20 (+5) Albums You Need To Look Out For In (What’s Left Of) 2017

The second half of 2017 is looking particularly exciting – after a slew of fantastic new releases, we’ve still got plenty more to look forward to even as the year draws to a close. Below are our picks from what’s been announced so far, and several more that haven’t. Check out our playlist at the bottom of the article too, for our compilation of top singles to go with this list!

Arcade Fire Everything Now

Possibly the most anticipated release on the calendar this year, the legendary Canadian six-piece have finally announced their follow-up to 2013’s Reflektor. Following a cryptic publicity campaign (as per usual) and the announcement of their Infinite Content world tour, the final release date and artwork for Everything Now was revealed at last. The album’s first two singles indicate that Arcade Fire are adopting a more retro outlook with it – title track ‘Everything Now’ opens with tinkling ’60s disco pianos, while second single ‘Creature Comfort’ chugs along to a driving, ’80s Motorik synth beat. It looks like four long years might really be worth the wait for Everything Now.

Release date: 28 July

Queens of the Stone Age Villains

Nobody really thought that Queens of the Stone Age would put anything out this year, until a surprise livestream of new material and an equally unexpected single drop announced to the world that Josh Homme and co. have indeed been busy cooking up new material. First single ‘The Way You Used To Do’ sees a return to the band’s usual coy, slinky brand of rock’n’roll, with an extremely catchy backing riff to boot. Villains is, so far, proving to be a most welcome surprise indeed.

Release date: 25 August

Everything Everything A Fever Dream

Everything Everything’s previous album, Get To Heaven, is quite the tough act to follow because of just how good it is – but it appears that the British four-piece are keen to give it their best shot anyway. Everything Everything have always been a band unafraid to tackle current sociopolitical issues in both Britain and the rest of the world – Get To Heaven took on the riotous political lead-up to and aftermath of 2015’s general election, while 2013’s Arc took on issues of identity and self-esteem. Now, lead singer Jonathan Higgs seems all set to give us his take on uncertainty and anxiety – “Help me! I can’t do the thing you want!” he cries on the album’s first single in his trademark anguished falsetto. But if all we’re asking for is a decent follow-up to their previous achievements, Everything Everything might already have proved themselves wrong on that count.

Release date: 18 August

Alvvays Antisocialites

Canadian indie-rock band Alvvays shot to fame in 2014 when their stellar self-titled debut turned the heads of just about every major music critic, publication, and fan. Making it onto several ‘Best Of’ end-of-year lists, including much-coveted spots on those of Rolling Stone and Q Magazine, Alvvays had the world at their feet. Their sophomore effort, Antisocialites, has now materialised after a three-year wait, and looks set to take them even further. Lead single ‘In Undertow’ is a beautiful, fuzzy mess of guitars, lyrics about letting go of love, and singer Molly Rankin’s soft vocals; sounding like the lovechild of ’90s bands like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. There isn’t much more about Antisocialites to go on from, but judging by the fact that Alvvays’s US/Europe fall tour has almost completely sold out, our excitement for the release is clearly a shared thing.

Release date: 8 September

Toro y Moi Boo Boo

One of chillwave’s most beloved founding fathers is back this year with a new platter of good vibes on offer. After his two releases in 2015 (one of which was a free mixtape), Chaz Bundick is back in the game for a new album, and is in top form on new singles ‘Omaha’ and ‘Girl Like You’. The release of Boo Boo comes just in time for summer as well – and judging by Toro y Moi’s previous track record, it will be another record perfect for kicking back to and relaxing by the poolside with a cold drink in your hand.

Release date: 7 July

Sheer Mag Need To Feel Your Love

Sheer Mag may be but a small name yet, but they are rising fast, and with good reason. Having released three EPs since 2014, the Philadelphia band quickly garnered the favour of various show organisers around the US, and have made appearances at just about every big-name festival from Coachella to SXSW. Now, their debut album looks set to be received with mass acclaim. While officially considered a punk band, Sheer Mag manage to put a cheerful twist on the genre’s usual rolling riffs and biting distortion – a welcome change-up for the punk scene, and a light in the darkness of our times today.

Release date: 14 July

Dizzee Rascal Raskit

It doesn’t really come as a surprise that Dizzee Rascal is returning just in time to take on his old rival, grime legend Wiley, face-to-face this year. Their long-standing feud traces all the way back to the origins of the genre itself, and after Wiley dropped his excellent final album Godfather this year – adopting the moniker that his die-hard fans awarded him – Dizzee is ready to step up to the plate and reaffirm his equally important place in the newly-invigorated grime scene. First single ‘Space’ sees Dizzee rapping over a minimalistic drum and bass track; the antithesis to Wiley’s own trademark spacey ‘Eskibeats’. Will Dizzee unseat Wiley from his throne? That probably doesn’t matter. A more important question is – are we going to get two brilliant grime albums from the veterans on the scene? Looks like the answer is yes.

