Upon posting my Top 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2015, friends questioned why I hadn’t included several other exciting new releases scheduled for the coming year. In my defense I can offer only ignorance: in most of these cases, I simply didn’t know they were coming out! So, before the year gets too much further on, here are five more records for which I’m every bit as hyped up as those on that first list.
1. ASTORIA (Marianas Trench – TBA)
Josh Ramsay was already one of Canada’s finest purveyors of anthemic pop/rock before he co-wrote and produced what might be the most obscenely ubiquitous chart hit of the last decade: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” Brilliant advance single “Here’s to the Zeros” shows Ramsay’s ambivalence to the Top 40 world he’s conquered: “They say, ‘Where’s the next hit, baby?’/God, how could I top ‘Call Me Maybe’?” Equally brilliant advance single “Pop 101” goes it one better, though, setting a tutorial in formulaic songwriting to music – and crafting a perfect pop song that’s both upfront about its own commercial pandering as well as miles better than 98.7% of what actually makes the charts.
2. TRACKER (Mark Knopfler – TBA)
Mark Knopfler has long since traded in the guitar-hero pyrotechnics of Dire Straits’ arena-packing days for a more restrained style that suits his intimate, exquisitely-wrought character sketches and story-songs admirably. For me, though, it matters not one bit whether he’s barnstorming through “Telegraph Road” or laying down an exquisitely smoky (but no less arresting) solo on 2012’s “The Dream of the Drowned Submariner“; he is, without question and without rival, my favorite guitarist on the face of the earth.
3. INVASION (Savant – TBA)
Norwegian glitch-hop auteur Aleksander Vinter aka Savant has spent the last few years cranking out incredible music faster than his fans can snap it up. (By way of example: 2013 alone saw the release of 3 full LPs and 3 EPs.) His last album, Zion, came out in December, and its follow-up, Invasion, is already set for release sometime in the next month or two. Invasion will reportedly eschew the concept album template Vinter followed throughout 2014, focusing on individual tracks rather than an overarching theme. Whatever the format, it’s sure to feature more of the glitched-out drops and blissed-out synths that have characterized Vinter’s work to date.
4. THE GRAND EXPERIMENT (Neal Morse – February 10)
In some meaningful sense, Neal Morse is a Christian Rock artist, and not just a Christian rock artist, so to speak. He’s written multiple full albums specifically about his conversion and subsequent faith life, and his Christianity undergirds even those songs that aren’t explicitly religious in content. And yet he somehow manages to make music that, far from being bland and banal, takes its place as some of the finest progressive rock of the 21st century. Way to buck the trend, Neal – here’s hoping The Grand Experiment continues in the same proggy-not-preachy vein.
5. TBA (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – TBA)
The Tumblr SJW set can suck it – Macklemore is pretty much everything you could hope for in a straight white American male (and especially a straight white American male rapper) in this day and age. On balance, this fellow straight white American male appreciates hip-hop, but it’s not the genre that speaks to his aesthetic or his experience. But The Heist (which, hipster that I am, I was listening to before “Thrift Shop” blew up) is one of my absolute favorite records of the 2010s so far. So you’re damn right I’m jacked for the follow-up.
- Mark Knopfler “Privateering” – Live in Budapest, 22/06/2013 (themusicandmythof.wordpress.com)
- I Want My MTV again…5 facts about “Money For Nothing” (wokeupretro.wordpress.com)
- Marianas Trench – POP 101 (Barely Feat. Anami Vice) (rollingmusicreviews.wordpress.com)
- Feature Friday – Marianas Trench (canadianbeats.wordpress.com)
- Looking Forward to Morse’s New Offering (steelinglass.wordpress.com)
- Review: Flying Colors – Second Nature [Neal Morse] (leavenonearth.wordpress.com)
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (youhearthat.wordpress.com)
- Macklemore’s 10,000 hours (www.jennyluca.com)
- Sunday Mixer: Savant – Zion (REVIEW) (www.the-re-up.com)
- Absurdity Shines in Savant’s Newest Album, PROTOS (www.yourmusiq.com)
I’m also excited about the upcoming Neal Morse album in spite of the fact that his last few releases have started to sound repetitive. I’ve been a fan since getting the first two Spock’s Beard albums in ’96 or ’97 and have eagerly purchased everything he’s released (other than his worship albums) since then. Even if The Grand Experiment doesn’t turn out to be a classic, I’m sure he’ll add another couple of great songs to his already impressive discography.
Hey Tom, Thanks for the link to my Flying Colors review. I’m also looking forward to the Neal Morse album, though I’m not all that keen on the first single, and I didn’t really like the Momentum album. Still, he’s one of my favourite songwriters and the Morse/Portnoy collaboration will aways get me excited!