2015 is already shaping up to be a huge year musically, both in Portland and in the national scene at large. From polarizing living legends (Bjork, Kanye) to local acts looking to breakout nationally (Shy Girls, Natasha Kmeto), the first third of 2015 looks to be rich with great new music. Below I’ve complied a quick guide to the releases I’m most excited about and included a few samples of the artists’ new work. Here’s to a year filled with fantastic music!
(L) = local act.
(L) The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World – 1/20: The hometown heros return with another wonderfully wordy and melodic record, the highly successful band’s 7th studio effort.
(L) Chromatics: Dear Tommy – TBD (“In time for Valentine’s Day” – Johnny Jewel): Johnny, Ruth and Co. return with another batch of tunes, just in time to add some sensuality to the freezing heart of Winter. Expect much sexiness. Cold, cold, sexiness.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/180598259″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
(L) Shy Girls: TBD: After garnering quite a bit of well-deserved praise for his debut releases in 2013, Dan Vidmar spent most of 2014 refining and further shaping his Shy Girls project by touring with the likes of Haim and recording his hotly-anticipated full length debut, due in early 2015.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/179801525″ params=”color=ff5500″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
(L) Modest Mouse: Strangers To Ourselves – 3/7: Issac Brock and the boys are back with their first record since 2007 (!). If the band’s fantastic summer tour is any indicator, Strangers To Ourselves will continue the band’s unprecedented run of great records.
(L) The Crow & The Canyon, TBD: This local up and coming old school country/bluegrass act has turned quite a few heads in their short existence, and hope to continue that momentum when they hit Cloud Studios later this month to record their debut record.
(L) Sleater-Kinney, No Cities, To Love – 1/20: You know em, you love em, you thought you’d never see em again. It’s a Portland miracle, and a very welcome one.
(L) Natasha Kmeto, Inevitable -TBD:A lot of folks are looking at Kmeto as one of 2015’s breakout stars, and with good reason. On her debut for TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek’s Federal Prism label, Kmeto has promised a more vocal-forward approach than what was shown on her 2013 release Crisis, which is certainly evident by the title track.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/152830848″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
(L) Vinnie Dewayne, St. Johns Scholar – TBD: The 23-year-old MC has been teasing the release of his second record for a while now, and it appears ready for a Spring release.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/174643829″ params=”color=ff5500″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Radiohead, TBD: Little is known about the new Radiohead album, including in what industry-defying manner the band will release the record this time around. All we know for certain is the band has been recording, and that the moment the record drops, the internet will shit its collective pants.
Bjork, TBD: Everyone’s favorite Icelandic songstress returns with her ninth record in 2015, and one of 2014’s breakout producers, Arca (Kanye West, FKA Twigs), will be at the helm. Haxan Cloak has also been announced as a contributor, only heightening the excitement behind the as-of-yet untitled record.
Courtney Barnett, TBD: 2014 saw Barnett touring the world pretty much non-stop behind her excellent 2013 “Double EP” release, A Sea Of Split Peas, and that album’s unique combination of clever wordplay and top-notch playing earned the Australian comparisons to the likes of Bob Dylan and Kurt Cobain. Those two influences, while drastically different, are apt and deserved, and I am among the many who have placed Barnett at the top of their radar for the coming year (and beyond).
Father John Misty, I Love You Honeybear – 2/10: Seattle-based Josh Tillman saw his solo career explode with the advent of his Father John Misty character in 2012 with the release of the excellent Fear Fun. The psychedelic Romeo returns in early Feburay with I Love You Honeybear.
Futurebirds, Hotel Parties – TBD: Athens, Georgia psyche-country master craftsmen return with their third and most ambitious LP, one that finds the band at a crossroads. Each of Futurebirds’ releases have been fantastic thus far, and each has seen the band perfect and progress their sound a bit more. Having heard early masters of the record, I can attest to yet another leap forward for the band. This should be a massive year for the birds.
A$AP Rocky, TBD: Rocky and his “pretty boy swag” return in 2015, and seem poised to drop another set of tunes that are outfitted for both the runway and the street corner.
Jai Paul: TBD: Is this the year Paul’s actual debut appears? Finally? Time will tell if the mysterious project comes to fruition after all the false starts and hype.
Natalie Prass, Natalie Prass – 1/26: Formerly of Jenny Lewis’ backing band, Nashville’s Natalie Prass’ Matthew E. White and Trey Pollard-produced debut will be one of the most anticipated of the new year.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/172419999″ params=”color=ff5500″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Kendrick Lamar, TBD: We don’t know much about the new Kendrick Lamar record other than: Flying Lotus provided some of the beats with an assist from Thundercat, what we’ve heard is very, very enticing, and that literally everyone cannot wait to hear it.
Kanye West, TBD: See above, x10.
Panda Bear, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper – 1/9: Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox returns with his fifth solo release, a melange of ethereal psychedelic hymns that finds him once again peerless with its beauty.
Diane Coffee, TBD: Fresh off a wild year that saw him behind the drum kit for Foxygen’s excellent tour behind their release … And Star Power as well a guest appearance on Run The Jewels’ epic release, Shaun Felming aka Diane Coffee will return with his sophomore release around the middle of the year.
Viet Cong, Viet Cong – 1/20: Viet Cong arose from the ashes of the wonderful and gone-too-soon Calgary art-rock band Women, featuring remaining members Matt Flegel and Mike Wallace. Viet Cong spent the last year touring and releasing a ramshackle (in a good way) and intriguing merch-table cassette that for me recalls Deerhunter’s earlier work. The band drops its first proper release in a couple of weeks and will be touring behind the record much of the year.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/171085572″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Run The Jewels, Meow The Jewels/Run The Jewels 3 – TBD: How do Mike and Jamie top the best year of their careers? The same way the topped 2013 in 2014: by going harder than anyone thought possible. First up: their reworking of Run The Jewels 2 entitled Meow The Jewels that features several A-list producers and… well, lots of cats.
Diamond Rugs, Cosmetics – 2/24: The rowdy-as-can-be indie “supergroup” featuring members of Deer Tick, Black Lips, Dead Confederate, Los Lobos & Six Finger Satellite returns with their sophomore effort and tour. Expect much beer. Expect many good times. Check out the record’s lead single “Voodoo Doll” here.
T. Hardy Morris, TBD: Morris continues to be one of “indie” music’s hardest working artists (and one of its most under-appreciated), between his work with Diamond Rugs, Dead Confederate and his wonderful solo work. Look for his follow up to 2013’s excellent Audition Tapes around mid year. Check out “Painted On Attitude” right here.
Ty Segall, I don’t actually know if Ty plans on releasing anything this year… but come on: it’s Ty Segall. Dude probably wrote and recorded an EP while I typed up this article.
The Men, See above. The Brooklyn band has released an LP every year since 2010, and each one gets a little better. Why stop now?
Words: Donovan Farley