Release date: 21 July

Oh Sees (f.k.a. Thee Oh Sees) Orc

Having shortened their name to the slightly less catchy Oh Sees, San Francisco’s garage rock stalwarts Thee Oh Sees are back with an album that looks to be as weird and wonderful as last year’s A Weird Exits. What’s more, zealous frontman and songwriter John Dwyer’s insane rate of musical output (currently standing at an album a year) hardly seems to affect the quality of his work. Oh Sees’s signature toe-tappingly memorable riffs and Dwyer’s unique sneering vocals make new single ‘A Static God’ a chaotic yet insanely catchy musical journey. The name change doesn’t seem to have erased anything else about Dwyer’s pet project – their work seems set to be as enjoyable as ever.

Release date: 25 August

Grizzly Bear Painted Ruins

Grizzly Bear have taken the second-longest hiatus out of all the returning bands on this list – nothing much was heard from them after their tour of 2012’s Shields concluded, and in 2014 vocalist Daniel Rossen even went so far as to say that there was no clear plan for the band’s future. Hopes were further dashed in 2016, when it was announced that two members had moved to Los Angeles while two remained in New York; fracturing their creative process and lowering expectations for a follow-up. In April 2017, all that changed when demos of upcoming music materialised on Grizzly Bear’s Instagram account, and Painted Ruins was finally announced in May. The separation of the band members appears to have resulted in a new direction for the band, with more electronically-orientated instrumentation and a darker tone overall compared to their previous work, which stuck to the rules of the indie rock genre as if they were gospel. Painted Ruins has been a long time in the works, and from the strength of new singles ‘Three Rings’ and the brooding, excellent ‘Mourning Sound’, August really couldn’t come sooner.

Release date: 18 August

Rat Boy SCUM

Self-proclaimed “loud and annoying” singer-songwriter Jordan Cardy first burst into music in late 2015 with all the grace of a freight train slamming into a wall. His first two singles ‘Sign On’ and ‘Fake ID’ were rowdy, boisterous throwbacks to ’90s Britpop and alternative rock; repurposed for the youth of today with lyrics about slacking off and misunderstandings with the older generation that struck a chord with just about every adolescent in Britain and gained him the support legendary British musicians like Drew McConnell of Babyshambles and Damon Albarn of Blur. His record label then sat on his stock for a while as his popularity steadily increased, and he went on tour after tour and released single after single. But after nearly two whole years since his arrival on the scene, his hotly-anticipated debut Scum (another self-given nickname) is ready at last. Guitar music may be dead, but the same can’t be said about the enthusiasm behind it, especially not when it comes to Rat Boy.

Release date: 11 August

The National Sleep Well Beast

The National’s members have been hard at work. Their last album as The National, the Grammy-nominated Trouble Will Find Me, was released in 2013, followed by a slew of singles and a documentary about the band themselves. Its individual members have each been tinkering away at their own side projects, including guitarist Bryce Dessner’s fantastic collaboration on concept album Planetarium, which made our Best of 2017 (So Far) list. With the announcement of first single ‘The System Only Dreams In Darkness’ – an initially gentle choral affair that evolves into a full stadium-ready, bittersweet chorus – it looks like The National are raring to return to their roots once more on Sleep Well Beast. With a worldwide tour already in the works, neither does it look like they’re going to hold back on this album.

Release date: 8 September

Wolf Alice Visions Of A Life

Not many bands can boast of the same rapid rise to fame that Wolf Alice enjoyed. Even when they were releasing their first few EPs, there was a buzz surrounding them like no other, with hordes of devoted fans struggling to get tickets to their rapidly sold out concerts. Their debut album My Love Is Cool later rocketed to #2 on the UK albums chart and made it onto several end-of-year Best Album lists, and in 2016 acclaimed director Michael Winterbottom made a documentary about them. In 2017, Wolf Alice are now back and living up to their snarling namesake – the first single from their new album, ‘Yuk Foo’ (swap the first letter of each word around and see what you get), is a guttural, vitriolic ’80s riot grrl pastiche, which takes no prisoners and pulls no punches. If the rest of the album is anything like this, there’s no telling how high Wolf Alice’s star will indeed continue to rise.

