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28 exciting indie rock albums (probably) being released this spring-fall

words by Amanda Hatfield, Andrew Sacher and Bill Pearis

indie rock albums

In the world of traditional “indie rock”, this year has already been pretty rewarding, musically speaking. 2017 has already given us new albums by Dirty Projectors, Grandaddy, Japandroids, The Feelies, Cloud Nothings, Cherry Glazerr, Priests, Vagabon, Jay Som, The xx, and more, and it’s not letting up. Records by Spoon, The Shins, Depeche Mode, and Real Estate are just around the corner, and we can name almost 30 more mostly-established indie rock artists we love that are releasing — or probably releasing — albums before 2018 gets here. So we decided to make a list.

We didn’t include include anything already out, and tried not to include anything coming out very soon (see albums listed above). Check out the remaining 28 we came up with, below:

Arcade Fire at Voodoo Fest 2016 - Sunday
Arcade Fire at Voodoo Fest 2016 (photo by Andy Sawyer)

Arcade Fire – title TBA (label and release date TBA)
You can’t say Arcade Fire have ever made the same album twice. They explore new sounds and new lyrical themes on each one, and going by new single “I Give You Power” (featuring soul legend Mavis Staples), it’s looking like the same thing will be true for their upcoming fifth album. The song sounds like it was written specifically for Mavis (a lot of indie rock musicians have written music specifically for Mavis), and it induces the feelings of solidarity that a lot of us need in the current political climate. [Andrew Sacher]

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys – title TBA (label and release date TBA)
Arctic Monkeys may be the only popular band to come out of the mid-2000s garage rock revival and get more interesting as they went on. Their last album, 2013’s AM, sorta found a middle ground between Black Sabbath and Drake — it’s some of the only modern heavy rock that truly works on the radio. It was one of the best albums of that year and quite possibly the best album of Arctic Monkeys’ career thus far. It’s now been four years since it came out (previously, Arctic Monkeys never waited more than two years between albums), though the members haven’t been quiet. Last year, Alex Turner released a new Last Shadow Puppets album and EP, and drummer/backup singer Matt Helders made an album and toured as part of Iggy Pop’s band. In December, it was confirmed that the Arctic Monkeys were finally working on a new album. Hopefully 2017 is the year AM finally gets a successor. [AS]

Julien Baker at Primavera Sound
Julien Baker at Primavera Sound 2016 (more by Chris Graham)

Julien Baker – title TBA (Matador, date TBA)
Julien Baker’s debut Sprained Ankle was one of our favorite albums of 2015, and we were far from alone in falling in love with its beautiful sadness. She’s the newest artist on this list, but she already feels accepted by long-established members of the indie rock world. Julien since signed to legendary label Matador and her music was covered by Brand New and Dashboard Confessional. The first time we saw her she won over a packed crowd opening for National side project EL VY and Wye Oak, and she’ll likely do the same this year at her shows with indie vets Belle & Sebastian and The Decemberists. As for the new album, she was recently in the studio in Memphis with Sorority Noise’s Cam Boucher. We haven’t seen much from those sessions – just a great picture and some very interesting mix notes. The latter in particular (“piano and screams,” and “strings”) has very much heightened our anticipation to see how Julien will follow up Sprained Ankle. [Amanda Hatfield]

Belle and Sebastian
photo by Soren Solkaer

Belle & Sebastian – title TBA (Matador, date TBA)
“We’ve been recording music,” says Belle & Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch. Whether it will be a new album or, as he’s mused, “a series of vinyl EPs” (or both?), it seems likely something will be out — or officially announced — by the time the Scottish band tour this summer. [Bill Pearis]

bnqt-square

BNQTVolume 1 (Dualtone, April 28)
Ever wonder what Travelling Wilburys might sound like with a bunch of indie rock veterans instead of Tom Petty, George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne? So did Midlake’s Eric Pulido, who conceived BNQT (pronounced “banquet”) and pulled in Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Fran Healy of Travis and some of his Midlake bandmates to be part of it. While you can spot the various members songwriting styles fairly easily, there’s a definite cohesiveness to their debut, in a loose, congenial sort of way. Getting this group to tour may be tough, given they’re all pretty busy, but BNQT will be playing a few shows at SXSW. [BP]

Brand New at Riot Fest Chicago 2016 - Saturday
Brand New at Riot Fest Chicago 2016 – Saturday (photo by James Richards IV)

