Another year has arrived, which means it’s time to get excited about what music lies ahead. While many will be anxiously waiting the return of Justin Bieber or wondering whether Bradley Cooper will make an appearance on Lady Gaga’s new album, our fingers will be itching to get a hold of albums from emerging independent artists and the return of legendary and iconic songwriters and bands. Without further ado, here are our 32 Most Anticipated Albums of 2020, listed in alphabetical order of course.
Agnes Obel, Myopia (February 21 via Blue Note Records)
- Agnes Obel is an artistic tour-de-force. The Danish-born, Berlin-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s imagination and creativity is limitless, as she can create widescreen, orchestral movements to intimate, astral experiences. Her fifth studio album promises to be another multi-sensory experience, which is a feat only a few artists can match.
Alanis Morissette, Such Pretty Forks in the Road (May 1 via Epiphany / Thirty Tigers)
- She was once a teenage pop queen before she released an alternative album that resonated with every disenfranchised Gen X-er growing up in the ’90s. With the 25th anniversary of Jagged Little Pill arriving in the summer and eight years since her last album, Havoc and Bright Lights, Alanis Morissette returns with her ninth studio album. The first single, “Reasons I Drink”, sees the Canadian icon continue to deliver powerful yet meaningful lyrics as she reflects on a life that was and is. The LP might be one for the over-40 crowd, but we expect she’ll have a few rockers that address the chaos around us.
Algiers, There Is No Year (January 17 via Matador Records)
- The ’90s had Rage Against the Machine, who were celebrated for their hard-charging rock ‘n roll and even more fiery political statements. Twenty years later, Algiers has taken Rage’s mantle as rock’s political band. Their self-titled debut was an intelligent, multilayered kaleidoscope while The Underside of Power was an explosive and fiery album that reminded us that progress is a never-ending exercise. Both records landed on our Favorite Albums of the Year lists, and we fully expect There Is No Year will make it a hat trick for one of the most important bands to arrive in the past decade.
Anna Burch (TBA)
- Two years ago Detroit-based singer-songwriter Anna Burch amused, enthralled, and stole our hearts with her hook-filled, catchy debut, Quit the Curse. Although she has yet to officially announce the release of her sophomore LP, we have heard whispers that she is preparing new material that builds on the excellent, “St. Adalbert”, which she recorded in early 2019 and released as part of a split single with Fred Thomas.
Andy Shauf, Neon Skyline (January 24 via ANTI-)
- If you’ve ever met or had the chance to listen to Andy Shauf speak, he has a very quiet and humble demeanor. He’s not one to hog the spotlight or make himself be the center of attention. He’s actually a man of few words, preferring instead to allow the lyrics of his songs to do all the talking for him. Since the arrival of The Bearer of Bad News in 2015, Shauf has developed a reputation as one of indie rock’s and indie-folk’s great storytellers. He’s been compared to Bob Dylan and Neil Young, but the early songs on Neon Skyline, such as “Try Again”, have a Paul Simon vibe. The Saskatchewan native is on the verge of greatness himself.
Basia Bulat, Are You in Love? (March 27 via Secret City Records)
- We’ve often called Basia Bulat “Canada’s sweetheart” because she’s one of the most gracious and affable individuals on the planet. She applies these characteristics to her music, where she delivers life’s many stories through multiple sonic prisms. She can craft a hip-shaking, indie-pop number then effortlessly move to a low-key, intimate folk ballad. Consequently, Bulat has become one of Canada’s most treasured songwriters; come this spring the rest of the world will also fall in love with Montreal artist.
The Beths (TBA)
- In the span of a few months, The Beths went from being New Zealand’s great little secret to a global indie sensation. Reviews from around the globe gushed over the quartet’s catchy indie-pop sound and the clever stories of frontwoman Elizabeth Stokes on their debut LP, Future Me Hates Me. Unsurprisingly, the album was included on numerous 2019 year-end lists, including our own. Now with legions of fans across Europe and North America in addition to New Zealand and Australia, the band is poised to take another giant leap towards stardom, which could happen this year if the rumors of a new album are true.
