland – Blushing

Release Date: February 14th
Anticipated by: Trevor Graham

Not a lot of bands successfully transform in the way Copeland has. From the earliest days of stealing hearts with emotional piano pop ballads, to the electronic-infused orchestral arrangements of 2014’s Ixora, the Florida quartet have led us along for one of the most captivating rides our little scene has had the pleasure of experiencing. And what’s more, we only have a few more days before we can hear how Blushing follows that trajectory. If the songs shared with us so far are any indication, Copeland has most certainly created yet another gut-punching batch of songs that capture the most critical components of their appeal, while approaching them in a way that tinkers with preconceptions and opens new doors. “Night Figures” was snuck right under our noses in 2016 — a spacious, slow-grooving track that employs hand claps and finger snaps to create a sense of intimacy in an otherwise rich, immensely textured environment. It’s well known that vocalist/producer Aaron Marsh has a falsetto that puts the birds to shame, but it’s his admirable emphasis on vocal creativity that rewards this song with otherworldly effects, taking the chorus to new heights (“Night figures all around us / night figures, they surround us / while I kiss you in the dark”). While initially assumed to be nothing more than a displaced stunner cut during the Ixora sessions, “Night Figures” turned out to be our first glimpse of an even further low key, beat-driven side of Copeland that tracks like “Lay Here” and “On Your Worst Day” have confirmed we should anticipate with Blushing. Ugh, and it’s being released on Valentine’s Day. Customers also shopped for: an industrial sized box of tissues.

Maren Morris – GIRL

Release Date: March 8th
Anticipated by: Craig Manning

Three years ago, Maren Morris was an unknown. Now, she’s one of country music’s biggest stars, and one of the few figures from the genre that can claim a number one hit on the pop charts (for her Zedd collaboration “The Middle”). The big question going into Morris’s as-yet-untitled sophomore album is whether she’s going to keep one foot in the country world or pull a Taylor Swift and embrace pop more fully. The latter plan would probably net her more fame: Morris’s sound tilts very far in the pop direction anyway, and her ability to out-sing just about anyone in that world would surely take her far. So far, though, it sounds like Morris is sticking with Nashville. The first taste of the new album, titled “Girl,” isn’t rich on twang—to be fair, very little of Morris’s 2016 debut Hero was either—but it is itself a not-so-subtle dig at the country music establishment. “Looking at the country radio chart the last year, more titles had the word ‘girls’ in them than actual girls on the radio,” Morris told Rolling Stone. “Girl” flips the script, in that it both has the word “girl” in the title and is sung by a female artist. It’s a curious lead single otherwise, with a slow-burn hook that can’t touch the titanic melodies Morris was slinging on early singles like “My Church” and “80s Mercedes.” But Morris is such a bright, confident talent that it’s impossible to doubt that her second album will be full of summer-ready jams.

The Maine – You Are OK

Release Date: March 29th
Anticipated by: Anna Acosta

If you had told me in 2008 that swoop-bangs-and-skinny-jeans, Hot Topic approved, fun-but-formulaic sugary pop-punk band The Maine would not only still be around a decade later, but would be consistently putting out some of the most nuanced and ever-evolving music in the scene, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t have believed you. Their second record, Black and White, listened like a Tom Petty ghostwrite in the best possible way, and with every following effort they’ve gotten better. Lyrically, conceptually, sonically… despite their decidedly more cookie cutter roots, The Maine have proven time and time again that they are a force to be reckoned with. After dropping their firecracker of a first single, “Numb Without You,” on the world at their 8123 festival last month – how many bands have a crowd of people screaming lyrics that were JUST released two days earlier back at them? – they announced their much anticipated upcoming full length, aptly titled You Are OK, to be released on March 29th.

To this listener, one of this Arizona band’s biggest strengths is the constant evolution of sound. While each album tends to feel like it has a theme or a general thesis, no two have ever sounded quite alike, which is what makes it so damn exciting to be expecting a new record from them. “Numb Without You” has a vastly different sound from 2017’s hauntingly poignant Lovely Little Lonely, coming in hot with a provocative string section and verse that flows into a booming and satisfying chorus. Simply put, it’s rock’n’roll in a time that largely loves to declare the genre dead, and if the track is any indication of how the full length will sound, it’ll easily be one of 2019’s best.

American Football – LP3

Release Date: March 22nd
Anticipated by: Drew Beringer

While the still-very-good “LP2” show signs of rust, “LP3” has American Football humming on all cylinders. First single “Silhouettes” is a seven-and-a-half minute sprawl showcasing the band at its highest powers, while the off-kilter tempo of “Uncomfortably Numb” features Paramore’s Hayley Williams offering haunting vocals alongside Mike Kinsella’s steady delivery (Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell and Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell also contribute vocals to the record). We only had to wait three years instead of 16 for a new American Football record, and LP3 aims to be the band’s most complete collection yet.

