33 albums we’re anticipating for spring 2019
Back in early January, we ran down a list of 2019 albums we were anticipating, and now almost all of those have come out. Since it’s technically officially spring (even if the weather isn’t so hot here in New York), and loads more albums have been announced for the upcoming season, we’re back with a list of albums we’re anticipating for spring 2019.
We didn’t re-include the few albums from our January list that have still yet to arrive (The Distillers, Lana Del Rey, The Raconteurs, Run the Jewels, and Thom Yorke), and we didn’t include those constantly-up-in-the-air albums like Chromatics, My Bloody Valentine, The Wrens, Zack De La Rocha, Tool, and Missy Elliott that may or may not see the light of day this year or even next year or even the year after that.
This list is also only of non-metal albums, because we we made a separate list of metal albums we’re anticipating for spring 2019.
With that all said, read on for our list of albums that we’re excited for in spring 2019 (in chronological order)…
Control Top are a new-ish trio who mix punk, post-punk, and noise rock, and after releasing an EP and some singles and honing their live show, they’re now set to release their debut album this April. We caught their killer live show at SXSW, and seeing them live prompted us to say they’re like Sonic Youth meets Le Tigre meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs meets Touch & Go-style hardcore, and they already look and sound as convincing as those bands did early on. They played a lot of the album live, and the songs sound great. They’re not just about noise and aggression, they’ve really got a knack for hooks and a powerful message too.
PUP are really swinging for the fences on their third album, and as the four singles released so far prove, they’re hitting home run after home run. They haven’t drastically changed what they do and they worked with the same producer as usual, but the hooks on this album are gigantic in a way they’ve never been before. As the title implies, they’re singing about some dark topics, but in a triumphant, cathartic way that can help rid you of your demons as you scream along. If you like pop punk done right, there might not be a better album released this year than Morbid Stuff.
It’s actually been less than three years since Weyes Blood released the great Front Row Seat to Earth, but it feels even longer. Maybe because she signed to Sub Pop for a new LP back in 2017, said it would come out in 2018, and didn’t finally announce it until this year. Whatever the case, we are excited that Weyes Blood is making her comeback and the singles from Titanic Rising have all sounded great. They’re generally in the same ’70s folk rock realm as the songs on her last album, but they sound new and fresh and instantly satisfying. We can’t wait to hear more.
Anderson .Paak put just about everything he had into his 2018 Aftermath debut Oxnard, an album that aimed to be a classic and got pretty damn close. Before the album came out, Paak said he had “65,000 songs in the vault” so it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s already releasing another album. Like Oxnard, Ventura was executive produced by Dr. Dre, and it also features Andre 3000, Brandy, Smokey Robinson, Nate Dogg, Jazmine Sullivan, and more, which is a pretty exciting list of guests. The funky lead single “King James” doesn’t sound like a “leftover” at all, so Ventura may end up being nothing less than the perfect companion to Oxnard.
UK group Fat White Family thrive on chaos and seem on the verge of falling apart at all times — be it their wild live shows, or the actual state of the band as a going entity. Which makes both their signing with major indie Domino, and the general togtherness of what we’ve heard from Serf’s Up so far — the dark synthpop of “Feet” and the sleazy glam shuffle of “Tastes Good with the Money” (featuring Baxter Dury) — all the more surprising. Lias Saoudi, Nathan Saoudi and Saul Adamczewski left the distraction and excesses of London for the relative calm of Sheffield to make the album, which Lias says is their “most pop by far.” If it doesn’t signal a more mature Fat Whites (and it probably doesn’t), Serf’s Up still looks to be their most interesting record since their first.
Since releasing her 2015 album Big GRRRL Small World and 2016 EP Coconut Oil, Lizzo’s been out on tour, proving herself as a live force. She and her crew of backup dancers put on a high-energy, infectiously fun performance that radiates positivity and empowerment. That energy is bursting from the singles Lizzo has shared from her upcoming album, Cuz I Love You. With her killer voice on display, she leaps nimbly from hooky ’80s-inspired pop to aching soul, then pairs up with Missy Elliott for a dream-team collaboration on “Tempo.” With singles this varied and consistently excellent, our hopes are high for the whole album.
