16 Albums We’re Looking Forward to in 2016

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16 Albums We’re Looking Forward to in 2016

After months of looking back and assessing the previous year in music and culture, it’s finally time to forge ahead. As is now annual tradition, Paste staff, writers, and interns vote on the records that we think will move us, make us dance, force us to think, shock, and awe us in the coming year. And in fact, 2016 has already graced our ears with classics like David Bowie’s ?. There’s so much more to hear, though, so take a look at 16 albums we’re most excited about in 2016.

1. Frank Ocean, Boys Don’t Cry
Release date: TBA
Honestly, we all thought this would actually exist by now. Alas, Boys Don’t Cry, which was said to be released last July, still doesn’t have an official release date. Frank Ocean’s breakthrough Channel Orange —filled with compassionate stories and smooth R&B—topped our 50 Best Albums of 2012 list, so naturally, the expectations are high for this one. —Hilary Saunders

2. Charles Bradley, Changes
Release date: April 1, 2016
We’re big fans of the Screaming Eagle of Soul here at Paste. The 67-year-old soul singer is one of the most emotional performs we’ve ever seen, and his studio records still manage to capture that spirit. Even though Changes, led by this transformed cover of a Black Sabbath song, will only be Bradley’s third record, it’s sure to follow in his strong tradition of aching R&B. —Hilary Saunders

3. LCD Soundsystem, TBA
Release date: TBA
When James Murphy announced that LCD Soundsystem was reuniting to release a new album and tour, the Internet nearly exploded. People were in disbelief, people had their feelings hurt, people were ecstatic, and I was left a little bit confused, but it was all cleared up with Murphy’s explanation.

I started listening to LCD way back when it was still cool and relevant to have an iPod Mini, became attached to them during my long-term stint in college radio, and have had a good cry while listening to “All My Friends.” Whatever Murphy and co. are working on is sure to be nothing less than a masterpiece, and we’re all impatient just thinking about it. —Annie Black

4. Run The Jewels,  Run the Jewels 3
Release date: TBA
Run the Jewels may be the only outfit that can release a remix revolving around cat samples and then serve as cultural ambassador to the man who’s probably going to be the next president of the United States. But when you can concoct beats this excruciatingly epic, nobody’s going to bat an eye. El-P and Killer Mike’s third effort, most likely called Run the Jewels 3, might not have the dark horse mystique of the pair’s earlier descent into boxing-match rhymes and insidious production, but they sure as hell don’t need it at this point. Expect more hyped guest spots (maybe Zack de la Rocha again, maybe not) and every music publication shitting itself with superlatives like “excruciatingly epic” later this year. —Sean Edgar

5. Kanye West, SWISH
Release date: February 11, 2016
Everyone has an opinion about Kanye—that fact alone would be enough to anticipate SWISH no matter what form it takes. Which is what’s so ultimately compelling about the music he releases: However you feel about what’s come before, there is little doubt that what’s to come will be a redefining, a re-tinkering, a re-evaluating of sorts. As “Real Friends” and “No More Parties in LA” have already demonstrated, SWISH will be an altogether different experience from Yeezus, just as Yeezus was a totally different beast from the overblown (and masterful) My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, just as etc. and etc. and so on back through his career to “Through the Wire.” Of course, the news that the Kardashian sisters had some say in the studio isn’t exactly reassuring—but since when has any Kanye news been reassuring? —Dom Sinacola

6. Danny Brown, TBA
Release date: TBA
Is Danny Brown the best rapper alive? Over his past two full-lengths—the brilliantly named XXX (2011), released the year he turned 30, and Old (2013)—he’s interrogated what that even means, barking and weaving through trap beats, post-industrial noise, indie-friendly electronica and traditional backpacker funk, not to mention a thankfully weird sitcom theme song, to try to figure out what an aging hip hop genius sounds like having outlived the outsized partying and trauma and genuinely rough stuff about which he so eloquently details in his songs. He’s been working on his Old follow-up for years, teasing how close it’s been to done for seemingly just as long, so 2016 feels like the right time, with Kanye and Pusha T coming strong, to reaffirm his claim to the throne by speaking truth to middle age. —Dom Sinacola

7. Animal Collective, Painting With
Release date: February 19
Animal Collective may be a Baltimore band, but the first single off the band’s tenth album is a play on the state of Florida. The pop-leaning experimental band released a video for “FloridDada” at the beginning of the month, and if the rest of Painting With is as bouncy and trippy as the zinging single, the album is set to catapult the band to Merriweather Post Pavilion-levels of recognition. —Hilary Saunders

8. Modest Mouse, TBA
Release date: TBA
It took Modest Mouse eight years to come out with a new album, Strangers to Ourselves, after 2007’s We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, so the announcement of yet another album to be released just a year later was a pleasant surprise, to say the least. The band’s upcoming seventh studio album (rumored to be titled Whabever, because why not?) is said to be a companion to their 2015 release, as the two were written simultaneously. But the true source of our excitement is the promise of the appearance of former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic on at least one track. —Emily McBride

