A new year heralds before us another year of new releases, here are some of the albums we are looking forward to most over the next twelve months.
Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell
The extremely prolific Lana Del Rey released two wonderful singles in 2018. ‘Venice Bitch’ is a career highlight with its charming ’60s folk aesthetic that gives way to a hazy extended outro full of eerie breathy vocals and guitar/keyboard almost prog-like soloing. At almost 10 minutes long, it’s easy to get lost in and amazingly doesn’t outstay its welcome in the slightest. Based on this, her imminent album, Norman Fucking Rockwell could well be her masterpiece. (Jonathan Wright)
Desperate Journalist – In Search of the Miraculous
Once again the New Year promises great things from new LPs already announced in late 2018, and top of that tree is the third album from Desperate Journalist, In Search of the Miraculous. Arguably, they already found it on 2017’s Grow Up but on the other hand, if that was near perfection then maybe they needed to find the “miraculous” to improve on it. First single ‘Cedars’ showcases Rob Hardy and Jo Bevan’s ability to create a pop song that improves with every listen, slowly creeping under the skin, new elements appear and surprise until it’s so deep in your soul that you can never escape and you become a full blown evangelist. (Jim Auton)
Lizzo – (to be confirmed)
Hailing from Minneapolis Lizzo’s ‘Boys’ was a hip-swinging, self-empowered summer anthem that celebrating all of the masculine forms on the gender spectrum last year. Now she returns with floor filling ‘Juice’ that’s playful disco marries ’70s funk with playful couplets and interspersed with exultant soul refrains. With hopes of a third album this year, the rapper cum soul queen Lizzo is an artist primed to fill 2019 with her indelible brand of fierce genre surfing beats and body positive breakdowns. 2019 Lizzo is crowned. (Bill Cummings)
Hatchie – (to be confirmed)
One of my tips for 2018, Hatchie aka Australian songwriter Harriet Pilbeam stole our heart last year, with a glorious run of sumptuous yearning pop singles culminating in her EP Sugar and Spice. ‘Sure’ a gorgeous pop earworm carved out of gleaming glass was what hooked us in, her gorgeously wistful melody cascading across a backdrop of shimmering riffs and shivering synths that sound like rainfall from Heaven, is a diamond cut of pop. While the bouncing synths of ‘Try’ and the gorgeous shivers of the recent ‘Adored’ are invested with her effortless tone and vocal performance capturing the bittersweet essence of what it’s like to fall in and out of love. She’s promised a full debut album in 2019 and we cannot wait to hear it! (BC)
Aurora – Infections of a Different Kind: Part 2
Part 1 was released out of the blue at the back end of September 2018. It was known that Aurora Asknes had been writing songs and poems since she finished touring her debut album All my Demons Greeting Me As A Friend in 2016 (she reputedly has more than 1000 of them) and envisages “many albums” but she took just about everyone by surprise with the under-publicised release of this eight-track album.
Infections of a Different Kind – Part 1 marked something of a sea change for the Norwegian, who seems to have been around for many years but is still only 22. Like many with her talent, she began writing young, in her case at the age of nine, and several of the tracks on the debut album were written before she reached the age of 12, though influenced by Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. (DB)
Sigrid – Sucker Punch
The day of reckoning draws nearer for the young Norwegian dance-popper, Sigrid Solbakk Raabe.
Can Sigrid prove she is the real deal or will the album just confirm the hype? Presumably the majority of the songs that have been released so far – and there aren’t many – will appear on the album, including at least a couple of those on the ‘Don’t Kill my Vibe’ EP. Some of them have been quite spectacular; others just bland Scandi pop, including the album’s title track. In the meantime her promotion, which has grown exponentially since she signed to Island Records, continues. In 2019 she will be supporting George Ezra’s 2019 UK tour having just come of the back of a European one with Maroon 5. (DB)
Fontaines D.C – (to be confirmed)
Following the massive buzz that grew up around their series of 2018 singles including recent hit ‘Too Real’ and their support slots with Shame at larger venues across the UK the Irish four-piece are on a promise for their debut album, expected at some point early this year and produced by the great Dan Carey. Judging by new tracks debuted at a recent secret show at Camden’s Good Mixer we can look forward to something that could potentially bridge the gap between the poetic sensitivity of the Smiths and the intense, purposeful awkwardness of The Fall. They really are that good – and we’re hoping for a debut that reflects their brilliance. Fontaines D.C are set to be one of the breakout bands of 2019. (MH)
Boy Harsher – Careful
Massachusetts duo, Boy Harsher unveil their forthcoming album Careful this February 1st via their own imprint Nude Club Records, on the basis of the icy gothic electronica and sinuous ripples of the imperious ‘Fate’ it will be an intense and hypnotic tour de force. Their sonics combine retro synth motifs that echo the work of early New Order and weld them to shifting undercurrents and brutal club beats, washed through with the ethereal yet sinister vocals of Jae Matthews.