Charlie Collins – Snowpine

Release Date: May 31st
Anticipated by: Mary Varvaris

Charlie Collins has just announced the release of her forthcoming debut album, Snowpine, out May 31st. The Tamworth-based ex-vocalist of indie-pop group, Tigertown has made a name for herself creating little songs with a big sound, like “Wish You Were Here,” and entrancing, nostalgic indie rockers such as “Mexico.” Her sentimental yet fresh kind of indie rock – think of the familiar warmth of Angus & Julia Stone or even Fleetwood Mac, is instantly comforting. New single, “Beautifully Blind,” follows the trend of incredibly memorable tracks by Collins. It’s a track that “really hits close to home. It’s about someone very dear to me going through something terribly toxic.” It’s both her most accessible track yet and the most moving. I saw Charlie Collins open for Gang Of Youths last year, and she almost stole their show. Her band is sublime – each song released thus far contains a killer bass line, luscious guitar tones from husband Chris Collins (watching Charlie and Chris beam at each other while performing is a real treat), a drummer piecing it all together, and Collins’ marvelous emotive vocal delivery. Charlie Collins is already a must-see act with undeniable talent and charm. Snowpine will dominate my listening this winter (summer for most of you); I’m sure I won’t be alone in that.

Microwave – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Zac Djamoos

Microwave’s been talking up a follow-up to 2016’s Much Love for nearly two years now, promising a heavier record more along the lines of their first EP. Their most recent single, though, “keeping up,” takes the band in the totally opposite direction; it’s two of their slowest, bluesiest songs yet. So there’s really no telling what LP3 might sound like, if the band’s sticking to their initial plan or if they’ve decided to tone it down a little bit – or if they might do both at once. Much Love proved the band could make a cohesive record that dabbled in a variety of styles, so there’s no reason to doubt them yet.

Foals – Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Parts 1 & 2

Release Date: March 8th
Anticipated by: Chrisanne Grise

What Went Down, the 2015 release from Foals, has been in my regular rotation since it came out. The British art rock band’s experimental songs combine raw, dark vocals with pulsing riffs—creating a collection that demands to be listened to from start to finish. Now Foals is poised to take over 2019 with Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1 and Part 2. According to the band, the two albums will reflect the confusing times we live in and are meant to be enjoyed as companion pieces, although of course, they can also be appreciated individually. So far, we’ve gotten our first taste with the epic “Exits,” the centerpiece of the first release. If the rest of the songs sound this good, it’s safe to say I’ll be dancing my way through 2019.

Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Tommy Monroe

Lana Del Rey is set to release her sixth studio album (Norman Fucking Rockwell) this year. The album is set to drop in the summertime—the perfect time for Lana to take over the season with soft and sweet melodies. The singer is one who can’t be predicted. No one knows what theme album will bring or what style she’ll use, but everyone who’s had a fill of the previous albums in her discography knows she always delivers enchanting vocals. Also, the upcoming album is bound to either leave fans feeling emo or feeling badass.

Bellows – The Rose Gardener

Release Date: February 22nd
Anticipated by: John Bazley

Bellows’ last LP arrived in September of 2016. These were the waning weeks of the summer, the final warmth before the seasons shifted, the nights long and particularly bittersweet. Some of us headed back off to our college towns and the rest of us huddled up together as we braced ourselves for a presidential election that seemed mired in doom and, it turns out, was.

Fist & Palm was an appropriate soundtrack to those days. Many of Oliver Kalb’s bedroom pop songs are fine windows-down summer love tunes, but his best songs, like Fist & Palm highlights “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter” and “Bully,” carry a streak of melancholy, an acknowledgment of the pain that must accompany the most intense relationships on all sides of the spectrum. They only reveal their significance once their hooks have permeated your mind and you find yourself absent-mindedly humming lines like “I see how time has passed / I haven’t been myself.”

In comparison, the singles for Bellows’ upcoming third LP, The Rose Gardener, are simultaneously brash and delicate, louder in their intent but often more muted in their execution. In “Denouement,” Kalb’s voice is barely audible over the uncharacteristically front- facing distorted guitar that dominates the mix. The title track, the record’s best single yet, finds Kalb mumbling, barely forming his words over Bright Eyes-y finger-picking and a homemade- sounding drum machine track (a la the trap cymbals in “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter’).

Though The Rose Gardener is shaping up to a brave statement piece, a creative outstepping for a songwriter whose last LP was a masterpiece, the familiar aspects of Kalb’s signature sound are present, which fills me with hope that this new album will somehow find the tools to top the last one. There’s a comfort to the familiar warmth of Kalb’s processed voice, the resigned contentment with which he sings “I love this body / even when it hurts” in “Housekeeping,” the plucking of an acoustic guitar, a warm night at the end of a summer that feels like it’ll never end.