Brand New – title TBA (Procrastinate! Music Traitors, date TBA)
There’s really no telling if or when Brand New will release a followup to 2009’s Daisy, but our fingers are crossed that 2017 is the year. They promised that 2016 would be the year, but then said the collection of songs they did record was not something they would call “finished or essential” and went back to the drawing board. In the long leadup to this hopefully-eventual album, Brand New have released two great singles, “I Am A Nightmare” and “Mene” (the latter backed by a new recording of “Out of Range”), and reworked three songs from their storied 2006 demos. They’ve also picked up more and more after-the-fact acclaim for their mid-2000s indie rock classic, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, which got a tenth anniversary tour last year. [AS]

chromatics-dear-tommy

ChromaticsDear Tommy (Italians Do It Better, date TBA)
One of the most overdue records on this list, Chromatics’ Dear Tommy was originally supposed to drop in 2015. Since its announcement, they’ve given us a sleek seven of its seventeen songs, as well as the tracklist and cover art, but still no album. Now five years since Kill for Love, will we finally get Dear Tommy in 2017? [BP]

Father John Misty
Guy Lowndes

Father John MistyPure Comedy (Sub Pop, April 7)
Known for his sardonic wit and a public persona that at times seems like an elaborate prank, Father John Misty is pretty serious on Pure Comedy. Like many artists, events of the last two years inspired a creative avalanche and on this new double album he takes on “progress, technology, fame, the environment, politics, aging, social media, human nature, human connection” and more. Will this message-heavy record will strike a chord the way 2014’s I Love You Honeybear did, or will it be even to much preaching for the converted? [BP]

Feist

Feist – title TBA (label and release date TBA)
Feist has been quiet since releasing Metals in 2011 and winning the Polaris Prize for it in 2012 – not to mention covering and being covered by Mastodon for Record Store Day that same year. In August of 2016 she revealed that she’d be appearing on Broken Social Scene’s upcoming fifth album, and in February she was announced as part of the lineup of this year’s Eaux Claires festival. An encouraging sign, and even moreso when she let slip, in an article about her charity work for HIV+ kids in Malawi, that fans can expect a new Feist album in April. [AH]

Fleet Foxes
photo by Shawn Brackbill

Fleet FoxesCrack-Up (Nonesuch, June 16)
Fleet Foxes went into hibernation after touring behind their excellent 2011 sophomore album Helplessness Blues, but they are finally back. Main member Robin Pecknold posted an update in 2014 that Fleet Foxes would continue, and this year they finally announced their new album and first tour in five years. It’s due out on Nonesuch (their first two albums were on Sub Pop), and going by the nearly-nine-minute single “Third of May / Ōdaigahara,” it looks like it’s going to be worth the wait. Few modern bands update ’60s psychedelic folk as expertly as Fleet Foxes do, and this prog-folk journey is right up there with their best songs. (For those wondering, the band’s current lineup is Robin Pecknold, Skyler Skjelset, Casey Wescott, Christian Wargo, and Morgan Henderson — not Josh Tillman who is now very famous as Father John Misty.) [AS]

M Ward at Beacon Theatre

Grizzly Bear – title TBA (label and release date TBA)
Grizzly Bear’s last album was 2012’s Shields, a fine followup to their now-classic Veckatimest. In October, the band said their next album was 90% done and that we wouldn’t get another update until it’s out. In February, How to Dress Well tweeted that he heard the album and “it’s fucking BOmB so so so beauty.” We wouldn’t expect anything less. [AS]

Juliana Hatfield

Juliana HatfieldPussycat (American Laundromat, April 28)
Given the album’s title, and songs like “Short-Fingered Man” and “Kellyanne,” it may not surprise you to learn that Juliana Hatfield’s new album was born from the 2016 election. “All of these songs just started pouring out of me,” Hatfield says. “I felt an urgency to record them, to get them down, and get them out there.” It keeps up a prolific streak for the onetime Blake Baby, who reunited The Juliana Hatfield Three for a new LP in 2015 and made a collaborative album with Paul Westerberg in 2016. If a whole album about the election seems bilious, first single “Impossible Song” offers hope too. [BP]

Robyn Hitchcock with Yo La Tengo at Bowery Ballroom
Robyn Hitchcock at Bowery Ballroom in March (more by Greg Cristman)

