The Most Anticipated Albums Of 2015

Feature Photo via Somerset House

Now that the new year’s here, we can start getting excited about new releases coming out this year. Some of them will live up to the hype. Some of them will blow our expectations out of the water. And yes, some of them will disappoint us. But for now, let’s just have fun speculating about what this year will bring us. Some of the entries on this list are finished products with release dates. Others are wild speculation and wishful thinking on our part, in other words, artists we haven’t heard from in a while and look forward to hearing from again (we have our fingers crossed for Death Grips and Radiohead, though).  We have established heavy-hitters like Grimes and Modest Mouse, and up-and-coming artists like Natalie Prass and Royal Canoe. Whatever your tastes, there’s something for everyone this year.

BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul [Lex] – February 17

Toronto jazz band BADBADNOTGOOD had a tremendous year in 2014. Following their 2012 album BBNG2, they released their first all-original full length LP entitled III. In 2015, this hip-hop inspired jazz trio are releasing Sour Soul, a collaborative album with Wu-Tang Clan rapper Ghostface Killah. Everything we’ve heard thus far from the collaboration has sounded impressive. Earlier in 2014, we saw the first hint of this partnership when they dropped “Six Degrees” featuring Danny Brown. Months later, they announced that the collaboration would develop into a full length LP, dropping “Gunshowers.” And just recently, they released “Ray Gun” featuring legendary underground rapper MF Doom. It’s only fitting that “Ray Gun” is BADBADNOTGOOD’s best sounding track to date, worthy of the two legendary rappers. Sour Soul is clearly looking like one of the top albums to look out for in 2015, with BADBADNOTGOOD’s ascendancy looking unstoppable and Ghostface Killah experiencing his own renaissance. – Angelo Mateo

Björk – TBA [One Little Indian]

Björk is one of the most left-field musicians out there, so it only makes sense that she chooses left-field collaborators – like her contribution to last year’s Death Grips album. She’s co-producing her next album with Arca, who produced for Kanye West and FKA twigs, and working with The Haxan Cloak, who teamed up with the drone metal duo The Body. It’s hard to say what a new album from the Icelandic siren will be like, but even with a little extra help, you can bet it’ll sound 100% Björk.  – James Li

Chromatics – Dear Tommy [Italians Do It Better]

If you’re a real human being and a real hero, then get excited, because Chromatics are coming out with Dear Tommy, the moody synthpop duo’s first album in three years, sometime “by Valentine’s Day.” Johnny Jewel, the Montreal-based producer and multi-instrumentalist behind Chromatics, shared unreleased material on his SoundCloud, and he’s also working on new material with his side projects Glass Candy and Symmetry. – James Li

Drake – Views from the 6 [OVO Sound]

Even without releasing an album, Drake managed to run 2014. He enjoyed his new status as the Raptors’ global ambassador, Torontonians have already taken to calling their city “the 6” (a nickname that Drake supposedly pieced together from the 416 and 647 area codes), and the songs that he posted to his SoundCloud – including “Trophies” and the James Blake-assisted “0 to 100 / The Catch-Up” – blew up into some of the biggest and most triumphant songs of the year. So when Drake boasts that he “already got spring 2015 poppin’,” who are we to disagree? – James Li

Frank Ocean – TBA [Def Jam]

It’s been more than two years since Frank Ocean released Channel Orange, which was widely praised for its wonderful songwriting and poignant production. It was complex, mature and luscious in sound. It’s no wonder why we’ve been patiently waiting for his next move. It seems that we’ll see a new record from Ocean in 2015. Late last year, Ocean dropped a snippet of a song entitled, “Memrise” on his personal Tumblr. It’s experimental and unlike any of Ocean’s current discography. Although it’s less than 2 minutes in length, it is exciting to hear Frank Ocean tackle new sounds. I’m fascinated to hear what 2015 has in store for Frank Ocean. – Angelo Mateo

Future Brown – Future Brown [Warp] – February 24

Ever wondered what club music will sound like in a globalized future? Ask Future Brown – an international producer supergroup comprised of Fatima Al-Qadiri, Asma Maroof, Daniel Piñeda, and Jamie Imanian-Friedman. They fuse London grime, Atlanta trap, Chicago bop, Baltimore club, Jamaican dancehall, Antillean zouk, Latin reggaeton, Angolan kizomba, South African kwaito, and seemingly any other genre from any other far-flung part of the world, with the help of an equally diverse crew of guest vocalists. – James Li

