The reclusive Frank Ocean is rumoured to re-emerge with his first album since 2016’s Blonde, having been shopping for a deal.
More predictably, The Weeknd has hinted at a sequel to his blockbuster After Hours, ostensibly entitled The Dawn, the lead single ‘Take My Breath’. The Canadian has accumulated huge collabs over the past year, the most intriguing ‘Poison’ with the late Aaliyah – a preview from her posthumous collection, Unstoppable.
Another crucial question? Will Kendrick Lamar reappear with his final album for Top Dawg Entertainment in 2022? After all, the feted DAMN. is almost five-years-old.
Closer to home, the legendary Midnight Oil will bow out as a touring prospect with Resist in February. Then many a cult pop act will have projects.
Every January, the music media feverishly speculates which newcomers will redefine pop – with the BRITs Rising Star Award and BBC Music Sound Of… poll being historically prophetic. Holly Humberstone has been announced as the winner of the former – and the Brit singer/songwriter is scheduled to visit Australia for Splendour In The Grass.
As for the homegrown acts we’re tipping? Expect Bad Apples rapper BARKAA to build on the momentum of December’s fire EP, Blak Matriarchy (and her blazing a remix of Rico Nasty‘s ‘Magic’ alongside Sydney soulstress MADAM3EMPRESS).
Here are 15 albums that should rock your world this summer – and beyond.
Gang Of Youths – angel in realtime.
Sydney heartland rockers Gang Of Youths will return with their third album, angel in realtime., on 25 February. It follows July’s stopgap EP, total serene (home to the US radio hit ‘the angel of 8th ave.’).
Much changed for GOY after 2017’s chart-topping Go Farther In Lightness, which scooped several ARIAs, including ‘Album of the Year’. Indeed, the band relocated to London – and angel in realtime. is influenced by UK music culture, from Brit-pop to rave. But frontman Dave Le’aupepe has primarily approached angel in realtime. as a tribute to his late father, exploring his Samoan roots by adding sampled field recordings as well as guest Pasifika and Māori vocalists and musicians.
GOY have already shared the singles ‘the man himself’ and ‘tend the garden’. The band will tour the LP in Australia over winter.
Beach House – Once Twice Melody
In November, Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House – Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally – announced a double-album, Once Twice Melody, to be unveiled in four suites leading up to 18 February.
The material heard so far – like the six-minute shoegaze opus ‘Superstar’ – looms as their most melodic and euphoric since 2010’s classic Teen Dream. The duo self-produced the project and hired a string ensemble. Beach House last issued 7 in 2018.
Wollongong’s Huskii is a contender for Australia’s most credible street MC. Infamy aside, he’s a compelling storyteller, forging his rep with independent projects and viral freestyles.
Lately, Huskii let rip on his homie ChillinIt‘s smash album Family Ties. Now aligned with Island Records Australia, the rapper is busting out of the underground. On 11 February, he’ll unleash his major label debut, the seven-track Antihero, with production by Sydney’s Tasker.
Mind, Huskii isn’t about to temper that raw mode of hip-hop, instead further chronicling his experiences with dependency, depression and imprisonment – as indicated by the singles ‘Ruin My Life’ and ‘Heroin Rap’. Album cameos will come from the UK’s Grubbo and, on the posse-cut ‘Cape Fear Big Wave Contest’, Mic Pompeii, Ides and Shadow. Huskii will also tour Antihero nationally.
Alice Glass, PREY//IV
The Canadian electro-punk icon Alice Glass departed Crystal Castles in 2014, later alleging that Ethan Kath (aka Claudio Palmieri) had abused her from when she was 15. She’s since steadily reclaimed her creative identity as a solo artist.
In 2015, Glass premiered with the single ‘STILLBIRTH’, working alongside ex-HEALTH member Jupiter Keyes. Two years on, she issued an eponymous EP, her modern goth aesthetic comparable to Grimes and SOPHIE. She toured Australia, headlining Hobart’s Dark Mofo.
Latterly, Glass contributed ‘Sleep It Off’ to the soundtrack for Floria Sigismondi’s horror The Turning. She’s now releasing an album, PREY//IV, via her own Eating Glass Records, on 28 January – the lead single being the hyperpop ‘SUFFER AND SWALLOW’, ironically from last January.
