Drake, Rhye, and 17 more albums we can’t wait to hear in January

Drake, Rhye, and 17 more albums we can’t wait to hear in January

From left: Alex Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Photo: Ian Shiver), Drake (Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella), Mike Milosh of Rhye (Photo: Emma Marie Jenkinson)
From left: Alex Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Photo: Ian Shiver), Drake (Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella), Mike Milosh of Rhye (Photo: Emma Marie Jenkinson)
Graphic: Libby McGuire

New year, new you: Whether you’ve adopted some resolutions for 2021 or are just trying to keep it together until we can all get vaccinated, there’s a burst of new releases coming in January to help pave the way for what has got to be a better year than the last one, right? (Knock on fucking wood, ad infinitum, of course.) No matter whether your tastes lean more folksy indie or grimy rap, the coming month has some records that should sound right at home in your collection—digital or otherwise. Here’s the music we’re most looking forward to over the course of these 31 days.

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Drake, Certified Lover Boy [January TBD]

Drake, Certified Lover Boy [January TBD]

Drake’s been teasing the release of Certified Lover Boy for a while now, starting with the release of single “Laugh Now Cry Later” back in August of his already-busy 2020, but the long-in-the-making album is finally seeing the light of day this month. The rapper has compared it to 2016’s Views, mentioning on Instagram that he thinks this one will be similarly criticized initially (“they hated on views just like they will CLB but it’s music to evolve to”); fingers crossed that it’s as good as his many collabs from 2020 would promise. [Alex McLevy]

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The Dirty Nil, Fuck Art [January 1]

The Dirty Nil, Fuck Art [January 1]

If music’s been a touch too cute for you lately, rest assured that Juno-winning Canadian rockers The Dirty Nil will be ringing in the New Year with their amp-combusting blend of punk, thrash, and hardcore. Sure, they might be “Done With Drugs,” but, as singer Luke Bentham makes explicitly clear on “Doom Boy,” Fuck Art finds them as ready to rage as ever. Expect loud guitars, hails to Satan, shredded throats, and choruses catchy enough to win over the Swifties in your life. [Randall Colburn]

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Steve Earle & The Dukes, J.T. [January 4]

Steve Earle & The Dukes, J.T. [January 4]

The new record from Steve Earle & The Dukes sounds like an intensely personal affair: J.T. is collection of songs written by the veteran singer-songwriter’s eldest son, Justin Townes Earle, who died in August 2020 and was a prolific and beloved musician in his own right. The record includes popular compositions from the younger Earle like “Harlem River Blues,” making this a celebration of a life cut short far too soon. [Alex McLevy]

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Barry Gibb, Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers Songbook, Vol. 1 [January 8]

Barry Gibb, Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers Songbook, Vol. 1 [January 8]

Sole surviving Bee Gee Barry Gibb is building off of the momentum of HBO’s must-watch documentary How Can You Mend A Broken Heart with the release of Greenfields. Gibb headed to the historic RCA Studios’ Studio B in Nashville to record, letting some of country’s biggest stars select what songs they wanted to cover from The Bee Gees’ decades-long legacy, resulting in Gibb duets with Dolly Parton (“Words”), Jason Isbell (“Words Of A Fool”), Sheryl Crow (“How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”), and more. [Gwen Ihnat]

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Passenger, Songs For The Drunk And Broken Hearted [January 8]

Passenger, Songs For The Drunk And Broken Hearted [January 8]

Like the title indicates, this is a Passenger record aimed squarely at those trying to pretend it isn’t last call, or the ones staring out their windows late at night wondering if it will get better. With a new collection of elegiac folk-rock written in the wake of singer-songwriter Mike Rosenberg’s own breakup, those suffering heartache can take solace knowing he’s right there with them. [Alex McLevy]

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Viagra Boys, Welfare Jazz [January 8]

Viagra Boys, Welfare Jazz [January 8]