PUP – Morbid Stuff

Release Date: April 5th
Anticipated by: Aaron Mook

Few bands have come up with the speed and focus of PUP. Over the past six years, the Toronto-based band delivered two hit albums that seemed to build upon vintage power-pop structures with blistering guitar leads and a penchant for gang vocals. Their third, Morbid Stuff, is set to arrive April 5th, and lead single “Kids” feels like a natural progression from 2016’s The Dream is Over. Echoing the chorus of pop-punk favorite “Can’t Win,” vocalist Stefan Babcock utilizes the song’s verses to point an angry finger at himself, like an inverted take on Say Anything’s “Admit It!!!” Paired with promotional snippet that sounded like the band’s heaviest music to date, Morbid Stuff seems bound to straddle the line between what PUP does best and whatever’s next for the beloved riff kings.

Taylor Swift – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Anna Acosta

The evolution of Swift has been a fascinating one from pretty much wherever you sit on the spectrum of feelings about one of this generation’s most polarizing pop stars. In fact, I would be hard pressed to think of a musical catalog with more severe sonic shifts than those we have in the transitions between 2010’s Speak Now, 2012’s Red, 2014’s 1989, and 2017’s much more divisive effort, Reputation. It isn’t that there have never been signs; it’s more just that they tended to get lost in the shuffle if you weren’t actively looking for them. While 2017’s Swift was already an undeniable force of nature in pop music, Reputation sent a clear and completely new message in what was perhaps one of the most solid musical bait-and-switches in recent memory: the album was about the road back to yourself, and about being in love. It was a new side of Swift, where she dropped the fairy tale metaphors and the sugar-coated odes to love and got real – and the result was stunning. So what’s next?

It’s very difficult to know. As is her custom regarding her music (and everything else since the infamous Kimye debacle), mum has been the word from the Swift camp, and after the confusingly messy Reputation rollout it’s pretty much impossible to guess with any confidence what’s coming next. What does she write about without the tabloids? Without the highly publicized breakups? Without feeding into the drama frenzy of plethora of people who trade on her name to stay relevant? For many fans, hearing the album, she writes when she’s not mired down in any of those outside forces is a fantasy, a distant dream paralleled only by the uncut version of “All Too Well” or a video of the Red tour. This may just be where we really meet Taylor Swift, full stop. And wouldn’t that be something?

Bad Religion – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Jason Tate

Cometh the moment. Cometh the band.

One of the most iconic punk bands of all time is in the studio working on a new album during one of the more turbulent political points in my lifetime. If there was ever a band positioned for a moment like this, it’s them. Will it be an album that helps us walk through 2019 with a little hope? Will it be an album that shines a light on what is going on around us? Or will they go in a completely different direction? Only time will tell what the result ends up being, but my level of anticipation reaches a fever pitch every time I think about putting this album on repeat and turning the volume up.

Bad Suns – Mystic Truth

Release Date: March 15th
Anticipated by: Adam Grundy

Bad Suns are looking for further reinvention on their third album to date, Mystic Truth. With a sound that borders between Indie Rock to Pop, they have never had a shortage of hooks to go around in their music. Bad Suns have since released two singles since their latest effort, Disappear Here, in the songs “Away We Go” and “This Was A Home Once.” Their upcoming tour of the US is hitting most major mid-size clubs, and the buzz surrounding this group will only accelerate as they continue their incredible work ethic.

LSD – LSD

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Tommy Monroe

Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo coming together to form a group is unfair to other artists. Individually, these three can create records that will dominate the charts and get the attention of top award shows. The supergroup owe the world the release of their debut self-titled album which should have been released in 2018. One thing for sure is that the album is coming this year. Pending that time, the golden records they’ve made together will be on blast—most especially Thunderclouds.

Slipknot – TBA

Release Date: Summer
Anticipated by: Drew Beringer

When Slipknot dropped “All Out Life” this past Halloween, it stoked the desires of fans waiting for a return to the chaos of 2001’s masterpiece Iowa. Vocalist Corey Taylor has described the as-yet-untitled sixth album as the Iowa group’s “darkest … it’s complicated; it’s dark; it’s heavy; it’s melodic; it’s fierce; it’s angry, and it’s real; it’s raw as hell, and it’s gonna be talking about a lot of things that people are going to need in their life right now.” If the thrashy energy of “All Out Life” is any indication, we’re in for one hell of a ride in 2019.