Stealing Sheep – Big Wows
Liverpool trio Stealing Sheep have evolved a lot since forming in 2010: their debut was wrapped in early ’70s faery folk, while 2015’s great Not Real added synthesizers and drum machines to the mix. They take that even further for Big Wows which takes a critical look at technology while embracing it for some wonderfully quirky and human synthpop. “We wanted sounds to represent TVs, computers and everyday glitches” says the group’s Bex Hawley. “We started to have this feeling that life is like a game and how you can malfunction when you’re blasted with too much information.” To keep things organic, they looked to synth pioneer Delia Derbyshire, who worked for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, for inspiration. They also spent downtime in recording playing festivals in a 15-member all-female drum procession to celebrate the centenary of Suffrage, which influenced Big Wows as well. “Being female has become more of a theme in our work. It’s obviously always been there but now we’re playing with it more conceptually and thinking about empowerment.” We are ready to be wowed.
Cory Hanson has spent time in Ty Segall’s band and as a result his band, Wand, have been lumped in with the garage-psych scene, a tag that never quite fit. The band’s proggy side and technical prowess has been evident since their early days when they’d cover Brian Eno’s “Here Come the Warm Jets” live, and it’s increasingly shown itself on record, too. Last year’s Perfume EP featured dizzying songs that were closer to King Crimson or Queen (or Radiohead) than Oh Sees and Nuggets. Laughing Matter, looks to close the garage door entirely; a 67-minute double album that runs the gamut from piano-driven pop to interstellar guitar workouts. If you’d written off Wand before as not your thing, you might hear them differently now.
Aldous Harding’s last album Party was one of our favorite albums of 2017, and going by lead single “The Barrel” off its followup Designer, the new one already seems like it could be at least as good. Her sound — which is somewhere between early ’70s folk and PJ Harvey/Kate Bush-esque art rock — is increasingly unique, and “The Barrel” sounds like it couldn’t be the work of any other artist. It’s also one of the most immediately appealing singles Aldous has released yet.
Japanese quartet Otoboke Beaver have a furious sound that covers everything from raging hardcore punk to bouncy indie pop and back, and as we witnessed at SXSW earlier this month, their live show is unreal. You should see them if you haven’t, but they aren’t just one of those “you have to see it live” bands. The recorded stuff captures their energy perfectly, as the several songs released from ITEKOMA HITS so far prove. It’s a killer mix of aggression, accessibility, and pure ridiculousness. Records like this one don’t come along very often.
Marissa Nadler and Stephen Brodsky (Cave In, Mutoid Man) only met in 2014 after Brodsky attended one of Nadler’s shows at Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus, but they’ve been kindred spirits for longer than that so it’s no surprise that they make such a great pair. “For The Sun,” the first single off their upcoming collaborative album, pairs creepy, sludgy distorted guitar with Marissa’s dream-like voice, and it sounds as otherworldly as you’d hope.
Ezra Collective have emerged as one of the leaders of the current UK jazz renaissance, and they’re also among the most accessible for non-jazz listeners, especially thanks to songs like their collaboration with soul singer Jorja Smith. The Jorja Smith collab is on their upcoming debut album You Can’t Steal My Joy, as are collaborations with UK rapper Loyle Carner and jazz/Afrobeat group Kokoroko. It all sounds very promising on paper, and considering this band has only gotten better each year since they formed, we think it’ll live up to the anticipation.