Release date: 29 September

The War On Drugs A Deeper Understanding

One of America’s most non-Google-friendly bands, The War On Drugs were always criminally underrated until their 2014 album Lost In The Dream shot them to new heights of fame. Although still not as famous as founding member Kurt Vile and his solo career, Adam Granduciel and his indie rock crew are still in the game and doing what they do best; creating dreamy soundscapes or vibrant poppish hits that are reminiscent of Phil Collins in his best days. ‘Holding On’, the second single from their fourth studio effort A Deeper Understanding, boasts all the hallmarks of the band’s previous hit single ‘Red Eyes’, but where the latter focused on Granduciel’s depression and anxiety, ‘Holding On’ is that glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, by extension, A Deeper Understanding is the manifestation of Granduciel conquering his demons at last. Either way, we’re sure this album will still be no less than triumphant.

Release date: 25 August

Calvin Harris Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1

You can’t turn on the radio nowadays without hearing at least two Calvin Harris songs in an hour. Neither would this be a real list of hotly anticipated albums in 2017 without the infamous Scottish DJ making an appearance. Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 diverts from Harris’s previous focus on EDM, harking back to the disco and funk influences on his debut masterpiece I Created Disco while keeping it radio-friendly for the party hordes in Ibiza. In addition to this, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 has a whole host of star-studded guest features (as per normal with Harris), including the likes of Frank Ocean, Snoop Dogg, Katy Perry, Young Thug, and ScHoolboy Q. It’s not really summer without a Calvin Harris song playing in the background, is it?

Release date: 30 June

Japanese Breakfast Soft Sounds From Another Planet

In the wake of her mother’s cancer diagnosis, Michelle Zauner took a break from being frontwoman of American emo band Little Big League and instead pushed herself in a new creative direction. Reinventing herself as Japanese Breakfast (in what she calls a juxtaposition of Asian exoticism and American culture), Zauner now makes lo-fi music, and produced her debut album Psychopomp last year. Without taking much of a breather, her sophomore offering Soft Sounds From Another Planet sees her pushing her own boundaries – first single ‘Machinist’ is eclectic experimental electronic music at its best, trumpets and all; while second single ‘Boyish’ is a slice of chill indie guitar pop that would put Washed Out to shame.

Release date: 14 July

Declan McKenna What Do You Think About The Car?

The world was first introduced to Declan McKenna when he was only sixteen years old, and won the extremely coveted first prize at Glastonbury Festival‘s Emerging Talent Competition in 2015. Already writing mature, politically-charged music back then, the now eighteen-year-old has a huge fanbase consisting of both adolescents and adult indie rock fans, and is producing music that defies the older generation’s perception of millennials as young, dumb and inept. Serving up shrewd observations on politics and generational relations wrapped in summery, alternative rock grooves, the young singer-songwriter is definitely still one to watch out for even after all this time.

Release date: 21 July

Childhood Universal High

Childhood were last seen in 2014 with their first album Lacuna, which brought to mind lazy days and endless sunshine – a far cry from the band’s hometown in London. After a personnel change and three years off, the band seem intent on keeping to the ethereal vibe that defined their sound, on their next album Universal High. The name and album artwork give a lot away, particularly when considering the album’s first single ‘Californian Light’ – the psychedelic, reverb-drenched guitars are still present, and singer Ben Romans-Hopcraft deploys his smooth falsetto with extra gusto on the song’s gloriously funky chorus. Universal High won’t exactly be Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, but seems to be shaping up as alternative music’s answer to the mainstream’s re-embracement of funk and soul.

Release date: 21 July

Public Service Broadcasting Every Valley

The concept album is becoming more and more popular within alternative rock, but art-rock oddballs Public Service Broadcasting are hardly new on the scene. Their first two albums, Inform-Educate-Entertain and The Race For Space, were lushly orchestrated musical journeys through the growth of technology and modern history, punctuated by the use of speech samples from radio broadcasts and speeches from the era covered instead of vocals. Every Valley follows suit with a musical history of the Welsh mining industry, as a tribute to what guitarist J. Willgoose Esq. calls a “story of industrial decline” and a tribute to “abandoned and neglected communities across the Western world.” The band have also stated that Every Valley attempts to be “on a more human level” than their previous, far-reaching concepts – with the band’s unique brand of accompanying historic audio samples with music instead of twisting a concept to fit themselves, they look all set to succeed.

