Exclaim!'s Top 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016

BY Alex HudsonPublished Jan 4, 2016

The end of every year is always marked by lists focusing on the finest moments from the past 12 months. That being said, the new year is a great time to look ahead next 12: What albums are we going to spend this year of our lives obsessing over?
A calendar of exciting releases is already quickly coming together, and we're learning about more every day. So as you argue with your friends about whether To Pimp a Butterfly was better than Carrie & Lowell, let's take a look at the records that have us most excited about 2016.
To find more of Exclaim!'s year-end writing, head to our 2015 in Lists section.
Top 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2016:
(Innovative Leisure)
Release Date: TBA
We're expecting Canada's coolest indie jazz outfit, BADBADNOTGOOD, to continue to further their crossover appeal with their next album. Although they haven't confirmed any details about the impending effort, a recent announcement revealed that they've been in the studio, and the album will reportedly feature "some very special guests." It's been strongly hinted that this might include Kali Uchis and Future Islands' Samuel T. Herring, who both appeared during one of the band's recent live shows.
Is the Is Are
(Captured Tracks)
Release Date: February 5
When DIIV released their debut album Oshin in 2012, they were an on-the-cusp buzz band with a bright future ahead of them. Since then, however, their music has often been overshadowed by personal struggles: frontman Zachary Cole Smith was busted (along with his girlfriend Sky Ferreira) for drugs, drummer Colby Hewitt left the band due to his drug addiction and bassist Devin Ruben Perez was embroiled in a controversy over offensive comments made on 4chan. Luckily, DIIV seem to have recovered for Is the Is Are, a sprawling 17-track epic. From what we've heard so far ("Dopamine," "Bent (Roi's Song)," "Mire (Grant's Song)"), it seems that the songs mix dreamy jangle with stormy darkness, and it's a winning combination.
8. Sarah Neufeld
The Ridge
(Paper Bag Records)
Release Date: February 26
Known for contributions to Arcade Fire and collaborations with Colin Stetson, adventurous violinist Sarah Neufeld is back with another solo album. The Ridge is said to emphasize her violin playing, but this time around, she also includes her own vocals, plus drumming from Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara. According to an announcement, it "[moves away from] classical minimalism and sepulchral ambience, and into the world of rhythmic pop minimalism." We can hear this shift on "The Ridge" and "We've Got a Lot," which bode well for the LP.
7. Converge
(Label TBA)
Release Date: TBA
Since 1994, metallic hardcore greats Converge have consistently released an album every two to three years. At this point, they haven't released an album since 2012, making this one of their longest-ever breaks between records. Luckily, they've got their sights set on the next step, and vocalist Jacob Bannon told Exclaim! TV during a recent appearance on Aggressive Tendencies, "There is Converge stuff demoed, and we're starting to like where things are going right now." There's no firm timeline for when exactly it will come out, but we're optimistic that Converge's drought is going to end in 2016.
6. Basia Bulat
Good Advice
(Secret City Records)
Release Date: February 12
Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat took some very, ahem, good advice when she opted to get My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James to produce her new album. She recorded Good Advice in Kentucky, and said in a statement, "It's got fireworks and heartbreak and a disco ball and I can't wait to share more of it with you really soon!" James always manages to combine rusticity with atmospheric, adventurous drama, so it will be exciting to hear more songs along the lines of "Infamous."
5. Animal Collective
Painting With
Release Date: February 19
Animal Collective albums are always inventive collisions of disorienting electronic experimentation and quirky avant-pop, so we can't wait to see what the boundary-pushing band have cooked up for their latest full-length. Recorded this past summer at EastWest Studios in Los Angeles, the LP reportedly "bounces and pops with an urgent, ecstatic energy, propelled by polyrhythmic beats and gurgling modular synth," according to a press release. Listeners can't wait to find out what it sounds like (unless, of course, you happened to be at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport on November 25, in which case you've already heard it, since the entire thing was streaming over the P.A. system for much of the day).
4. Junior Boys
Big Black Coat
(GEEJ/City Slang Records)
Release Date: February 5
It's been five years since Junior Boys released an album, and this lengthy break meant that the Hamilton electronic duo approached Big Black Coat with renewed enthusiasm. Jeremy Greenspan said in an announcement: "I could work with Junior Boys music with the same spirit as I did when it was new. It was hugely liberating and invigorating [for] me, because I was doing things I felt really good and confident about." He has enthused that the music was easy to make, and the preview tracks "Big Black Coat" and "Over It" show that the band seemed to have arrived in an inventive, infectiously danceable comfort zone.
3. Kanye West
(Label TBA)
Release Date: TBA
After 2013's outstanding Yeezus, it initially looked like Kanye West was going to quickly pump out a follow-up, as we initially expected So Help Me God to be out in mid-2015. Eventually, however, he changed the title to SWISH, and reports now suggest that the release may still be a ways off. At this point, it's not entirely clear if preview cuts like "Only One," "All Day" and "Wolves" will be on the final product. We really wish Yeezy would stop focusing on Adidas clothing lines and release his album. Hopefully we don't spend 2016 enduring more delays.
2. Frank Ocean
Boys Don't Cry
(Label TBA)
Release Date: TBA
This year was a frustrating one for Frank Ocean fans, who spent much of it expecting a new album from the R&B singer to arrive at any moment. In the spring, Ocean hinted that the album would be in July, and it appeared that it would be titled Boys Don't Cry and would coincide with some sort of magazine release. July came and went without an album, however, and we're still waiting for any sort of confirmation that it's on its way. Surely it's going to be coming out in 2016?
1. Drake
Views from the 6
(OVO Sound)
Release Date: TBA
Drake began talking about his album Views from the 6 in mid-2014, but rather than releasing it in 2015, he focused on the outstanding mixtape If You're Reading This It's Too Late and the Future team-up What a Time to Be Alive. Still, it's safe to say that Drizzy hasn't forgotten about the album: a recent billboard in Toronto contained the message "The 6 God Is Watching," and the rapper previously said that Beyoncé will be a featured guest. In light of the smash success of "Hotline Bling," it's safe to say that anticipation is at an all-time high. We're a little tired of waiting for this album, so we wish Drake would get his ghostwriters to finish it for him already. (We kid, we kid!)

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