Now that we've run down our favorite albums of 2018, as well as our favorite rap, metal, and punk/emo albums, and more indie albums in Bill's Indie Basement's favorite albums and EPs lists, let's talk about the some of albums we're most looking forward to in 2019.
There are some big 2019 albums that seem like they might come out this year (Frank Ocean, Rihanna) and plenty of stuff that we don't know about yet, but we tried to keep our list to things that either have release dates or confirmation that they're coming out in 2019. We also left off those constantly-up-in-the-air albums like Chromatics, My Bloody Valentine, Tame Impala, The Wrens, Grimes, Vampire Weekend, Zack De La Rocha, Tool and Missy Elliott that may drop in 2019 or may not even drop by 2029. Who knows.
With that all said, read on for our list of 25 albums that we're excited for in 2019 (with even more listed without commentary below that)...
Deerhunter are eight albums and about 15 years into making music, and it seems like Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? is the sound of Deerhunter mellowing out and settling down. They made it with Cate Le Bon, and recent singles "Death In Midsummer" and "Element" sound like a calmer, relaxed, and cleaned up version of Deerhunter (and Cate's touch comes through on them too). They're also among the band's most accessible and easily enjoyable songs; WHEAD? seems like it'll be a comforting album for longtime fans and an easy entry point for new ones.
David Bazan finally re-activated Pedro the Lion in late 2017, and their reunion shows had them sounding refreshed and energized and maybe even better than they did the first time around. Thankfully, the reunion didn't stop there, and Bazan decided to make the first Pedro the Lion album in 15 years. Lead singles "Yellow Bike" and "Model Homes" sound about as classic-Pedro the Lion as it gets, but with a new perspective and a newfound maturity that Bazan hadn't yet developed during PTL's initial run.
Two weeks after the release of his terrific 2016 album Eyes on the Lines, Steve Gunn’s father lost a two-year battle with cancer. Needless to say, promoting the album was a bit rough, as was coming up with a follow-up. Gunn tackles loss on the new album -- see centerpiece “Stonehurst Cowboys,” a moving tribute to his dad -- and other more personal topics while still showcasing his formidable guitar skills. The Unseen In-Between was produced by his frequent collaborator James Elkington and features harmonies from soon-to-be tourmate Meg Baird, and Bob Dylan’s musical director Tony Garnier on bass. Having heard most of the LP in live form during Steve's Brooklyn residency back in November, I can assure you that it's a great batch of songs.
Sharon Van Etten has been very busy since releasing her 2014 album Are We There - she tried her hand at acting, became a mother, and contributed to a bunch of other musical projects, for starters - but we've been anticipating a followup for a while, and it's finally almost here. After teasing the release dateon a t-shirt, Sharon announced Remind Me Tomorrow, and shared its first two singles, "Comeback Kid" and "Jupiter 4." Both find Sharon going in a completely new direction from her previous work, expanding her sound with synths. The results are very promising, and have Remind Me Tomorrow shaping up to be Sharon's most adventurous release yet.
DAWN (aka Dawn Richard) has been one of the most inventive and constantly-shapeshifting R&B singers of our time, and new single "Jealousy" suggests that she'll continue to be on new breed. It follows the dance music-inspired Redemption, and it finds her going into more atmospheric and more hip hop-inspired territory. The new album features contributions from TNGHT member/Kanye collaborator Hudson Mohawke, Ariel Pink/Julia Holter collaborator Cole MGN, and jazz bassist Kaveh Rastegar (of Kneebody), which is a diverse and impressive cast.
Details leaked that James Blake's new album is called Assume Form and due out January 25, and that it has a truly huge cast of guests, including Travis Scott, Rosalía, Moses Sumney, Metro Boomin, Andre 3000, and SwaVay. James Blake has become a very talented producer for other artists, but his own albums have usually only had one or two guests, so it'll be interesting to hear how he pulls something like this off.