Chelsea Wolfe – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Mary Varvaris

In a 2013 interview with TheWorkMag, Chelsea Wolfe shared: “I think deep down I wish I had one of those really gritty voices like Kurt Cobain, so maybe I’m making up for it with distorted guitars.” Wolfe’s last album, 2017’s Hiss Spun, found Wolfe exorcizing her demons: confronting several health issues that resulted in her dealing with addiction. Hiss Spun also saw her dig into family problems. The album is dark, filled with sludge and doom metal, with her angelic voice somehow fitting in with the industrial blast beats of “Vex” and gloriously heavy “16 Psyche”. This year, Chelsea Wolfe is releasing an acoustic album akin to her 2012 album, Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs. That album housed songs that just weren’t the right fit for her fourth album, Pain Is Beauty. So, her forthcoming acoustic album is something of a mystery. Will it include songs we’re already familiar with? Or, will it be another collection of tracks that need their own place? Whatever it may entail, according to Revolver, the album is “the unofficial follow-up to 2012’s excellent Unknown Rooms. We can’t wait.” I can’t wait either.

Owel – Paris

Release Date: March 29th
Anticipated by: Zac Djamoos

Few bands make music as pretty as Owel. Dear Me, the band’s sophomore album, felt grandiose and every song cinematic in scope, like the song that plays over the credits after the hero’s narrowly saved the day. The upcoming Paris isn’t going to be aiming any lower, if the symphonic first single “I Saw Red” is any indication. And after all, titling your album after the City of Lights is a pretty bold move. But with Owel, it’s safe to assume Paris will be just as vibrant, expansive, and gorgeous as its namesake.

Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: John Bazley

Vampire Weekend haven’t released a new LP since 2013. I was in high school then, and I write this two weeks into my final semester of my two-year masters program. It’s been a while.

A lot can change in six years, it turns out. The American music industry has become almost entirely reliant upon streaming services and the Greatest Showman soundtrack in that time, while seemingly everything else is headed fast and strong into a paper shredder. However, the velocity at which the world changed between the beginning of Obama’s second term and now only punctuates how fresh Modern Vampires of the City still sounds. Vampire Weekend’s best album, their third LP eschews much of the band’s late-2000s indie rock tendencies for a more vintage, timeless effect. The result is an album where the vocal modulation on a song like “Diane Young” is less reminiscent of 808s and Heartbreak and more in tune with the sound a warped vinyl record makes as it spins around a needle.

In regards to the new LP, the recently announced Father Of The Bride, we don’t have much to go on. Both singles are great, but neither paints much of a vibrant picture of the whole. Still, the band has released thirty-four perfect songs so far, so it’s fair to assume Father Of The Bride is something worth looking forward to. Given the classic status of their 2008 self-titled record and the timelessness of Modern Vampires, it’s also fair to assume we’ll enjoy it for a long time.

SZA – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Trevor Graham

SZA released her debut album to widespread critical acclaim in 2017. Seriously, it was almost entirely unavoidable come the end of the year — 24 major publications listed it in their top 5 albums, with most others placing it at least the very least in the upper half of their EOTY lists. A beacon of vulnerability, Ctrl was a record that seemed to speak a universal language, primarily dealing with commonly experienced themes such as love, sex, and the triumphs and disappointments that come with living, learning and finding out just what hell you’re made of. Package that all into dance-inducing beats and beautiful, glossy R&B melodies delivered by a female POC — it’s easy to see why Ctrl was launched into the highest ranks of our cultural lexicon in 2017. With that said, it should almost go without mentioning that all eyes are on Miss 20 Something to sweep us off our feet once again. In early December, SZA teased us with a snippet of new music via an Instagram post that has since been deleted — suffice it to say, the hype train is running full steam ahead for whatever she’s got in store for us this year, whenever she’s able to release it. As limited as information is about the project currently, this is absolutely something that should be on everybody’s radar if it isn’t already. Keep your eyes peeled, SZA season is coming.

Josh Ritter – Fever Breaks

Release Date: April 26th
Anticipated by: Craig Manning

How do you take one of the best songwriters alive to new heights? Hiring another one of the best songwriters alive is a decent strategy to try. Such is the tactic folk singer/songwriter Josh Ritter is taking for Fever Breaks, his ninth album overall and his fifth this decade. In the producer’s booth is Jason Isbell, who has spent the decade carving his own legacy out of a poignant redemption story and an incredible knack for songwriting detail. Ritter has always had a similar talent. His songs bloom with nuanced characters, complex metaphors, Biblical allusions, and political heft. Fever Breaks is no exception, taking clear inspiration from the Trump presidency and all it has wrought. See the Woody Guthrie-ish “All Some Kind of Dream,” which is simultaneously scathing, heartbreaking, and hopeful. The political subtext of the moment grounds Ritter’s writing and brings out his most urgent music since 2006’s The Animal Years. Helping the urgency is the presence of The 400 Unit, Isbell’s backing band, who give the album an electric, off-the-rails intensity. Isbell himself plays snarling guitar riffs all over this album’s dark, moody songs, while Amanda Shires occasionally steals the show with her ghostly fiddle work. The result is an album not to be missed—an early high water mark for 2019’s music, and an album that feels genuinely “of the moment” from the first time you hear it.

