After a 2016 overstuffed with year-round releases from such acts as Beyoncé, Drake, David Bowie, Frank Ocean, Kanye West, Rihanna, and Radiohead, are there even any artists left to expect new music from this year? The easy answer is yes, obviously: Taylor Swift, who despite being on a self-imposed hiatus, won’t likely lay low for much longer. But the better answer: Taylor Swift plus every other artist, big or small, who stayed relatively off the grid last year while the the rest of the industry fried it. Though Run the Jewels already jumped the gun and snuck in ahead of schedule, there are still plenty of albums from artists both new and familiar to get excited about in 2017.
The music industry being what it is, this list incorporates speculation, rumor, and hearsay — and despite all that, there’s a good chance that the albums we never even saw coming will make the loudest noise.
Flaming Lips, Oczy Mlody (January 13)
Surprise surprise: The new Flaming Lips album is going to be trippy as hell. Front man Wayne Coyne, whose birthday also falls on the LP’s release date, described it as sounding like A$AP Rocky and Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett getting trapped in a fairy tale together. And in this fairy tale, Oczy Mlody is a party drug that leads to bliss and orgies. The first taste of this adventure is “The Castle,” while the album’s closer, “We a Family,” features Coyne’s good pal Miley Cyrus. —Dan Reilly
The xx, I See You (January 13)
It’s been over four years since the xx released an album, but now the British trio is finally back with its third LP, I See You. They haven’t fully departed from the sparse indie-pop sounds that made them famous, but new tunes like “Say Something Loving” and the Hall and Oates–sampling “On Hold” are much more uplifting and upbeat than their older material. Before the (relative) optimism of the new year fades, we welcome the xx’s not-so-dour return. —DR
Bell Biv DeVoe, Three Stripes (January 27)
New Edition splinter group Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” is quite possibly the only song from 1990 that still got major unironic burn at parties in 2016, and the trio is aware of this lasting appeal. In the shadow of a lengthy press cycle for BET’s forthcoming three-night New Edition biopic event, a new BBD album titled Three Stripes will be released. Ronnie, Ricky, and Mike haven’t really recorded together since a 2004 New Edition reunion, and their last full length as a trio came out way back in 2001 — simpler times — but new single “Run” is solid proof they’ve evolved from teen heartthrobs into wizened, dancing uncles in style. —Craig Jenkins
Japandroids, Near to the Wild Heart of Life (January 27)
The last time we heard from Vancouver’s most rambunctious rock duo was in 2012, when they broke through with their near-perfect sophomore album, Celebration Rock. Though the years since then have been filled with music from new bands with similar sensibilities, those groups have largely served as stopgaps until Japandroids could make their triumphant return. If the band’s string of insane live shows, in which they played new material, are any indication, 2017 is going to get its ass kicked off to a sweaty, rocking start. —Samantha Rollins
Kehlani, SweetSexySavage (January 27)
Though it’s hard to say what exactly makes an album a capital-A album these days, Kehlani’s latest appears to be it. She was nominated for a Grammy for 2015’s You Should Be Here, a mixtape that once again reconsidered the format; now she’ll release her proper debut album at the top of the year. Kehlani had, to put it mildly, a difficult 2016 that involved an apparent suicide attempt, resulting in a social-media detox. Her album, which has long been in the works, will likely extend the frank discussion about mental health that Kehlani started in her music years ago. But judging from the self-assured, sex-driven songs she’s sprinkled among her new releases, it won’t all be so heavy. —Dee Lockett
P.O.S, Chill, dummy (January 27)
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