There’s a great joke at the heart of Sweden’s Viagra Boys, one made all the better by the group’s firm refusal to acknowledge it. Their thumping electronic post-punk lampoons the worst sort of folks, often with a sneering hypermasculine bent—but happily, it’s also catchy as hell. If the new record can match the excellent over-the-top satire of 2018’s Street Worms, it’ll be another must-hear. [Alex McLevy]

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Wax Tailor, The Shadow Of Their Suns [January 8]

Wax Tailor, The Shadow Of Their Suns [January 8]

The long-running French orchestral trip hop/hip-hop maestro Wax Tailor releases his sixth studio album this year, once again collaborating with a fascinating array of talent to craft his assortment of boom-bap and old-school grooves, including Del The Funky Homosapien, Mark Lanegan, D. Smoke, and more. Judging from the sound of singles like “Misery,” there’s more than a hint of timeliness to this release. [Alex McLevy]

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Fickle Friends, Weird Years (Season 1) [January 15]

Fickle Friends, Weird Years (Season 1) [January 15]

When lockdown hit, Fickle Friends found themselves rethinking the album they had planned to release, wondering what might better suit this new reality. Enter Weird Years (Season 1), an EP of (reworked) new material meant to serve as the first installment of a larger project. While fans will still recognize the group’s burbling, pulsating grooves, there’s a throwback to old-school synth-pop here, a retro sheen that provides a comforting element of musical assurance, even as Natti Shiner’s vocals provide the ironic refrain to their new single: “What a time to be alive.” [Alex McLevy]

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shame, Drunk Tank Pink [January 15]

shame, Drunk Tank Pink [January 15]

A range of new influences, from classic Chicago-style post-rock to ’70s space rock, is running through the sophomore album from raucous South London post-punkers shame. There’s still plenty of squalling guitars, but sounds reminiscent of Slint and Jesus Lizard (not to mention some Gang Of Four grooves) reverberate throughout, an impressive leveling up of the group’s fiery songcraft that suggests Drunk Tank Pink could be one of 2021’s great British rock albums. [Alex McLevy]

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Sleaford Mods, Spare Ribs [January 15]

Sleaford Mods, Spare Ribs [January 15]

Sleaford Mods’ blend of taut post-punk guitars, sharp drum-machine beats, and electronic bleeps and bloops brings to mind a specific moment in indie-rock history. It was an era of warehouse parties and too-small jean jackets, The Streets and LCD Soundsystem. This British duo came around a little later—Sleaford Mods was founded in 2007—but the cheeky, minimalist sensibility and impassioned politics of its latest album, Spare Ribs, keeps the gritty urban electro-punk of the early ’00s alive. [Katie Rife]

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Erick The Architect, Future Proof [January 22]

Erick The Architect, Future Proof [January 22]

The Flatbush Zombies co-founder and producer is releasing his debut solo record with Future Proof, a five-track EP that not only showcases his talents behind the board (he produced James Blake’s recent EP) but returns him to the mic for his signature thoughtful lyrical explorations. The single “Let It Go” (with British rapper Loyle Carner and transatlantic electronic duo FARR) is any indication, there’s a deep well of soulful introspection running through this release. [Alex McLevy]

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Kiwi Jr., Cooler Returns [January 22]

Kiwi Jr., Cooler Returns [January 22]

Kiwi Jr. songs unfold like the aisles of a cluttered curio shop, their retro-rock melodies overflowing with non sequiturs and hyper-specific scraps of story. As on their 2019 debut, songs like “Cooler Returns” and “Undecided Voters” owe a massive debt to Pavement, but the personality (and humor) songwriter Jeremy Gaudet brings to these tracks distinguishes Kiwi Jr. in the crowded slacker rock scene. [Randall Colburn]

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Lande Hekt, Going To Hell [January 22]

Lande Hekt, Going To Hell [January 22]