Kevin Morby has always had a spiritual side — see his great single “I Have Been to the Mountain” for example — but for his fifth solo album he takes on religion and faith head on for what he’s calling a full-on concept album. “There are religious themes or imagery in a lot of what I’ve done, so I wanted to get all of that out and speak only that language for a whole record,” says Kevin, who stresses he is not a religious person in the traditional sense. “It’s not a born-again thing; it’s more that ‘oh my god’ is such a profound statement we all use multiple times a day and means so many different things. It’s not about an actual god but a perceived one, and it’s an outsider’s view of the human experience in terms of religion.” He made the record with Sam Cohen who suggested a precise, stripped-down production — using Morby’s 2016 protest single “Beautiful Strangers” as a guide — that put Morby’s lyrics at the forefront. The result is, according to Kevin, his “most realized record yet.”
Australian group King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard didn’t release anything in 2018, but before you call them slackers remember they released five albums the year before which brought their output to 13 since 2012. New album Fishing for Fishies looks to be the group’s least crazed, most accessible record to date. Previous album’s have had high concepts — microtonal instruments for example — and with three songs here featuring the word “boogie” in one form or another, this one also began life that way. “We tried to make a blues record,” says frontman Stu Mackenzie. “A blues-boogie-shuffle-kinda-thing, but the songs kept fighting it – or maybe it was us fighting them. Ultimately though we let the songs guide us this time; we let them have their own personalities and forge their own path. Paths of light, paths of darkness. This is a collection of songs that went on wild journeys of transformation.”
Big Thief’s Capacity was one of our favorite albums of 2017, the new songs they debuted live after it sounded even better, and singer Adrianne Lenker’s 2018 solo album abyskiss was fantastic as well. This band seems unstoppable lately, so it’s no surprise that they inked a deal with huge indie label 4AD for their upcoming album U.F.O.F.. The lead single/title track injects a bit of dream pop into the band’s indie folk sound, and the band sounds as great as ever on this one. If those other new songs sound as good recorded as they did live, U.F.O.F. could be Big Thief’s best yet.
Fury were already one of the best current bands within the hardcore scene (thanks in part to a seriously killer live show), but after signing to Run For Cover (home of Modern Baseball, Camp Cope, Turnover, and more), they opened themselves up to the opportunity to cross over into other scenes and gain their biggest audience yet, and Failed Entertainment is up for the task. As evidenced by lead single “Angels Over Berlin,” they’ve got just a little more melody in their sound this time around, but they aren’t sacrificing the raw aggression one bit. Right now they’re in a similar place to Title Fight circa Shed, and that’s not a bad place to be at all.
Is it possible that after six years since Modern Vampires of the City, the departure of Rostam, and one of the most drawn-out album rollouts this side of Arcade Fire, that Vampire Weekend’s new double album could actually be worth the wait? Well, as soon as that first single “Harmony Hall” came out, it felt like the answer could be a resounding yes. That’s probably the best song released so far, but the three others have all been good and all very different from each other, and there’s no telling what the other 14 will sound like. It took ’em a while, but it feels like Vampire Weekend are officially back.
The Get Up Kids returned from hiatus with the new album There Are Rules in 2011, and as underrated as that album is, TGUK’s comeback began in earnest with last year’s Kicker EP. It was their first release for the venerable Polyvinyl Records, and a return to the sound of their most-loved album, 1999’s Superchunk-inspired Something To Write Home About. TGUK are now following Kicker with a new full-length, and going by lead single “Satellite,” it sounds like Kicker was just the tip of the iceberg. “Satellite” continues in that same punchy style, but in an even more refined way than the Kicker songs did, and with a maturity that The Get Up Kids didn’t have back in 1999. They’re The Get Up Adults now, dammit!
Holly Herndon’s last album, 2015’s Platform, was a striking mix of art pop, avant-garde electronics, and ASMR. It was one of the best albums of 2015, and four years later, still nothing else sounds like it. So it’s exciting that Holly is finally giving it a followup, and going by the two lead singles, her own new album doesn’t sound much like Platform either. Moving on from ASMR, Holly made this album with an A.I. entity that she developed named Spawn, and she contrasts that technology with an ensemble of real-life human voices too. You can hear those voices coming through loud and clear on the excellent second single “Eternal,” which should be enough to get your hopes high for more.