2 Tone ska legends The Specials broke up in 1981 while still on top -- their final single “Ghost Town” was a creative high water mark and spent four weeks at #1 in the UK charts. Different permutations of the band played together over the years but The Specials got back together, mostly, in 2008 and have been playing since (currently with original members Terry Hall, Lynval Golding, and Horace Panter). With 2019 being the 40th anniversary of the band, The Specials are back with Encore, their first record to feature Hall on vocals since “Ghost Town.” The album was made with longtime collaborator Torp Larsen, and first single "Vote for Me" tips its hat directly at “Ghost Town,” and sounds right, though we do wish Jerry Dammers (who was the creative force behind the band) was involved. Still, this is the dawning of a new era and we're glad to have Hall back behind the mic (his first LP of any kind in 15 years).
Cass McCombs is one of the most reliable, consistently great indie rock singer/songwriters, and each new album from him is a real treat. 2016's Mangy Love was an especially solid one, and Tip of the Sphere singles "Sleeping Volcanoes" and "Estrella" are cut from a similar cloth, but also see Cass covering some new ground.
HEALTH reinvented themselves in a great way with 2015's killer Death Magic, an album that branched out from their noise pop roots into industrial/synthpop territory and landed them lots of comparisons to Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. HEALTH became a poppier and a heavier band than ever -- it makes sense that they recently collaborated with indie pop artist Soccer Mommy as well as metal-adjacent artists Perturbator and Youth Code. Following those non-album collaborations, HEALTH are now finally set to put out the proper followup to Death Magic, and recent single "SLAVES OF FEAR" has our hopes very high for it. It seems HEALTH haven't lost their catchy-yet-aggressive touch one bit.
Jessica Pratt's 2015 album On Your Own Love Again (Drag City) is a true gem. It's a collection of bare-bones folk songs that sounds like something Vashti Bunyan or Sibylle Baier could've recorded in the early '70s but it was just as impactful in 2015 and still sounds great today. For its followup (and Jessica's first album for Mexican Summer), Jessica did things slightly different -- recording in a professional studio for the very first time -- but even with the slightly more polished sound and some new embellishments, recent singles "This Time Around" and "Poly Blue" sound as earthy and instantly-timeless as anything on her last album.
Bobbie Gentry followed up her massive 1967 hit "Ode to Billie Joe" (and the album of the same name) with 1968's The Delta Sweete, a sprawling, wildly ambitious record that refused to be pigeonholed. Perhaps a little too much: the record was a flop, but has grown in cult status over the last 50 years. Mercury Rev, whose 1998 classic Deserters Songs owes more than a little to Gentry's records, pay tribute with this song-for-song remake of The Delta Sweete featuring a seriously amazing cast of guest vocalists, including Hope Sandoval, Rachel Goswell (Slowdive), Margo Price, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucinda Williams, Vashti Bunyan, Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), Beth Orton, Marissa Nadler and more. Just that list of collaborators is enough to pique our interest. If the two songs released so far are any indication, they swap out the twang for a moodier atmosphere, there are lots more strings, and the results are swooning.
Lush reformed in 2016, released an EP, and then called it quits again by the year's end, but singer Miki Berenyi enjoyed working with live bandmates Justin Welch (Elastica) and Mick Collins (Modern English), so they decided to carry on with a new project. Miki also brought in her partner, MJ McKillop of '90s shoegazers Moose, to make for what they insist is not a supergroup. Excellent first single "Everlastingly Yours" definitely sounds like more of a collaboration than just Lush 2.0 and has us anxious to hear more. Meanwhile, Piroshka keep it in the family in other areas: Chris Bigg, who did most of Lush's distinctive artwork, does the same here, and label Bella Union is run by Simon Raymonde from their old 4AD labelmates Cocteau Twins.
