Though streaming and music downloading services might want you to believe otherwise, the album is not dead. Artists are still compiling song collections meant for full consumption by listeners. Here are seven upcoming releases that deserve attention.
Tell Me How You Really Feel — May 18
Courtney Barnett returns with her second full-length album, delivering a collection of songs that continues the Australian singer-songwriter’s lyrical mastery of life’s internal and external anxieties, with an extra dose of back-handed charm. Tell Me How You Really Feel’s first single, “Nameless, Faceless,” is a witty dismantling of male-dominated comment sections with lyrics that muse,
“You sit alone at home in the darkness / With all the pent-up rage that you harness / I’m real sorry / ‘bout whatever happened to you,”
with a charging refrain that laments (Margaret Atwood-style)
“I wanna walk through the park in the dark / Men are scared that women will laugh at them / I wanna walk through the park in the dark / Women are scared that men will kill them / I hold my keys/Between my fingers.”
It’s all supported by Barnett’s filthy riff-work and a driving rhythm section.
Father John Misty
God’s Favorite Customer — June 1
Josh Tillman’s alter-ego is back with a follow-up to last year’s sprawling and ambitious Pure Comedy with God’s Favorite Customer, an album that at first blush seems to deliver more personal and self-aware lyrics with straightforward, meaningful instrumentation. The first single, “Mr. Tillman” guides the listener through the singer’s personal paranoia of a life that finds him constantly checking in and out of hotels, all atop a dreamlike musical arrangement.
The second release, “Just Dumb Enough To Try,” finds Tillman at his most sincere, as he examines a relationship that is either ending or just beginning, with lyrics that confess,
“I know a few ten-cent words / I can break out to keep up with her / But you can take what I know about love / And drown it in the sink,”
while the underlying piano work keeps the song heartfelt and genuine.
Hell-On — June 1
Neko Case’s first solo effort in five years has the fearless singer-songwriter displaying her indomitable spirit with an album that continues her knack for making the listener feel like it was written precisely for them at this specific moment in time. Hell-On’s title track is an ominous, slow-burning lullaby, with off-kilter guitar plucking, deeply foreboding strings and a lyrical assault that begins,
“God is not a contract or a guy / God is an unspecified tide / You cannot time its tables / It sets no glass or gables / God is a lusty tire fire.”
The song, much like Case’s career, effortlessly switches mood to breezy country tune before returning to the darkness. The song certainly sets the tone for the rest of the album, warning the listener that deceptively simple arrangements often hide perilous secrets waiting to be revealed.
As Long As I Have You — June 1
On top of releasing his long-awaited memoir and teaming up with local orchestras as part of a tour where he’ll be performing his band’s 1969 opus Tommy in its entirety, Roger Daltrey returns with his first solo album in more than a quarter century. Pete Townshend lends his guitar skills to seven of the album’s 11 cuts, which mix originals and notable covers of Stephen Stills (“How Far”), Nick Cave (“Into My Arms”), Stevie Wonder (“You Haven’t Done Nothing”) and storied R&B singer Garnett Mimms (the title cut).
According to Daltrey, “This is a return to the very beginning, to the time before Pete started writing our songs, to a time when we were a teenage band playing soul music to small crowds in church halls.”
Liberation — June 15
It may have been six years since Christina Aguilera released her last album, 2012’s Lotus, but she’s remained busy. In between jumping in and out as a judge on The Voice, Aguilera kept her creative juices flowing with acting roles and recording the odd track. Liberation will be Xtina’s eighth studio album and the first single “Accelerate” features rappers Ty Dolla $ign and 2 Chainz.
Other collaborators include Demi Lovato, Kanye West and multi-instrumentalist Anderson Paak. While Aguilera is being coy about just how the album will sound, she did say in a recent interview that “I’m at the place, even musically, where it’s a liberating feeling to be able to strip it all back and appreciate who you are and your raw beauty.”
Nine Inch Nails
Bad Witch — June 22
What was supposed to be the third of a trio of EPs following 2016’s Not the Actual Events and last year’s Add Violence evolved into what will be Nine Inch Nails’ ninth studio album and its first full-length outing since 2013’s Hesitation Marks.
With NIN creative mastermind Trent Reznor turning his group into a duo alongside musical collaborator Atticus Ross (who became an official member of the band in 2016 and teamed up with Reznor to win a 2011 Oscar for Best Score for the Social Network), fans should be pleased according to Reznor, who addressed the decision to make this a full-blown recording by saying, “The reason this has been delayed is because it took us a while for—what has become the third [record]—to reveal itself to us.”
Scorpion — June 28
Within the past year, Drake has released More Life, which served as more of a mix tape, featuring genres like hip hop, R&B and pop, and Scary Hours, a two-song EP featuring his chart-topping song “God’s Plan,” which held the number one spot on the Hot 100 for 11 weeks. The Canadian rapper is set to release his first full-length album since his 2016 album Views.
The album, titled Scorpion, is believed to make reference to the rapper’s zodiac sign and will be produced by his longtime producer 40 and OVO manager Olivier El-Khatib. Possibly featured on the album could be his latest song “Nice for What,” which was produced by Murda Beatz. Known for sure about the album is that the artist has teased a possible documentary or short film to coincide with the album’s release.
—Complied by Christina Claus, Dave Gil de Rubio and Steve Mosco