by Philip Moss, Joseph Purcell, Martin Ramsbottom and Phil Scarisbrick
The last 12 months have seen glut of fantastic album releases, so much so that we really struggled to wrestle our end of year list down to just twenty. But, 2017’s gone, and here’s what we’re looking forward to dropping the needle on this year.
They say don’t trust anyone who doesn’t like The Beatles. Yet, somehow the most prolific and best songwriter of our generation wasn’t a fan. Ryan Adams, raised in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was brought up on a diet of Black Sabbath and The Smiths – a cocktail that was inspired by his brother’s music collection.
Somehow, the Liverpudlian group had never seeped through into his consciousness. However, over the past few months – during the back end of his Prisoner tour – it seems Ryan has finally fallen for the Fab Four. His daily Instagram pictures of his beloved cats have been interspersed with photos of Lennon, McCartney, Beatles’ record sleeves and now a Hofner bass that he’s probably acquired as he goes in search for that Scouse sound.
So, with soundbites from the demoing process in his home studio underway, the thought of Ryan returning with a new record in 2018 is certainly something to get excited about. We can’t wait to hear what influence the greatest pop group of all time have had on one of our greatest contemporary songwriters, and whether they will prompt a departure from the seriously melancholic feel of his last two, breakup (Ryan Adams) and divorce (Prisoner) inspired, records.
No doubt about it, Arctic Monkeys are one of the biggest British bands of the last ten years. A decade which has seen the Sheffield four-piece swap their tracky bottoms and Reebok Classics for leather jackets and the LA sun. 2016’s Last Shadow Puppets album whetted the appetite for many of Alex Turner’s most loyal fans, but there’s huge anticipation building towards a new Monkeys’ album being dropped in 2018.
Bonnie Prince Billy
Last year was a quiet one by Will Oldham’s (aka Bonnie Prince Billy) standards, with just the two album releases – Best Troubadour (a lovely, sixteen track tribute to one of his heroes, Merle Haggard) and Wolf Of The Season (a full reimagining of Susanna Wallumrød’s Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos). So, Secret Meeting can’t wait to hear some new original material in 2018. Oh, and if you’re reading this, Will – some UK tour dates would be great too!
2017 saw the release of the sensational single Wait In The Car – the first record from The Breeders in nine years. The two minutes and four seconds slab of off-kilter pop razzmatazz (co-written by Kim Deal and Richard Presley) is everything you could hope for and marks a true return to form. So, let’s hope it wasn’t just a one off single and that 2018 will see the release of an amazing new record from the queens of alternative, indie pop.
Fresh from the triumph of Atrocity Exhibition, 2018 sees the return of one of hip hop’s great voices. An extremely talented individual who delivers his lyrics with such venom and passion, his unique delivery is reminiscent of early career, fellow Detroit native, Eminem, meaning he stands apart from the throng of rap artists.
With each passing year, we seem to lose those artists that stand out – Bowie, Reed and Cohen to name but a few. Artists that are so unique, they see the world in a different way and are the genuine icons within music. Therefore, the prospect of a new album from one of the remaining true musical innovators comes with a great deal of excitement. So, welcome back Mr David Byrne.
After confessing that he’d made the decision to quit the music business, Ezra Furman sure must be glad that he reconsidered. Since signing to Bella Union in March 2015, his career has really taken off. Sixth album Perpetual Motion People, was a cacophony of 50’s skiffle and doo-wop, 60’s garage, with melodies fit for The Ronettes and lyrics that evoked the melancholy best of Sylvia Plath. With new album, Transangelic Exodus, out on the 9th February, there’s not long to wait for what his label states is a thoughtful exploration of ‘love, gender, sexuality and religion’. And if you can’t wait till then, check out the first fruits from the record, Love You So Bad, which is available now.
Father John Misty
Father John Misty has asserted in several interviews, and on stage, that he has a new, self-produced album recorded. The follow-up to 2017’s Pure Comedy will certainly be an intriguing prospect. That record was far more serious in tone to the previous two albums (2012’s Fear Fun and 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear) and it will be interesting to see if the fallout of Donald Trump’s election will see him continue with the tone set there. It will also be the first Father John Misty record not to be helmed by Jonathan Wilson, whose string-heavy production has been a big part of his signature sound.
Blackpool songstress, Rae Morris, returns in February with her second LP, Someone Out There. Secret Meeting has been a fan of hers from back when she was playing local pubs with just her voice and piano. Her debut album, Unguarded, saw her sound change dramatically with an added dubstep influence, a style that was popular at the time and which felt like a diluted version of the raw talent we’d witnessed previously. After hearing the first three singles off the new album (Reborn, Do It and Atletico) it seems that her style has continued with this trend. Hopefully, there will be something more true to her roots on the record.
Frank Ocean released two albums in 2016 (Endless and Blonde) arriving, without much warning, to critical acclaim – particularly Blonde. Ocean expressed in a Tumblr post in November that he had a record ready for release, so expect that to drop at some point this year with the same level of warning as his previous output.
One record that has been confirmed is Ty Segall’s Freedom’s Goblin (available on Drag City from 26th January) – coming almost exactly a calendar year to the day since his last. An appearance on Conan O’Brien in early December announced its completion and followed a pile driving live debut with the Freedom Band of Fanny Dog which Ty joyously explained is dedicated to his own dog. Since the performance, a number of tracks from the record have trickled into the public sphere through his Bandcamp site, the best of which (Alta) opens with Ty harmonising before tumbling into a Bolan-esque, crisp glam number with layered vocals that carry a hint of gospel. Alta would happily sit on 2014’s polished Manipulator record and continues Ty’s collaboration with Steve Albini, producer of Nirvana’s In Utero. Freedom’s Goblin promises an uncompromising nineteen tracks could well be a highlight of early 2018.
Having never fully appreciated the true genius of Sleaford Mods until last summer’s Green Man Festival, news of the duo’s tenth collaboration is well received. After witnessing the furiously raw nature of their ninety-minute set, we can’t wait for the next instalment of Jason Williamson’s venom filled, witty observations of society.
Having been fortunate enough to witness Spiritualized in all their live glory at Pitchfork Paris 2015, it is with great excitement that we await the latest offering from Jason Pierce and co. Following on from 2012’s Sweet Heart, Sweet Light which included the outstanding Hey Jane, the latest release from one of the most under appreciated bands is sure to be one of 2018’s musical high points.
Currently in the middle of a record-breaking Broadway run with his autobiographical show Springsteen on Broadway, Bruce Springsteen could finally release his long-awaited new solo album this year. In a recent interview with Variety magazine, he said, “It’s connected to my solo records writing-wise … but it’s not like them at all. Just different characters living their lives.” He also cited influences as “Jimmy Webb, Burt Bacharach, those kinds of records.” But, with the Broadway show due to run until June, we could potentially see this album in the autumn, but with Bruce, who knows?
Vampire Weekend’s last record, 2016’s Modern Vampires In The City, was their best yet. In fact, it was so great that it received Grammy recognition. But, since then, their chief songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, Rostam Batmanglij, has left the band, leaving fans of the group wondering what direction one of the most consistent indie groups of the last fifteen years will head in next. Singer, Ezra Koenig, claimed on Twitter in September that the record was ’80% done but the last 20% is always the hardest.’ Let’s hope the wait won’t be too much longer.