From her work as half of Dresden Dolls to her solo material, Amanda Palmer has been a singular voice in music, exploring topics (including abortion, rape, and school shootings) that few others dare to with gravity and theatrical flair. There Will Be No Intermission finds her picking up where she left off, working with John Congleton and longtime collaborators like composer Jherek Bischoff on a collection of songs that combines unreleased live favorites from the past few years with brand new material. "I feel more urgency than ever to share the naked truth of my experiences," Amanda says. "The kind of stories that I'm sharing on this record - abortion, miscarriage, cancer, grief, the darker sides of parenthood - have been therapeutic and frightening to write." Judging by its haunting, piano and strings based first single, "Drowning in the Sound," There Will Be No Intermission promises to be a cathartic listen.
It isn't possible to recreate the legend surrounding American Football's accidentally classic 1999 debut, but their 2016 comeback album LP2 remains an excellent album in its own right, one that combined American Football's eccentricities with the more pronounced singing and songwriting that frontman Mike Kinsella developed with his solo project Owen. Going by lead single "Silhouettes," LP3 looks to be following in the same very appealing footsteps as LP2, but they're also doing stuff they've never done before on this album. "Silhouettes" goes into lush ambient territory in a way AF haven't really done before, but the biggest difference between LP3 and its two predecessors is the inclusion of high-profile guest singers. Paramore’s Hayley Williams, Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell, and Land of Talk’s Elizabeth Powell are all on this thing, and that's one of the coolest combination of guests you could ask for, and one that few bands other than American Football could pull off.
Post-hardcore greats La Dispute are finally about to be back with their first album in five years (their longest gap between albums yet) and first for Epitaph, Panorama, which follows 2014's great Rooms of the House. While Rooms of the House saw singer Jordan Dreyer's lyrics going more into fictional storytelling territory than ever before, Panorama is being touted as Jordan's most personal album since La Dispute's decade-old debut. Going by lead singles "Rose Quartz" and "Fulton Street I," it also sounds like it's striking a very appealing balance between the tamer, more indie rock-oriented Rooms of the House and the heavier post-hardcore of the band's earlier work. La Dispute have never made the same album twice, and Panorama is shaping up to be no different.
Back in 2017, Lambchop main man Kurt Wagner went to the 50th birthday party of Superchunk/Merge Records' Mac McCaughan where he ended up hanging out with Mac's brother, Matt, who has played drums for Bon Iver and Hiss Golden Messenger. They talked about vintage rack-mounted synths, and Matt asked Kurt if he'd be interested in collaborating, and the seeds of the new Lambchop LP were planted. After trading ideas via the web, Wagner and McCaughan convened in Nashville with a band that included legendary harmonica player Charlie McCoy (who's played on records by Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and more). Wagner's fascination with autotune continues but, as the gorgeous "The December-ish You" shows, he's taking it in new directions.
2018 was the year modern-day hardcore greats Turnstile signed to Roadrunner and released a genre-defying album that was one of the year's best, and now related band Angel Du$t (who also share members with Trapped Under Ice) are on Roadrunner and their new singles "Big Ass Love" and "Take Away the Pain" are nothing like the driving hardcore of their early work. They're closer to '80s/'90s jangle pop, but still with a punk energy and spirit, and Angel Du$t are just as good at this kind of thing. Their new album is still TBA, but if these two songs are anything to go by, there's already enough reason to be excited for it.
The Distillers put out three albums in four years in the early 2000s, and even though they were only around briefly, the progression they made during that time was gigantic. It didn't take them long to go from a raw punk band to a band capable of writing the kind of massive choruses that rivaled grunge-era greats like Nirvana and Hole. They broke up after 2003's great Coral Fang, and singer Brody Dalle spent the time since then busy with other musical projects, but then The Distillers finally reunited in 2017 for a new song and live shows, and now they're getting ready to make their first new album since 2003. The Distillers have gone on to be pretty influential on modern punk and their presence has been sorely missed, so it feels like the perfect time to be getting a new album from this great band.
