2020 Album Preview: 70 Most Anticipated Releases - Rolling Stone
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70 Most Anticipated Albums of 2020

Bruce Springsteen, Drake, Lana Del Rey, Adele, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga are among the artists we’re looking forward to hearing from this year

most anticipated albums

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Which stars are releasing new albums this year? It might be easier to answer the question of who isn’t. There’s reason to believe we’ll have new full-lengths to enjoy from A-list acts including Bruce Springsteen, Drake, Justin Bieber, Lana Del Rey, Adele, Rihanna and more in the coming months — plus dozens of other artists of all kinds. Read on for more about the records we’re looking forward to in 2020, from the officially announced to the hotly rumored.

Louis Tomlinson

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Louis Tomlinson

Album: Walls
Release Date: January 31st
After watching each of his former One Direction bandmates release at least one solo album — and both Harry and Zayn lap him with two each — Louis Tomlinson is getting in on the fun. “I’m really relieved to finally be here,” he said in the Instagram post announcing his solo debut. Last month, in Rolling Stone‘s end-of-decade questionnaire, the Peaky Blinders fan said he’d learned from experience “not to spend all my energy on chasing radio,” a lesson perhaps reflected in the catchy, upbeat guitar pop of recent singles “We Made It” and “Kill My Mind.”

Migosireless Festival, Finsbury Park, London, UK - 05 Jul 2019

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Migos

Album: Culture III
Release Date: TBA
Migos have been teasing the follow-up to 2018’s double-album Culture II for a while now — and found time to release solo efforts from all three of the group’s members in the meantime. The latest indication that Culture III is still on the way came in December, when Offset mentioned a song they’d recorded with the late Chicago talent Juice WRLD: “I’m probably gonna put that shit on Culture III. He’s going apeshit on that thing.”

Danielle Haim of Haim

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Haim

Album: TBA
Release Date: TBA
So far, the Los Angeles sister trio’s upcoming third LP sounds unlike anything they’ve done before. They’ve dropped three singles — “Summer Girl,” “Now I’m in It” and “Hallelujah” — all accompanied by videos directed by their family friend Paul Thomas Anderson. The songs incorporate sunny saxophone, dense acoustic guitar, and powerful songwriting; “Summer Girl” is in part about Danielle Haim supporting her partner, producer Ariel Rechtshaid, through cancer. The band hasn’t formally announced an album yet, but we can assume it will be their most mature work yet. “So excited to start releasing new music as we’re working on it,” they wrote on their Instagram. “Kinda like we did before our first album.”

torres

Michael Lavine*

Torres

Album: Silver Tongue
Release Date: January 31st
Despite the critical success of her fall 2017 album, Three Futures, alt-rock singer-songwriter Mackenzie Scott, aka Torres, announced that she had been dropped by her label 4AD the following April. Following a brief hiatus from music, she returned in October 2019 with a new single, “Good Scare,” and details on her upcoming album Silver Tongue, her first on Merge Records. She described the LP as “if The Phantom of the Opera had a pedal steel” and “Enya meets Phil Collins’ Tarzan soundtrack.”

Best Coast - Bethany Cosentino

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Best Coast

Album: Always Tomorrow
Release Date: TBA
Who hasn’t been missing the California throwback sunshine of Best Coast? Lucky for us, the band is getting ready to release Always Tomorrow, their first album since 2015’s California Nights. (They did make a kids’ album in 2018 called Best Kids, but this will be their first one for grown-ups in five years). In November, they gave us the first taste of the new record, “For the First Time,” a synth-y piece of indie pop that’s more Eighties than the band’s usual fare. It’s a sunny breakup track that hints at the 2019 self-care craze: “Used to think that taking care of myself/Would just become a real bore,” Bethany Cosentino sings. “’Cause I finally feel free/I feel like myself again.” Out with the old, in new with the new.

Shelby Lynne

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Shelby Lynne

Album: Shelby Lynne
Release Date: April
The Alabama singer follows up Not Dark Yet, her 2017 duets project with sister Allison Moorer, with her first solo LP in five years. Lynne’s camp teases that it’s an unconventional album for the crooner, one that finds her recording without a net. One definite? It’s self-titled, a subtle nod to her career-changing 1999 LP I Am Shelby Lynne.

Swamp Dogg

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Swamp Dogg

Album: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
Release Date: March 6th
Swamp Dogg has waited decades to release a proper country album after flirting with the genre throughout his half-century-plus career. “I look at my age,” the 77 year-old singer-songwriter told Rolling Stone last year, “and I thought, ‘Man, I better [make my country album] before time closes in on my ass.” For Sorry You Couldn’t Make It, the countrified follow-up to his 2018 comeback Love, Loss and AutoTune, the cult singer headed to Nashville, teamed up with John Prine for a few tunes, and delivered a straight-forward country-soul collection of off-kilter torch songs. “If you notice, I use a lot of horns,” the singer said recently. “But actually, if you listen to my records before I start stacking shit on it, I’m country. I sound country.” Swamp Dogg’s latest should finally prove his point.

