FEATURE: The Good, the Rad and the Beautiful: Confirmed and Rumoured Albums to Look Forward to in 2019




The Good, the Rad and the Beautiful


IN THIS PHOTO: Maggie Rogers/PHOTO CREDIT: Jenn Five for DIY

Confirmed and Rumoured Albums to Look Forward to in 2019


WE are still getting to grips with the albums of this year...

 IN THIS PHOTO: Let’s Eat Grandma released their incredible sophomore album, I’m All Ears, earlier this year/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

and the artists who have defined music. It has been a very eclectic and busy one that has seen some terrific work come through. Whether it is the inflammatory and essential sounds from IDLES and Shame or the terrific Jazz of Kamasi Washington; the strangeness of Let’s Eat Grandma or the Pop of Robyn – I have been delighted by the variation and boldness that has been revealed. Everyone has their own interpretation regarding what defines 2018 but I think the raw and more political/social-minded records have made the biggest impression. We have a few more days to go until things start to wrap up but there will not be any big albums coming along that challenge the best of the year. I know there have been some albums announced for next year and others have been rumoured. I am looking around and seeing what next year is already offering and some of the artists who are making a return. One of the artists I am most looking forward to hearing from in 2019 is Billie Marten. Her 2016 debut, Writing of Blues and Yellows, was my favourite of the year. There have been some changes for her – moving from her family home in Yorkshire to living in East London – but her pure and unique voice remains unchanged. As she told the BBC in this interview; not everything is hunky-dory:

"I'm 19 years old - it's the worst thing about me," she says when asked her age.

Expanding on this, she says: "I guess it's just the reaction when you say you haven't even hit your 20s yet...

"Most people's perceptions of you immediately change because they know you've not been on this planet very long. There's a tendency to say, 'Oh, she's just a girl and she doesn't know what she's doing.'"

"In the city everybody's still grafting and working, heads down, and there's no communal love," she says.

"When I go home we're all miserable but we're all in it together, whereas here you're left on your own a lot. The Tube sucks and it's always dark. It's harder".

Marten articulates feelings many of us have and one of the reasons her debut album and new singles like Mice resonate is because she does not hold back and is completely honest. There is never the feeling everything is doomed and she is using music as a way of venting. Her lush, beautiful and enriching version of Folk touches the soul but tells a lot about the teenage artist. CLASH caught up with Marten and she talked about the changes in her music – the upcoming album was made with Ethan John:

“...On the new record, Billie writes new narratives for the people she sees at a glance. Her storybook pokes fun, draws caricatures and unpicks the irony of the world around us, viewing how we as humans adapt and settle in it.

“I’ve felt more independent musically and that I’ve grown more confidence to be a musician in my own right, something I always felt guilty of before. I’ve properly trusted in my body this time around so the instinctual force has been strong”...

Over the last couple of years, Billie has had a small shift in perspective; she now relishes an open space without a poster, and has become more awake to society, and has found a home living above a bohemian couple in their 70s. The songs capture the small strokes of magic that we search for, and a lot of them didn’t exist anywhere except her mind before being recorded.

“That’s quite nice for me because the songs don’t pretend to be something they’re not, they’re just sweet and small and important,” she smiles. Billie Marten is a songbird, and we should take the time to listen to not just the sweet words and tunes, but to the meaning and the story behind each ones”.

Marten did mention the name of her sophomore record when she was on BBC Radio 6 Music recently but it escapes me! I think it will be one of 2019’s very best and for me personally, it is an album I am dying to hear. That is not the only long-awaited album I am excited about. Madonna has announced she is working the follow-up to 2015’s Rebel Heart and it will be good to hear! She has not long turned sixty and the Queen of Pop has kept her cards close to the chest regarding themes and sounds. Rebel Heart was lauded and marked a bit of a return to form.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Madonna watching Migos perform at Wireless Festival at Finsbury Park on 7th July, 2018/PHOTO CREDIT: Joseph Okpako/WireImage

I think she is at her strongest when not collaborating with the ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ producers and trying to fit into the modern mainstream. Rebel Heart boasted a bit more of the true and unique Madonna. Her post-2000 output has been mixed in terms of quality but you can never predict where she will head and what will come next. I am always thrilled to hear of Madonna material and it looks as though songs are coming quite quick. It was hoped she’d release a record this year but there have been delays – expect something early in 2019. I am pumped to hear the debut record from Maggie Rogers. Like Billie Marten; here is a young talent who differs from everyone out there – even if their styles are very different. The U.S. songwriter brings us Heard It in a Past Life on 18th January and it will be the perfect way to banish the winter blues! Light On and Give a Little were released this year and will form part of the twelve songs on the record. Greg Kurstin works alongside Rogers (there are a few others who contributed to the album) and it seems like things have been moving fast for Rogers. She has claimed much has changed and it has all been a bit scary. If life has been disruptive and predictable then the music she is putting out doesn’t show that strain.