Chicago neo-soul singer Jamila Woods picked up a lot of buzz with her 2016 debut album HEAVN, then signed to Jagjaguwar (home to Bon Iver, Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, and more), and then finally announced her new album LEGACY! LEGACY!, which is shaping up to be a massive improvement from HEAVN. The album has an impressive guest list (Nitty Scott, Saba, theMIND, Nico Segal, Boogie, and Jasminfire), but as the three singles prove, Jamila is the star. She makes lively music that hops from soul to jazz to rock and beyond, and sounds especially powerful in the Black Lives Matter era. Poet Hanif Abdurraqib, who wrote Jamila’s new bio, says: “More than just giving the song titles the names of historical black and brown icons of literature, art, and music, Jamila Woods builds a sonic and lyrical monument to the various modes of how these icons tried to push beyond the margins a country had assigned to them.”
Alex Lahey’s 2017 debut album I Love You Like A Brother was one of our favorites of that year, and going by lead single “Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself,” Alex is still working in the same realm as her debut but sounds bigger, tighter, and more confident now. Plus, the new song features her playing sax! If you like your indie rock with a bit of a pop punk edge, Alex is great at that kind of thing and The Best of Luck Club is shaping up to be a fine example of that.
The National’s great 2017 album Sleep Well Beast was possibly the band’s most melancholic album yet, but new single “You Had Your Soul With You” is one of the more upbeat National songs in a while. (Even The National’s upbeat songs are melancholic… but you get it.) We haven’t heard the rest of the album yet, but The National are one of the most reliable indie rock bands around and “You Had Your Soul With You” is among their most instantly-satisfying singles. That song features longtime Bowie collaborator Gail Ann Dorsey and the album also includes collaborations with Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan, Mina Tindle, and Kate Stables (This Is The Kit). The last time Sharon (who made one of 2019’s very best albums) sang on a National album was 2013’s excellent Trouble Will Find Me, so that alone has us excited.
Black Mountain straddle the line between modern indie rock and ’70s hard rock better than most bands, so it’s very exciting that they’re gearing up to follow 2016’s awesome IV. The new album, Destroyer, is their first with new members Rachel Fannan (Sleepy Sun) and Adam Bulgasem (Dommengang, Soft Kill) — and it also features contributions from Kliph Scurlock (Flaming Lips), Kid Millions (Oneida) and John Congleton — and lead single “Future Shade” suggests that they’re going in a bit more of a psychedelic stoner metal direction than ever before. That’s not a bad thing at all, especially if the rest of the album hits as hard as “Future Shade.”
After a couple very angular, skronky records on Drag City, Cate’s new album — her first for Mexican Summer — was born sitting at a piano in Cumbria where she wrote songs by night while learning woodworking in the daytime. “There’s a strange romanticism to going a little bit crazy and playing the piano to yourself and singing into the night,” says Cate. While Reward was initially conceived to have been just her and the piano, Reward soon grew beyond that, with Cate bringing in frequent collaborators Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint) and H. Hawkline. First single “Daylight Matters” suggests this may be the warmest album Le Bon has made since Mug Museum.
UK group Younghusband’s last album, 2015’s great Dissolver, came with some notable bullet points: being produced by Loop’s Robert Hampson, featuring The Dirty Three’s Warren Ellis and being released via festival All Tomorrow’s Parties’ record label. For the follow-up, main man Euan Hinshelwood went it alone, building his own studio in a barn and producing on other groups’ albums before gearing up for a new Younghusband record. He also went for a spontaneous approach, only letting his bandmates hear the songs he had written the day they would record them. If first single “Translation” is any indication, some of Dissolver‘s haze has dissolved, while the group’s charming Sunday Morning VU vibes have not.
Emel Mathlouthi – title TBA
Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi was established overseas for years before moving to New York, signing to the US label Partisan Records, and releasing her album Ensen in 2017. She’s gradually been rising in the States ever since, and it already feels like her next album is about to make her even bigger. Its excellent lead single “Footsteps” is Emel’s first song sung entirely in English, but even putting that aside, it’s one of the most sonically breathtaking songs she has released yet.