Boy Harsher will tour the UK in February and their London show was recently doubled in size due to popular demand, changing venue from Electrowerkz to Heaven in Charing Cross. (BC)
Heavy Lungs – (to be confirmed)
Their singer’s name was on everyone’s lips this year but Danny Nedelko’s band are about to make a name for themselves on their own terms with a debut record expected in the first half of 2019. The Bristol punk quartet shone on recent single ‘Blood Brother’ and their frenetic, brutal live show has us hoping that that energy and attitude can be translated into a debut album that challenges the status quo and offers up a modern, incisive take on UK punk. (MH)
Dexy – (to be confirmed)
If 2017’s ‘Tear It Down’ offered a snapshot of the UK’s finest exponent of Americana with heartbreaking tunes, sharply observed lyrics and killer influences worn on its sleeve, the follow-up, again to be produced by Adrian Hall and featuring guest appearances from various indie all-stars, should affirm London’s Dexy as one of our major songwriting forces in 2019.
The Delines – The Imperial
Richmond Fontaine‘s renaissance man Willy Vlautin returns with Amy Boone for the second Delines record following a long break from action caused by Boone’s 3 years of recovery following a Texas car accident. This promises more in the vein of 2014’s mesmeric Colfax – late-night, whisky-soaked tales of loss, love and heartbreak fed through a filter of lachrymose alt-country. Expect magic. (MH)
Pedro The Lion – Phoenix
David Bazan’s 15-year break from his most widely known moniker has allowed him time to refresh and rebuild. This album focusing on nostalgia, childhood and early teen years is a solid gold return that lights the room in a perfect, moody sunset glow. Sometimes tear-pricking, often rousing and intense, this is a postcard from the fading emo genre that shows at least Bazan is alive, kicking and vital as ever.
Idles – (to be confirmed)
Currently in the studio working on the follow-up to 2018’s best album Joy As An Act Of Resistance could we really get a new album from the Bristolian boundary breakers in 2019? Despite a ludicrous touring schedule it appears that they are aiming to follow the pattern of 2017’s Brutalism and the aforementioned Joy… by squeezing this one out before the close of the year. Fingers crossed, eh?! (MH)
Mozes & The Firstborns – Dadcore
Released March 29th – A ’90s mixtape of hyper-pop and grungy rock, Dadcore should delight fans of Sloan, Fountains of Wayne and, yes, Cheap Trick with its lashings of sugared rock’n’roll loveliness. Lead singles ‘If I’ and ‘Hello’ are ridiculously loveable slices of pure joy that bode well for a total delight of a full-length this Spring. (MH)
Nightwish (as yet untitled ninth studio album possibly for release in 2019).
The symphonic, operatic Finns just completed a 77-date world arena tour and get better and better, consistently gaining new fans from well outside the limited parameters of their stated genre. You wouldn’t think that what is in theory a Finnish metal band (think Lordi, winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006) could have claimed the global appeal they have nurtured over 20 years but they are a whole lot more than that, somehow marrying folk music and even the pomp and pageantry of the biggest 1970’s prog rockers into a layered melange that is unique in popular music, and quite different from the heavier tones of their peers Rammstein.
Meanwhile, their Dutch operatically-trained lead singer Floor Jansen continues to stake her claim to carry the most powerful female voice in rock music while chief songwriter Tuomas Holopainen possibly merits the accolade of the world’s leading composer of this century to date. In another era he would have been working alongside Beethoven or Mozart.
Coming off a world tour a new album – it will be their ninth studio (non-compilation) one – might be some way off yet but in July Holopainen revealed that he had written “80 or 90%” of the material for it and that it would consist of ten or eleven songs. Recording will start in July 2019 (and Nightwish rehearse relentlessly before they start to record), for a planned spring 2020 release. The band will use orchestral instrumentation in a different way than previously “so that it doesn’t end up sounding the same as before”, according to Holopainen.