Grimes – TBA [4AD]

Over the past year or so, Grimes has teased listeners with snippets, collaborations, old demos, and even a full-length song, “Go.” However, with no official date yet for her next album, listeners don’t really know what to expect. As a musician, Grimes defies categorization. She draws from genres popular past and present: 90s R&B, boy bands, trap, and EDM, to name a few among many. “Go” was delightfully trappy, reflecting today’s popular music obsession with EDM. She’s announced that she’s written a glam rock song and has expressed interest in creating songs that crosses “ethereal reggaeton” with “industrial music.” With this in mind, Grimes’ upcoming album could either be a work of genius, or a weird, patchworked mess of influences.  – Sofia Luu

Kanye West – TBA [G.O.O.D.]

Listen: “Only One”

Everyone’s been asking and talking about Kanye West’s new album in 2014. We all expected it to drop unexpectedly sometime last year. Kanye had hinted earlier in the year in an interview with GQ that he wanted to release the album’s first single, a track purportedly entitled “All Day,” sometime in September, but we have yet to hear any material from the album.

So, what do we actually know about the new Kanye album? Very little. An unfinished low quality version of “All Day” was leaked in August, implying a different sound for the Chicago artist. In September, he played the album at a small listening party in Paris. Kanye has also allegedly rapped the entire album to Seth Rogen and his wife in a limo van in December.

And then on New Year’s Eve, “Only One” was released. It’s the first track of a collaborative effort between Kanye and Paul McCartney. It’s still unclear whether these tracks will end up on Kanye’s own album, or a separate record, but it’s gotten fans excited. The minimalist song features Kanye’s Auto-Tuned vocals over McCartney’s electric organ. It’s one of his most intimate, channeling his mother Donda West at peace and speaking through him to his daughter North West. “Only One” is absolutely beautiful and it only heightens the already grand expectations of Kanye’s new album. Yeezy season is approaching in 2015. – Angelo Mateo

Madonna – Rebel Heart [Interscope] – March 10

Listen: “Living for Love”

The queen of pop is back to take her throne! Madonna surprised her fans with the best Christmas present – six brand new songs from her much-anticipated, thirteenth studio album Rebel Heart. From mellow acoustic ballads – “Devil Prey,” to electric and boundary-pushing dance jams – “Illuminati”, to her second-time collaboration with Nicki Minaj – “Bitch, I’m Madonna”, the pre-released tracks are full of spice and attitude. Over 40 years, Madonna has intended to prove to the world that she can still get into the groove, as if no time has gone by. These pre-released tracks are the best testament to her intention. – Alexander Si

Marina and the Diamonds – FROOT [Neon Gold] – April 6

Electra Heart may be dead, but this year Marina Diamandis is taking on a new life with her highly anticipated – and highly promoted – album, FROOT, slated for release on April 6. Through the elaborate “Froot of the Month” promotional campaign, which includes a song release each month for the six months leading up to the album’s release, Diamandis has made it abundantly clear how important and intensely personal this new era will be. If the powerful, diverse first three releases, “Froot,” “Happy,” and “Immortal,” are a sign of what’s to come, FROOT could very well be Diamandis’s most interesting and authentic era yet. – Lakota Rich

Modest Mouse – Strangers to Ourselves [Glacial Pace] – March 3

Listen: “Lampshades on Fire”

With the release of the lead single, “Lampshades on Fire,” Modest Mouse have prepared their listeners for another amazing album. The tongue-twisting song utilizes the band’s unique sound, which is almost entirely captured in the lead vocals from Isaac Brock, and Jeremiah Green’s heavy drumming. Listeners can only hope for an album that remains true to the band’s sound while demonstrating some sort of progression after eight years since their last studio album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank. – Emily Scherzinger

Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass [Spacebomb] – January 26

A former member of Jenny Lewis’s band, Natalie Prass is one of the most promising rookies to look out for in 2015. With her silken soprano vocals and luxurious arrangements, this Nashville singer-songwriter makes a cool throwback to classic soul and country – think Dusty Springfield or Diana Ross. In an interview with Pitchfork, Prass self-identified as a “late bloomer,” but it sounds like the 28 year-old is ready to emerge fully formed on her self-titled debut. – James Li

PJ Harvey – TBA [Island]