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib were a perfect pair on 2014’s collaborative Pinata, so it’s very exciting that they’re finally putting out another collaborative album this year. As the title track and “Flat Tummy Tea” prove, their chemistry is just as stunning as it was five years ago. Gibbs just sounds better when he’s rapping over Madlib beats, and even after all these years, Madlib still knows how to craft a futuristic backdrop.
Injury Reserve – title TBA
Injury Reserve recently followed in Denzel Curry’s footsteps and became the second hip hop act to sign to the indie rock-oriented Loma Vista label (home of St. Vincent, Manchester Orchestra, Andrew Bird, and more), and though they’re keeping most details about their new album under wraps, the singles have been truly awesome. They’ve so far dropped “Jawbreaker” (ft. Rico Nasty & Pro Teens) and “Jailbreak The Tesla” (ft. Amine), both of which are sorta in the Death Grips-style industrial-rap world, but with a bit more of a classic hip hop influence. It makes sense that they’re on Loma Vista — this album should appeal to rap fans and indie rock fans alike.
Megan Thee Stallion dropped her great Tina Snow project last year, and though it wasn’t an immediate hit, its single “Big Ole Freak” had a gradual rise that peaked with the release of its video earlier this month. A few weeks later, she was the talk of SXSW. She’s planning to follow Tina Show with Fever at some point this year, and new single “Sex Talk” proves that her beastly rhymes are only getting better. “I’m not sure if I want to give a release date. I always liked to surprise my audience. It’s coming out really soon,” she told HipHopDX this past December. “I definitely wanted to bring the cold to the summertime [with Tina Snow]… with Fever I’m looking to bring that heat to the winter.”
Schoolboy Q – title TBA
Schoolboy Q initially planned to release an album in 2018, but he delayed it after the death of Mac Miller, and now he’s finally ready to return with a new LP. Earlier this month, he released the new song “Numb Numb Juice” and updated his Twitter bio to read “NEW ALBUM COMING SOON.” Clocking in at under two minutes, “Numb Numb Juice” is among the most short, aggressive, and to the point songs that Q has ever released. It really screams “I’m back.”
Tame Impala – title TBA
Tame Impala became one of the biggest psychedelic pop bands in the world with their great 2015 album Currents, and they’ve only gotten bigger since. Rihanna covered them, they’re headlining Coachella alongside Ariana Grande and Childish Gambino this year (and Lollapalooza alongside the same headliners)… it doesn’t get much bigger for a “psychedelic” band in 2019 than this. After a long, long wait, Tame Impala finally dropped a new single, “Patience,” so it feels like it’s finally safe to assume that 2019 is the year we get a new Tame Impala album. (They’re also playing SNL this weekend.) “Patience” isn’t the major comeback that Currents lead single “Let It Happen” was, but it has Tame Impala’s sound in fine form and it’s enough to get us looking forward to more.
Wiki – title TBA
Wiki’s 2017 album No Mountains In Manhattan was one of our favorite albums of that year and it remains one of the best New York rap albums in recent memory. Wiki clearly pays tribute to his home city’s long hip hop history, but he stays weird and forward thinking, as the best New York rappers always do. He’s been promising that a new project is coming this year, and so far he’s released three singles — “In The Park,” “Elixir,” and “Cheat Codes” — all of which sound great and all of which see him continuing to push forward.
YBN Cordae – title TBA
The YBN crew’s YBN: The Mixtape was one of the best rap albums of 2018, and while the more pop-minded YBN Nahmir first emerged as the group’s leader, YBN Cordae has been gradually making a name for himself as the most traditionally skilled rapper. His songs aren’t as accessible as Nahmir’s, but for certain types of rap fans, Cordae is the group’s true star. His 2019 singles “Have Mercy” and “Locationships” are two of the smoothest rap songs released this year so far, and if his upcoming album has more songs on this level, it’s gonna be a keeper.