2017 has a certain buzz about it. When you speak to talent buyers, booking agents and concert promoters, many are brimming at the prospect of a knockout year with new albums and tours from artists who took 2016 off. Below we compile our list of 12 bands to watch next year (in alphabetical order).
Winn Butler and Arcade Fire have the potential to have an incredible 2017 — if they can stick to their calendar. The band reportedly recorded an album in Paris in 2016 with plans for a springtime release, but we’re hearing key parts of the Reflektor followup aren’t quite finished. That might hamper plans for a big festival run after mostly sitting on the sidelines in 2016 (although they did play Panaroma Fest in New York in July). What the booking agents at Billions Corp. have planned for the band next year is anyone’s guess, but as Arcade Fire continues to grow and crossover into the mainstream, anything is possible.
There seems to be a pattern to the way Beck drop albums. Two years after the success of his softer and atmospheric Grammy-winning Morning Phase, Beck is almost certain to come back with something dancey and lively. I can’t say I’m a big fan of the simple sounding “Wow” track he dropped earlier in 2016, although the song’s simple shortcomings are made up for in the incredible video he recorded. If Beck drops another dance album, he’s sure to do a big tour over the summer of 2017. Instead of festivals, I’d love to see him play amphitheaters, block parties and even fairgrounds. Beck is for the people, right?
The Flaming Lips
Wayne Coyne and his merry band of pranksters are releasing their new album Oczy Mlody on Warner Brothers and are planning a club run through North America and Europe that includes a stop at Le Bataclan in Paris. That tour wraps in April and the band is expected to continue headlining music festivals around the world. And if their new track “Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)” is any indication, the band isn’t shying away from keeping it weird.
The guest list of dark cartoon characters coming together for the dystopian group’s newest album is getting fans….errr….animated? So far the lineup includes the article cartoon-friendly Snoop Dogg and the De La Soul crew, along with the moody trip-hop of Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja and Vic Mensa. An album is expected this spring with a large festival run to follow.
Queens of the Stone Age
In June, lead singer and band leader Josh Homme announced plans to record a new album with the same artists who helped him record the 2013-breakout Like Clockwork.
“Yeah, a Queens return is up next on my schedule,” he said on the Let There Be Talk podcast. “Same line-up and we’re locked in. We’re having a meeting tomorrow about what we’re going to do.”
It’s been a crazy three years for Homme, who helped record the Eagles of Death Metal’s 2015 album Zipper Up and later endured the trauma band members felt after nearly 100 people were killed during a terrorist attack at their concert in Paris at Le Bataclan. Last year Homme and bandmate Dean Fertita worked with Iggy Pop to record the album Post Pop Depression.
As for touring, the band hasn’t announced any dates yet, but the potential success of their new project could put them at the top of many festival lineup posters and maybe even include a few arena headliner dates.
Zack de la Rocha
Did Trump finally awake music’s angriest man from retirement? After a number of false starts and the massively overhyped launch of Prophets of Rage (that had Chuck D and B-Real filling in for Zach), the former Rage Against the Machine front man is returning with a new full length album with the thumping El-P produced track “Digging for Windows” acting as a proof of life. One thing’s for certain: Between his new single and two ripping collabs with Run the Jewels, the music world hasn’t been this curious about de la Rocha’s elusive solo debut in some time. So, what better place than here? What better time than now?
Run the Jewels
El-P and Killer Mike have finally released the follow-up to the 2014 album Run the Jewels 2 and after a few spins on Spotify, I can verify that the new album is a first class banger. My favorite track is “Call Ticketron” with an infectious hook that keeps repeating “Live at the Garden” proving that MSG is still the world’s number one aspirational venue. I also like the track “Panther Like a Panther,” which amazingly has guest rapper Trina rhyme the line “I’m the shit, bitch” with “Everyone down throw the pistol and fist,” a not so subtle reference to the band’s iconic cover imagery.
The band already has a bunch of 2017 dates lined up including a Feb. 1 show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and two shows in February in New York at Terminal 5 (not the Garden). They also released what is arguably the best video of 2016 with “Nobody Speak.” Judging by what happened at last month’s Security Council vote, I’d say they’re not far off.
Is James Mercer and the crew really getting back together for a followup to the 2012 Port of Morrow? The band first made famous by the film Garden State has always had a sound that’s part tactile simplicity and part folk-indie, although it takes a lot to nail down Mercer who has juggled several projects in the last few years including Danger Mouse-produced Broken Bells. “The record is done, basically, and mixed,” Mercer said in August of 2016, noting that the label was delaying its release for better advertising and festival positioning. That didn’t stop the band from unveiling a few tunes on the road in 2016, including first single “Dead Alive.”
Fear not fans of loud rock and clanky guitar riffs, Spoon will not make you wait four years to the followup to their last album They Want My Soul. A new album by the band led by Britt Daniel will be released on Matador in March and we couldn’t be more excited to see this rock driven four-piece outfit tour this summer. “I feel like we are on to something — we’re covering some new ground,” Daniel told EW saying producer Dave Fridman had been developing some “multidimensional jams” that boast “oddball studio effects.” The only new song we’ve heard so far — “I Ain’t the One” which will be on the record (we think) — is slow and haunting, but still packs a bit of a punch of groove.
I’m not sure the world can wait much longer for a new Taylor Swift album. With Trump soon to be in the White House and celebrities dying left and right, the nation is badly in need of something to help us deal with all this bad blood. Besides, 2016 wasn’t super kind— the pop starlet doesn’t do well in the media during her off-cycle years. And after two years with no new music, it’s time for Taylor to drop some new pop ballads for fans around the world. What will likely follow is a massive tour with hundreds of arena and stadium shows that could easily make her the number one touring artist of 2017 or 2018. Sure some will cast doubt that Taylor is the top of the pops, but as we all know, haters are gonna hate. Taylor just shakes it off.
One of the most underrated bands in country music, the Turnpike Troubadours have been in and out of the studio the last few months working on their fifth full-length album. Frontman Evan Felker is an incredible songwriter and lyricist, drafting up compelling American stories that celebrate heartache, hard work and dusty regret on the dirt roads of Oklahoma. Booked by our dear friends at Red 11 Music, Turnpike Troubadours are planning a run through England and Europe before returning stateside.
With three albums under their belt, anything Vampire Weekend produces is guaranteed to be on nearly every top ten critic’s list come year end. LP number four certainly has some odds to overcome though — one of the group’s key members Rostam Batmanglij, left the group to pursue his own endeavors. Little else is known about what awaits Vampy fans, as all its members aside from lead Ezra Koenig spent the last few years working on their own projects. Word has spread that it will be their label debut — Columbia Records is expected to be the album’s home.
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