MUSIC

14 Most Anticipated Albums of 2020

Halsey, Dua Lipa, Tame Impala, and more.

While it's plenty fun to revisit music of the last year (or decade), it's equally exciting to point our focus to future releases.

2020 is coming soon, with no shortage of both indie and major-label releases in the early months to keep our ears busy. Below, we've picked just a few that we can't wait to hear.

The 1975: Notes On A Conditional Form (Interscope/Dirty Hit, 2/21)

After dropping their acclaimed A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships late last year, the modern indie pop legends return this year with their fourth studio album. They've released three songs from it so far, including opener "The 1975," featuring teen climate activist (turned Matty Healy's friend) Greta Thunberg.

The 1975 - People (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Grimes: Miss Anthropocene (4AD, 2/21)

The follow-up to Grimes' 2015 magnum opus, Art Angels is "a concept album about the anthropomorphic goddess of climate change." She's released five singles, most recently "4ÆM."

Grimes – 4ÆM www.youtube.com


Georgia: Seeking Thrills (Domino, 1/10)

British producer Georgia Barnes' second album is due at the beginning of the year. If '80s-indebted synth-pop is up your alley, check out her fantastic single "About Work the Dancefloor."

Georgia - About Work The Dancefloor (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Frances Quinlan: Likewise (Saddle Creek, 1/31)

Frances Quinlan is best known as the lead singer of Philadelphia indie rockers Hop Along, but her inimitable voice still packs a punch as a solo act. Her first album under her own name comes out next month. Check out a single from it, "Now That I'm Back."

Frances Quinlan - Now That I'm Back www.youtube.com


Tame Impala: The Slow Rush (Interscope, 2/14)

The Slow Rush is Kevin Parker and company's first album since 2015's instant-classic, Currents. The Australian band has released three singles so far: "Borderline," "It Might Be Time," and "Posthumous Forgiveness."

Tame Impala - Borderline (Audio) www.youtube.com


Halsey: Manic (Capitol, 1/17)

Manic is Halsey's third album. It includes her No. 1 hit "Without Me," as well as features from Alanis Morrisette, Dominic Fike, and Min Yoon-gi of BTS.

Halsey - Without Me www.youtube.com


Beach Slang: The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City (Bridge Nine, 1/10)

Last year, James Alex released the mellowed-out, acoustic-focused Everything Matters But No One Is Listening as Quiet Slang. Now he's back with his full punk band, Beach Slang, with their third studio album. It features Tommy Stinson of the Replacements on bass.'

Beach Slang - Bam Rang Rang www.youtube.com


Kesha: High Road (Kemosabe, 1/10)

After the stream of empowerment anthems that comprised 2017's Rainbow, Kesha is returning to her party-pop roots for her fourth album. Singles "Raising Hell," "My Own Dance," and "Resentment" are out now.

Kesha - Raising Hell (Official Video) ft. Big Freedia www.youtube.com


Mura Masa: Raw Youth Collage (Polydor, 1/17)

Grammy-winning British producer Mura Masa's second record is on the horizon. It features guest vocals from pop darling Clairo, idiosyncratic rapper slowthai, lo-fi R&B upstart Tirzah, and more.

Mura Masa, Clairo - I Don't Think I Can Do This Again (Official Video) www.youtube.com


Bombay Bicycle Club: Everything Else Has Gone Wrong (Island, 1/17)

After taking some time off, London indie pop band Bombay Bicycle Club are back with their first new album since 2013. So far, you can hear "Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)," "Racing Stripes," and the album's title track. Read our interview with bassist Ed Nash about the band's return.

Bombay Bicycle Club - Racing Stripes www.youtube.com


Okay Kaya: Watch This Liquid Pour Itself (Jagjaguwar, 1/24)

Norweigan singer-songwriter Okay Kaya's second album is out soon, intertwining her themes of melancholy and anxiety into dark, eerie pop. She's released three singles so far: "Ascend and Try Again," "Baby Little Tween," and "Asexual Wellbeing."

Okay Kaya - Ascend and Try Again www.youtube.com


Wolf Parade: Thin Mind (Sub Pop, 1/24)

Indie rock stalwarts Wolf Parade are back with their fifth album, their first since departure of multi-instrumentalist Dante DeCaro. They've already released two songs from it, "Forest Green" and "Against the Day."

