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54 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

New music from Justin Timberlake, Jack White and Cardi B, and other records we can’t wait to hear

It’s that time of year, when we take a breather from the onslaught of last year’s releases and start speculating about what’s in store once this one starts heating up. If half the scheduled, reported and rumored new albums we’re expecting actually materialize, 2018 is going to be nuts. Major pop artists like Liam Payne, Frank Ocean, Ariana Grande and Sky Ferreira are prepping LPs, as are beloved veteran rockers from Bruce Springsteen to Paul McCartney and Jack White, and indie-rock heroes like the Breeders, My Bloody Valentine and Superchunk. Here’s a rundown of everything we know about what’s on the way.  

Brandy Carlile, 'By the Way, I Forgive You

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Brandi Carlile

Album: By the Way, I Forgive You
Release Date: February 16th
On her sixth studio album, Americana heroine Brandi Carlile ramps everything up a notch, working with Waylon Jennings’ rebel-yell son Shooter, who co-produced with Dave Cobb. She takes deep dives into her family history (“Most of All”) and offers up an anthem for the downtrodden (“The Joke,” a chin-up call to arms for anyone feeling oppressed, was blasted out in a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!). While largely adhering to her unplugged, modern-Appalachian approach, Carlile also pushes a few musical envelopes: “Harder to Forgive” is swoony, luxurious pop, “Hold Out Your Hand” has a wall-of-drums wallop and “Party of One” wraps up with shivery orchestration.

Judas Priest, 'Firepower'

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Judas Priest

Album: Firepower
Release Date: March 9th
On Firepower, Judas Priest aimed to make an album of modern heavy metal that retained the classic sound of their Seventies and Eighties masterpieces. So they turned to producers Tom Allom, who’d helmed their hits “Breaking the Law,” “Screaming for Vengeance” and “Heading Out to the Highway,” and Andy Sneap, whose credits include recent albums by Megadeth, Fear Factory and Arch Enemy. “Tom Allom has got this classic metal thing, and Andy is a bit more of a ‘modern metal producer’ but his thinking is a little bit different to Tom’s,” frontman Rob Halford has said. “I think to get this balance between that classic old-school metal to what Andy’s world is was just a remarkable coalescence.” Listening to “Lightning Strike,” Firepower’s lead single, it’s clear that the gamble paid off: Halford howls a chorus that recalls Priest at their most triumphant while his bandmates wage the sort of full-on eardrum assault that younger bands like Power Trip and Mastodon aspire to.

Lanco, 'Hallelujah Nights'

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Lanco

Album: Hallelujah Nights
Release Date: January 19th
The road to Lanco’s debut album has been long for both the band and their fans. The group signed to Arista Nashville way back in 2015, releasing a debut EP, Extended Play, the following year. Since then, they’ve built buzz with engaging live shows and big singles, like “Greatest Love Story,” which became Lanco’s first chart-topper. That song, written by frontman Brandon Lancaster, also appears on Hallelujah Nights, as do the EP’s three additional tracks. Lancaster wrote or co-wrote all 11 of the album’s songs, which marry evocative, narrative lyrics with infectious, Southern-rock–influenced arrangements – all bearing Lancaster’s signature raspy drawl. “Country music is about finding people where they’re at right now,” he told Rolling Stone last year, “working a 9-to-5, going through hard times, questioning life.”

Kimbra

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Kimbra

Album: Primal Heart
Release Date: April 20th
Since 2014’s kaleidoscopic The Golden Echo, the New Zealand pop savant has kept busy, collaborating with soul explorer Bilal and Danish dream-pop outfit Mew, and talking Bowie and Prince with Questlove at Yale. Her third album, which she co-produced with John Congleton (Goldfrapp, Alvvays, St. Vincent), takes inspiration from the Mars Volta and Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life while featuring assists from Skrillex and Natasha Bedingfield. “These songs have a sense of groundedness and tell stories,” Kimbra told Magnet recently. “It feels like I’m really just hanging with someone and telling them what’s up with me. In a way, I feel more connected to my audience on this record than I have in the past.”

Superchunk, 'What a Time to Be Alive'

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Superchunk

Album: What a Time to Be Alive
Release Date: February 16th
The title of Superchunk’s upcoming LP might be even more wickedly sardonic than that of their prior LP, 2013’s I Hate Music. Frontman Mac McCaughan has said that the impetus for What a Time to Be Alive was the feeling he and his bandmates had once Donald Trump was elected president. But by his estimation, the music itself isn’t totally bleak; instead it’s a “about a pretty dire and depressing situation but hopefully not a record that is dire and depressing to listen to.” The title track is a buoyant, punkish nugget in the vein of the Chapel Hill indie mainstays’ best work, even if McCaughan is singing lyrics like, “To see the rot in no disguise … the scum, the shame, the fucking lies/Oh, what a time to be alive.” It should come as no surprise that the band wrote the entire album, which features guest appearances by Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt, Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield and Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan, among others, between November 2016 and the following February.

