“When hell freezes over.” We say it to dismiss whatever follows the expression as something so improbable that it would surely take hell freezing over before such a thing could come to be. During the first week of this new year, Charleston — a hot, humid place of demonic proportions that you have read me bemoan about before — froze over. In less than a day, our “Holy” City was coated in five inches of white snow. It felt like a cleansing — the snow purged the ills of the last year and cleared the way for a blank slate.
These are the album releases our radio staff anticipates most this year, many of which we thought would only happen when hell freezes over. When hell freezes over, Earl Sweatshirt might finally reveal the master album containing all of the singles he has released steadily since 2015. Björk might release an enhanced version of the album that wrested us from the pessimism and helplessness that colored 2017. We’re looking forward to a few other possible releases that didn’t make the list: the legendary My Bloody Valentine, Frank Ocean and Vampire Weekend have all dropped hints that there is finally new music coming our way. Per staff member, here are some of the albums that make us excited for the new year (and should make you excited too).
Beautiful Things, What So Not – TBA
With the announcement of a massive world tour that will span 5 continents in as many months, we can only assume that Australia’s 2nd-most prized producer is on the precipice of releasing his debut album. Now more than a year removed from his impressive EP, Divide & Conquer, Emoh Instead is poised to have a big year. After watching his former collaborator, close friend, and quiet rival take home a well-deserved Grammy last year for Skin, I imagine there will be an audible chip on the shoulder of Emoh’s latest Ableton creations. Beautiful Things has the potential to be the defining electronic album of 2018, and in a genre that is so egregiously dominated by singles capable of wheedling their way into a set of CDJ’s, we can only hope that What So Not picks up where Flume left off. I’ll get back to you on this after my trip to the Orange Peel on April 25th.
—Matt Green, Outreach Coordinator
Criss-Cross/Hanover, Alvin Lucier – January 26th
These three are at the forefront of experimental music — Lucier is known for works dating back to 1969’s pivotal “I am sitting in a room,” alongside collaborations with the master himself, John Cage. Stephen O’Malley occupies the niche of doom-influenced drone metal in the monolithic band Sunn O))). Lastly, Oren Ambarchi, owner of Black Truffle Records, specializes in sonic experiments with the electric guitar and percussion.
While these works are being issued in print for the first time, live versions have circulated around the internet for a number of years. Side one features “Criss-Cross,” where two amplifiers face each other while O’Malley and Lucier play guitars at what I predict will be an earth-shattering volume. “Hanover” on side two features three electric guitars, alongside a plethora of acoustic instruments. Here Lucier continues to show a profound interest in the nature of sonic phenomena and the indeterminacy of experimenting with sound in spaces.
—Phillip Greene, Programming Director
Nova, RL Grime – TBA
Hot off the heels of a massive world tour and the release of three singles, fans anxiously await the arrival of RL Grime’s sophomore album Nova. Originally slated to be released late last year, LA producer Henry Steinway announced that the album would finally come to fruition sometime early 2018. And while there is no confirmed date as of yet, the releases of singles “Reims“and “Era“ as well as snippets of unreleased tracks from the album, prove that the godfather of trap has not lost his touch. Beautifully blending airy future bass synths and distorted ‘trap banger’ horns, Nova is shaping up to be a breath of fresh air in the oversaturated and increasingly generic EDM scene. As one of the most talked about and anticipated albums in the trap community, Nova has the potential to further cement Henry as one of the GOATs of trap. Speaking of GOATs, there are whispers of a Chief Keef/Grime collaboration, and who doesn’t want to hear that? (Love Sosa pt II anyone?)
—Drew Kennedy, Tech Director
TBA, Earl Sweatshirt – TBA
There is no guarantee that we are getting a new Earl Sweatshirt project in 2018. But it’s been three years since he released I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside: An Album by Earl Sweatshirt as well as the ten minute project entitled “Solace.” Since 2015 Earl has been dropping features and original tracks here and there on SoundCloud and YouTube.