The Big Moon, Walking Like We Do (January 10 via Fiction Records)
- Who can be this year’s next big thing out of the UK? There is no shortage of worthy candidates, but if we were the betting types our money would be on London-based quartet The Big Moon. For over five years, Juliette Jackson, Fern Ford, Celia Archer, and Soph Nathann have lifted people’s spirits with their anthemic brand of indie pop-rock, and their sophomore album promises more of the same if recent singles, such as “Your Light”, are any indication. The four young ladies’ talents also extend to covers, as their take on “Carol of the Bells” should be on every Christmas playlist.
Caroline Rose (TBA)
- She’s done rockabilly, country-folk, Americana, and, most recently on 2018’s outstanding Loner, catchy indie pop, Caroline Rose has proven she’s truly an artistic chameleon. We understand she’s working on new material, but what exactly it might sound like is a mystery. For all we know, she might be preparing a ska album or a record influenced by traditional German folktales. Whatever it may be, the record will surely be filled with Rose’s sharp and amusing social commentary.
Chromatics, Dear Tommy
- One of these days, Chromatics will release Dear Tommy, which was originally announced way back in December 2014. After a few false starts, the record was expected in 2018, but it was again put on hold. When it will be released is largely unknown, but hopefully this is the year that Johnny Jewel, Ruth Radelet, Adam Miller, and Nat Walker re-introduce the world to their sublime Italo-disco sound.
The Cure (TBA)
- A career that is entering its 44th year, epic 3-hour live shows, and Robert Smith saying a new album from The Cure is coming this year. All everyone needs to do is dust off their goth clothes and prepare for the arrival of the band’s 14th studio album and first in 12 years.
Destroyer, Have We Met (January 31 via Merge Records)
- There’s never a dull moment with Dan Bejar, whether he’s working with his mates on The New Pornographers or as a solo artist under the moniker Destroyer. He moves seamlessly between genres, so trying to predict how his 13th studio album might sound is a fool’s errand. What we can expect are witty stories, a groovy vibe (like on “Crimson Tide”), and another memorable effort from the underappreciated Canadian genius.
Drive-By Truckers, The Unraveling (January 31 via ATO)
- It’s an election year in the U.S., which means the Drive-By Truckers have something to say in the form of a new full-length. The always prescient band tackle today’s political and social issues head first, holding nothing back on their critiques of (wannabe) dictators, “fake news” proclaimers, and those who wish to divide and conquer. Beyond the lyrical content, expect more rocking guitars, pounding bass lines, and hammering percussion from Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley, Brad Morgan, Jay Gonzalez, and Matt Patton.
Dune Rats, Hurry Up and Wait (January 31 via Ragtag Records)
- Australian rockers Dune Rats return with a new album titled Hurry Up and Wait. The punk-heavy trio stay true to their roots on the single, “Crazy”, but offer a mainstream ready track in “No Plans” as they almost have to justify their reasons for being in a band with snarky lyrics recounting the questions they receive: “D’you guys play covers, or just originals?” The album’s third released single, “Rubber Arm”, tackles giving into wild decisions. One thing is for sure, this album will be just what’s needed to inject a dose of loud energy into any upcoming situation.
Fear of Men (TBA)
- For a decade, Brighton-based trio Fear of Men have gradually emerged as one of the UK’s most enthralling bands. Their sophomore album, Fall Forever, was minimalist, delicate, and utterly enchanting from start to finish. It mesmerized from start to finish, earning it one of the spots on our Favorite 50 Albums of 2016. Since then, Jess Weiss, Daniel Falvey, and Michael Miles have been relatively quiet until yesterday when they announced they will be headlining the Saturday night of Cologne Popfest in March. The announcement accompanied these words, “More shows coming, but mainly we’re mainly focusing on the new record”. We cannot wait!
Gengahr, Sanctuary (January 31 via Liberator Music)
- Ever since the quartet emerged with their 2015 debut, A Dream Outside, they’ve continued to mesmerize with unmistakable vocals and dreamy soundscapes. They recently released “Everything & More” from their upcoming album, Sanctuary. The track is a sweet slice of what’s to come from their third full-length album. The track moves with ease over a groovy bassline, opportune guitar riffs, and a soaring chorus. As Gengahr has evolved as a band, they are sticking close to their shoegaze roots yet expanding their sound with a groovier dance ready feel from their second single released, “Heavenly Maybe”.
