With the Flaming Lips just releasing a new album and talks about a new Arctic Monkeys record in the works, I thought it would be appropriate to look at this year we call 2017 and explore which other indie acts are releasing new music we can look forward to.
New sounds from The Shins highlight March and should be the perfect soundtrack for a walk in the park as we make like the birds and search for a mate. Or maybe you’d rather get reacquainted with The Jesus and Mary Chain in this season of renewal.
There is so much musical goodness coming down the pipe, it’s impossible to list everything. I’ve culled the ten best from the 2017 herd (or, at least, the ten I’m most excited for) and set the odds on which will find the most commercial success, which is pretty much the most anti-indie thing I could do. But it’s fun to speculate on who will find some mainstream love with album sales even if we don’t really care because we loved them first and their early stuff was so much better.
Below are a few good albums to look forward to along with odds on which band will sell (or should that be “sell out”) the most.
Vampire Weekend – Album name/release date TBA: 2/1
Vampire Weekend has only put out three albums since 2008, but they’ve all been phenomenal and the band has evolved with each musical creation. Back in 2013, the Grammy-winning Modern Vampires of the City showed a more mature sound.
Now rumors are that the New Yorkers have something brewing for 2017 and that it will be the debut album on their fresh and new Columbia Records contract. It will be interesting to see what Vampire Weekend has in store as a few of the members of the band have been out doing their own thing. When their new album drops, look for it to do big sales and continue the momentum that has already placed them above indie obscurity.
Maybe not entirely fair to include them on this list as their last two Albums Contra (2010) and Modern Vampires of the City (2012) both debuted #1 on the Billboard chart and it’s the first time a band has entered #1 on that chart with two consecutive album releases. If the rumors are true and the new album drops sometime in 2017 it could easily hit the trifecta.
The Shins – Heartworms – March 10th: 4/1
This is one of those indie bands (yes I’m still labeling them as such) that already found a lot of mainstream success thanks in large part to their 2004 hit “New Slang,” which found it’s way onto the popular soundtrack from Garden State. A few hits and a Grammy nomination later, the original band was ready to take off until it was grounded and disbanded.
Now, when I say “The Shins,” I really mean lead singer James Mercer and whomever he has in his band that day. Regardless of the band’s makeup, it appears Mercer is going back to basics. This year’s Heartworms is (apparently) closer to the band’s earlier sound, you know before Mercer fired all his friends.
Their last studio album Port of Morrow debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200 charts but did well in digital sales and was ranked as one of the top Alternative Albums of 2012. You can fully expect Heartwarms to do well in North America.
The National – Album name/release date TBA: 17/3
It appears we are closer to getting a brand new The National album in 2017. It’s been almost four years since the Cincinnati, Ohio, band gave us new music, but as they say, you can’t rush quality.
Since their debut album Sad Songs in 2003, The National have had found massive success (in indie music terms) with five great albums in just over a decade of work. A single and a few live have whet fans’ appetites; expect an announcement soon about a new album.
Their last album Trouble Will Find Me (2012) reached number three on both the Billboard 200 and the UK Albums Chart. The album was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. It sold 250,000 copies in the US and made top-ten debuts in fourteen countries.
Sigur Rós – Album name/release date TBA: 9/1
Fans of these Icelandic post-rock pioneers will be happy to know they have some new songs on the way for you to trip out to. They were working on new music last year; couple that with some cryptic messages via Twitter, along with more dates added to their touring schedule starting in the spring, and it appears a new Sigur Rós album is on the melancholy horizon. That is if you have the energy to get out of bed and download it.
Their last album Kveikur got rave reviews and sold 22,831 copies which put them number 13 on the US Billboard 200.
Kasabian – Album name/release date TBA: 15/1
Although many call Kasabian an indie-rock band, they actually hate being labeled as such. Labels aside, the most exciting thing about a new Kasabian album is the possibility of seeing them play live again. They headlined Glastonbury in 2014 to rave reviews and are one of the top bands to see in person. Since 2004, they have been nominated for many awards and even won Best British Group at the 2010 Brit Awards.