 PHOTO CREDIT: Olivia Bee for DORK

In this interview with DORK back in July, she talked about the album (the release date was not known but has been established) and she talked about collaborators and themes:

It’s impossible not to name-drop when it comes to Maggie Rogers. On her debut album, she’s working with Greg Kurstin, Rostam, and Ricky Reed. She says, “I learned so much working with these people, that I just feel so lucky to have had collaborators like that for this record.” No biggie.

She’s also doing whatever the bloody hell she wants when it comes to releasing singles and the record. “I’m just like, making decisions when I have decisions to make. Right now I don’t need to know what the third single is. I know what the second is. I feel in the flow; I feel good.

Maggie’s totally rewriting the rules for this album release. Going with the flow and trusting her instincts seem to be her mantras for the process. “When you really settle, you already know the answers to all the questions. Just takes a little time. And trusting it, I think that’s the thing I’ve learned over the last two years. When everything’s so new, it’s hard to figure out what your instinct’s saying. Especially when it’s not always the convenient answer.

“This record is a lot about change and transition and how powerful that can be and how exciting that can be but also like how terrifying it can be and anxiety-inducing. It feels like everywhere I look things are changing these days. Whether it’s social, political, personal. Its just kind of something that, as personal as it feels and as much change as there’s been in my life, it also feels like a greater narrative.”

January will also see the release of Alice Merton’s debut, Mint. Singles such as No Roots and Lash Out show what she is capable of and many, myself included, are excited to see what Mint will provide. The German-Canadian artist is one of the most exciting in new music and someone we all need to keep an eye on. Ladytron’s eponymous album is released on 1st February and is the sixth from the Electronic band.  Singles released so far suggest Ladytron will be grittier and darker than their previous work and it seems like they are taking things in a new direction. Nina Nesbitt is releasing her hotly-anticipated album, The Sun Will Come Up, the Seasons Will Change, on 1st February and it follows the incredible Peroxide (2013). White LiesFive is also out on 1st February and will be great to see a new album from them. March looks set to the be the biggest and most exciting months for albums in 2019! A lot of albums are rumoured and have no set release date (I shall come to them soon) but there are some huge releases in March. The Japanese House (Amber Bain) releases her album, Good at Falling, through Dirty Hit - and it follows the singles Lilo and Follow My Girl. Here is an artist who has been tipped for success and it has been a little while to wait for a debut album.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Weezer performing at the Osheaga Music and Art Festival on 1st August, 2015 in Montreal, Canada/PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Horton/WireImage

It is understandable given the pressure and work required but many are relieved we get to see an L.P. from the Buckinghamshire gem. There are a lot of great solo acts around but there is something immediately satisfying and wonderful about The Japanese House. Given the material she has already put out; I expect some big critical thumbs-up come March. Weezer release their eponymous album (another one!) on 1st March and, also known as ‘The Black Album’, it has been on the cards for a little while now:

Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo first hinted at the album in April 2016, shortly after the band released their tenth album Weezer (The White Album). "What could stand out more against 'White' than 'Black'? I think it's going to maybe be like Beach Boys gone bad. I'm thinking of swearing, which is something I've never done in songs."[2]

While promoting the band's eleventh album Pacific Daydream in August 2017, Cuomo said "The original plan was the Black Album but Pacific Daydream really came together. The Black Album is pretty much ready, it's coming"[3]

Dido makes an unexpected return on 8th March with her album, Still on My Mind. It is her first album since 2013’s Girl Who Got Away and it is good to have her back on the scene!  It’s only single so far, Hurricanes, is a more Electronic and tougher cut than one would expect and, like Ladytron, might suggest the songwriter is heading in a new direction.

Dido has also announced tour dates – she has not taken to the stage for many years – and many are curious to see what her upcoming album will contain and whether it mixes in a new direction with elements of previous albums such as No Angel. It seems female artists are defining the sound of 2019’s first-quarter and a new Lana Del Rey album backs that up! Norman Fucking Rockwell is out on 29th March and looks set to make waves. She only release an album last year – the excellent Lust for Life – and the single Venice Bitch shows she is in incredible form. This article from Variety (from this September) announced the album and a few details:

Lana Del Rey’s career is filled with eyebrow-raising moments, and we got another one on Tuesday when she announced on Beats 1 that the name of her new album will be “Norman F—ing Rockwell.”