- Spain’s Hinds are the definition of killer rock band. Their two LPs, Leave Me Alone and I Don’t Run, are ridiculously good. Their live shows are even better, so it may be impossible to find four people who have more fun on stage than this crew. Hinds released a new single, “Riding Solo”, in December, which is an indication something is definitely brewing, but no details on what at the moment.
Khruangbin & Leon Bridges, Texas Sun (February 7 via Dead Oceans)
- We often like to think about what collaborations would be perfect, and the pairing of psychedelic instrumentalists Khruangbin and soul singer-songwriter Leon Bridges fits the bill. The Texas-based artists have already shared the title track to their joint LP, and we’re hoping that the rest of the album will be filled with warm, sun-drenched psych-folk-rock. That’s the type of album that will be perfect for a summer road trip.
Liz Phair (TBA)
- In the autumn of 2019, Liz Phair shared her memoir, Horror Stories, which described how she broke through the rock patriarchy of the ’90s and the experiences she had. Alongside the book, she released “Good Times”, leading to speculation that she was preparing a new album. And that’s where we’re at – stuck with a hope and a prayer that the living legend will produce her first LP in a decade.
My Bloody Valentine (TBA)
- Like another band on this list, My Bloody Valentine were supposed to release two albums in 2019. Well, life got in the way, and now the hope is that the records will be unveiled this year. After the successful returns of fellow shoegaze alumni Slowdive, Ride, and Swervedriver over the past two years, can this extraordinary band continue to prove that shoegaze is the genre that just won’t die? We are hoping so, as the music world could sure use a sprinkling of some guitar-heavy, immersive tunes. No pressure, Kevin Shields, Colm Ó Cíosóig, Debbie Googe, and Bilinda Butcher!
Nadia Reid, Out of My Province (March 6th via Slowtime Records / Spacebomb Records)
- There is no shortage of great songwriters coming out of New Zealand. Nadia Reid has broken out from that pack with strong releases, most recently 2017’s Preservation. In December, Reid announced her third record, Out of My Province, will be released on March 6 on her own Slowtime Records label as well as Spacebomb Records. The announcement was accompanied with a stunner of a lead single, “Best Thing”.
Perfume Genius (TBA)
- In 2014, Mike Hadreas shared the breathtaking and ambitious Too Bright, which was as close to perfection an album could be. That was until he released the cinematic opus, No Shape, three years later. Both albums made several year-end lists, including our Favorite Albums of the Year lists. The LPs evidenced the brilliance of the Seattle-based artist, and they have increased expectations on what his fifth album may hold. While an official announcement has yet to be made, Hadreas will be going on tour this year with Tame Impala, and hopefully this means new material is coming soon.
Poliça, When We Stay Alive (January 31 via Memphis Industries)
- Physical pain can have powerful effects on an artist. Expect the upcoming album from Minneapolis synthpop darlings Poliça to allude to both pain and healing. When We Stay Alive arrives later this month, two years after singer Channy Leaneagh sustained traumatic injuries after falling off her roof. The long months she spent in recovery proved inspirational. The album’s first single, “Driving,” recounts the experience with vivid lyrical imagery (“Snow falls on the tip of my tongue / Tasting blood of the violence to come”) and Leaneagh’s signature ethereal vocals. If the rest of the album maintains that evocative vibe, listeners are in for a lush treat.
Ratboys, Printer’s Devil (February 28 via Topshelf Records)
- In an era where young artists have been taught to take shortcuts with their songwriting (thanks to mainstream radio), bands like Ratboys prove that there is still a place for great storytellers. Their 2017 LP, GN, was witty, whimsical, thoughtful, and genuine. It was groovy and warm, dreamy and exhilarating. Led by Julia Steiner and David Sagan, Chicago’s best-kept secret is set to be unveiled for all to hear when album #3 drops at the end of February.
Tame Impala, The Slow Rush (February 14 via Interscope Records)
- Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker is a perfectionist: that’s the bad news. He takes his time tweaking every aspect of every song, so his process of album making is considerably longer than for ordinary bands. Fortunately for fans of the Aussie psychedelic master, Tame Impala is no ordinary band, which is why the arrival next month of their fourth LP, The Slow Rush, is so anticipated. The singles released so far include the deliriously catchy “Borderline” (featuring a call-and-response chorus guaranteed to make you woozy) and the equally danceable “It Might Be Time” prove that Tame Impala only get better with each album. This one is a strong Album of The Year contender.
