2016 was, for so many reasons, a profoundly terrible year, but it contained some solace in the form of a number of revered bands and artists returning from long hiatuses to release material.
David Bowie brought us his swan song, “Blackstar,” two days before his death. Months later, an entire album of unreleased material circa his mid-‘70s “Young Americans” soul period surfaced. (It’s called “The Gouster.” Find it online—it’s really something special.)
In the wake of his death, and the apparent crumbling of reality that ensued, more beloved groups came out of hiding; cult favorite folk-punks the Violent Femmes dropped “We Can Do Anything,” their first record in 16 years. The Avalanches, the Australian electronic group responsible for the plunderphonics masterpiece “Since I Left You,” followed suit, surprising everyone with their seemingly out-of-nowhere follow-up, “Wildflower,” also their first in 16 years. Midwestern emo rockers American Football, all now middle-aged, reunited and put out a sequel to their self-titled 1999 debut, an album you’ve probably cried to if you’ve heard it before.
During the final months of the election, ‘90s conscious hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest gave us their final album, the timely and sprawling “We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service.” Founding member Phife Dawg sadly passed away months before release.
The year also saw critically acclaimed records by Beyoncé, Radiohead, Frank Ocean, Weezer, Bon Iver and the late Leonard Cohen. This year, thankfully, seems to be continuing the trend of long-overdue returns.
If we’re to believe the cryptic message hidden in Jeff Mangum’s artwork, Neutral Milk Hotel is due to bring a double LP into the world sometime soon. Canadian noise rock duo Japandroids will be bringing us their third album, the wonderfully titled “Near to the Wild Heart of Life,” on Jan. 27.
Scottish shoegaze pioneers, The Jesus and Mary Chain, amazingly, have put together their first record in 18 years, slated for a March 25 release. Robin Pecknold, frontman of Fleet Foxes, playfully teased his folk group’s upcoming third album, “Ylajali,” on Instagram, posting (and later removing) a picture of the album’s artwork in his personal iTunes library. Its release date has yet to be announced, but it can be safely assumed it will drop sometime this year, as the group has announced 2017 tour dates.
Evidently, this year in music looks to be promisingly abundant. Also look out for new material from The Shins, Gorillaz, Spoon, John Cale and LCD Soundsystem.