Their much-anticipated new album, heavily inspired by 1990s grunge band Nirvana, is coming any day now. One single called “Comeback Kid” will be featured on EA Sports’ FIFA 17. The band itself has deemed upcoming single “Bless This Acid House” its greatest work.
Their last album 48:13 had medium success with positive reviews in North America but went certified Gold in the UK with 100,000 in units sold and hit number one on the charts.
Grizzly Bear – Album name/release date TBA: 15/1
Recently the band tweeted that the new album was 90-percent done and that that would be the last update until it’s fully complete. The indie-rock giants from Brooklyn are probably going to release their new music in the summer of this year and it could pack some political punch directed at a certain orange Oompa Loompa in the White House. Here’s hoping it’s on par with their last album, Shields, which kicked all kinds of ass with its fierce guitars and psychedelic sounds.
Their 2012 album Shields received acclaim upon release and reached number seven on the Billboard 200 and number seventeen on the UK Albums Chart.
Spoon – Hot Thoughts – March 17th: 25/1
Even if you’ve never heard of Spoon, you’ve probably heard Spoon. That band on repeat at your neighborhood Starbucks? That’s Spoon. That song at the end of that quirky movie? That was Spoon. This indie band from Austin has been putting in work since the mid-90s and was even hailed as one of the top bands of the decade (2001-2009) by Metacritic. Now they’re throwing out another album called Hot Thoughts, which should showcase their hit-making abilities.
The album did very well in North America especially in the US where it ranked as one of the top rock albums of 2014 including number two on the Billboard’sTop Alternative Albums chart.
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Damage and Joy – March 25th: 50/1
The sound of these indie godfathers is just like honey. They’ve been described as sweet and demented and the fact that Jim and William Reid can still stand each other long enough to record another album should be regarded as a minor miracle. Maybe there is hope for an Oasis reunion after all?
It’s been 20 years since we had anything new from the Scotsmen. With the current 1980s revival going on, I guess it was the perfect time to get back at it. The much-anticipated Damage and Joy is their first studio album since 1998. Let’s hope it (re)introduces many to their alt-rock euphoria.
Their last album Munki (1998) peaked at number 47 in the UK album charts, and it was the first time the band didn’t crack the Top 40.
Grandaddy – Last Place – March 3rd: 50/1
You could call Grandaddy the grandfather’s of modern indie rock; their early 90s sounds came straight from their garages, living rooms, and warehouses. After they did the rock-n-roll thing of breaking up in 2006, they reunited in 2012 to do some live shows and collaborate with the likes of Band of Horses. Now it looks they are about to release some new music, which should contain their signature analog synths and fuzzy guitar riffs. Below is a little reminder of how awesome they are.
The album reached number 10 on the Top Independent Albums chart, as well as number 50 on the UK Albums Chart.
British Sea Power – Let the Dancers Inherit the Party – March 31st: 100/1
Some say that BSP sounds a lot like The Cure or even Arcade Fire, but ultimately, they have their own unique British indie-rock sound that has allowed them to stay in the game since 2008. That, and the fact that they have released nine studio albums over a 12-year span. Now they are looking down the barrel of number ten, which is set to fire at the end of March.
Through word of mouth, they have found moderate success in Europe and North America, but will their new crowdfunded album, Let The Dancers Inherit The Party, find them breakout success? Do they really care?
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Lovely Little Creatures
At the time I wrote this, there wasn’t much information on Nick Cave’s new album, so, unfortunately, he didn’t make the list above. Now we know it’s a best-of compilation, and you can listen to 21 tracks of doom and gloom from 1984 to 2014. Not sad enough for you? The deluxe version has even more songs.
When you listen to this “new” record, you can hear the evolution of Nick Cave over the years from punk rock to timeless songsmith. This one deserves to be in your collection.