Following a jam-packed year for monumental album releases in 2016 which featured Beyonce, Radiohead and Frank Ocean records, 2017 was always going to struggle to back it up. In the first half of the year, it’s appeared exactly that way.
While there’s been plenty of big names putting out music, the album front has been slightly disappointing. Although records by Kendrick Lamar, Lorde and Fleet Foxes will be remembered as iconic albums of 2017, other mainstream releases from Drake, Ed Sheeran and Katy Perry have largely disappointed listeners and fans alike. But that’s no reason to give up just yet.
The back half of 2017 is shaping as an enormous period for the reveal of many anticipated projects. For most, there’s already been a teaser for what to expect on these records, and they’ve only heightened the already brimming expectations. For others, there’s hardly been any details, allowing imaginations to wander on what could be in store…
Firstly, some honourable mentions that were considered for the top five:
- Saskwatch – Manual Override (August 4)
- Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins (August 18)
- Gang of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness (August 18)
- ODESZA – A Moment Apart (September 8)
- MGMT – Little Dark Age (TBA)
5. The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding (August 25)
Philadelphia band The War On Drugs last album, Lost In The Dream, was released back in 2014 to critical acclaim. After years of operating discreetly and offering subtle music teasers, the indie-rock stars returned with the beautifully drawn-out single ‘Thinking Of A Place’. Although the track runs for 11 minutes, there’s not a second that it feels monotonous – ‘Thinking Of A Place’ is the perfect comeback from a three-year absence.
With the announcement of The War On Drugs’ new album A Deeper Understanding, the Adam Granduciel-led band also revealed the second taste of the record, ‘Holding On’. The newest single is a more electronically upbeat song compared to ‘Thinking Of A Place’. Importantly, ‘Holding On’ is another promising hint of The War On Drugs’ fourth LP.
4. SAATSUMA – Overflow (August)
Melbourne electronic act SAATSUMA is the project of Memphis Kelly and Cesar Rodrigues. The duo has been recording groovy synthtronica since 2015, releasing just four tracks in their short career to date. But damn, they’re phenomenal songs. Two of those four songs, ‘Isolate’ and the just-released ‘Stay’, will feature on the pair’s debut record, Overflow. While a date hasn’t been set for the release of Overflow, SAATSUMA have revealed on social media that it will be dropping sometime in August.
Although there’s only been a small sample of SAATSUMA’s ability to produce the hits, the duo is not to be estimated. The two have been performing their excellent fresh material that’s set to be on Overflow and it’s clear the album will be one of the best Australian debuts of the year.
3. Arcade Fire – Everything Now (July 28)
Arcade Fire need no introduction. The Canadian band is arguably the biggest indie-rock group in the world, heavily supported by their Grammy-winning third record, 2010’s The Suburbs. Following their fourth album in 2013, the dance-infused Reflector, it’ll be fascinating to hear what direction Arcade Fire take on their fifth LP, Everything Now. Will they resume their electronic progression, or regress to their indie-rock roots that served the group successfully in the past?
Arcade Fire have already handed listeners a taste of what to expect on Everything Now, and it seems the dance vibe will continue. The title track and lead single ‘Everything Now’, is an Abba-esque, late 70s disco anthem. However, the second single, ‘Creature Comfort’, is a darkly industrial-flavoured synth banger, displaying far greater promise for the forthcoming album. The most recent single, ‘Signs of Life’, is another contrast from the other two tracks off Everything Now, incorporating saxophone, conga and a probing disco outtake.
Whatever Arcade Fire produce, there’s no denying it will be one of the most speculated releases of 2017.
2. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard & Mild High Club – Sketches Of Brunswick East (TBA)
There’s been no announcements and extremely limited detail on the collaborative project of Melbourne’s King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and LA’s Mild High Club. All that is known to this point is that the record is entitled Sketches Of Brunswick East, inspired by Miles Davis’ Sketches Of Spain, and it is an improvised jazz-inspired venture.
It seems odd to be eagerly awaiting a record from a band that’s already dropped two albums this year, but there’s good reason for this particular project. In 2015, King Gizzard released the all-acoustic Paper Mache Dream Balloon. Since then, King Gizzard have produced the records Nonagon Infinity, Flying Microtonal Banana and Murder of the Universe, all falling into the garage/hard-rock mould. The most exciting factor of this collaboration is the unique direction that King Gizzard and MHC are heading in for the project.
King Gizzard have previously implemented some jazz-borrowing influences into an album with 2014’s Quarters!. So expect something like this…
1. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream (September 1)
The reason for the anticipation surrounding LCD Soundsystem’s fourth studio album is that everyone was lead to believe it would never exist. Back in 2011, LCD Soundsystem front-man James Murphy retired the moniker of the seminal dance-rock band. A farewell tour ensued and Murphy’s band were thought to be done and dusted, just as they were riding their highest wave of popularity.
In 2015, rumours broke that LCD were allegedly reuniting. The band’s label, DFA Records, quickly shot down the rumours. However, it was all smoke and mirrors, as the group released ‘Christmas Will Break Your Heart’ late in 2015, their first official single since 2011. Before long, LCD were announced as headliners of Coachella 2016 and Murphy declared on the band’s website that a new album was to be released sometime in 2016. The reunifying of LCD was complete.
Information on the new record was sparse, other than Murphy’s website announcement. After a year passed, finally, in May of this year, two remarkable singles from the forthcoming LP were revealed – ‘call the police’ and ‘american dream’. A month later, details emerged of the group’s fourth album, American Dream, due to drop September 1st.
Although the new singles pick up right where songs like ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ left LCD fans, the tracks are more accessible and the overall production is a lot cleaner. The new singles, particularly ‘call the police’, have only heightened the expectations that American Dream will be an extraordinarily special release. Feel fortunate.