By now, you’re probably sick of reading lists that rank things from 2015. But — follow us here — what if we told you we had the first great list of things to expect from next year? Behold, 10 alt albums due next year that have us really excited. — although there’s no guarantee all of these musical projects will drop in 2016.
New album Matter due Jan. 29
The 2013 debut album from South African synth master Jean-Philip Grobler had some bangers: the pummeling, titanic “September” and the entrancing “All Eyes On You,” which might subconsciously have you craving cool ranch Doritos locos tacos. Their sophomore album is a case of going from good to great. The chorus of “Physical” is like “Midnight City” and “Call Me Maybe” colliding in an echo chamber of millennial positivity. You are going to like this.
New album Music For Listening to Music To due March 4
For now, a lot of people know La Sera front woman Katy Goodman as Kickball Katy from Vivian Girls. But we think that’s about to change, as her new album is primed to welcome hordes of new fans. That’s because she’s been steadily getting better on her own since 2011’s self-titled debut, and this LP, her fourth to date, comes out via Polyvinyl, her biggest label home yet. Like guitar licks? Goodman and bandmate/husband Todd Wisenbaker have plenty. Like guitar licks that sound good? Ryan Adams produced it and he knows a good guitar tone when he hears one.
New album expected in 2016
Toronto pop-punks Pup released their self-titled debut album in 2014. That LP showcased a band with a killer knack for mixing unhinged cacophony with satisfying hooks, though they’re best consumed through their live show, where the former wins out. We’re excited to see what they do in the studio for their second album, expected some time in 2016.
New album Life of Pause due Feb. 19
Back when Wild Nothing started, it sounded like a love letter to ‘80s college rock. And that’s no diss — in the early 2010s, blogs were overflowing with the like, but Wild Nothing’s early work (along with many of their label mates on Captured Tracks) were at the top of the jangly, hazy heap. Jack Tatum’s third LP as Wild Nothing finds the project at its lushest, with guests like Peter Bjorn & John’s John Eriksson and Medicine’s Brad Laner adding to the earbud buffet. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Tatum confessed bass guitar is his favorite instrument to play, though Life of Pause proves what a master he and his collaborators are at building above the backbone.
New album Moth due Jan. 2016
Chairlift has come a long, long way since the electro-twee schmaltz of “Bruises,” the single that got the duo (then trio) their first national exposure with an iPod commercial, back when those were a thing. Their third album is an incandescent treasure, a potpourri of electropop wizardry and the sort of futuristic R&B that suggests R&B is open to a lot of cross-genre alchemy in the years to come. The face of it all is frontwoman Caroline Polachek. “She wakes up every morning and throws the curtains wide with the full view of the sunrise of her talent,” Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves gushed on a recent episode of our Alt In Our Stars podcast. Get inspired.
New music expected in 2016
Like La Sera, Mitski’s not new, but her music has been steadily gaining a larger audience in recent years, and she’s primed to reach a lot of new ears in 2016. Her 2014 album Bury Me at Makeout Creek was reissued by Don Giovanni Records last year, and its empowering, first person narratives are likely to strike a raw nerve and drive you to thinking about a part of your past you’d prefer to forget, only to realize you learned a great deal from it. She’s also great on Twitter. “I always want to make it clear that I am a real person with real life and real thoughts,” Mitski told Billboard in a 2015 interview. Watching her slip into that feeling in a live performance is the sort of magic that’ll make a large portion of the crowd want to go out and form their own bands. For 2016, she’s with a much larger indie label (Dead Oceans), so expect the amount of inspired ears to increase.
The Dirty Nil
Debut album Higher Power due Feb. 26
If you’re into rowdy punk that’s not too cool to pull some tricks from rock ’n roll, check these Canadians out. Their debut full length is due in February on Dine Alone Records, and its lead track “No Weaknesses” (up above) is a solid rallying cry for underdogs taking on the new year. The album was mixed by punk veteran John Goodmanson, who has produced Sleater-Kinney, as well as newer bands we love like Potty Mouth, so if this is your thing, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be on board.
New self-titled album due Feb. 12
Here’s a break from all the punk and alt-pop on this list — the Suffers are a 10-piece soul band from Houston, who will hopefully provide a similar breath of fresh air for the alternative music world in the new year. Listen to the song above think about hearing it performed live at an outdoor music festival this June surrounded by beautiful people as the sun’s going down.
New album due Spring 2016
Big Ups are four college friends who’ve collectively forged a lucrative career in their field of study. Sort of. The former NYU music students have been doing Big Ups since 2010, and in early 2015, they’ll release their second full length of half-sung, half-spoken post-punk paranoia punctuated by massive shout-along refrains. So yeah, they’re kind of angry about consumer culture (as you’ll hear in the song above) but once you hear that bass line barreling through the intro, you’ll be ready to go.
New album Dear Tommy possible for 2016
Will 2016 be the year we get a new Chromatics record? Bandleader Johnny Jewel announced a new LP for 2015 in late 2014, and though we’ve gotten a tracklist some new songs since, the Portland band has yet to follow up its 2012 nocturnal tour de force Kill For Love. We could all use a new soundtrack for existential 2 a.m. car rides, but there’s no sense in rushing another Chromatics classic. For now, enjoy the confirmed Dear Tommy track up above, and down below, their stunning cover of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”