2015 isn’t over yet and I haven’t finished my year-end list of favorite songs, but I’m already looking ahead to 2016’s musical offerings — and I like what I see.
Ester Drang — TBA (1÷1)
There had been some rumblings in the Ester Drang camp a few years back, but seeing as how the Drang’s frontman Bryce Chambers was busy with Native Lights, I assumed that any new music was a long ways off. But then the band posted an enigmatic message on Facebook, which I hope/assume refers to some new recordings. In any case, any Ester Drang news is a nice way to kick off the year.
Savages — Adore Life (1÷22)
Savages’ “She Will” was a brilliant, edgy slice of post-punk — and one of my favorite songs of 2013. The band released a couple of new songs earlier this year — “The Answer” and “T.I.W.Y.G.” — that proved the foursome was doing absolutely nothing to blunt or tone down their music.
Junior Boys — Big Black Coat (2÷5)
Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus are set to release another slice of stripped down, R&B-influenced ambient electronica. I’ll be honest, the first titular single didn’t do much for me, but I dug “Over It” a fair bit more.
Steve Roach — Emotions Revealed (2÷5)
Steve Roach is nothing if not prolific — he released nine albums in 2015 alone — but let’s be honest, quantity is not the same as quality. So why am I interested by Emotions Revealed? Because it features two long-lost tracks from the same time period when he recorded Structures From Silence, my favorite Roach album of all time.
Wild Nothing — Life of Pause (2÷19)
I didn’t get around to listening to Wild Nothing’s previous album, 2012’s Nocturne, until long after its release, but his brand of lush, atmospheric pop (think Starflyer 59) quickly won me over. In a recent interview, Jack Tatum said he was listening to a lot of soul music while recording the album, and that he wanted Life of Pause to sound more organic and natural. You can preview two tracks from the album below; “TV Queen” is particularly lovely to these ears.
Damien Jurado — Visions of Us on the Land (3÷18)
I’m hard-pressed to think of an artist and producer that are a better match than Damien Jurado and Richard Swift. Jurado has been releasing one album after another of excellent singer/songwriter music for two decades now, but Swift’s lush, psych-y production elevates Jurado’s folk music to a whole ‘nother plane of existence. Visions of Us on the Land is a continuation of the series that began with Maraqopa and Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son. Listen to the first single, “Exit 353,” below.
The Jesus and Mary Chain — TBA (???)
This is more out of curiosity than anything else. Back in the day, the Reid brothers could conjure up a sense of disaffected cool better than anyone else… not to mention walls and walls of feedback. The band released a live album earlier in 2015, but it’s been 17 years since their last proper album. So, can they conjure up the disaffection again?
Luxury — Trophies (???)
Wait, didn’t I already review this album as a 2015 release? Why yes, yes I did. But this is my website, dang it, and if I want to re-include Trophies as a 2016 release because that’s when the band will be officially releasing it, then that’s what I’m going to do. Trophies will be released as a companion piece for the Luxury documentary Biography / Autobiography. (Luxury’s Bandcamp page lists a February 1 date but I haven’t seen that corroborated anywhere else.)
M83 — TBA (???)
I don’t blame you if you start rolling your eyes whenever you hear the word “epic” used to describe an album, but in the case of M83, it’s a pretty apt term. With each new album, Anthony Gonzalez tries to outdo himself and create bigger, more expansive sounds. Another word often attached to M83’s music is “cinematic,” but interestingly, Gonzalez claims the new album will be inspired by vintage TV shows like Punky Brewster and Who’s the Boss. ‘80s nostalgia has always figured prominently in M83’s music, but Who’s the Boss? Consider me intrigued.
Slowdive — TBA (???)
After their highly-celebrated 2014 reunion tour, the shoegaze greats returned to the studio in 2015 to work on a new album. (Visit the band’s Instagram feed for photographic evidence.) No release date has been announced for any new Slowdive material but the band will be releasing a live album culled from 2014’s USA/Canada tour. As part of the announcement, they released this live recording of “Avalyn.”
Soulwhirlingsomewhere — Almost (???)
Back in 2011, Michael Plaster’s house was broken into and the thieves took off with his computer and backups… which included the bulk of the next soulwhirlingsomewhere album, titled Almost. Plaster began re-recording Almost in 2013 and experienced some lucky breaks (e.g., finding a forgotten hard drive containing some early demos). He cautioned “I think [Almost] will MAYBE be released early next year…. possibly. Don’t quote me on that. Not at all” back in March, but the fact that Almost is still alive after everything is quite remarkable.
Here are some other 2016 releases that I’ll certainly be checking out, too:
- O Yuki Conjugate — Ambiguism 1983 – 1987 (1÷8)
- Chihei Hatakeyama and Dirk Serries — Storm of Silence (1÷15)
- Shearwater — Jet Plane and Oxbow (1÷22)
- Tortoise — The Catastrophist (1÷22)
- Bloc Party — Hymns (1÷29)
- DIIV — Is The Is Are (2÷5)
- Pinkshinyultrablast — Grandfeathered (2÷26)
- Primal Scream — Chaosmosis (3÷16)
- Nothing — Tired of Tomorrow (Spring 2016)
- Yagya — TBA (???)
- Nine Inch Nails — TBA (???)
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.