Debut album expected in 2017
One Direction took 5 Seconds of Summer on tour and helped pave their way to stardom; isn’t it time 5SOS did the same for some protégés of their own? They’ve been trying with Hey Violet, the pop-rock quintet that accompanied them on the summer leg of their 2016 arena tour. They’ve been kicking around since 2008, when they formed as the straight-ahead rock band Cherri Bomb. A full-length arrived on Hollywood Records four years later, but soon after, they retooled with a far more contemporary sound -- a strain of groove-heavy, millennial guitar pop that helped frontwoman Rena Lovelis truly find her voice. "We’ve been in this situation before -- we had people writing songs for us, older guys, and they didn’t understand young teenage girls at all,” she told Billboard last month. “I think we’ve gotten to a place where we can speak from our souls and just write songs that mean something to us, and that can mean something to our fans.” Now with 5SOS’ Hi Or Hey imprint (via Capitol), they’re aiming to follow up two promising EPs with a proper album in 2017. -Chris Payne
Debut album Tourist in this Town out Jan. 27
A few years ago, Allison Crutchfield was fronting the power pop-punk band Swearin’, a Philly entity that was on its way to major indie fame. Eventually the flame burned out. Allison never ceased making music and continued work in and around a few different bands, including a handful of touring gigs with her twin sister, Katie Crutchfield, who performs as Waxahatchee. Now Allison is performing under her own name and it’s her best project to date. Signed to the major indie label Merge Records (one-time home to bands like Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, Carrie Brownstein’s Wild Flag and more) her experimental pop project is sure to make waves. The debut arrives at the end of January, leading up to what we predict will be a very busy (and totally rewarding) year. -Maria Sherman
Debut album City of No Reply due in 2017
Amber Coffman received a lot of attention this year for accusing music publicist Heathcliff Berru of sexual assault and inspiring many of his other victims to come forward. A single tweet sparked crucial discourse, but with that episode hopefully behind her, 2017 figures to shift the spotlight to Coffman’s immense musical ability. After three albums with Dirty Projectors (and collabs with talents as diverse as John Cale, Major Lazer and J. Cole), Coffman is set to deliver City of No Reply, her debut solo album, sometime in 2017 on Columbia Records. She shimmied out to “All to Myself,” a lead single whose vocals ascend as multi-tracked ultralight beams over an old-school Motown heartbeat, set to a sunset luau. Her role in the forthcoming Dirty Projectors album remains undefined (she did not appear on its first single) but the promise of a full-fledged Amber Coffman solo career is plenty to ease the loss. -C.P.
It’s rare that a band can inspire conversation inside and out of a certain Internet hype machine for both their musical prowess and a certain radical personal-as-political rhetoric that gives fans something to not only enjoy, but to believe in. PWR BTTM are our queer lords and saviors, with their complicated riffing and diary-esque retellings of life and love gone awry making them a voice of a generation. It’s been two years since their debut LP, Ugly Cherries; a cathartic sophomore release is just what this uncertain world needs from the band. -M.S.
Debut album About U due Feb. 3
Lovers of M83, Chairlift or anyone inspired by a trio calling itself a “dark pop girl band,” take notice -- MUNA’s sweltering love songs are pure epiphany, and just before Valentine’s Day, they’ll release their first full-length. On early winners like “Winterbreak” and “I Know a Place,” the L.A. band breeds positivity through inclusiveness; all three members identify as queer, and their lyrics purposely eschew gendered pronouns, assuring all can project themselves into their synthpop world. All they’ve released so far indicates it’s worth diving into. -C.P.
New album due spring 2017
Sorority Noise call the dense emo underground of Philadelphia home but manage to stand out in the (potential) oversaturation: Frontman Cameron Boucher’s songwriting feels as personal as his distinctive croon. The band’s sophomore LP, 2015’s Joy, Departed, showed real introspective growth, and a new album in 2017 -- produced by Mike Sapone, the man behind Brand New’s The Devil & God Are Raging Inside Me -- should prove to write Sorority Noise into indie canon. -M.S.
Debut EP Now That the Light Is Fading due Feb. 17
Life comes at you fast. Midway through 2016, Maggie Rogers was a student at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute, presenting an unfinished song called “Alaska” to Pharrell Williams at his titular masterclass. One listen moved him so passionately that he was driven to the brink of tears, admitting, awestruck, “I’ve never heard anything that sounds like that.” The whole thing was filmed, giving Rogers a viral moment, and an eventual viral hit once the electro-folk song was formally released. Rogers explained to Williams that she grew up in rural Maryland playing the banjo and making folk music, before a trip to France taught her dance music’s universal spirituality. This marriage of beats and the natural world is evident on “Alaska” and her follow-up single “Dog Years,” both of which are set to appear on her debut EP for Capitol Records this February. A North American headlining tour (complete with a Fallon performance) follows, giving us a chance to see Rogers build off this year’s momentum. -C.P.
Debut album Infinite Worlds out Feb. 24
For those with an ear to the ground in New York City’s indie music scene, Vagabon is a name that has existed on the periphery; she posses the lyrical virtuoso of Mitski and the soft songwriting of Frankie Cosmos and yet, she’s something completely different entirely. Vagabon is the project of Cameroon-born singer Laetita Tamko, a voice that cares a real, fragile power -- when she sings, when she plays, people have the habit of listening. A debut album is sure to only draw more attention. -M.S.
Matador Records debut album expected in 2017
The 21-year old Virginian singer-songwriter made good impressions with her 2016 debut No Burden and we think she’s in for a far bigger impact in 2017. That LP came out on the VA imprint EggHunt Records and caught the ear of Matador, which signed Dacus, re-released the album, and put plans for a quick follow-up into motion. She guested on Billboard’s Alt In Our Stars podcast back in October, mused on where her balmy-voiced, introspective songwriting was headed and mysteriously asserted, “pretty much so much” of the album was complete. We’re excited to hear it and we think there’s a great chance it winds up mirroring the success of labelmate/former tourmate/fellow Virginian Will Toledo, aka Car Seat Headrest: Matador signed CSH, set the mood by re-releasing some old favorites, then unleashed one of 2016’s most critically-acclaimed rock records. On her own accord, Dacus has everything going -- the talent, the support, the crowning live show -- for a similar banner year. -C.P.
New album Powerplant out in 2017
In 2015, the teenage best friend duo of multi-instrumentalists Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad took independent rock by storm. The songs on Girlpool’s debut LP Before the World Was Big recall those of early K Records (think Riot Grrrl, Washington in the ‘90s) a certain familiar simplicity that avoids redundancy in its wise observations. They covered Fader to close out 2016 -- a rare feat for rockers these days -- and the hints they dropped about their next move are the sort that make you want to text your BFF immediately. They’ve finished recording their next album (“a full-band sound, drums and everything”) and now they’re just searching for the perfect label to deliver it. Expect further proof that art works best when made with the people you love. -M.S.?