Wolf Parade - Forest Green [LYRIC VIDEO] www.youtube.com


Andy Shauf: The Neon Skyline (Anti-, 1/24)

Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf is soon releasing his sixth solo album. The singles "Things I Do" and "Try Again" are out now.

Andy Shauf - "Try Again" www.youtube.com


Dua Lipa: Future Nostalgia (Warner, TBA)

Dua Lipa's second studio album doesn't have a set release date, but we know it's coming in early 2020. If the two lead singles so far—"Don't Start Now" and "Future Nostalgia"—are any indication, it won't be a disappointment.

Dua Lipa - Don't Start Now (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

MUSIC

Six Songs You Should Hear This Week: Musical Acid Trips

New tracks from Valerie June, Kevin Abstract, Norah Jones, AURORA, and more.

Each one of this week's best new songs is a miniature revelation in itself, trippy enough to open your mind to new worlds.

For the record, the creator of this list has never taken acid; but these songs are what she imagines it would feel like, and truly, who needs drugs when you have songs like these? Transcendence, peace, revelations, a feeling of interconnectedness, swirly imagery—it's all here for your listening pleasure.

1. Drinker: Wave

Bicoastal NY/LA duo Aaron Mendelsohn and Ariel Loh (aka Drinker) have gifted the world with a gorgeous piece of pop psychedelia in the form of their new single, "Wave," released on Wednesday. The haunting track starts slow and ethereal, building up to a climactic tower of synths punctuated by bell-like guitar tones. A slow burn that's rewarding the whole way through, it's the kind of song meant for lying on a dock at sunset, sifting through memories and feeling the first hints of evening chill. Lyrically, it's a testament to the strangeness of time—the way it continues to move forward, but the past always seems to surge into the present. "Who is this? I'm stuck inside a wave," goes the refrain, a line that could be about dissociation, or fear of the future, or déja vu. "I feel like we've been here before," sings Mendelsohn, "but it wasn't you that I was here with." Hypnotic in its spaciousness, disconcerting in its dissociative leanings, this is an immersive sonic experience that bodes well for the duo's upcoming EP release on May 3.

2. Valerie June: Little Wing

Valerie June - Little Wing www.youtube.com

Valerie June has returned with a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing," and it's absolutely breathtaking. Mystical and pure, raw and electric, it's a compilation of whirling guitars, whistling strings, distant organs, and eventually a horn section to drive it all home. June sounds a bit like Stevie Nicks, but perhaps even more weather-worn, her voice is ageless, meant for staticky radios. She proved her songwriting abilities on 2017's The Order of Time, but this cover is a testament to her aptitude as an arranger and a conveyer of raw emotion. In a way, it seems to come straight from a timeless dimension where there are only peace and starlight, and yet, at the same time, it cuts through to the core of something distinctly of this world, some pain known only to humankind. If you listen to one song this week, listen to this one.

3. Novo Amor: I Make Sparks

Novo Amor - I Make Sparks (official audio) www.youtube.com

Nobody is better at making soupy lullabies than Novo Amor, but he's made a particularly beautiful one with "I Make Sparks," a title that—despite its swaggering implications—moves beyond the realm of woodsy folk. Ideal for the ending frames of a film, the song is a miniature vacation in itself. Light strings cast flickering lights over Amor's frail, breathy vocals, and though his voice never grows to anything more than a whisper, the music swells and grows throughout, reaching a satisfyingly disorienting conclusion.

4. Aurora: The Seed

AURORA - The Seed www.youtube.com

For a slightly more energized but equally intense listening experience, AURORA's newest release, "The Seed," will do the trick. It sounds perfect for, say, the finale of a show like Game of Thrones—hopeful and dramatic, full of rhythmic humming and intense violins, designed for scenes of armies charging over snowy hills.

In essence, this is a song about environmental destruction—one of many, certainly, as we approach the end times. "When the last tree has fallen and the rivers are poisoned, you cannot eat money, oh no," she sings. Ominous, indeed; maybe avoid this if you're actually going to take acid because it could potentially send you on a bad trip.