Jimmy Eat World – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Jason Tate

They’re one of the most consistent bands in any music scene, they’re coming up on their tenth album, and they’re my favorite band of all time. Fuck yeah, I’m excited about their new album. Integrity Blues was a monster of a record that showcased a group two decades into their career putting down a marker that they had no intention of slowing down. They’ve teamed back up with producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who I think is a match-made-in-heaven-fit for this band, and if there was ever a band where you kinda just pencil them in as a “must listen to” and “yeah, they’re gonna be fighting for a spot on the best of list at the end of the year,” it’s these guys.

2019 was already a stacked year for music, but any year that becomes a “Jimmy Eat World Year”” is going to be special.

La Dispute – Panorama

Release Date: March 22nd
Anticipated by: Zac Djamoos

The past four years have been pretty quiet for La Dispute, but that’s all going to end this March. Panorama, the band’s fourth full-length album, is shaping up to be a louder, more angular affair than 2014’s restrained Rooms of the House. Its two singles, “Fulton Street I” and “Footsteps at the Pond,” find the band blending the aggression and energy of their first two albums with Rooms’ newfound attention to space. And, as always, the album’s concept is ambitious, about Dreyer and his partner’s drive through Michigan and the places along the trip “where…people have died.” It’s sure to be just as haunting as the band’s previous efforts, and it’s shaping up to be easily worth the wait.

Julia Jacklin – Crushing

Release Date: February 22nd
Anticipated by: Mary Varvaris

Sydney-based singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin realized she was an actual, full-time musician in 2016 when she could no longer work her regular job. Her upcoming sophomore album, Crushing, out February 22nd, should find Jacklin having more fun. Her acclaimed angst-ridden debut album, Don’t Let The Kids Win, witnessed Jacklin in the midst of an existential crisis. She posed the questions most of us struggle with: “when are you going to get your L-plates? You should get it by this point. When are you going to do that travel where you go and find yourself overseas; where are you going to squeeze that in?” In Crushing’s incredible first single, “Body,” Jacklin hasn’t lost that touch of melancholy. She effectively captures magic in a bottle, in the same way Angel Olsen did with her 2016 album, My Woman. Julia Jacklin’s songs are often simple and unembellished. Her voice is probably closest to the late Karen Carpenter – an untouchable voice. “Pressure To Party,” new single from Crushing, is the fiercest we’ve heard Jacklin. In the rocker, she refuses to conform to “getting back out there” following a break-up. Julia Jacklin is everything you could ask for in an artist. She is unabashedly bold, exciting, and constantly fulfilling the catharsis we desperately crave.

Sleeping with Sirens – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Adam Grundy

Sleeping with Sirens seem destined for another great album in their discography after trying out some new styles in their Gossip LP. While that record may not have hit as hard with their core audience, fans are still likely clamoring for any taste of the direction that this band will take on. Making their second major label record puts immense pressure on SWS to deliver a worthy product, and I have a feeling that we’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Niall Horan – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Anna Acosta

As someone who got into One Direction after their decline, I was decidedly late to hop on the Niall Horan train. I gave his debut solo record Flicker a chance only after it had been out for several months at the insistence of a dear friend – and not to beleaguer the point, I was shocked at how deeply it resonated with me. It wasn’t that I had low expectations; I had no expectations whatsoever. Imagine my surprise when I found myself tearing up at 11 PM on the 101 listening to “This Town” for the first time on my way home from a gig. After a full listen through, I was hooked: Niall may not have been the biggest star in One Direction, but he had officially put out the best solo effort of the bunch thus far, with the sultry single “Slow Hands” putting him firmly on the radio waves in a way very few could have predicted.

That puts the singer in a very interesting position, and the album he releases next will demonstrate whether Flicker was a one-off, or if my suspicions are correct and he’s the real deal. Having cited influences ranging from ‘70’s and ‘80’s Elton John to Coldplay and describing the new sound as being covered in the same “dirt” that made “Slow Hands” such a hit, and teasing meetings with former bandmates Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles during the writing process, anticipation is high. (It’s important to note, there’s no confirmation on any collaborations, but… we can dream.) With his first record, Horan proved his potential. One thing is for sure: whatever this new record has in store for us, I just hope my body is ready.

Somos – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Trevor Graham

We all know how difficult it can be to remain an active band in the emo rock scene. Many of our favorite independent artists have had to prematurely call it quits at one time or another, temporarily or indefinitely — it sort of comes with the territory. Somos did just that in 2016, following the daring sonic heel turn that was their sophomore release. Having built a respectable amount of hype with the bite of 2014’s Temple Of Plenty, the follow-up effort saw the band exercising a few different muscles, dialing back the gain knobs on their amps and experimenting with synths and drum machines to match a more laid back approach. For a relatively young band in a genre little known for being inventive, it was exciting to see a few of these unconventional characteristics be embraced. Even in their absence, if you can truly call it that, Somos have periodically released singles to establish their non-dormancy and document evolution. These songs have sort of been all over the place in terms of sound, but with last month’s social media confirmation of a finished third LP, it’s nice to know that the band has been steadily finding their sonic footing in the lapse between releases. It’s hard to say what exactly the future holds for Somos, whether they return to a full time touring schedule or just operate occasionally at their leisure. But one thing’s for certain: this upcoming LP has every reason to have never existed. As far as we can tell, it’s purely a work of passion from a name we know and trust — what can be a more desirable place for art to come from than that?

