Mid-January can be pretty miserable. All of the holiday reverie is officially in the rearview mirror, the weather sucks (even when it’s unseasonably warm, it still manages to be gray and rainy), there are resolutions to stick to, and if you’re observing Dry January, you can’t even drown your sorrows with a nice stiff drink. But if there’s one shred of good news, it’s the fact that we’ve officially made it through the music industry’s most barren release dates and exciting new albums are finally on the horizon.
There’s still plenty to be announced later in the year, of course, but so far Q1 is shaping up to be pretty stacked. The first few months of 2024 will feature new LPs from old favorites like Green Day and Sleater-Kinney, solo efforts from Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard and Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis and even a Talking Heads tribute album that features Paramore’s take on “Burning Down the House.”
To help you keep track of it all, we’ve rounded up our most highly anticipated releases of the year so far below. Mark your calendars accordingly.
Sleater-Kinney, Little Rope
Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker’s follow-up to 2021’s Path of Wellness is rooted in tragedy. It’s inspired — partially, at least — by the unexpected deaths of Brownstein’s mother and stepfather in late 2022. (The pair were killed in a car crash in Italy.) Brownstein naturally channeled her grief into Little Rope, using it to explore the ways we mourn and how that process transforms us. It’s heavy stuff, but it should make for an absolutely arresting record.
Green Day, Saviors
Green Day’s last few studio albums haven’t exactly been great, but 2024 should be a big year for Billie Joe Armstrong and company, and Saviors has a great chance at being a big return to form for them. This year, the band will celebrate two major milestones, marking both the 30th anniversary of their classic Dookie as well as the 20th anniversary of their George W. Bush-era rock opera American Idiot. Both of those records were co-produced by Rob Cavallo, and Saviors sees Green Day reuniting with him. That’s a good sign, right?
The Smile, Wall of Eyes
Less than two years after their debut album, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and Tom Skinner are back again as The Smile, and fans of the Radiohead-adjacent project won’t be disappointed. The epic, eight-minute “Bending Hectic” has Greenwood’s touch all over it, while other early singles like the acoustic guitar-driven title track or the piano pop of “Friend of a Friend” hint at an interesting evolution for the group.
Future Islands, People Who Aren’t There Anymore
It’s hard to believe it’s already been 10 years since “Seasons (Waiting on You)” launched Samuel T. Herring and company into the stratosphere, but somehow the Baltimore band is already on their seventh LP. They’ve been teasing People Who Aren’t There Anymore for over a year now, steadily releasing singles, but we’ve only got a few short weeks until we can finally hear the whole record.
J Mascis, What Do We Do Now
For his first solo effort since 2018, Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis enlisted the help of the B-52’s Ken Maiuri on keys and Matthew “Doc” Dunn on steel guitar. “When I’m writing for the band, I’m always trying to think of doing things Lou and Murph would fit into,” Mascis said in a statement. “For myself, I’m thinking more about what I can do with just an acoustic guitar, even for the leads. Of course, this time, I added full drums and electric leads, although the rhythm parts are still all acoustic. Usually, I try to do the solo stuff more simply so I can play it by myself, but I really wanted to add the drums. Once that started, everything else just fell into place. So it ended up sounding a lot more like a band record. I dunno why I did that exactly, but it’s just what happened.”
Brittany Howard, What Now
If the early singles “Red Flags” and the title track are to be believed, What Now will see the Alabama Shakes lead singer continuing to expand her sound beyond the soulful roots-rock she’s best known for. The follow-up to her critically acclaimed 2019 solo debut Jaime also marks her Island Records debut.
How do you follow a Grammy-nominated effort like 2021’s CRAWLER? You bring in a super-producer like Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, The Smile, Beck) and get legends like LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and Nancy Whang to contribute backing vocals. As lead singer Joe Talbot describes it in a press release, “TANGK. I needed love. So I made it. I gave love out to the world and it feels like magic. This is our album of gratitude and power. All love songs. All is love.”
Mama Zu, Quilt Floor
Fans of Those Darlins probably assumed that when frontwoman Jessi Zazu tragically passed away in 2017 at the age of 28 after a battle with cervical cancer, they’d heard the last of her and the beloved Nashville punk outfit. However, in the months before she died, Zazu and her Those Darlins bandmate Linwood Regensburg were working on a side project called Mama Zu. For years after her death, it sat on a shelf. Eventually, Regensburg decided to finish what the pair had started, and the result is Quilt Floor. “It was a way of spending time with her, and kind of the only capacity in which I could,” he said in a statement. “But then, I was also left with a lot of creative choices without her. Even though I had played most of the instruments, it had still been a totally collaborative thing; if there was a part I played that she didn’t like, she was clear about that. If someone’s gone, you can still talk to them, but you can only assume what their feedback might be. So I was stuck with a lot of musical choices that I’d be working under the context of, I hope you like what I did here.”
Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Past Is Still Alive
Written and recorded just months after the father of frontperson Alynda Segarra died, Hurray for the Riff Raff’s latest album also features contributions from Conor Oberst, S.G. Goodman, Anjimile, Hand Habits’ Meg Duffy and more. And while it’s obviously informed by grief and loss, it also covers much of Segarra’s personal story, from their decision to run away at age 17, hitch-hiking and riding trains cross-country to confronting friends over their substance abuse issues in New York City. (Segarra is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.) And if lead single “Alibi” is any indication of what we’re in for, it’ll be among their best work to date.
The Libertines, All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade
This year will mark the 20th anniversary of when The Libertines put out their excellent, self-titled sophomore album — a touchstone of the early-aughts garage rock revival or what the kids these days are calling “indie sleaze” — and then almost immediately broke up. If you, like me, happened to be an impressionable 15-year-old at the time who decided to make liking bands like The Libertines your entire personality, you’ll remember how devastating and disappointing it was to see a great band cut down at the height of its power by substance abuse and in-fighting. There have been brief reunions in the years since, of course — including a comeback album, Anthems for a Doomed Youth, in 2015 — but they’ve been far too sporadic. All Quiet on the Eastern Esplanade feels long overdue, and we can only hope it inspires a garage rock revival…revival.
Waxahatchee, Tigers Blood
2020’s Saint Cloud was a career-best for Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield, so we’ve got high hopes for its forthcoming follow-up, Tigers Blood. The album also features contributions from Spencer Tweedy, Phil and Brad Cook and MJ Lenderman, who lends guitar and harmonies to the album’s first single, “Right Back To It.” Says Crutchfield of the track, “I wrote it backstage at Wolf Trap when I was on tour opening for Jason Isbell and Sheryl Crow. I’m really interested in writing love songs that are gritty and unromantic. I wanted to make a song about the ebb and flow of a longtime love story. I thought it might feel untraditional but a little more in alignment with my experience to write about feeling insecure or foiled in some way internally, but always finding your way back to a newness or an intimacy with the same person.”
Aaron Lee Tasjan, Stellar Evolution
Stellar Evolution is an apt title for Aaron Lee Tasjan’s fifth studio album, as it sees the Nashville singer-songwriter making the most significant sonic departure of his career this far. As you can probably tell from the Teen Wolf-inspired video for lead single “Horror of It All,” the ’80s are a big influence here — particularly synth-pop and new wave — and Tasjan uses the time-warp to delve into his experiences as a queer teen in the South, something that still feels extremely relevant in 2024. “The record became a sort of rallying cry for being who you are in a time when people literally wanna try to make it illegal to do that,” Tasjan wrote in the album’s press materials. “I felt like it was really important to let people know that they’re not alone, that we’re all in this fight together and that we see each other, and that we’re gonna do what this community always does, which is come together and have each other’s backs.”
A24 Stop Making Sense Tribute Album
Last September, A24 re-released the iconic Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense in theaters to celebrate its 40th anniversary (which, if you want to get technical about it, is actually this year), and it looks as though the independent studio is looking to keep the party going. Just this week, they teased a forthcoming tribute album. So far, not much has been announced. We don’t have a release date, or an official tracklist (though it seems safe to assume the entire Stop Making Sense setlist will be present and accounted for), or even a list of all the artists involved — just the promise of “16 tracks by 16 artists.” All we know is that the first of those tracks is Paramore covering “Burning Down the House,” and that alone is reason enough for this one to be worth your attention.
Vampire Weekend, TBA
We haven’t had a new Vampire Weekend album since pre-pandemic times, but the long wait for the follow-up to 2019’s Father of the Bride should be over sometime this year. Back in June, drummer Chris Tomson wrote in a newsletter accompanying the group’s new vinyl series that singer Ezra Koenig “took a raga singing lesson with Terry Riley in rural Japan and wrote what he considers to be 7 of his all-time top 10 best songs.” (Tomson also said the group’s forthcoming fifth LP is their best yet, describing it as “10 songs, no skips.”) We don’t have an official announcement or a release date just yet, but Vampire Weekend does already have a few high-profile gigs lined up for late spring and early summer, including Kilby Block Party in May and Primavera Sound in June, so a more extensive summer tour in support of a new record around that time doesn’t feel out of the question.
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