By each January, the fervor of year-end lists has died down completely. But the entire cycle must reset. It’s impossible to predict all of what 2019 will have in store, but here are some albums people will likely want to say something about.
Panda Bear — “Buoys”
Experimental pop musician and co-founding Animal Collective member Noah Lennox — better known by his stage name, Panda Bear — is set to release his sixth solo album on Feb. 8. Although Lennox was absent from the recording of Animal Collective’s most recent project “Tangerine Reef,” his upcoming LP entitled “Buoys” still shares in some of the aquatic themes. “Dolphin,” the album’s mellowed-out single, features a light acoustic guitar with some water droplet samples, working toward a relaxed and uncomplicated aesthetic.
In a recent press release, Lennox positioned the album as a personal and artistic transition. "The last three records felt like a chapter to me, and this feels like the beginning of something new," he said. For “Buoys,” Lennox paired up with his previous collaborator Rusty Santos, who is known for his production work on two of the most celebrated albums in Lennox’s ample discography: the Animal Collective album “Sung Tongs” and Panda Bear’s 2007 LP, “Person Pitch.”
Weezer — “The Black Album”
Toward the end of 2018, Weezer set a release date for the band’s long-rumored “Black Album,” a supposedly darker companion piece to 2016’s “White Album.” Since then, the band has released two singles from the upcoming project. The unapologetic anthem “Can’t Knock the Hustle” acts as a tongue-in-cheek response to the band’s more recent criticism, and the radio-friendly “Zombie Bastards” features a tired pop tinge that has become typical of most late-era Weezer songs.
Those who favor the first two Weezer albums (read: almost everyone) might be disappointed with “The Black Album,” as the band continues to stray further away from the alternative rock bliss of its ‘90s output. But this new album should still prove to be a curious listen, thanks in part to some production from the acclaimed TV on the Radio guitarist David Sitek. Weezer seems to have a genuine interest in stylistic experimentation and frontman Rivers Cuomo also seems to be amping up his edginess once again — or at least he’s saying stuff like “bitch” and “motherfucker” now in the lyrics. The album is set to release on March 1.
Kanye West — “Yhandi”
Who knows if this album will ever come out. Last fall, the always-controversial Kanye West announced his ninth studio album, “Yhandi,” with an intended release date of Sept. 29, 2018 — but the album failed to release on time. Kim Kardashian West then announced through twitter that the album’s release date would be pushed back to Black Friday. But nothing came out on that day either. Kanye subsequently retreated to a studio in Uganda to rework and finish the album, but he remains unsatisfied with it. He’ll announce it “once it’s done,” he said.
With a similar album title, and artwork featuring a transparent MiniDisc and a lone piece of purple tape, “Yhandi” will likely act as a spiritual successor to Kanye’s acclaimed 2013 album, “Yeezus.” Expected collaborators include 6ix9ine, Kid Cudi and Nicki Minaj. Although, with some of Kanye’s more recent antics — including both a MAGA hat selfie and a questionable comment on slavery — some of his fans may have already lost interest.