M83 – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Aaron Mook

Soon, it will be three years since M83 released Junk. For reference, Junk was their first album in half a decade. But for as polarizing as it was, the album was a breath of fresh air for a band that had seemingly peaked with the unparalleled success of 2011’s synthpop hallmark, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. M83 has always been a band built on synthesizers, often blurring the lines between dreamy synthpop and cinematic drone, but Junk allowed the band to do something entirely new within their stories discography – drop the self-seriousness and have a little fun. For this reason, the album stands out within M83’s catalog. Not much is known about the band’s next album outside of plans to announce it “soon,” but with the obligatory “weird” release under their belt, it could be that M83 are once again prepared to set themselves ahead of the modern synthpop pack.

Nadia Rose – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Tommy Monroe

UK based rapper Nadia Rose is one hell of a spitter. The Londoner is like a time bomb ready to explode with lyrical flames; all it takes to set her off is a nice beat. Since the release of her EP, Highly Flammable, she hasn’t been as active due to issues with her management. Anyway, it’s 2019, and now she has a good team plus at least 62 unreleased songs (according to her). This is good news because Rose hasn’t dropped her debut album which is something she really wants to do. She’s definitely going to make heads turn this year.

Field Medic – Fade Into the Sun

Release Date: April 12th
Anticipated by: Drew Beringer

Sometimes less is more. That’s the approach Kevin Sullivan has used when creating the lo-fi folk under the moniker Field Medic. He’s releasing his first proper full-length, Fade Into the Dawn, on Run For Cover this April. Evoking the spirit of Owen mixed with his own brand of dark humor and pensive entries confronting his innermost demons (best exemplified by knockouts like “henna tattoo,” “mood ring baby,” and “the bottle’s my lover, she’s just my friend”), the ten-track collection features some of the most vulnerable yet fearless songs the genre has to offer.

Blaqk Audio – Only Things We Love

Release Date: March 15th
Anticipated by: Adam Grundy

Davey Havok and Jade Puget (of AFI) are planning on releasing their fourth electronica album under the Blaqk Audio moniker, and if the new single “The Viles” is any indication of the direction this duo is going for, we’re in for quite the ride. Blaqk Audio have certainly expanded their sound since their debut Cex Cells, and will likely continue to use the power of Havok’s vocal prowess to their full advantage on their latest effort. The band has also booked a nationwide tour in support of the new record for this Spring at small clubs.

Pine – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Zac Djamoos

Pine was one of my favorite discoveries of the past few years. The band’s No Sleep Records debut, the Pillow Talk EP, was my favorite non-LP release of 2017, and it remains in regular rotation for me two years later. Emo-influenced dream pop is the flavor of the week right now, but few do it as well as Pine, certainly due at least in part to Darlene Deschamps’ great vocal performances and stellar melodies. They spent most of 2018 holed away recording, so it seems likely we’ll be getting their debut full-length this year. Here’s hoping, at least; I’m thinking they’ve got something in them. Get ready if you aren’t familiar – I think you’ll be seeing their name a lot this year.

Butch Walker – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Craig Manning

Butch Walker has mostly laid low since the release of 2016’s Stay Gold—still my favorite album of the decade. The lead-up to that album was littered with Instagram snippets of new songs, hashtags revealing the album title, and other enticing hints of what was to come. But Butch largely swore off social media after that album came out, which means we don’t have much idea of what’s up next for him or when it will be coming. The only thing Butch has said about his forthcoming ninth solo album is that it will likely be a concept record. That’s a departure since Butch’s songwriting style tends to tilt very far in the personal, autobiographical direction. But Butch has grappled in recent years with his identity as a southern man and his place in Trump’s grim version of modern America. Expect the album to take on an appropriately serious and stormy tone, to reflect these struggles. “Serious” and “stormy” are certainly words that could be applied to “Out in the Open,” the only taste of the album that Butch has shared so far. It’s a haunting story song about how bigotry and hate get passed down from generation to generation, often getting parroted by children or grandchildren without thought or consideration. It’s heavy subject matter, and Butch seems to be giving it the appropriate time to percolate in the studio. I’m ready to listen whenever he’s ready to share.

