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The new year is upon us, and that means it’s time to start looking forward to twelve months of new music. 2017 brought us a lot of great new albums as well as deluxe special editions of some classics. Looking ahead, 2018 promises to deliver even more great music for fans of every genre.
Today, I’m going to highlight a list of upcoming releases that I’m excited to hear in the new year. In most cases, we don’t know the actual release dates yet, and for some of these we only know that the artist is in the studio working on the album, so we’re pretty sure it’s coming in 2018. At a glance, I’d say we have a lot to look forward to. Let’s dig in!
It’s been over four years since we’ve seen a new full length album from Nine Inch Nails. The band’s last long player was “Hesitation Marks” back in 2013. But a year ago, Nine Inch Nails closed out 2016 with an EP release, which was later revealed to be the first of a trilogy. Back in July, we got the second volume of the trilogy, along with the promise that the third would follow in about six months. If the band is true to their word, that means a new EP could be released at any time. With the prior two volumes, fans had just days notice before the new music appeared, so I’d expect the next release to follow a similar pattern. I’m betting on January. There’s no word on when we might expect a new full length album from Nine Inch Nails, but I wouldn’t hold out hope for it happening in 2018. In recent interviews, Trent Reznor and bandmate Atticus Ross have expressed how much they enjoy working in the shorter EP format, so it may be more likely we’ll see more releases in that format in the near future.
What ever happened to Liz Phair? In 1993, she burst onto the music scene with her low-fi masterpiece “Exile In Guyville.” She followed that up with two more strong albums in the 90s. In 2003, Phair caught a lot of slack for seemingly trying to reinvent herself in the Avril Lavigne model. I actually liked that album as well, to be honest. But we really haven’t had a proper new album from Liz Phair since 2005. Yes, there was “Funstyle” in 2010, but that was more of a mish-mash of odd recordings that were completely lacking in direction. From a music perspective, Phair has been busy writing original music for various television series, most recently “The 100” on the CW network. But fans may not have to wait much longer for a new album. In January 2017, Liz Phair hit the studio with Ryan Adams and legendary producer Don Was to work on what she claimed was a new double album that would see her returning to the Guyville sound. It’s been almost a year since those sessions, so hopefully something will be coming out very soon.
Long-awaited follow-ups seems to be a theme for 2018, and album number four from Vampire Weekend also fits that description. It’s been almost five years since the band’s last album, “Modern Vampires of the City.” In that time, we’ve seen the departure of one of the group’s key players, songwriter and producer Rostam, who released his own solo album in 2017. Now, the band has reported that while Rostam is no longer officially a Vampire, he’s still contributing to the new album to a limited degree. Will the new album be a departure from the unique Vampire Weekend sound, seeing the group move in a new direction? It’s too soon to tell. Back in March, the band revealed the working title of the album to be “Mitsubishi Macchiato,” so… I don’t know if there’s any clues to be found there. Probably not. But all signs point to a release in 2018.
Here’s a phrase I don’t think anyone ever expected they’d hear: Bruce Springsteen has a hit show on Broadway. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to go see his one man show, full of great storytelling and music. I think it’s a brilliant concept, although maybe better suited for an artist that’s ready to slow down a bit. I don’t think Bruce Springsteen is that kind of artist yet, though. After all, the first half of 2017 saw him continuing to tour with the E Street Band, playing shows of epic lengths. But in terms of studio albums, the Boss hasn’t been quite as productive. His last record was 2014’s “High Hopes,” which was made up of a mix of reworked songs, previously unrecorded tracks and covers. In 2018, we’re finally expecting the as-yet untitled follow-up, which is anticipated to be a solo album rather than an E-Street affair. We’re also hearing that much of the new material was actually written around the time of the “Wrecking Ball” album back in 2012, so that may give us some idea of what to expect.
“Boarding House Reach” is the title of the upcoming third solo album from guitar virtuoso and vinyl aficionado Jack White. In recent interviews, White has described the new music as “bizarre,” but honestly, I’d say there’s at least a hint of the bizarre in just about everything he’s released. I was a big fan of both “Blunderbuss” and “Lazaretto,” though, so I’m definitely on board for whatever he has planned. Now, he did share a preview of the new music recently in the form of a sort of video sound collage. The snippets sound compelling enough, but I’ll admit they are hard to absorb the way they’re mashed together. Bizarre, indeed. There’s no release date for the new album yet, but it sounds like it’s close to finished, so early 2018 seems likely.
Two more albums I’m looking forward to in 2018 are the new releases from synthpop band CHVRCHES and a solo album from former Smiths guitarist, Johnny Marr. Both acts have spent some time in the studio late in 2017, and both are working their third albums. I really enjoyed both of the first two albums from Chvrches, and continue to listen to them regularly. I also loved both of Johnny Marr’s solo albums in 2013 and 14, but found myself scratching my head wondering what took him so long? These are great! Not that he’s been lazy since the Smiths broke up. He’s been a part of various high profile projects, including The The, Electronic, and Modest Mouse. Still, the solo music was terrific, and I’m glad to see him fully stepping into the spotlight.
The year 2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of the mighty Led Zeppelin. A few years ago, the group re-released all of their studio albums with long overdue remastering and tons of unreleased tracks added as a bonus. It was a real treat for Led Zeppelin fans, and I for one expected that at this point, we’d seen the best we could expect to get. But legendary guitarist Jimmy Page is indicating there may still be more music in the vaults. In recent interviews, Page has promised we’ll see something special for the group’s milestone anniversary year. In all likelihood, that will take the form of unreleased live material rather than more studio outtakes. And while a 50th anniversary reunion of some kind may not be completely out of the question… I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Finally, I’ll close this 2018 preview with the only upcoming release on this list with an official release date. And while it’s from a musician that’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he’s not someone traditionally considered to be a rock artist. I’m talking about the legendary… the iconic… Miles Davis. For several years, Columbia Records has been following the template of Bob Dylan and releasing multi disc compilations of unreleased Miles Davis recordings under the title “The Bootleg Series.” On March 23, volume six of that series will be released, entitled “The Final Tour.” The set collects five live shows from 1960, during which the also legendary John Coltrane was still playing sax with the group. This is one of my favorite periods of Miles Davis’ career, a time that produced landmark albums like “Kind of Blue” and “Sketches of Spain.” If you’re a big Miles Davis fan, this promises to be one of the must-have releases of 2018.
Note: This review is also available on video on the Track X Track YouTube channel.