It’s a bit of a challenge compiling this list every year, since music release schedules aren’t nearly as planned out in advance as movie release schedules are. Then again, most of the music that Opus focuses on tends to fly under the radar, anyway, so difficulty in finding solid release dates goes with the territory. (Which makes me think I should post a follow-up list of anticipated albums later this year for 2019’s second half.)
Some of these albums are from artists returning after long absences; others are building on top of successes experienced in the last year or so. In any case, they’re all albums I can’t wait to hear upon their release in 2019.
Last year, David Bazen re-launched his Pedro the Lion for a series of reunion shows, and debuted some new material. The result of that endeavor is Phoenix, the first Pedro the Lion album since 2004’s Achilles Heel, which finds Bazan joining forces with Erik Walters (guitar, backing vocals) and Sean Lane (drums). Release Date: January 18
Toro y Moi’s new album is being described as a more upbeat affair than previous releases, and features collaborations with R&B singer ABRA, producer Instupendo, and the Brooklyn-based Wet. “Upbeat” certainly describes the album’s first single, “Freelance,” with its smooth rhythms. Release Date: January 18
The Twilight Sad’s It Won/t Be Like This All the Time is the band’s first album since signing to Mogwai’s Rock Action Records. While the band has become famous for their louder-than-loud wall of noise approach, the new album promises to be more melodic. Release Date: January 18
For two decades now, Japan’s Mono have released album after album of stirring, thundering, heart-wrenching post-rock. Nowhere Now Here finds the band recording with a new drummer (The Phantom Family Halo’s Dahm Majuri Cipolla), adding vocals courtesy of bassist Tamaki, and incorporating some electronics into their sound. Release Date: January 25
Shoegaze legends Swervedriver returned in 2015 with the solid I Wasn’t Born to Lose You, their first album in nearly two decades. Their next album, Future Ruins, will be released via Dangerbird. First single “Mary Winter” is just as fiery and aggressive as their “classic” material, which is a good sign. Release Date: January 25
In addition to featuring new material, the piano-based Nocturne will contain new arrangements of some of Vangelis’ most well-known compositions, including songs from his soundtracks for Blade Runner, Chariots of Fire, and 1492: Conquest of Paradise. Release Date: January 25
Murder! will be Bethany Curve’s sixth album, and their first in 14 years. The album’s first two singles were pretty solid shoegazing/dreampop fare, proof that good things can come to those who wait. Release Date: January 2019
Rustin Man is the project of Paul Webb, former bassist of the legendary Talk Talk. Rustin Man’s last album was 2002’s Out of Season, a collaboration with Portishead’s Beth Gibbons. For Drift Code, Webb is joined by his former Talk Talk cohort, drummer Lee Harris. Release Date: February 1
Thanks to Hüsker Dü, Sugar, and his own solo material, Bob Mould has become one of alternative rock’s elder statesmen. Sunshine Rock will be his 13th solo album, and reflects Mould’s more optimistic mindset following his move to Berlin. He’s also described it as an attempt to make a “great rock album,” so expect one glorious riff after another. Release Date: February 8
Back in the early ’00s, Ladytron were often lumped in with the rest of the electroclash scene despite their protests. But here we are in 2018; electroclash has faded away and Ladytron are releasing a new album. The group has launched a Pledgemusic campaign to help fund Ladytron, their first album in seven years. Release Date: February 15
Gang of Four’s Happy Now has been described as “the classic Go4 sound with a modern slant,” with the band incorporating modern electronic sounds into their seminal post-punk sound. Prior to the album’s release, the band will go on a short U.S. tour. Release Date: March 1
The Faint’s Egowerk is inspired, in part, by the growing influence of social media in our lives. Musically, it’s still in line with classic Faint material, with throbbing dance rhythms and cooler-than-cool synth lines. Release Date: March 15
For their third self-titled album, American Football expand their already dreamy sound with shoegazer influences. The first single, “Silhouettes,” is a lovely, extended piece of elegant guitar melodies and wistful vocals — everything you could want from the group. Release Date: March 22
None of the following artists have announced titles or official release dates for new music, but based on what they’ve said in interviews, etc., there’s a good chance they’ll be releasing something in 2019.
Earlier this month, The Cure’s Robert Smith revealed that the band were not only putting the finishing touches on their first album in a decade, but were also planning a number of festival performances. (Oh, and they’re getting inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.) The band has debuted some promising new material in recent years, which bodes well for the new, still-untitled album.
Last month, Grimes released a new song titled “We Appreciate Power” which, in the guise of catchy electro-pop, was an ode to the artificial intelligence that will eventually rule our world. Grimes was originally going to release an album this year, but experienced setbacks including problems with her label, 4AD. So maybe now the robots can come to her aid and help her release a new album in 2019.
Haloed’s debut release was a haunting re-imagining of Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack. Since then, the L.A.-based producer has released a similar re-imagining of The KLF’s classic Chill Out album, but I’m eagerly awaiting an album of original material, which has been promised in early 2019.
Michelle Zauner’s Japanese Breakfast has been on a roll, releasing two critically acclaimed albums — 2017’s Soft Sounds from Another Planet and 2016’s Psychopomp — within the last few years. Her next project won’t be an album per se, but rather, a soundtrack for an indie game titled Sable, which has already received attention for its distinctive artwork and design.
M83’s last album, 2016’s Junk, was, well, kind of rubbish — especially when compared to the heights of 2011’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. But nobody does emotional, anthemic space-rock like Anthony Gonzalez, so I’m always ready to hear something new from the man. And back in September, Gonzalez announced on Instagram that M83 will be releasing a new album “soon.”
At this point, it’s become a running joke as to when My Bloody Valentine will ever release another album. Back in 2017, Kevin Shields said there was a one hundred percent chance of a new My Bloody Valentine album dropping in 2018 — which obviously never happened. Surprise, surprise. The good news is that Shields et al. do at least have some new material; they debuted a new song earlier this year.
When Prince died in 2016, he left behind a treasure trove of unreleased material. But at least some of this material will see the light of day in 2019. Though no release date has been announced, devoted Prince fans will be able to stream the new album two weeks early — provided they’ve signed up for Jay-Z’s Tidal streaming service.
Earlier this year, dreampop duo Pure Bathing Culture released a cover version of the classic Blue Nile album, Hats. They also signed to the Infinite Companion label, which bodes well for a release of new (original) material in the not-too-distant future — something the band emphasized in a recent tweet.
Earlier this year, Tears For Fears — yes, that Tears For Fears — said they’d be releasing an album some time in 2018. Said album never materialized, so maybe we’ll see it in 2019? In the meantime, the band will be touring pretty steadily throughout the new year.
Michael J. Pritzl and the rest of the Violets have been hard at work in recent years. The result of their efforts is the possibility of not one, not two, but three new albums in the coming months. As a bonus, those who pre-order the new albums will also get three new EPs.