Even allowing for lengthy rehearsals, the fact so much is written already and, surely, a desire to capitalise on their belated but burgeoning popularity, I have a feeling the album might even materialise before the end of 2019. If it doesn’t their fans still have a live DVD of the São Paulo and Buenos Aires shows from the ‘Decades’ tour to look forward to. (DB)
The Spielbergs – This Is Not The End
Norwegian power-pop trio Spielbergs combine the finest elements of Superchunk, Jimmy Eat World and Sonic Youth and bring them to life in a way that’s as fresh as it is nostalgic. Their debut should hold a grab-bag of punk-pop treasures recently reflected by single release ‘Five On It’. (MH)
Angelic Milk – Divine Bike Lover
Angelic Milk, the Saint Petersburg based project from Sarah Persephona, are set to release their debut album DIVINE BIKER LOVER at the beginning of next year on PNK SLM. The delicious ‘Celebrate’ is the second single to be taken from the album. Persephona’s honey-eyed vocals ripple with an incoming wash of heartbreak over deliciously cascading riffs. It’s an exquisite song, a bride recounting her cold feet on the eve of a wedding, catchy, bittersweet and gleaming, it sounds like a more polished brand of C86 as much as it does the work of Alvvays or primetime Cure.
After a few Bandcamp-only releases Angelic Milk signed with PNKSLM Recordings in 2015. The Teenage Movie Soundtrack EP, arrived the following summer before the band retreated to the studio to work on the debut album, which will finally arrive on January 11, 2019, and with its mix of kick ass garage and scratchy longing pop, its sounding rather grand to our ears. (BC)
The Silver Field – Rooms
The Silver Field, is Coral Rose, her debut album, Rooms, out on Tim Burgess’s O Genesis Recordings that comes out this new year. Was recorded in Coral Rose’s bedroom using loops and layers generated by instruments such as the double bass, cello, guitar, mandolin, harmonium, harmonica and a bagpipe chanter, with her father’s old SPX-90 drenching the rich sounds in delays and reverts, Rooms is the introduction to the sound world of Coral Rose and friends. A touching sound collage patching together voice, tapes, bass, strings, reeds, drums, small sounds, big sounds, sunlight, moonlight, a lot of water.
Rooms is a coming out album in queer sense, and Rose feels it shows her encountering herself as an adult and more specifically, a human being. Coral Rose explains, “This plays out through the metaphor of leaving a house behind – a house of the stuff that builds up around you as you grow up – leaving that behind to make your own decisions about how to live. The last track, ‘Rooms’, is just a little snippet but to me it’s a moment of looking back, seeing it all in a new light with a different perspective from outside, seeing all the feelings and meanings that were once so all-encompassing as something different – as just part of the landscape.” The Silver Field takes the field recording techniques and moves them inside housing them in a touching patchwork of the homespun and the barely awake, magical. (BC)
Solange (to be confirmed)
Solange arguably outdid her much more renowned sister on the soul front her unexpectedly bold album A Seat At The Table back in 2016. A record of immense social conscience and less self-effacing, contrived vocal performances and subtle arrangements, its homespun quality was underscored by a production suite that married the best in neu soul and jazz tinges to her experiences of racial oppression. This year she is teasing a follow-up release, we await with anticipation. (BC)
Fiona Apple (projected album, no release date yet announced)
Hardly prolific at the best of times (four albums in what will be 23 years in 2019) Fiona Apple’s last one, The Idler Wheel, (the short form of a full title that is 23 words long) is itself seven years old this year, which was also the gap between albums three and four.
The reclusive and sometimes emotionally-challenged Apple is known to write only when she wants to and when she feels she has something to say. Since The Idler Wheel she has limited herself to occasional film and advertising score writing, backing vocals, a one-off collaboration with Andrew Bird and occasional appearances at her local venue Largo, in Los Angeles (see video below) while she recovered from a digestive problem that had reduced her to a living skeleton.
Looking much healthier and happier now she made a series of fan videos in 2018 and in one of them revealed that she was working on new material. That’s the only clue we have but then The Idler Wheel was only disclosed in an off-the-cuff remark by the CEO of Epic Records shortly before its release. That’s how it is with Fiona. And as her fans know, she has history where album releases are concerned, having held back her third album, Extraordinary Machine, in a row over production standards.
Apple is recognised as one of the (possibly the) greatest musical and lyrical talents of her generation, certainly one who lays her soul bare more often, and more convincingly, than anyone else in popular music today, and one who knows exactly what performance art means. And yet she is still unknown to many. Having written songs since was she eight Apple is still only 41 though. There is time yet to put that right. (DB)
Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow
Leading off with what might be her most outstanding achievement to date, single ‘Comeback Kid’, expectations are rightly high for the New York wonder’s fifth long player. It’s certainly a departure in terms of style.
Exploring ethereal electronica and ambient sounds alongside indie and classic rock tropes this record will prove Van Etten’s virtuoso imagination while maintaining her status as one of the most intriguing and talented songwriters working today. (MH)