She told host Zane Lowe how the title of the album, a collaboration with Bleachers frontman Jack Antonoff (Lorde, Taylor Swift, St. Vincent) as well as her usual crew came about.

“Working with Jack, I was in a little bit of a lighter mood because he was so funny,” she said. “So the title track is called ‘Norman F—ing Rockwell’ and it’s kind of about this guy who is such a genius artist, he thinks he’s the sh– and he knows it and he won’t shut up talking about it. So often I ended up with these creative types — or not, or whatever — and they just go on and on about themselves and I’m like yeah, yeah. But there’s a little bit of merit to it, also. They are so good. I just like the title track so much that I was like OK, I definitely want the record to also be called that”.

We know The 1975 will bring us Notes on a Conditional Form – date is not known yet – and only just released the epic A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships. It is surprising to see the band release too albums so close to one another but it is evident they are in exceptional and career-defining form. The reviews that followed A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships were staggering. SPIN recently provided their thoughts and there are many similarly-impressed reviews:

How often does your carefully curated persona misalign with your actual personality? How much suffering could you avoid if you gave up the game entirety? And why the hell should you believe Matt Healy when he offers the same alternatives to meaningless sex and screen time that you ignored from your parents: Honesty is the best policy, dare to be great, give yourself a try. It holds weight because the 1975 are living proof, even if he doesn’t always take his own advice. Try and find the earliest video of “Sex,” with their severe haircuts, black-and-white branding, and Johnny Cash posters. This was a group of young men trying so damn hard to be perceived as austere and cool, while critics claimed to see right through them. Six years later, the critics are on their side, and it doesn’t even really matter. The 1975 are still whoever the hell they want, and completely themselves”.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Adele (photoed in 2015)/PHOTO CREDIT: Alasdair McLellan

There are no album titles of confirmed dates yet but we know 2019 will see new albums from The Raconteurs, Adele and Coldplay. Sheryl Crow also promises new material and it seems like there is a lot to get excited about. It will be interesting to see how both The Raconteurs and Adele sound after a fairly long gap – The Raconteurs’ previous album, Consolers of the Lonely, was released in 2008; Adele’s 25 was released in 2015 – and whether they will make a big splash! This article from Monster Children brings in a few other rumoured albums that are worth looking forward to:

In October of 2016, the world received a truly magical gift: Solange’s third full-length album, A Seat at the Table. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to pull up a chair at one of Solange Knowle’s dinner parties. I bet she’s a fantastic cook, too, because is there anything she can’t do? She even managed to rock hives at her wedding. Seriously, the amount of cool she omits is almost offensive. Anyway, earlier this year, New York Times journalist Ayana Mathis published an article saying we should expect a Solange release “this fall, probably sometime soon.” Alas, fall has come and gone, so Solange updated her Instagram bio last week to respond to the increased speculation. It reads: “prolly next year.” Suddenly 2019 can’t come soon enough...

IN THIS IMAGE: Tom Waits/IMAGE CREDIT: Peter Ochabski  

Okay, so I’ll admit that this one might be more of a personal wish than a well-informed rumour. BUT, hear me out. In April of this year, Chris Douridas of LA-based KCRW radio announced on his show that Tom Waits is “at work on a new album.” I know because I listened to the audio posted here. Is a ten-second audio clip enough evidence to make such a declaration? No, but I’m doing it anyway because there’s only so many times I can listen to “Bad As Me” before I quite literally go crazy.

Speaking of musicians who take their sweet-ass time to release records, remember when we all waited 14 years between D’Angelo’s Voodoo, and his 2014 follow up, Black Messiah? It turned out that D’Angelo was dealing with some pretty serious substance abuse issues throughout that time, and Black Messiah was totally worth the wait anyway. It looks like we won’t be cooling our knees for much longer though, with the soul singer cancelling a performance earlier this year because he was “deep in the recording process”. Fans have put the rumour mill into overdrive ever since, and I’m not too ashamed to admit I’ve been caught up in the hopeful hysteria”.

A lot of new releases and announcements will come along pretty soon but, from what we have heard already, it seems there will be some big records out! Whether you want a bit of Madonna or Billie Marten; a great debut from The Japanese House or another album from The 1975 – a lot of variety and anticipated albums are coming our way. 2018 has been a huge year for music and we have seen some of the best albums of the past twenty years released this year. There is no reason to suggest 2019 cannot match that quality and it many are already looking ahead. Keep your eyes and ears peeled but, from what is announced and rumoured, it seems that 2019...


 IN THIS PHOTO: Billie Marten in 2016/PHOTO CREDIT: Dannye Payne for The 405

WILL not disappoint!