9. Radiohead, TBA
Release date: TBA
Okay, so no new Radiohead album has officially been announced, yet. But based on the Twitter hints that Jonny Greenwood was dropping last year and the new piece of art that recently appeared on the band’s website, we think it’s safe to expect something from the British band in the near future. Radiohead has a long history of unconventional album release strategies, though, so we’ll be on our toes waiting for the follow up to 2011’s The King of Limbs. —Hilary Saunders

10. Mavis Staples, Livin’ on a High Note
Release date: February 9, 2016
The 76-year-old gospel/soul legend Mavis Staples returns with yet another contemporary album produced by one of the youngin’s in the field today. After two albums with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Portland’s M. Ward takes over the producer role for Livin’ on a High Note. Due out next month, we already know that Memphis-based folk singer Valerie June wrote the lead single “High Note,” and that the albums contains collaborates with Nick Cave, Justin Vernon, tUnE-yArDs, Benjamin Booker, The Head and the Heart, and more.

11. Granddaddy, TBA
Release date: TBA
When I was lucky enough to talk to frontman Jason Lytle in 2013, not long after a short spate of Grandaddy reunion gigs and the release of his second solo album, the impression I got from him, more than anything else, was one of contentment. Having moved to rural Montana before the band’s then-final album, Just Like the Fambly Cat, and then recording the thing pretty much all by himself, Lytle seemed to relish the sort of existential honesty that comes with finally putting his Christian name to a collection of songs that could have easily been labeled another fambly affair. Maybe it was the fame that got to him, as their breakthrough The Sophtware Slump was followed by all kinds of critical accolades, from David Bowie love to a touring spot with an emerging Coldplay. That kind of leap in notoriety is bound to wear on anyone, and the seams on Fambly Cat showed. But Lytle’s tweeting about a new GD album must mean he’s ready and willing to play with his friends again—and that maybe even contentment can get old. —Dom Sinacola

12. James Blake, Radio Silence
Release date: TBA
 James Blake, the self-titled debut album, was good. Overgrown, the follow-up, was great. If James Blake is following the trend he’s started, this third LP should be incredible. He is one of those unique artists where you feel out-of-body listening to their music, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s live or through headphones; it’s completely ethereal and a bit like a spiritual awakening, to say the least. The title track for the upcoming Radio Silence, which Blake performed in full at last year’s Big Guava Festival, will continue to haunt me and give me chills until the album comes out. Which hopefully, is much sooner than later. —Annie Black

13. M83, TBA
Release date: TBA
On December 17 at 1:41 PM, producer Justin Meldal-Johnson matter-of-factly Tweeted that the first M83 album in four years had reached completion. That’s not to say that L.A.-based electro-pop maestro Anthony Gonazez—who’s functionally the group—has lain idle for half a decade. Gonzalez’ sweeping arrangements remain the only memorable element of the 2013 Tom Cruise bomb Oblivion, and he also scored his brother Yann’s romantic comedy You and the Night that same year. But damn if none of those projects scratched the itch of “Midnight City”’s sax solo, proudly swimming in a neon stream of synthetic snares and pop bliss. The upcoming album could well satiate that hunger with a new approach; Gonzalez told Entertainment Weekly that “there’s a lot of different genres that are not supposed to live together but I tried to make them live together,” before comparing it to ‘80s sitcoms Punky Brewster and Who’s the Boss? When Gonzalez’ narcotic blend of crystalline strings, new wave beats and honed song craft return to rule the alternative and rock charts, nobody’s going to need to ask who the boss is. —Sean Edgar

14. Afghan Whigs, TBA
Release date: TBA
Although frontman Greg Dulli has been fairly active lately—performing on solo tour dates, sharing a Sharon Van Etten cover, and offering David Bowie tributes—rumors have been swirling about a new Afghan Whigs album this year. Following the alternative and grunge group’s 2014 comeback album Do to the Beast, fans have been clamoring for the return of the band, proving that the dream of the ‘90s is still alive. —Hilary Saunders

15. Lucinda Williams, Ghosts of Highway 20
Release date: February 5, 2016
Even though Lucinda Williams released a double LP, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, last year, the country/folk singer is already back with a follow up. Ghosts of Highway 20, her twelfth studio album, is said to tell autobiographical stories from Williams’ time traveling through the Deep South along Highway 20. At a weighty 16 tracks, the LP also includes a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Factory” and a song called “House of Earth” to which Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics and she wrote the music. —Hilary Saunders

16. The Seratones, TBA
Release date: TBA
The Seratones paid a visit to our New York studio in October to record a session during CMJ, and since then we’ve been anxiously awaiting the debut LP from this Shreveport, La. quartet. Frontwoman AJ Haynes’ powerful, unique voice is the driving force behind their sound, and if the buzz surrounding their recent performances is any indication, their album is not to be ignored. —Bonnie Stiernberg

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