Sløtface, Sorry for the Late Reply (January 31 via Propeller Records and Nettwerk)
- If you’ve been a regular reader of our site, seeing Sløtface on this list will be no surprise. They have been featured now 24 times, including having one of our Favorite Albums of 2017 with Try Not to Freak Out. Haley Shea, Lasse Lokøy, Tor-Arne Vikingstad, and Halvard Skeie Wiencke have repeatedly mixed exhilarating indie pop-rock with insightful, edgy, and honest lyrics. They can get political and be at the forefront of a social movement, but they can equally call out people for their apathy and mis-priorities, such as on “Stuff”. The Norwegian band is already a hit in northern Europe, so it’s only a matter of time before they become global sensations.
TENNIS, Swimmer (February 14 via Mutually Detrimental)
- Husband and wife duo TENNIS (Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley) will release their fifth album, Swimmer, on February 14th. Their first single, “Runner”, is a true gem. If this track is any indication, we are sure to hear even more lush, dreamy tracks that will be a perfect soundtrack for cuddling up with your special someone on Valentine’s Day and beyond.
Told Slant (TBA)
- Told Slant’s music shows there is beauty in simplicity and honesty. Their two previous albums, Still Water and Going By, are beautiful, powerful, and life-affirming pieces of art. How they can take a single lyric and turn it into something way bigger is incredible. Recently, Felix Walworth, the creative force behind Told Slant, stated that a new album is on its way in 2020. Despite the lack of details (namely, an album title or release date), our anticipation remains high for this one.
TORRES, Silver Tongue (January 31 via Merge Records)
- Mackenzie Scott, the force behind TORRES, has been an fascinating artist to watch. Her debut was a fairly straightforward singer-songwriter album, but her evolution into a creative powerhouse over her next two releases was undeniable. Constantly testing and pushing musical boundaries, Scott has created a captivating discography. Unsurprisingly, her first two albums (Sprinter and Three Futures) made our Favorite Albums of the Year lists in 2015 and 2017. On January 31st, TORRES releases Silver Tongue, and if the lush first single, “Good Scare”, is any indication, it will be incredible.
- Seemingly perpetual members of our “Anticipated Albums” list, Warpaint always leave us wanting more. Their last album, Heads Up, in 2016 was an instant classic. Since then, Warpaint has had other focuses. For instance, Theresa has been releasing music as TT; Emily is having a child; Stella is perhaps the most in-demand drummer in the world; and Jenny Lee is always up to something interesting. Warpaint played some shows in 2019, said something is brewing, so perhaps 2020 is the year!
Wilsen, Ruiner (February 21 via Secret City Records and Dalliance Recordings)
- Dozens of bands have attempted to replicate the spine-tingling, haunting soundscapes of Daughter, and few have succeeded. But maybe the secret isn’t to replicate but to progress the approach, which is what Brooklyn trio Wilsen have done. Their sophomore album, I Go Missing in My Sleep, was a collection of intoxicatingly beautiful songs and crushing stories. Their third album, Ruiner, is expected to be equally stunning yet possibly even dreamier and more widescreen in its scope and cinema. This is assuming the lead single and title track are indications of what is to come.
Wolf Parade, Thin Mind (January 24 via Sub Pop)
- We have been ardent fans of Wolf Parade since their formation. The Canadian indie rockers maintain their fresh sound with each album, never missing a beat despite taking a long hiatus as they did before their 2017 LP, Cry Cry Cry. Another long wait preceded their upcoming fifth LP, Thin Mind. Our collective reaction upon hearing the lead single, “Against The Day“, was a triumphant fist pump: here, against an ’80s retro riff, frontman Dan Boeckner rails against societal ills and negative technological influences. Longtime keyboardist and co-frontman Spencer Krug remains alongside drummer Arlen Thomas, making the band a trio following the departure of Dante DeCaro last year. Two things have us very excited this month: the arrival of this album on the 24th and the North American tour that kicks off the next day.
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