Sunday, July 9, 2017

2017's Belated New Music Calendar

2017 has been a mixed time for new music. While some good records have come out in the first months of the year, it is difficult to say that the early months of 2017 witnessed a trove of great music. Relief is on the way. This year, it appears that 2017’s musical identity will be mostly formed in the summer. The third and fourth quarters typically feature some big releases, but this year feels particularly weighted towards June, July, August, and September. 

Portugal. The Man's Woodstock
So far, some big names have released new albums. Ryan Adams, The xx, Drake, Ed Sheeran, Mary J. Blige, and Father John Misty all put out new records in the first few months of the year. The only big wave of new music came towards the end of the second quarter. Katy Perry, Lady Antebellum, Jay-Z, Dan Auerbach, Phoenix, and Lorde all waited until June for their new albums. The indie/alternative side of 2017 included LPs from Chuck Prophet, Japandroids, Imelda May, Ty Segall, Sampha, Real Estate, Strand of Oaks, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, et al. One of the first big rock highlights of the year has come from Portugal. The Man. The Alaska band also released their record Woodstock in June. The album includes one of the catchiest hits of the summer, “Feel It Still.”

Building off June, some promising new music will begin to creep in during July. Industry staples Randy Newman and Neil Young will add to their lengthy discographies. Young’s new record, Hitchhiker, is his 38th studio effort and will be comprised of old work from 1976. Indie artists Frankie Rose, David Rawlings, Grizzly Bear, Iron & Wine, and Nicole Atkins are some of the highlights of July. Current heavy hitters start to drop their work in the middle of the month. Although it just an EP, Coldplay’s Kaleidoscope hits on July 14. On July 21, Foster the People and Landa Del Rey both have new albums coming out. Cage the Elephant and Foster the People will release records the following week.

The War On Drugs' A Deeper Understanding
A few big names also release music in August. The most impactful rock album weekend of the summer is on August 25, when both Queens of the Stone Age and The War on Drugs hit stores and download queues. Pop star Kesha will put out her first new LP in five years on August 11. Her record is significant beyond the normal scope of pop music because of an ongoing legal battle with her record company and music producer Dr. Luke. Other albums of note include Grizzly Bear, Lorretta Lynn, and the Mynabirds.

As the summer fades into September, the list of artists putting out new music is impressive. The record likely to do best on the charts is the Foo Fighters’ ninth album Concrete & Gold. The band, whose last record was a companion piece with HBO documentary series, Sonic Highways, may have their unlikeliest collaboration to date on Concrete And Gold. Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman appears on what has been described as a Black Sabbath/Pink Floyd-style track. LCD Soundsystem, Alvvays, The National, Tori Amos, Ringo Star, Fall Out Boy, Wyclef Jean, The Horrors, Shania Twain, and Wolf Alice all have new records to close out the third quarter. Madonna also releases her fifth live album, Rebel Heart Tour, on September 15. 

The biggest U.K. releases of the fourth quarter have an unusually contentious nature. In what will likely be a battle in the press and in the charts, former Oasis bandmates Liam and Noel Gallagher will each have new records come out in October and November.


A different Kurt & Courtney
Several records have already been semi-announced or rumored to the end of 2017, although no dates have been attached to the albums. The album with the highest artistic expectations is Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile’s collaborative effort. Two of the biggest indie stars going right now, their new record seems like a perfect pairing and will be backed by a tour. Their all-star tour band will include members of Warpaint, Sleater-Kinney, and Vile’s own band, The Violators. Other names of significance without specific dates currently are The Killers and Sam Smith. One of the industry’s biggest sellers, Taylor Swift, is also in the rumor mill for a fall 2017 release.

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