Saweetie – Pretty Bitch Music
Today female rappers run the game. Come 2022, the charismatic Saweetie will finally deliver her debut album, officially joining queens Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat. The Bay Area phenom was proclaimed a ‘next big thing’ with her 2017 break-out ‘ICY GRL’, preceding the High Maintenance EP. Saweetie then blew up with ‘My Type’.
Saweetie has teased Pretty Bitch Music – its theme individual empowerment – since at least 2020, the first single ‘Tap In’, controversially produced by Dr Luke, sampling Too $hort’s ‘Blow The Whistle’ and going viral on TikTok thanks to a dance challenge.
The rapper has now promoted successive other cuts, including the bouncy ‘Best Friend’ with Doja Cat – an Antipodean remix featuring OKENYO and JessB. Pretty Bitch Music is anticipated early in the year. Significantly, Saweetie has been nominated for two Grammies – one ‘Best New Artist’.
SLUMBERJACK – Dichotomy
Perth future bass duo SLUMBERJACK are well established on the global tour circuit. The DJ/producers have likewise released an abundance of music, with multiple EPs.
In 2017 they had a crossover hit at home with ‘Fracture’, featuring Vera Blue. SLUMBERJACK have also remixed Porter Robinson. But the pair are taking things to the next level with their debut album, Dichotomy, due to be out through Sweat It Out on 28th January.
Their aim for the LP was to juxtapose big room and festival anthems with dark pop. They’ve disseminated a string of singles, beginning with 2020’s glitchy ‘Poison’, spotlighting local vocalist Sydnee Carter. Sydney dance divette Nicole Millar, famed for Peking Duk‘s ‘High’, graces ‘Not For You’.
The current single is the murky ‘Pain’ with fellow Perth DJ/producer TWERL, plus the American Josh Pan on vocals. Curiously, Dichotomy also has a collab with The Kite String Tangle.
MØ – Motordrome
The Danish singer/songwriter MØ – a longtime fave with Aussie crowds – enjoyed her biggest hit in Major Lazer‘s trop-house banger ‘Lean On’. However, 2021’s solo epic ‘Live To Survive’, produced by the Brit SG Lewis, is surely her greatest song (and has been adeptly remixed by Claptone).
MØ typically prefers concept albums, last presenting 2018’s imaginative Forever Neverland. But her third LP, Motordrome, out 28 January, will be about the bops with a resonant message of self-care.
Daniel Johns – FutureNever
Since Silverchair disbanded in 2011, Johns has styled himself as a mercurial – and chameleonic – musician, working with the likes of Flume (he co-penned the Grammy-winning ‘Say It’). In 2015, Johns released his solo debut, Talk, veering into avant-soul.
He last teamed with Luke Steele of The Sleepy Jackson and Empire Of The Sun to form the glam-electro DREAMS, even performing at Coachella. Alas, the duo’s 2018 album, No One Defeats Us, barely impacted the Australian Top 50.
In a “personal letter”, Johns has now heralded a second solo LP, FutureNever, for 1st April: “FutureNever is a place where your past, present and future collide – in the FutureNever the quantum of your past experiences become your superpower,” he writes. “The experience of the podcast has helped me make peace with my past and I’m ready to tackle this new world bravely.”
Johns hasn’t given any clues as to FutureNever’s direction, only describing it as “an eclectic mix of music” with input from pals. Idiosyncratically, he won’t be issuing singles, either. No doubt we’ll be surprised.
Years & Years – Night Call
UK project Years & Years originated as a band centred on actor-cum-singer Olly Alexander. They broke out with 2015’s Communion (and the single ‘King’) and twice played Splendour In The Grass. But, after two albums, Years & Years is now Alexander’s solo vehicle.
A new LP, Night Call, is slated for 21st January, with its lead single the funky ‘Starstruck’ (don’t sleep on the remix with Kylie Minogue!). Alexander has followed Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware and Róisín Murphy by reformulating classic disco, with nods to the queer icon Sylvester and French touch pioneers Daft Punk.
Night Call also encompasses a track with Swedish EDM-types Galantis titled ‘Sweet Talker’. In the interim, Alexander is continuing to juggle music and acting, notably starring in Russell T Davies’ acclaimed TV series It’s A Sin. Nonetheless, the Brit has denied tabloid speculation that he’ll be the next Doctor Who, post-Jodie Whittaker.