We haven’t heard much from PJ Harvey since 2011’s Mercury-winning Let England Shake, other than “Shaker Aamer,” a protest song she released in 2013, named after the last British detainee held in Guantánamo Bay. But at least a few lucky fans will get to see how her next album’s coming along, as she’s recording part of her album with producers Flood and John Parish in London’s Somerset House for a paying audience, as part of an art installation. – James Li

Radiohead – TBA [XL]

We haven’t heard much from Radiohead since The King of Limbs in 2012 and their subsequent (and unfortunate) hiatus. Then in 2014, the band confirmed rumours they were working on an upcoming album—release date TBA. Personally, I think we’d be lucky to see more from Radiohead, especially if it’s anything like some of their older stuff (a throwback to Kid A, Amnesiac, or In Rainbows would be just like a jigsaw falling into place). There’s no guarantee they’ll be coming out with anything new in 2015, but I might be wrong. Here’s hoping. – Teodora Pasca

Residual Kid – TBA [Sire]

Residual Kid, an Austin punk rock group whose oldest member is only 16 years old, has been on the rise since they signed to Sire Records (Warner Bros.) late last year. 2015 looks to be just as promising for them, as the band posted on their Facebook in December that they’ve been writing and recording, and, according to Billboard, fans can expect the release of a new EP this year, their first release since 2012’s Faces EP. Hopefully, signing to a label won’t strip away any of the raw sound and youthful charm fans have come to expect from the band. – Lakota Rich

Royal Canoe – TBA [Roll Call]

After recreating and releasing seven songs from Beck’s Song Reader last year, Winnipeg natives Royal Canoe have gone into self-proclaimed hibernation to begin working on their new album. While there’s no set release date for the album, I’m hoping that they’ll release at least one single this year. Ever since I was exposed to their unusual indie-pop sound, made distinctive through their manipulation of unusual time signatures and voice distortion, I’ve looked forward to a new release, so this album couldn’t come sooner. – Lakota Rich

Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels 3 / Meow the Jewels [Mass Appeal]

Killer Mike and El-P have been hip-hop’s “top tag team for two summers” and it doesn’t seem like their reign is coming to an end in 2015. After a triumphant year with their release of Run the Jewels 2, they announced in a Reddit AMA session that Run the Jewels 3 was forthcoming and that production was starting in January 2015. Hopefully this means that RTJ3 will drop later this year, but there’s no guarantee.

But it seems that’s not all we could possibly expect from Run the Jewels. Following a ludicrous but hilarious Kickstarter campaign, El-P will remix Run the Jewels 2 with cat sounds on Meow the Jewels. Most surprisingly, however, is the announcement that we might see a solo album from Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack De La Rocha, fully produced by Run the Jewels. “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” features Zack De La Rocha and is one of the best tracks on RTJ2, which is why I’m really excited for a Run the Jewels-produced De La Rocha album.

Killer Mike and El-P have impacted the hip-hop genre at an important time for American society and their music has the ferocity and quality fitting for the times. These two are at the top of their game and if they release RTJ3 this year, it will undoubtedly bring the same intensity and strength that fuelled the first two LPs. – Angelo Mateo

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love [Sub Pop] – January 20

Since Sleater-Kinney disbanded, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss moved on to other musical ventures and Carrie Brownstein became the creative force behind Portlandia. But the trio secretly wrote and recorded No Cities to Love, their first album in ten years, in Brownstein’s basement before they even announced their reunion. So far they’ve shared “Bury Our Friends” and “Surface Envy,” two songs so urgent and tightly-wound, it’s hard to believe that they haven’t played together for a decade. – James Li

Sumac – The Deal [Profound Lore] – February 17

Isis fans were disappointed when the sludge metal band broke up in 2011. Thankfully, Aaron Turner, the sludge metal band’s former frontman, formed a new band, Sumac, with members from Baptists and Russian Circles. Sumac teased their debut album with the “Thorn in the Lion’s Paw,” a track that balances subtlety and nuance with eardrum-crushing heaviness. And as an added bonus, saying that you’re “a Sumac fan” is a lot less awkward than telling people that you “really like Isis.” – James Li

Viet Cong – Viet Cong [Jagjaguwar] – January 19

The last days of Calgary post-punk band Women were fraught with conflict and tragedy, ending in an on-stage fistfight that broke up the band, as well as the death of their guitarist Christopher Reimer. Former members of Women formed Viet Cong from the band’s ashes, and from the sounds of their gloomy lead single “Continental Shelf,” it sounds like Viet Cong are shooting for something stranger and more ambitious than “the band formerly known as Women.” – James Li

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