Rufus Wainwright

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Rufus Wainwright

Album: TBA
Release Date: TBA
Wainwright recorded his first proper pop album since 2012’s Out of the Game in Los Angeles with studio pro Mitchell Froom, who’s worked with everyone from Sheryl Crow to Bob Dylan, and a team of instrumental aces. “In that sense it is a really old-fashioned album, and to me it is the bookend to my first album, which I also recorded in L.A. in those legendary studios with amazing session players,” the singer wrote on his website. “But back then, I really had no clue what I was doing…After 20 years of being in this business and sidestepping in the symphony and opera world, theater and many other side projects, I feel I have reached a certain maturity as an artist and songwriter.” First single “Trouble in Paradise” is an appealing slice of orchestral pop with just the right touch of Wainwright cynicism.

Jeff Parker

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Chicago Underground Quartet

Album: Good Days
Release Date: March 27th
If you’re tracing the roots of the current jazz climate — where the genre regularly cross-pollinates with rock, hip-hop, and electronic music, drawing in fans from all across these various spectrums — Chicago in the Nineties would be a good place to start. Along with Tortoise and the Vandermark 5, one of the standout groups in that scene was the Chicago Underground, which surfaced in duo, trio, and quartet configurations, all orbiting around cornetist Rob Mazurek and drummer Chad Taylor, and often including guitarist Jeff Parker. Nearly 20 years after a self-titled Thrill Jockey album that summed up their signature blend of soothing soundscape and edgy improv, these three join back up for Good Days, a reunion effort of sorts on the crucial Austin experimental label Astral Spirits. From what we’ve heard, it’s a heady, immersive delight that benefits from the work these musicians have done in the intervening years with everyone from Art Ensemble of Chicago co-founder Roscoe Mitchell to rising trumpet star Jaimie Branch. “It sounds cohesive in the same way as when we were actually a working band,” Parker tells writer Peter Margasak in the liner notes. “You can hear it, we’re a lot better now.”

Julien Baker

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Julien Baker

Album: TBA
Release Date: TBA
Although the boygenius member hasn’t released a solo LP since 2017’s Turn Out the Lights, she put out two new songs — “Tokyo” and “Sucker Punch” — for a Sub Pop singles collection late last year. The Tennessee indie rocker recently confirmed to Uproxx a new album is on the way. “I’ve been making demos with friends in town, and traveling to visit friends who have studios in other places, and just taking my time on a record… The last two records that I put out were made in under a week because that’s the only way that I knew how to make records,” she said. “So now I’m trying to accrue songs in a very organic way, and just see where it goes.”

James Taylor

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James Taylor

Album: Untitled standards collection
Release Date: Late February
Never one to rush out new work, Taylor has an unusually productive year ahead. He’ll release an audio-only memoir, Break Shot, via the Audible company, as well as a new studio album. Talking to RS in 2015 about his favorite music, Taylor mentioned Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Randy Newman, along with jazz icons Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan — “the stuff I’ve always loved.” Reflecting that passion, he’s finally recorded his own collection of pre-rock pop standards —  acoustic, JT-style versions of classics like “Moon River,” “Pennies from Heaven,” and “God Bless the Child.”

Ed O'Brien

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Ed O’Brien

Album: TBA
Release Date: Early 2020
Radiohead’s second guitarist can usually be found singing backing vocals to Thom Yorke, playing tambourine on “Reckoner,” and shredding to “The Bends.” In early 2020, he’ll branch out and release a record of his own under the moniker EOB. He’s already dropped two singles from his upcoming solo debut, a five-and-a-half-minute cerebral instrumental called “Santa Teresa” and the sparkling “Brasil.” Produced by Flood, the record features contributions from Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood, drummer Glenn Kotche, and others. It will be interesting to see O’Brien in the spotlight for the first time. 

Nathaniel Rateliff

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Nathaniel Rateliff

Album: And It’s Still Alright
Release Date: February 14th
Taking a break from his boisterous breakthrough band, the Night Sweats, Rateliff cut a folkish, minimally produced solo album (similar to his pre-Night Sweats work) that explores the end of his marriage and the death of his friend and producer Richard Swift. “Someone asked me, ‘Well, how much does your songwriting change from when you first started to now?’” he says. “I was like, ‘Are you kidding? Like, are you a better driver now that you’re in your fifties than you were at 16?’ I feel more comfortable in my voice and myself now, and writing about other things I probably wouldn’t have. I’m more direct now.”