Release date: 7 July

Foster The People Sacred Hearts Club

Perhaps the hottest band in pop circa 2011, Foster the People are often referred to as one-hit wonders by those who didn’t click with the band’s second album, Supermodel. But the band’s recent EP III, which previews the tracks off upcoming record Sacred Hearts Club, indicates that such people might be proved wrong very soon. Sacred Hearts Club takes Foster the People onto a different musical track from their debut Torches as well as Supermodel – just like most bands in the mainstream are currently doing, they have adopted strains of different genres and put their own personal tweaks on it. ‘Pay The Man’ sounds almost like the work of hip hop artists like M.I.A. smashed into a smooth, radio-ready chorus, while ‘SHC’ opens with a guitar trill copped straight from The Strokes’ 2002 catalogue and quickly morphs into a smooth pop-rock-EDM hybrid that is strangely satisfying to listen to. “We’re not doing it for the money,” claims singer Mark Foster on ‘Doing It For The Money’. Well, whatever they’re doing it for, they seem to be doing pretty well on that count.

Release date: 21 July

LCD Soundsystem American Dream

According to LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy, most posts on any LCD Soundsystem social media outlet between the band’s reunion in late 2015 and now all went along the lines of, “Where the fuck is the RECORD, James?!” Those eager fans will be happy to know that the record is indeed ready and waiting for its vinyl pressings. American Dream incorporates the recent double A-side singles ‘Call The Police’ and ‘American Dream’ into a full ten-track LP, which may not exactly sound like ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’, but is still set to be one of the year’s most ambitious albums.

Release date: 1 September

Honourable mentions:

George Ezra

George Ezra’s runaway hit single ‘Budapest’ smashed into the top spot of charts all over the world in 2014, garnering the twenty-one-year-old country boy success beyond his wildest dreams. After a break from the limelight and a brief period spent supporting his younger brother’s burgeoning music career, the singer-songwriter has returned with summer single ‘Don’t Matter Now’. Written about simpler times when “the most we had to worry about was whether David Cameron had a sleepover with a pig,” the song chronicles Ezra’s own battles with anxiety in a get-well-soon, carefree anthem for the summer. No new album has been announced as of yet, but with Ezra already having completed one small tour and another one possibly coming up, we’re hoping that the second half of 2017 sees him deliver some bluesy goodness straight to our ears again.

The Killers

The Killers, technically, have announced a new album, titled Wonderful Wonderful, but no release date has been set for the album just yet. Turning away from the indie pop inflections that their previous two albums took, Brandon Flowers and his crew are now veering towards ’70s glam rock and disco bops, with new single ‘The Man’ sounding like it was tailor-made for a light-up dancefloor and to be played right after David Bowie or The Bee Gees. New direction, same old danceability… The Killers are all set to take 2017 – that is, if they even drop their album this year.

Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett

Close friend and collaborator Adam Granduciel is gearing up to release his own album, listed above, but Kurt Vile seems in no hurry to rival his old friend and colleague. Teaming up with Australian lo-fi songwriting powerhouse Courtney Barnett, the two recorded a collaborative album over the course of eight days, and have just announced a world tour together later this year. Both songwriters are famous for making shrewd, thoughtful music, and both of them have made their own unique blend of classic rock and folk music. Even their live lineup on their upcoming tour is destined for greatness, listing members of Sleater-Kinney, Warpaint, and with support from Barnett’s wife Jen Cloher. No actual album details have been revealed yet, but the combination is undoubtedly one that works even on paper, and it clearly isn’t just because they’re called Kurt and Courtney.

The Horrors

It’s always hard to shoehorn The Horrors into one genre, simply because the British band are always reinventing their sound. After a particularly lengthy break from music – during which drummer Joe Spurgeon got married, and frontman Faris Badwan went on to collaborate with electronic outfit Hercules & Love Affair – the band have dropped ‘Machine’, another change in their sound reminiscent of a darker, more guttural version of industrial post-punk. Teasers for the single indicated that more than just one new song was incoming, and coming fresh off a tour with Depeche Mode must certainly have provided the five-piece with inspiration. Here’s to hoping that our hunch proves true.

Sky Ferreira

The Internet almost exploded earlier in April when Sky Ferreira began posting demo after demo of previously unheard music on her Instagram story. It has not been confirmed if these snippets were old unused material, or sneak peeks at her new sound, but a track titled ‘Bittersweet Devotion’ and another unnamed collaboration with The Jesus & Mary Chain sounds likely to be the foundations of a new album. After touring 2013’s Night Time, My Time, Ferreira had hinted that its follow-up would be called Masochism, and would be produced by legendary pop producer Ariel Rechtshaid, as well as Rahki (whose producer credits include Kendrick Lamar) and Primal Scream. The album is expected to drop sometime in summer or fall, but no release date has been announced officially. We’re hoping the sources are right on this one, though – we can’t wait for much longer!

The first half of 2017 had plenty of equally exciting releases – click here to read our take on the best albums of 2017 so far. Or, click here for more music recommendations.

Did we miss anything important? Let us know in the comments section below.