We're still waiting for our first taste of On the Line, Jenny Lewis's first solo album since 2014's The Voyager, but our hopes are high. From her essential work with Rilo Kiley and her contributions to The Postal Service, to albums with The Watson Twins, Nice As Fuck, and her solo releases, Jenny has been one of indie rock's most recognizable, key voices since the early 2000's. Her upcoming album also boasts an impressive list of guests, including Ringo Starr, Beck, and Ryan Adams, and we can't wait to see what they have up their sleeves.
Producer Danger Mouse has a history of making great collaborative albums (with James Mercer of The Shins as Broken Bells who also have a new LP coming in 2019, with MF DOOM as DANGERDOOM, with Cee Lo as Gnarls Barkley, with Daniele Luppi, with Sparklehorse, etc), so it's exciting to learn that he's now got one on the way with Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O (who's also all over that Daniele Luppi/Parquet Courts album that came out on Danger Mouse's label). Most details are TBA, but they did release the single "Lux Prima," which is nine minutes of psychedelic, cinematic pop and it truly earns its lengthy running time. Here's to hoping the rest of the album is just as stunning.
Lana Del Rey's great 2017 album Lust for Life was a distillation of the things she does so well, a collection of songs that embrace nostalgia while never sounding anything but current. For her next release, she's been working on songs with Bleachers' Jack Antonoff, who produced two of our our favorite alt pop albums of 2017 - St. Vincent's MASSEDUCTION and Lorde's Melodrama. If the songs Lana has shared so far, including "Venice Bitch" and Mariners Apartment Complex," are any indication, she and Jack make a great team, and it has our hopes very high to hear more. So do the tantalizing song titles we've been teased with - who better then Lana Del Rey to write a song for patron saint of sad poets everywhere Sylvia Plath?
Garage rock supergroup The Raconteurs (Jack White, Brendan Benson, and Greenhornes members Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler) are planning to return this year with their first album in over a decade, and the two recent singles make it sound like no time has passed since their last LP. Jack White may have gone in a more polished direction on his 2018 solo album, but these Raconteurs songs are as raw and free of frills as garage rock should be. If you miss the Old Jack White, this next Raconteurs record may be just the thing you're looking for.
Killer Mike and El-P may have been one of the most unlikely rap duos to form in the 2010s, but they've also been one of the most crucial. Run the Jewels' rejuvenated both artists' careers, and every album they've done has been a noticeable progression from the last, while staying true to the hard-edged, retro-futuristic sound of their debut (and of their earlier collaborations on Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music). They put out the new song "Let's Go (The Royal We)" for the Marvel movie Venom last year, and El said the song came from the sessions for Run the Jewels 4, which has us thinking 2019 will be the year the album sees the light of day. And since "Let's Go (The Royal We)" is as good as anything RTJ have done before, we've got a lot of faith in where Jamie and Michael will go next.
Solange told the new York Times that her new album was "imminent this fall, probably sometime soon" back in October. It didn't end up coming out in the fall, but here's to hoping we'll be hearing it soon. "There is a lot of jazz at the core," Solange said of the new album. "But with electronic and hip-hop drum and bass because I want it to bang and make your trunk rattle." Her last album, A Seat at the Table, was one of the very best of 2016, and we only appreciated it even more after seeing the live show she put together the following year, so needless to say, our hopes are very high for this next one.
In 2018, Thom Yorke released his score for the Suspiria remake which did include some great, proper songs, but he mentioned around its release that his actual next proper album would be out in 2019. "It’s very electronic, but it’s different from what I’ve done until now," he told Spanish website El Mundo (translated by Pitchfork). "It’s a strange process in which we construct a song in the studio, break it apart, we reconstruct it with a live mix and it turns out completely differently, and that’s when we record. We have improvised many sounds and effects. It has been a very strange way of making a record, which is very exciting." Sounds very exciting indeed (and the new songs he’s been playing live have been sounding great too).