Bonobo – Fragments
UK DJ/producer Bonobo (Simon Green) was releasing niche downtempo albums in the early 2000s. But, like Caribou and Jon Hopkins, he’s today connecting with a mainstream audience (and has moved to the US).
Bonobo’s last LP, 2017’s Migration, with Nick Murphy (aka Chet Faker) as a vocalist, reached #12 on the ARIA Albums Chart – and received two Grammy nominations. He’ll be back with his seventh outing, Fragments, again through Ninja Tune, on 14 January – and it’ll bear more uptempos.
By way of singles, Bonobo has aired the deep house ‘Rosewood’, mellow soul ‘Tides’, featuring Chicago neo-soulstress Jamila Woods, and pumping ‘Otomo’ with London producer O’Flynn. In fact, the latest is the best: ‘Shadows’, a psychedelic twist on Detroit house elevated by future soulster Jordan Rakei. Other album guests include Joji (yes!).
Earl Sweatshirt – Sick!
On 14th January, he’ll furnish his fourth, Sick!, following the lowkey singles ‘2010’ and ‘Tabula Rasa’ (Earl’s second collab with underground New Yorkers Armand Hammer). The rapper has posited Sick!, with beats from the likes of The Alchemist, as his rumination on the pandemic and the ensuing “chaos”. It’ll possibly be his maturest outing. In July, Earl disclosed on Twitter that he’s now a dad.
Broods – Space Island
New Zealand sibling duo Broods have long transcended their association with Lorde (and producer Joel Little). The synth-popsters’ third album, 2019’s Don’t Feed The Pop Monster, was impressively adventurous, but didn’t chart as well here as Evergreen or Conscious.
Georgia and Caleb Nott have since both contributed to Flight Facilities‘ FOREVER and Ladyhawke‘s Time Flies. As such, Space Island, due 18th February, should see them regain traction, especially as they have Australian live dates in March.
The LP will be personal, too, with vocalist Georgia reflecting on her broken marriage and its aftermath. This go, Broods liaised with a fresh producer in Canada’s Stint (Gallant, NAO, MØ). And they have a song with Sweden’s Tove Lo.
Check out the singles ‘Piece Of My Mind’ and ‘Heartbreak’, with their aerial grooves.
Craig David – 22
The adored UK garage don Craig David made a monumental comeback in 2016 with Following My Intuition – with KAYTRANADA among the producers. He subsequently proved that his trans-generational reinvention was no fluke with 2018’s The Time Is Now.
The singer, MC and DJ/producer is now readying his eighth album, 22, for 13th May. The buzz lead single, ‘Who You Are’, is a smooth UKG duet with MNEK (and production from Digital Farm Animals). Re-Rewind?
Swedish House Mafia – Paradise Again
With Daft Punk gone, will Swedish House Mafia become dance music’s reigning supergroup?
Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso formed the outfit in 2008, precipitating the EDM explosion. But, soon after circulating their signature hit ‘Don’t You Worry Child’, SHM split – playing a farewell show at 2013’s Ultra Music Festival in Miami.
Inevitably, a 2018 reunion was met with celebration and cynicism alike in the scene. In the past, SHM have had compilations, but never an album proper. That’ll change when in 2022 they present Paradise Again on Republic Records, securing their legacy.
To date, SHM have aired the single ‘It Gets Better’, proceeded by ‘Lifetime’, featuring Ty Dolla $ign and 070 Shake. The strongest yet is ‘Moth To A Flame’ with The Weeknd. Paradise Again will be flashy.
Alison Wonderland – ???
Hot take: Sydney’s Alison Wonderland is Australia’s most inventive electronic auteur, her post-EDM ethos actually being more distinct than Flume’s.
The now Los Angeles-based DJ, producer, vocalist and cellist introduced her emo/EDM/trap hybrid on 2015’s debut Run. Increasingly documenting toxic relationships and anxiety, Alison arrived as a songwriter on Awake, with credits from The Weeknd’s cohort Illangelo and rappers Trippie Redd and Chief Keef.
She’ll have an as-yet-unannounced third album in 2022. Alison recently released the single ‘Fuck U Love U’, trailing 2020’s ‘Bad Things’. Pandemic aside, this year the US festival fave placed at #49 in the otherwise male-dominated DJ Mag Top 100 DJs Poll.