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2016’s most anticipated album releases

January 19, 2016 —

Each new year brings excitement for the upcoming months. Inching another semester closer to graduation. Following through on countless resolutions. And, of course, upcoming album releases.

While there’s a lot going on all over the pop culture realm, no field is more stacked than music, with icons like Kanye West, Drake and Frank Ocean all slated to put out new albums.

Given the quality of 2015’s musical landscape, 2016 has a lot to live up to. But with so many high profile artists and old favourites preparing releases, there’s a lot to be excited for. We asked three Gauntlet writers about their most anticipated albums of 2016.


Releases from English art-rock icons Radiohead usually follow a pattern. First, the group covertly creates a company to facilitate their album release, then they drop an album with minimal fanfare.

And now it looks like history is about to repeat itself. A few months ago, Radiohead founded Dawn Chorus LLP. While the notoriously tight-lipped band has yet to confirm solid details, it’s a foregone conclusion that there will be a new Radiohead album in the upcoming weeks. And I am very excited for it.

Radiohead has always been the seminal band for white guys who were picked on in junior high, and sure enough, as a white dude who was picked on in junior high, I’m a pretty big Radiohead fan.

I’m not in love with all of their albums — I prefer the more electronic sounds of Kid A and In Rainbows — but part of their charm is the way they’ve managed to continuously reinvent themselves over their 30-year existence. Each new Radiohead release is starkly different than the last, and I’m looking forward to hearing the direction they’ve decided to move in next.

Plus, every Radiohead release feels like a big deal. They don’t happen often — it’s been five years since their last album, The King of Limbs — but when Radiohead does release an album, the music world seems to come to a stop. Some people will like it, some will love it and many will hate it. But everyone will be talking about it for the rest of the year.

Sean Willett

James Blake:

Set to release his third full-length album, Radio Silence, later this year, Blake’s eclectic minimalist sound has attracted contemporary artists and legendary producers alike. After working with trailblazing producer Brian Eno, Radio Silence will see Blake collaborate closely with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon as well as Blake’s most vocal fan — Kanye West.

“Just go listen to his music,” West said in a recent interview, proclaiming Blake as his “favourite artist.” It’s high praise from the polarizing personality, but it should come as no surprise to astute listeners. Blake’s signature lo-fi sound and clever use of autotune are likely inspired by West’s more experimental albums.

But Blake’s widespread admiration likely stems from his music’s emotionality. His songs unfold as feelings — raw and incomplete, with vocal loops and pitch bends conjuring dreamlike imagery.

When I saw Blake inspire thousands with his down-tempo jams at last year’s Sasquatch Music Festival, the crowd was hypnotized.

Lyrically, Blake’s songs feel like obscure snippets from diary entries that are half dream, half confession. “People can smell dishonesty on you,” Blake said in an interview with Pitchfork, and it’s that earnest, uncompromising artistry that will inevitably make Radio Silence one of 2016’s most intriguing albums.

Jarrett Edmund

Missy Elliot:

When asked when her next album could be expected in a recent interview with Billboard, Missy Elliot gave some insight. “I want to say 2016 but I don’t want to give a time,” she said. “Nowadays you say a time, they’ll stone you.”

Elliot should get some special treatment, as she was an icon for almost a decade. With songs like “Get Your Freak On” and “Work It,” she established herself as one of the best, most dynamic rappers in the business.

She hasn’t released an album since 2005, but the combination of last year’s Super Bowl guest performance and the November release of her fantastic single “WTF (Where They From)” suggests she’s gearing up for a big 2016.

Elliot encapsulates everything good about the early 2000s, from her mirrored tracksuits to her badass attitude. I remember downloading “Work It” off of Limewire in middle school — it was the first song I owned with swears in it.

If “WTF (Where They From)” is anything to go by, Elliot’s return to the industry will bring all of that nostalgia with it, plus the added bonus of reinvention and a creative resurgence. The track, a collaboration with Pharrell Williams, calls back to Elliot’s glory days while also remaining an innovative, fresh contribution to the current music landscape.

One thing is certain — if Elliot does come back in 2016, the world better be ready to get their freak on.

Melanie Woods

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