5. Kevin Abstract: Georgia

Kevin Abstract - Georgia (ARIZONA baby) www.youtube.com

Kevin Abstract announced his newest project, ARIZONA baby, in a cryptic Instagram post a few days ago. But the first single, "Georgia," is transparent and honest, a welcome return to Abstract's distinct solo work. On this song, he draws lyrical inspiration from the old classic "Georgia On My Mind" and spins it into a web of bells, swirling electric guitar, and gritty basslines. At heart, it's a love song, a tribute to the free-fall of true emotion, communicated through rapidly panned vocals and electronic vocal effects layered over a slow beat. Abstract is a master of his craft, and with the release of ARIZONA baby, he's continued his tradition of making some of the best atmospheric rap out there. (For better or worse, it was produced by Jack Antonoff, which may explain its sonic similarities to Lana Del Rey's "Venice Bitch"—the high-pitched synth is definitely the same—but that's another story).

6. Norah Jones: A Song With No Name

A Song With No Name www.youtube.com

This song is the sonic embodiment of a tall glass of water, a breath of fresh air, a drive upstate in the midst of a New York City summer, a comedown after a wild night. In classic Norah tradition, it's easy on the ears and heart, just ambiguous enough to feel applicable to almost any kind of subdued situation, but has enough nuance to merit multiple listens. Striking lyrics cut harshly against soft acoustic guitar and not much else—"If I had a gun, if I had a knife, if I had your love if I was your wife," she sings, as gentle piano twinkles in the background.

Special Mention: LSD

Save yourself

LSD - It's Time (Official Audio) ft. Sia, Diplo, Labrinth www.youtube.com

This list wouldn't be complete without mentioning LSD, the project of Sia, Diplo, and Labrinth, whose debut LP dropped this Friday. But unless you have a taste for poorly crafted, shamelessly algorithmic, and lyrically embarrassing pop music, spare yourself the pain and skip this one.


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


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MUSIC

Kevin Abstract Waxes Introspective On New Project "ARIZONA baby"

The Brockhampton member shares three songs produced by Jack Antonoff and Romil Hemnani.

Brockhampton's Kevin Abstract has just shared three songs off his forthcoming solo project, ARIZONA baby.

The tracks––"Big Wheels," "Joy Ride," and "Georgia"–– are produced by Jack Antonoff and fellow Brockhampton member Romil Hemnani. If this snippet is any indication of the upcoming release, you can expect a sound that skews much more experimental. The EP only runs about eight minutes, but in that time, Abstract manages to pack in tons of densely layered rhythms as he looks back on the whirlwind of last year.

Abstract's work is helmed by the idea that it never stops. This is the same work ethic that motivated his boy band/rap collective Brockhampton to put out three albums––Saturation I, II, and III––in one year, and follow it up with their first no.1 album and major-label debut, Iridescence, a few months later in 2018. Around the same time of the album drop, the BH boys put out a documentary entitled The Longest Summer in America, reflecting on their ascent and the controversy surrounding Ameer Vann's departure from the band in response to sexual misconduct allegations.

In the span of a year, Brockhampton reshaped the mold of the American boy band, faced the trials and tribulations of pop fame, and managed to secure status as one of the most important musical acts of our generation. That's a lot of pressure. Pretty soon, their usual outspoken personas on social media went quiet and the boy wonders began to withdraw from the public eye.

Kevin Abstract, the bonafide leader of BH, broke his silence when he shared his finsta a few weeks ago, an account called cliffhollywood. It's a collection of creative scraps, emotional text exchanges, and entries detailing the distress surrounding the band's fame. But it was on Abstract's regular Instagram that he dropped cryptic hints of the upcoming project's release with a photo that featured the dates "11, 18, 25," (which align with every Thursday in April.) Earlier this week, Abstract dropped the visuals for "Big Wheels" with the misnamed video "THE 1-9-9-9 IS COMING."


"Big Wheels," "Joy Ride," and "Georgia" are held together by a thematic thread of Abstract looking back while reaching towards new sounds. He waxes introspective on his experience growing up gay and Black in a conservative town in Texas, the criticisms that he's faced as he's gotten more visible in the public eye, and the band's growth from their humble beginnings. Abstract delivers the verses in his usual breathless style, but adds in polyrhythmic beats and dips into some jazzy rumblings along the way. This is Abstract's first solo work since his 2016 album American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story.

Listen to "Big Wheels," "Joy Ride," and "Georgia" below.


Sara is a music and culture writer who lives in Brooklyn. Her work has previously appeared in PAPER magazine and Stereogum.

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