The man’s been working, we know that much. There is no way to know that any of the tracks he has released in the past couple of years will be included on his next project, should that next project even be released this year. Though it definitely seems to be the right time for Earl to strike. Since his 2013 debut album Doris he has proven to be one of the most creative and poetic MC’s in rap today, which is especially impressive considering that he turns the ripe old age of twenty-four this year. His 2018 also began tragically with the passing of his father, South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile at age seventy-nine. Whether or not that loss will impact Earl’s creative output remains to be seen, but it really does not matter how long it takes or how he chooses to approach whatever he does next. I don’t care how long he takes so long as he’s making what he wants to make.
—Alex Peeples, General Manager
TBA, Arctic Monkeys – TBA
Be still, my high school indie-rock Tumblr heart! After 5 years, there is finally probable evidence that the Arctic Monkeys are releasing another album this year. However, of course, the band is known to be super quiet and has been teasing the album for a good two years, so this is still a “maybe.” With the announcement of a 2018 tour, the Sheffield band has sent the music news outlets into a tizzy.
What we know about the album is roughly equivalent to what we know about Alex Turner’s hair care regimen. Their discography weaves in and out of many different genres, especially their last release, making fans antsy about which Arctic Monkeys (punky or croony) we’ll be hearing from this time. During the past five years, some of the members have split off to do side projects, like Turner and Kane’s The Last Shadow Puppets, Kane’s solo albums and Turner’s work on the “Submarine” soundtrack. We can only hope these projects helped to influence the latest AM album, seeing as we have nothing else to go on.
—Emily Austin, PR Manager
TBA, Matt and Kim – TBA
The electro-pop power-couple is back. After a rough 2017, Matt and Kim have announced a new full-length album coming out sometime in 2018. In several of their video blogs, they have both talked about Kim’s injury that kept her off the stage and in a state of depression last year. There was no wild dancing or jumping on drum kits for a long time, but the two spent this recovery period writing songs as a kind of therapy. They recently released their newest single, “Forever,” which is a song cold like winter compared to their spring-like songs from their last full album, New Glow, but what the band claims to be a more genuine representation of their experience. Whereas before they sang about hoodies, selfies, and gettin’ it, now they “don’t wanna live forever if things stay like this.” Plus plenty of expletives. The duo will keep the repetitive alternative sounds of Matt’s vocals and keyboarding along with Kim’s mad drumming but this time with a little more punch and passion in the lyrics as they get 2017 off their chests.
—Margie Hussey, Flagship DJ
Twin Fantasy, Car Seat Headrest – February 16th
Since Car Seat Headrest signed to Matador Records, fans have seen the band split between two distinct eras: Will Toledo’s earlier lo-fi recordings versus the more cleaned up works of the time since the band’s record deal. With the release of Twin Fantasy on February 16th, Will is tearing down the walls between these two periods of recording with a full remake of what many fans consider to be his best work. The latest single, a remake of the jittery “Nervous Young Inhumans” transforms the song into a much stranger counterpart to its original take, adding synth patterns and a new monologue in place of the old ramblings about Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” Between this and the other lead single “Beach Life in Death,” this record is shaping up to be an intriguing transformation of an already powerful record.
—Ted Phillips, Flagship DJ
Utopia (live version), Björk – Spring 2018
“More flutes.” That’s the promise Björk gave us shortly after the release of one of the most important albums of 2017: Utopia. In an interview with Beats 1 Björk shared her plan to record a live version of Utopia, this time pushing the 12 piece Icelandic flute section’s capacity for experimentation and mystery. True to the original Utopia’s amorphous, porous soundscape — which was richly imbued with both the balminess and transcendence of nature — Björk intends for a live recording to “happen organically,” hopefully in the spring. Utopia elegantly and deliriously captured both personal and political angst, of which the latter will undoubtedly follow us into 2018. Björk’s airy and enhanced “utopia” might be just the sonic antidote the world needs.
—Bethany Fincher, Music Section Editor