Fans of Lande Hekt’s ebullient pop-punk group Muncie Girls may need a moment to acclimate themselves to the looser and more wide-ranging spectrum of styles and sounds on Going To Hell, her debut solo album (following 2019’s milder Gigantic Disappointment EP). Shimmering guitars and gentle rhythms far removed from the razor-tight churn of her band make this meditation on coming into one’s own (“It’s the first time I’m releasing anything as an outwardly gay person,” she’s said of the subject matter)—a welcome addition to Hekt’s discography. [Alex McLevy]

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Rhye, Home [January 22]

Rhye, Home [January 22]

While most of Rhye’s music falls within the realm of sexy, mid-tempo R&B ballads, the project from multi-instrumentalist Mike Milosh continues to find ways to bring new textures into its world. Bookended by ethereal choral arrangements, Rhye’s fourth album Home also features Spanish guitar, the ambient sounds of rainfall, and some late-disco era string arrangements, as heard on standout single “Black Rain.” It’s all tied together with Milosh’s typically gorgeous vocals—an androgynous countertenor seething with sensuality—that make Home well worth the visit. [Cameron Scheetz]

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Ani DiFranco, Revolutionary Love [January 29]

Ani DiFranco, Revolutionary Love [January 29]

Her first studio album in four years (and first since last year’s release of her memoir, No Walls And The Recurring Dream), Ani DiFranco continues to evolve her sound—this time in a direction more suited to the current era’s need for signs of optimism. Recorded in North Carolina in a loose and free-flowing series of sessions, the album promises an outpouring of love from the oft-fiery musician and activist, as demonstrated by the jazzy nightclub sound of its title track. [Alex McLevy]

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Goat Girl, On All Fours [January 29]

Goat Girl, On All Fours [January 29]

A lot has changed for Goat Girl since 2018. The London post-punk foursome’s self-titled debut on Rough Trade Records boiled over with fury, but although they’re still passionate about politics, their sophomore record On All Fours is a weirder, more eclectic affair. Lead singles “Sad Cowboy” and “The Crack” blend infectious beats with silky vocals, a dreamy groove akin to the feeling of driving down a coastal highway with your hair blowing in the wind. [Katie Rife]

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Terry Gross, Soft Opening [January 29]

Terry Gross, Soft Opening [January 29]

Fans of beloved post-rock trio Trans Am, take heart: guitarist Phil Manley has what you need. His new three-piece rock act Terry Gross (bold choice for a name) delivers pummeling, frenetic rhythms and churning riffs, this time fused to earnestly straightforward vocals, more organic and raw than his other group’s later work. Plus, the canyon-rock element adds a frisson of anthemic ferocity to these krautrock-meets-psych jams. [Alex McLevy]

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The Besnard Lakes, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last Of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings [January 29]

The Besnard Lakes, The Besnard Lakes Are The Last Of The Great Thunderstorm Warnings [January 29]

“In late 2020, as the world burns, there might be nothing less trendy than an hour-long psych-rock epic by a band of Canadian grandmasters,” says the press release for The Besnard Lakes’ latest album, a suite broken into nine grandiose, sprawling parts. While that might not be strictly true (not as long as Primus is still making new music) there’s no proper response beyond the rejoinder that music as richly bombastic as this—think Spiritualized on peyote, performing at midnight in a forest—is never unwelcome. [Alex McLevy]

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The Notwist, Vertigo Days [January 29]

The Notwist, Vertigo Days [January 29]

Few groups have such a consistently excellent track record as the experimental pop-rock group The Notwist, with its ever-changing muse infusing the band’s krautrock-via-electronic-balladry with an evolving array of styles and sounds. It’s been seven years since the group’s last studio album, and Vertigo Days brings in a variety of intriguing guests like Argentinian songwriter Juana Molina and American jazz musician Angel Bat Dawid, once more making this—as with all the band’s releases—essential listening. [Alex McLevy]

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