Each new year brings a wealth of new media to enjoy, from the latest excessively hyped superhero films to new television sensations premiering on networks and Netflix. But we don’t often hear the same sort of hype for many of the years’ most exciting album releases, though we should. While so many of us spend our time complaining about the lack of great music today, there are plenty of noteworthy artists releasing, or preparing to release, truly interesting records that will stand the test of time and become outright classics. These 2016 albums have yet to be released, or even set a precise release date, but they have the potential to be among this year’s crop of bonafide classics. Let’s get excited!
1. TBA by Haim
Ever since the release of their 2013 breakthrough LP Days Are Gone, fans and critics alike have been clamoring impatiently for the next record from Haim, a group of sisters writing and harmonizing over catchy, just hard-edged-enough power pop that feels both modern and timeless. Since as far back as 2014, there has been buzz about the sisters (who have kept busy touring and hanging out with Taylor Swift) returning to the studio for their second album, but nothing so far has materialized. All signs point to a 2016 release as exciting as their original LP.
2. TBA by LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem made a big show out of their final album and final concert back in 2011, but it turns out frontman James Murphy couldn’t resist the allure of the electro-funk band that propelled him to indie stardom. LCD Soundsystem is returning this year with a string of concert appearances, and they’ve even announced their intent to release another album, as yet untitled, sometime in 2016. If it even approaches the consistency and complexity of their first three records, the latest release from these modern masters will be something to celebrate.
3. TBA by the xx
The xx have only released two albums in their short career so far, but they’ve made quite an impression on the listening world already for their recognizably lush production style that makes every song sound like a performance inside a mysterious cave with amazing acoustics. We don’t know much about their upcoming third release, except that it’s due out this year and will hopefully be as mesmerizing as their first two albums.
4. TBA by Radiohead
Few bands have obtained the level of critical reverence as Radiohead, an intelligent group of British alt-rockers whose albums seamlessly blend typical rock instrumentation with moody, forward-looking electronic production. They’ll be playing their new album in its entirety while headlining a Spain music festival in 2016, but the rest of us will have to wait to hear what is presumably the latest masterpiece from the group.
5. Dear Tommy by Chromatics
In transitioning from punk rock to slick, atmospheric indie electro, Chromatics proved themselves one of the most interesting bands of the modern era, and their upcoming 2016 release, which was supposed to arrive by Valentine’s day, sounds all the more enticing with each passing announcement. New singles like “Shadow” back up claims from producer Johnny Jewel that Dear Tommy is the most rebellious album he’s ever made.
6. Boys Don’t Cry by Frank Ocean
One of the most accomplished members of rap collective Odd Future, R&B crooner Frank Ocean has been teasing the release of his follow-up to the electrifying debut album Channel Orange for some time. Boys Don’t Cry will be out this year and is expected to continue Ocean’s penchant for emotionally bare, cleverly spare soul music, along with some influences he reportedly picked up from listening to The Beach Boys and Beatles.
7. TBA by Beck
Beck returned in a big way in 2014 with his Grammy-winning album of soaring, lush acoustic numbers Morning Phase, a spiritual sequel to his similarly mopey Sea Change. His first post-Morning Phase single was “Dreams,” a catchy number that seems to promise a return to the upbeat, eclectic Beck of his earlier career. The album surrounding “Dreams” is expected this year, and it should prove Beck’s versatility as an artist, for about the hundredth time.
8. A Sailor’s Guide to Earth by Sturgill Simpson
In a world where popular country music is defined by lyrical cliches and headache-inducing overproduction, Sturgill Simpson manages to make the genre feel fresh and raw once more by paying tribute to outlaw greats like Waylon Jennings without ever sounding derivative. His third studio album promises to continue this righteous path of country authenticity with a dash of psychedelica mixed in, hitting shelves on April 15.
9. TBA by Gorillaz
Blur frontman Damon Albarn’s animated trip-hop group Gorillaz has remained relatively silent since 2011’s The Fall, but the impressive experiment will finally be returning to their identifiable meld of alternative, electronica, and hip-hop. The group has managed to venture into new territories with each new album, so here’s hoping their upcoming, so-far-untitled release does the same.
10. Radio Silence by James Blake
The world has no shortage of electronic producers, but James Blake stands out for his commitment to simplified but smart aesthetics, stripping back his music rather than endlessly piling on uninteresting effects. His intelligent, restrained electronic style will be returning sometime this year on his third studio LP Radio Silence, which was supposed to be released in the first half of 2015. Regardless, it’s hard not to anticipate an album that will reportedly feature appearances from Bon Iver and Kanye West — as if Blake himself wasn’t already enough!
Follow Jeff Rindskopf on Twitter @jrindskopf