Almost Certain

The Antlers

Everyone thought The Antlers were done in 2017 after a now-deleted Tweet insisted the wait for new music would be forever. Functioning as a duo now, Peter Silberman and Michael Lerner set out on a Hospice anniversary tour in 2019 sans founding member Darby Cicci, but October 2020 saw “Wheels Roll Home”, their first new song in six years, drop to some raised eyebrows. Another single “It Is What It Is” followed, and things would appear to be moving towards a return in 2021, and we’re here for it. – Tim Sentz

Archers of Loaf

Eight years after their reissue campaign wrapped up, Eric Bachmann’s beloved 90s indie rock band Archers of Loaf released their first new song in 22 years – a month before a pandemic broke out. Prior to “Raleigh Days” the band was hinting at more new music to come in 2020, but with COVID ruining many people’s plans/lives, a good chunk has been pushed to 2021, which will make it 23 years since the last Loaf album, 1998’s White Trash Heroes. Bachmann’s post-Loaf endeavors have garnered him much admiration, and a string of successful living room shows has only increased the anticipation for new music from them. – Tim Sentz

Westside Boogie

For my money, if there’s any hip hop album from the 2010’s that just didn’t receive it’s damn laurels, it’s (Westside) Boogie’s Everything’s for Sale. Forget some overstuffed Scorpion, even in spite of his Compton-bred sense of danger, Boogie tackled emotional fatigue in the Tinder era with a depth and sensitivity that Drake doesn’t even bother to dream of. Given all that occurred in 2020, that early 2019 release feels like a lifetime ago. The mind races wondering where he might go next, still supported by Eminem and Shady Records. His latest single, “Outside”, was a tantalizing but cruelly brief snapshot of what we might expect. Whatever it turns out to be, it’s nearly certain to be masterful. – Chase McMullen

Conway the Machine – God Don’t Make Mistakes

Conway the Machine has taken his damn time. It shows: of the three key Griselda brethren, it’s Conway who’s focused on making the greatest strides to expand beyond their (admittedly great) niche brand. He worked with Hit-Boy before Benny’s Burden of Proof, and the rumored guests for his upcoming Shady debut range from 2 Chainz to none other than Drake. While Westside Gunn seemed to view his Shady Records moment as just that – simply another moment along his path – Conway seems to be treating it as the launchpad it has the potential to be. While From a King to a God was undeniably strong and brought him plenty of newfound fans, it felt like a precursor, a trial run. God Don’t Make Mistakes has the potential to be something truly special, something essential. – Chase McMullen

Danny Brown – XXXX

Danny Brown, self-described Greatest Rapper Ever (who, quite honestly, is getting close to living up to the brag) has been teasing a new album on his socials. Billed as XXXX, it’s clearly a spiritual successor to his breakout LP, 2011’s XXX. Where that album addressed the advent of turning 30, that extra X lets us know he’s examining the implications of hitting the big 4-0 (even if his Roman numeral game is a little off: 40 is XL, Danny). – Andy Johnston

FKA twigs

FKA twigs almost got away with releasing a single album in the 2010s, albeit one that helped seriously change the music landscape of the past few years. But then at the end she snuck in 2019’s Magdalene, another helping of weird, creative, sensuous, and moving alternative r&b and art pop. Recently, twigs has mentioned that another album could be coming sooner rather than later, and even said that she has been working with Spanish electronic wizard El Guincho. Any twigs project if cause for excitement, but the sound of that particular pairing has us watering at our proverbial mouths. – Jeremy J. Fisette

Hand Habits

Hand Habits’ second album placeholder was one of the sleeper hits of 2019, but one focused listen to Meg Duffy’s quietly beautiful contemplations would have you captivated without reserve. And, let me tell you, even now listening to it tangles me up in emotional turmoil. Just last month Duffy revealed that they had been completing their third album with the aid of SASAMI on production duties, and the combination of the two is an intriguing one, to say the least. SASAMI’s ear for texture was evident on her debut album, and with Duffy supplying the melodies and emotions, it could be a quiet firecracker. – Rob Hakimian