Titus Andronicus, 'A Productive Cough'

Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus performs at Saturn Birmingham on September 17, 2016 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by David A. Smith/Getty Images)

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Titus Andronicus

Album: A Productive Cough
Release Date: March 2nd
Titus Andronicus are planning a hard left on their upcoming fifth LP. “The previous album we made, the rock opera, was an attempt at quite a grand statement, trying to encompass a lot of different things, both musically and thematically,” lead singer Patrick Stickles explained in an interview posted on the band’s website this month. “This album has a much narrower focus, both in terms of the nature of the material and the sheer volume of it.” In particular, A Productive Couch is a ballad-centric set, and lead single “Number One (In New York)” swells grandly over eight minutes, reaching back to the urgent-but-highly-orchestrated rock sagas of the 1970s. This might be a shock for the Titus Andronicus fans who prefer the band’s rowdy side. Stickles is aware of those listeners and uninterested in “pandering” to them. “Thing like extreme volume or fast tempos or a lot of screaming – these are just signifiers of intensity,” he said, “and If I take those away, perhaps I can illuminate what it is I think my true purpose as an artist is.”

Lucy Dacus, 'Historian'

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Lucy Dacus

Album: Historian
Release Date: March 2nd
Richmond singer-songwriter Lucy Dacus’ forthright lyrics and fuzzed-out riffs turned heads in 2015, when she released the disarming, catchy No Burden. Her upcoming second album was inspired by her realization that as a touring musician, she had a platform, and she felt duty-bound to use it for “the thing that’s most important to say.” The lyrics explore heartache, grief, racism and other topics that touched Dacus’ life in recent years. “[Historian] starts out dark and ends hopeful, but it gets darker in between; it goes to the deepest, darkest, place and then breaks,” she said in a statement. “What I’m trying to say throughout the album is that hope survives, even in the face of the worst stuff.”

Phife Dawg, 'Forever'

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Phife Dawg

Album: Forever
Release Date: TBA
While serving as one-fourth of legendary Queens hip-hop ensemble A Tribe Called Quest, Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor stockpiled plenty of solo material. However, he only released one album, 2000’s Ventilation: Da LP, before passing away in March of 2016. That November, at a ceremony dedicating a portion of Linden Blvd. in Queens to the MC, Phife’s widow, Desha Taylor, announced plans to issue a posthumous album, Forever. It’s release was initially scheduled for early this year. But despite the release of two singles, “Nutshell” and “Wanna Dance,” nothing has emerged yet. “I hope they find the right deal for that, and it get platformed the right way where we can all help push the shit” Redman told the late podcaster Combat Jack last October.

Django Django, 'Marble Skies'

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Django Django

Album: Marble Skies
Release Date: January 26th
Art-rockers Django Django envision their upcoming third LP as a course correction of sorts. “The last album felt a little bloated,” producer/drummer David Maclean told Mojo. So the group eschewed the fancy studios where they recorded 2015’s Born Under Saturn and set up shop in a rented warehouse space where they can “do what [they] want to do without worrying about clock-watching or studio fees.” Lead single “Tic Tac Toe” is sinewy and clap-happy, a breezy, double-time blast of chiming guitar pop. Elsewhere on the record, there’s an homage to Miami Vice maestro Jan Hammer, drumming from Metronomy’s Anna Prior and vocals from Slow Club’s Rebecca Taylor. “It’s a bit of a curveball for people maybe,” said Maclean. But he’s confident that everything will cohere as long as “it’s got the Django melody.”

"Tune-Yards, 'I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life

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Tune-Yards

Album: I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life
Release Date: January 19th
Merrill Garbus’ fourth album under the Tune-Yards name is dazzling and danceable, inspired by the DJing she’s done at gigs and online, her explorations of hip-hop, her confrontation of her racial privilege and the increasingly fraught 21st-century political landscape. (Garbus and her longtime collaborator Nate Brenner wrote Private before the 2016 Presidential election, but, as she noted to the Financial Times, “All the divisions were already there. Under Obama. Before Brexit. They’ve just been revealed.”) Songs like the sinewy “Coast to Coast” are boisterous and dancey, allowing her to flaunt her increased vocal prowess and interpretative skill.   

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