Brian Fallon

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Brian Fallon

Album: Local Honey
Release Date: March 27th
Fallon’s third solo album comes on the heels of a busy 2018, when the singer-songwriter released his album Sleepwalkers and reunited the Gaslight Anthem for a series of 59 Sound anniversary shows. The first single, “You Have Stolen My Heart,” is a folksy love song. “Every single song is about right now,” Fallon has said of the album. “It’s not about these glorious dreams or miserable failures, it’s just about life and how I see it.” Expect another blend of folk-punk from the hardscrabble Jersey poet. “One-fourth of the band’s sound is always whatever I brought to the table,” he told Rolling Stone in 2018. “That’s mine, in anything that I do…I’m just going to embrace everything I do and not hold anything back, because I like this sound.”

A Thousand Horses - Michael Hobby

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A Thousand Horses

Album: TBA
Release Date: Spring
After scoring some country-radio success with the slick “Smoke” and “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” while on Republic Nashville, the country/Southern-rock band seemed lost to the wind, struggling to recapture radio play with songs that didn’t capture the energy of their concerts. They fix that problem on their second full-length, reuniting with producer Dave Cobb to cut live in Nashville’s RCA Studio A (the album will be released on Cobb’s Low Country Sound imprint). On songs like the gritty but euphoric “Livin’ My Best Life,” these Horses are reinvigorated: The guitars are louder, the songs catchier, and vocalist Michael Hobby is singing more raw and natural. It’s the sound of a proper band.

Brandy Clark

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Brandy Clark

Album Title: Your Life Is a Record
Release Date: March
Your Life Is a Record marks the third album from country singer and songwriter Brandy Clark, and her first since 2016’s Big Day in a Small Town. An exact release date and track list have yet to arrive, as has an official first single (though Clark did drop a new Christmas tune last month, “Merry Christmas Darling”). But in an October interview with Think Country, Clark offered a bunch of details, saying she worked with producers Dave Brainard and Jay Joyce, co-wrote songs with Shane McAnally, Jessie-Jo Dillon, Chase McGill, and more, and even has a duet with Randy Newman. “It’s a much more personal record, it sort of goes through love and loss and things in life,” Clark said. “it’s not all downers though! And there’s songs that speak to the political climate.”

 

Patterson Hood of Drive By Truckers

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Drive-By Truckers

Album: The Unraveling
Release Date: January 31st
Four years after Drive-By Truckers released their resurgent mid-career opus American Band, they’re back with another socio-political election cycle statement. When the band first began working on their new record, the idea was to take a different direction: “A lot of what I’m writing now is deeply personal stuff…less blatantly political,” Hood told Rolling Stone in 2017. But with a tracklist that includes song titles like “Babies in Cages,” “Heroin Again,” and “Thoughts and Prayers,” expect a righteously pissed-off collection from these Southern rock survivors. “If the last one was a warning shot hinting at a coming storm,” Hood said, “this one was written in the wreckage and aftermath.”

The Cadillac Three

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The Cadillac Three

Album: Country Fuzz
Release Date: February 7th
Singer Jaren Johnston, drummer Neil Mason, and lap-steel player Kelby Ray refine their already lean sound and cement the Cadillac Three brand on the new Country Fuzz — which doubles as the name of the group’s recently launched clothing line. But the 16-song collection, which the band produced themselves, isn’t some corporate tie-in. This is rebellious rock & roll, with country twang and, unexpectedly, overtones of disco-funk, like on the instant live-show staple “Slow Rollin'” and the swerving “Blue El Camino.” Of course, this is TC3, so beer-drinking anthems still abound. And thank god for that.

King Diamond

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King Diamond

Album: The Institute
Release Date: TBD
Denmark’s most successful vampire, King Diamond, has spent most of the last decade getting back on his cloven-hoofed feet after undergoing triple-bypass heart surgery in 2010. He spent much of his time on the road performing his greatest solo album, 1987’s Abigail, in its entirety, and that record’s influence may have spilled into his upcoming LP, The Institute, judging from lead single “Masquerade of Madness,” a crunchy paean to insanity complete with King’s helium-voiced wails and a flashy solo by guitarist Andy LaRocque. King Diamond previewed the album on a recent U.S. tour, complete with an elaborate “institute” stage set and an actress wearing an iron mask custom built to accommodate pigtails, like on the “Masquerade” single cover, which suggests he’s going all-out with this one — whenever he decides to turn it loose on the world.

Huey Lewis

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Huey Lewis and the News

Album: Weather
Release Date: February 14th
Weather marks Heuy Lewis and the News’ first album of all new material since 2001’s Plan B, and so far the Eighties hitmakers have shared two tracks, “Her Love Is Killin’ Me” and “While We’re Young.” The group recorded Weather at their Troutfarm Studio in Marin County, outside San Francisco, but the sessions were cut short when Lewis was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease, an ear condition that also forced the band to cancel a slew of tour dates and has kept them off the road since. Despite the diagnosis, Lewis has remained positive, saying in a press release, “You’ve got to look on the bright side and stay creative. Even if I never sing again, things could always be worse. After all, I’m deaf, not dead.”

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