Robyn Hitchcock – S/T (Yep Roc, April 21)
Once known for songs about fish, and wordy, mind-bending (head-scratching) lyrics, Robyn Hitchcock has gotten more direct on his last few releases. This one, his first eponymously titled release (and 21st solo album overall) mixes straight-from-the-heart with with his signature flights of fancy. “Think of me as a new act – I’m only 63, Hitchcock says. “People always ask me, where should I start listening to your records? I’m a train with many carriages. I thought, I’ll just make this record and if people like this one, then they’ll probably like the others. If they don’t, it’s not worth them listening to any of them, really.” [BP]

jamc

The Jesus and Mary ChainDamage and Joy (Artificial Plastic/Warner Music, March 24)
What to expect from the Reid brothers’ first album in 18 years? Well, it’s not like their MO varied much during their original run, where they drenched Phil Spector melodies in buckets of noise (and the occasional acoustic guitar). This time, the band worked with Youth of Killing Joke and, judging from “Amputation” and “Always Sad,” they don’t seem to be messing with the formula too much. After nearly two decades of others stealing their bit, JAMC are back to show everyone how it’s really done. [BP]

Land of Talk at McCarren Park
Land of Talk in McCarren Park in 2016 (more by Maryanne Ventrice)

Land of TalkLife After Youth (Saddle Creek, May 19)
The return we didn’t know we needed till it was here. Canadian band Land of Talk faded away more that ceased to be, but seeing Elizabeth Powell perform again in 2016 reminded us what we’ve missed the last five years. Now here we are with a new record produced by John Agnello and frequent collaborator Jace Lasek (Besnard Lakes), and with contributions from Sharon Van Etten and Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley. It promises to not be like anything the band have made before. [BP]

LCD Soundsystem at ACL Festival 2016 Weekend 2
LCD Soundsystem at ACL 2016 (more by Tim Griffin)

LCD Soundsystem – title TBA (DFA/Columbia, date TBA)
After making such a big deal about their 2010 “final show” at Madison Square Garden, LCD Soundsystem’s return a mere six years later left a bad taste in some fans’ mouths. On the positive: James Murphy and crew weren’t just adding a victory lap, they were making a new album, too. And Murphy doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to bother making a record that isn’t up to his standards. In fact, it was supposed to be out last year, but they didn’t quite get there, despite reportedly even cancelling some tour dates to finish. [BP]

MGMT

MGMT – title TBA (label and release date TBA)
MGMT have gotten a lot of criticism for abandoning the pop appeal of breakthrough songs “Kids,” “Time To Pretend” and “Electric Feel” and exploring psychedelic, artier sounds instead. So it might be an #unpopularopinion, but I’d say Oracular Spectacular‘s followup Congratulations is actually better than its predecessor, and their deeply weird self-titled album was an interesting, respectable move as well. So I’m kind of excited to hear that they’re planning to release a new album soon. The percussive, electronic teaser they posted seems to suggest they’re gonna continue on their own weird path instead of a crowd-pleasing one. More power to them. [AS]

The National

The National – title TBA (label and release date TBA)
Members of The National had been spending years putting together a massive indie rock tribute album to the Grateful Dead, and last year all five and a half hours finally saw the light of day. Members also released albums with side projects, like EL VY, LNZNDRF, and Pfarmers. Now that all that’s behind them, hopefully their next major project will be a new National album. The band have been playing new material live for a while now, and in October Matt Berninger told Rolling Stone that they’re working on the album and that “it’s really dark.” He also said we shouldn’t necessarily expect to hear the album soon… but hopefully it won’t be too long. 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me sounds as great today as it did the day it was released, and it is in serious need of a followup. [AS]

The New Pornographers

New PornographersWhiteout Conditions (Collected Works Records/Concord, April 7)
Whiteout Conditions finds New Pornographers on a new label but in much the same mode as 2014’s great Brill Bruisers, all arpeggiated keyboards and powerpop. That said, as much as we’ve liked both of the LP’s singles so far, we can’t help but be a little bummed that this will be the first New Pornos album to not include contributions from Dan Bejar, making this Canadian supergroup a smidge less super. [BP]

Perfume Genius

Perfume GeniusNo Shape (Matador, date TBA)
Perfume Genius put out a career best with 2014’s Too Bright, one of the best albums of that year. It took his already-accomplished piano balladry into bolder, body-music territory without abandoning what already made him great. We can’t wait to see what direction he goes in next, and we should be finding out soon. He recently posted an album teaser revealing the title (No Shape) and a 30 second clip of lead single “Choir.” [AS]

photo Andrew Ogilvy
photo Andrew Ogilvy

Ride – title TBA (Wichita, summer 2017)
Ride’s last two records of their initial run — 1994’s Carnival of Light and 1996’s Tarantula — aimed to move past the shoegaze sound that made them popular but found them losing their audience. So after a successful reunion tour where they stuck to their most-loved songs, they’ve made a new album with friends, family and fans: producer Erol Alkan, mixer Alan Moulder (who produced the first two albums), and Wichita Records (owned by two former Creation Records employees). The two songs shared so far sound like the Ride we loved, but perhaps most promising of all: Mark Gardener has stopped wearing that fedora. [BP]