The 1975 – Notes on a Conditional Form

Release Date: May
Anticipated by: Jason Tate

The 1975 are three for three. They are coming off their most ambitious, and critically acclaimed, album yet. They’ve become darlings with a massively loyal fan base and feel like the band of the moment. They’ve arrived. So, what’s next? Album four, releasing just a few months after their previous, and a massive tour. They’ve hinted at the direction in sound (darker, more electronic, moodier) and they’ve continually had a knack for pushing their music in new and interesting directions. At this point, I’m not worried about if I’m going to like the music, I’m just assuming I am and that I’ll be obsessed with it for months, I’m more excited about everything around the release. Can they keep this buzz going? Will there be a critical backlash to an album released this soon? Is there a 1975-overload with this much music coming out this close together? How do they work all of these songs into a set list? Do they have a massive hit single in the bunch? The entire aura and feel around the band makes being a fan so much fun. It’s exciting that a group can still excite me; it’s comforting that new music can still comfort me.

The Early November – Lilac

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Trevor Graham

As one of the few remaining relics from the Drive-Thru Records glory days, The Early November continue to be a pillar for emo rock in 2019. Sure, Ace Enders may never be able to play another show in his life without the presence of their iconic 2002 acoustic anthem, “Ever So Sweet”, but the undeniable energy that fills a room with the opening notes of “Narrow Mouth” is evidence that they live on more than just their past success. Last July, they joined the ever-expanding list of anticipated 2018 releases with a short teaser clip for an upcoming project entitled Lilac, filled wall to wall with a swirling vibraphone, piano, and an upright bass — and to be released in the fall? I see you, Early November. Very on-brand. Unfortunately for eager fans everywhere, the next four months of silence were followed with a social media acknowledgment that Lilac would be pushed back to the spring of 2019, in favor of adding more to it. But you know, for a band that once released a triple-disc album, and whose frontman is responsible for a double-digit discography, there are few artists in this scene that I’d trust more to properly assess the completion of their work. So while the exact status of Lilac is still a bit murky, we can be sure of two things: 1) It’s coming this year, and 2) The Early November are going the extra mile to make sure it’s one for the books. Oh! And strings. Glorious, swelling strings.

Weezer – The Black Album

Release Date: March 8th
Anticipated by: Aaron Mook

After a string of albums that left Weezer at a critical lowpoint, the band made a welcome return to the power chords that built their career in 2014 (Everything Will Be Alright in the End) and again in 2016 (White Album). Then, having regained the loyalty of his fanbase once more, frontman Rivers Cuomo made one more middling attempt at pop crossover; the band postponed this year’s Weezer (Black Album) in favor of Pacific Daydream, a college radio-influenced hodgepodge of classic Weezer melodies, pitched-up EDM noises, and an unmistakable pop sheen that nevertheless has found a cult following within this site’s fanbase, among others.

The Black Album, once touted as being a darker companion to Weezer (White Album), is now sounding closer to being its predecessor’s evil twin. We know the album was influenced by the band’s tour with Panic! At the Disco, and judging by “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” an experimental lead single that incorporates soul vocals and a Spanish influence, it seems Cuomo and co. are ready to throw it all at the wall and see what sticks. It is ironic that a band once so straightforward and decidedly inoffensive has become one of rock’s most divisive in 2019, and if what we’ve heard from Weezer (Black Album) is any indication, they have no interest in changing that anytime soon.

Angel Du$t – Pretty Buff

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Drew Beringer

I know we all like to say that certain records fuck but Angel Du$t’s new record, “Pretty Buff,” is the absolute definition of “this record fucks.” Featuring members of Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile, “Pretty Buff” is a celebration spanning over different genres and vibes. The four pre-release singles covers everything from sped-up acoustic numbers to frenzied hardcore-tinged rockabilly to a goddamn saxophone showing during one of the album’s more triumphant bridges. Vocalist Justice Tripp notes that the breezy shine of “Big Ass Love” is “about the healing power of rock” and that big ass idea is felt throughout “Pretty Buff.” It’s one of the year’s most joyous listens.

Aurora – Infections of a Different Kind (Step 2)

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Mary Varvaris

22-year-old Aurora Aksnes (mononymously known as AURORA) has built up quite the career, in just a few years. The Norwegian songstress began writing melodies from the age of six, with All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend single “Runaway” written when she was only twelve. The enigmatic young singer’s angelic, crystal clear vocals are like no one else’s. Her power ballads inspire, while her exuberant tracks lift you off your feet. Her live performances, from her hypnotizing cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” for triple j’s like a version, to her NPR tiny desk concert, to her typical live show, all show an artist completely in control of her narrative, and with dance moves like Lorde. Aurora’s most recent release, last year’s Infections Of A Different Kind – Step 1, saw the young songwriter broaden her typically sparse brand of pop to create a catchy, diverse collection of tracks. While she creates a striking pop song of empowerment and love with “Queendom”, Aurora hasn’t lost sight of quirky power ballads that initially defined her music. Infections Of A Different Kind – Step 2 will see its release this year. Energetic new single, “Animal,” sees Aurora emulate the late, brilliant Dolores O’Riordan. I can hardly wait to find out where she goes next – Aurora is perhaps the most enchanting figure in pop music.

