Undoubtedly, 2014 was a rare year for music. Month after month, incredible record after incredible record dropped with no end in sight. Whether listeners found their escape in pulsating beats, acoustic guitars or impenetrable walls of noise, there was something for everyone.
I probably won’t be holding my breath for an album as devastatingly emotional as The War on Drugs’ “Lost in the Dream” this year, but I’d still consider myself an optimist when it comes to music. After all, even if last year’s run was unimaginable, 2015 has quite a few interesting releases to look forward to. These, then, are my most anticipated albums of the new year.
- Steven Wilson
Despite his consistent output since the late ‘80s, Wilson has never garnered much attention outside of the progressive niche. Even so, he’s maintained a remarkably diverse resume over the years, tackling pop, rock, metal, psychedelia, jazz, drone, ambient, and electronica. From the variegated excursions of “The Sky Moves Sideways” to the streamlined immediacy of “In Absentia,” Wilson has thoroughly earned his reputation as one of progressive music’s leading torchbearers.
According to recent interviews, Wilson’s highly anticipated fourth solo album is primed to meld most, if not all, of the artist’s stylistic predilections into a comprehensive musical anthology. Album after album, Wilson has contributed another solid outing into his own narrative. His new album “Hand. Cannot. Erase.” has all the markings of a defining chapter.
Twenty-two years after the release of their debut, Radiohead still commands the undivided attention of music aficionados and casual fans alike. Moreover, Yorke and company have maintained an unwavering mystique, an impenetrable air of genuine mystery swirling about critical importance.
In other words, the release of a new Radiohead record is a cultural landmark, irrespective of the music itself. But it really is the band’s music, even more so than any penchant for unorthodox release methods or Yorke’s quirky, spasmodic dancing, that’s warranted this mythical status. Fortunately for just about everyone involved, then, Radiohead rarely, if ever, makes a significant misstep. If the worst that Thom Yorke can do is “The King of Limbs,” then here’s to album number nine.
- The Tallest Man on Earth
It’s likely that most readers aren’t familiar with Sweden’s Kristian Matsson, but once they’ve heard his distinctive nasal croon it’s impossible to forget him. Since 2008, Matsson has proved himself as one of contemporary folk’s unsung heroes — a remarkably consistent and affecting songwriter.
2015 is primed to be an exciting year for fans of Matsson’s work, as his previous outing, the extraordinary “There’s No Leaving Now,” found the singer-songwriter expanding his sonic palette into new frontiers, lacing his bare acoustic framework with pianos, electric guitars and drums. If that’s any indication, Mattson may be venturing into full-band territory — a proposition equally thrilling and terrifying. Surely, his lone-wolf approach to folk has been so successful that he couldn’t dream of abandonment. Only time will tell, but the safe bet is that whatever Matsson has planned next will be one for the books.
4. PJ Harvey
Though she’s unlikely to ever be a household name like Tori Amos or Kate Bush, PJ Harvey’s particular brand of alternative music has drawn a remarkable following over the years. From her 1992 debut album “Dry” all the way to 2011’s “Let England Shake,” Harvey has firmly set herself as one of indie music’s most prominent, consistent artists — a songwriter that not only captivates her audiences one song at a time, but who also inspires tremendous anticipation for future output.
Harvey’s upcoming record stands likely to excite fans even more than usual, because unlike previous records, her upcoming album is reported to undergo the recording process in front of a live audience. Fitting, then, that Harvey has named the upcoming work “Recording in Progress.”
“Major/Minor” certainly was a good time for Thrice to make its exit. As so many great artists do, they left leaving their fans wanting more. Whether “more” constituted the hardcore sound of their earliest recordings, the laid-back alternative of “Beggars” or the conceptual ambition of the “Alchemy Index” may not be certain, but one thing is: whatever Thrice puts to tape next, people will talk about it for years. That’s because over their tenure as a recording act, they’ve remained remarkably consistent while continuing to change and pursue new sonic avenues.
As of yet, no title, album artwork or track listing have been released, generating an uneasy suspense as the band slowly plots its next move. They can take their time, though; releasing quality music time and time again must be tiring, and everyone can use a breather.