Sigur Ros at Radio City Music Hall
Sigur Ros at Radio City in 2017 (more by Dana Distortion

Sigur Ros – title TBA (label and release date TBA)
In 2013, Sigur Ros released their first album as a trio, Kveikur, a fine album that had some of the band’s heaviest songs yet. Last year, they went on a tour to debut some new music and they’ve since posted pictures of themselves in the studio. They have another tour planned for this year. Maybe we’ll hear even more music around then. [AS]

St Vincent

St. Vincent – title TBA (label and release date TBA)
Annie Clark made the best, most ambitious album of her career so far with 2014’s self-titled St. Vincent, and in creating its follow up she wanted to push boundaries even further. As she said in an interview with Guitar World, “I think it’ll be the deepest, boldest work I’ve ever done. I feel the playing field is really open for creative people to do whatever you want, and that risk will be rewarded.” Looks like we won’t have long to wait, either – in that same interview, Annie said the new album is slated for release in spring of this year. In the mean time, Annie has been busy making her directorial debut with “Birthday Party” from the horror anthology XX and, in a comedic turn, serving as the 2017 Record Store Day Ambassador. [AH]

Slowdive
photo by Ingrid Pop

Slowdive – title TBA (Dead Oceans, date TBA)
One of the most unexpected reunions of recent memory was ’90s-era UK shoegazers Slowdive which found them playing to bigger crowds than they ever did in the original run. Equally unexpected was their announcement that they were working on new music. “It’s taken us a whole load of shows and a few false starts to get to that point,” says co-leader Neil Halstead on the release of the band’s first single in 22 years, the excellent, majestic “Star Roving.” We hope to hear more by the time of the band’s upcoming tour. [BP]

Vampire-Weekend-5

Vampire Weekend – title TBA (label rumored to be Columbia, date TBA)
Even if you liked Vampire Weekend when they first came out, you had to admit they could be a little goofy. That side of them really faded. Their third album, 2013’s great Modern Vampires of the City, is one of the more accomplished, dead-serious indie rock albums of our time. Rumor has it that the band will finally give it a followup in quarter two or quarter three of 2017. Rumor also has it that they left XL and signed to Columbia (not to be confused with their alma mater of the same name). Meanwhile, the members of the band have been very busy. Rostam, who left the band but says he’s still contributing to the new album, is a very active solo artist. Chris Baio and drummer Chris Tomson both have solo projects, and Ezra Koenig is always up to something. [AS]

The War On Drugs
The War On Drugs at Radio City in 2015 (more by Dana Distortion)

The War on Drugs – title TBA (Atlantic, date TBA)
In 2015, The War on Drugs made the jump to Atlantic Records, following the success of their great 2014 album Lost In The Dream (on Secretly Canadian). There’s no real word of a new album, but you’d think one is coming soon since it’s been two years since they signed to Atlantic. Let’s hope so — those Lost In The Dream songs still sound great every time they come on. [AS]

Wolf Parade at FYF Fest 2016 - Saturday
Wolf Parade at FYF Fest 2016 – Saturday (photo by Jesse Fulton for FYF Fest)

Wolf Parade – title TBA (label and release date TBA)
One of the most exciting happenings in the world of indie rock last year was the return of Wolf Parade. Their reunion shows were some of the most inspired rock shows I saw all year. Their four-song EP proved they still had it in the studio too, not to mention the great albums co-frontmen Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner put out with Moonface and Operators. Over the past few months, the band have been posting updates on Instagram from the studio, where they’re recording LP4 with producer John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Harvey Danger, Cloud Nothings). They debuted new songs at a Vancouver show in February. Let’s hope it won’t be long before the rest of the world hears them too. [AS]

wrens-pic

The Wrens – title TBA (label and release date TBA)
The last Wrens album released was 2003’s The Meadowlands, which is now regarded as a classic in certain circles and only sounds better with age. They said their new album was complete in 2014 and signed a record deal that same year (though they haven’t said what label). They continue to tease the album and share clips of music but an actual release still seems up in the air. (Charles Bissell sadly battled cancer during the process too, but thankfully he seems to be doing well now.) This February, they said it was being mastered. Fingers crossed that it sees the light of day before 2018! [AS]

What records are you most looking forward to?

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