Dreamville – Revenge of the Dreamers 3

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Tommy Monroe

With the impact of albums like J.Cole’s KOD, J.I.D’s DiCaprio 2, Bas’ Milky Way, and Cozz’s Effected it’s safe to say Dreamville won 2018. Like a bang, J. Cole hit the world with the announcement of the labels forthcoming compilation album, Revenge Of The Dreamers 3. The amazing thing about the rollout for this project is the invites sent out to several artists, and producers who later joined the team to create magic in Atlanta. My bet is this will be one of the best hip-hop albums in 2019.

Maggie Rogers – Heard it in a Past Life

Release Date: January 18th
Anticipated by: Adam Grundy

On Maggie Rogers’ debut album, Heard it in a Past Life, she has personified the meaning of a talented singer/songwriter. Having hinted at her wide breadth of styles in her previously released EP, Rogers has come full circle with an album that truly completes her vision for her music. Although this album has already been released, I can’t help but think of this work of art’s staying power in my music rotation for 2019.

Bruce Springsteen – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Craig Manning

We haven’t heard a proper new Bruce Springsteen album in almost seven years. Even if you count Bruce’s last official release, 2014’s bizarre odds-sods-and-covers collection High Hopes, we’re still five years past the last new material from The Boss. It’s the second longest album-to-album gap in Bruce’s career, after the almost seven-year wait that stretched from 1995’s The Ghost of Tom Joad to 2002’s The Rising. In fairness to Springsteen, he’s been busy: he spent 2016 on the road playing The River in full night after night, and then published his autobiography. And 2017 and 18 were taken up by the fantastic Springsteen on Broadway show, which finally wrapped in December. But Bruce says he’s ready to “get back to [his] day job” in 2019, finishing up “various recording projects” he’s been working on. One of those may or may not be a solo album he’s been touting for at least three years—a solo album that supposedly departs from past Bruce-without-the-E-Street-Band projects like Nebraska and Devils & Dust. Whatever’s in the works, though, it will be nice to hear The Boss on record again. Here’s hoping some of the personal, poetic reflectiveness that defined Springsteen on Broadway seeps into his next project.

The Japanese House – Good at Falling

Release Date: March 1st
Anticipated by: Trevor Graham

Amber Bain has been tapping our shoulders with a series of promising EPs every year since 2015. This frequent-but-small batch method has kept fans within reach, as we can almost watch in real time her musical and aesthetic development, while her career proceeds to naturally blossom. The announcement of her debut full length arrived in November with a new single in tow, a perfect four-minute display of the sleek pop sounds we’ve come to expect from her. “Watching my world / make funny faces at its own reflection / nothing feels good / it’s not right”, she sings along to a mind-melting bass line in arguably her most memorable chorus to date. With Bain having allowed herself time to grow into her shoes, it’s safe to say that we can predict this record will live amongst the most confident debuts of the year. Not convinced? Her co-producers, George Daniel (The 1975) and BJ Burton (Bon Iver, Hippo Campus, Low) may disagree with you. Between the three of these modern production masterminds, the songs of Good At Falling are guaranteed a home in which Bain’s distinct compositional fingerprints can fully flourish and prove themselves to be more than the sum of their parts. If this is your first exposure to The Japanese House, you’d be wise to get on board now — this is going to be a summer essential.

Nanami Ozone – NO

Release Date: March 15th
Anticipated by: Drew Beringer

Tiny Engines is in the midst of one of the greatest runs an indie label has ever had, releasing some of the most important records over the past five years. The label’s first entry in 2019 is Nanami Ozone’s fuzzed out second album “NO.” The Phoenix quartet explore within the vast atmosphere of post-rock, as vocalists Sophie Opich and Colson Miller team up to create something incredible luscious and unforgettable.

Hootie & The Blowfish – NO

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Adam Grundy

Hootie & The Blowfish are launching a major US tour with Barenaked Ladies to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their landmark Cracked Rear View album. But not to be stuck in nostalgia, the group is planning on recording another record to coincide with this tour, and are expecting to release the first single in the Spring with the album to follow in early Summer. Darius Rucker has made quite a name for himself as a solo country artist, so this comes as quite the surprise to get new music from the 90’s radio darlings.

Carly Rae Jepsen – TBA

Release Date: TBA
Anticipated by: Jason Tate

I wrote about Carly Rae Jepsen last year for this very same feature, so I am back again to repeat my (apparently now annual) obsession with getting new music from one of the best in pop. Last year I hinted about the rumors of her working with Jack Antonoff, and this year we know that’s come to pass. So all that’s left is for me to sit … and wait … and pray I get to have my summer taken over.

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.