IU

How has it been since 2017 since IU released a proper LP? Sure, she gave us the supremely focused Love Poem in 2019, but an EP is simply not enough. The queen of K-pop is a far more nuanced, accomplished artist than outsiders of the genre are likely to ever appreciate, but she treats each of her eras with care, only returning to offer a full statement when she feels genuinely driven to do so. 2020 only saw the release of “eight”, which offered lyrical escapism from our COVID reality, but IU teased a proper album intended for release without warning in the winter. Well, clearly, 2020 came and went. We can only assume (and desperately hope) that project might arrive any day now. – Chase McMullen

The Killers

Las Vegas band The Killers released arguably their best album in 2020, Imploding the Mirage. Known mostly for their stellar singles, it was the most holistic and generally pleasing whole record the band had put out since their debut. But now, only mere months later, they seem to be teasing a quick follow-up. If their next effort is as bright, catchy, and pristine as Mirage, it should be cause for curiosity and excitement. – Jeremy J. Fisette

Slowdive

Slowdive’s self-titled 2017 album, and first since 1995’s Pygmalion, was a standout of the year. Thankfully, we won’t have to wait 22 years for a follow-up; in late September, fans rejoiced when Slowdive started posting in-studio photos on their Instagram account with the hashtag #slowdivelp5. Since then, details have been scarce (there’s no release date). Yet any new music from the English shoegaze mainstays will be a welcomed gift in 2021. – Carlo Thomas

Snoop Dogg, E-40, Too $hort, and Ice Cube

What can one really say about the prospect of a supergroup between – sheesh, people – Snoop Dogg, E-40, Too $hort, and Ice Cube? There’s no possible reason not to be excited. At worst it’ll be a glorious mess. Alright, so there’s an undeniable outlier: Snoop, 40, and $hort’s chemistry is natural, you can practically already hear them goofing around in the studio, having a damn good time and crafting elder statesman jams that display that very energy. A Snoopergroup, if you will. Indeed, 40 and $hort’s friendship (and shared regional comfort) has been displayed numerous times, whether during their recent Verzuz battle or on their pair of History albums (check them out if you haven’t, they’re better than they have any right to be). What’s more, the three MC’s have remained defiantly ageless, their still youthful voices at home on just about everything, whether old or new school, whether next to a Suga Free or a Wiz Khalifa. Ice Cube? Well, even with recent Trump drama aside, he’s certainly aged. He also isn’t particularly known for being light on a mic. It’s hard to imagine just how his dominant style will mesh with the other three. But hey, what the hell, we’re sure as fuck glad this is happening. – Chase McMullen

Sophia Kennedy

While the American-born, Germany-based art-pop provocateur’s 2017 album Sophia Kennedy did not receive the praise it deserved, it seems not to have perturbed her venturing further into weirdness. In October, Kennedy released “Orange Tic Tac”, a schizophrenic track that is by turns unsettling and life-affirming, where she got to show off her diverse vocal characterisation – not to mention her malleable pop songwriting. The accompanying DIY video gave us even deeper insight into Sophia Kennedy as an artist and performer, and while some may have been a bit unnerved by what they saw, hopefully most will have been completely glued. It’s been all quiet since that release, but it seems almost certain we’ll get a new album this year. – Rob Hakimian

St. Vincent

Annie Clark’s last album as St. Vincent, 2017’s Masseduction, saw her go further into synth pop and electronics than ever before, largely ditching organic instrumentation and focusing instead on sugary hooks and shorter tunes. It was a bit of a divisive move, but now, according to a recently-confirmed rumor, St. Vincent is at it again. She claims that the album she’s been working on is basically finished, and marks a “tectonic shift” in her sound. That alone makes it a tantalizing concept, so we’re hoping Clark brings her music to new heights in 2021. – Jeremy J. Fisette

SZA

Back in September, on the Friday before a holiday weekend in COVID times, SZA surprised us all with the first new music since “All the Stars” from the 2018 Black Panther OST. The Neptunes and Ty Dolla $ign assisted “Hit Different” showed off some maturation in Solana Imani Rowe’s songwriting techniques, and she assured us that more was on the horizon. A handful of Tweets gave us hope that 2020 was the long-awaited return for one of the best breakout artists from 2017, but according to SZA, her label Top Dawg is the reason for such a long gestation period. Nevertheless, she says it’s on the way “real fuckin soon.”Tim Sentz

Tierra Whack

If you were to add together everything Tierra Whack has released since her critically acclaimed audio-visual debut Whack World back in 2018, they would be significantly longer than that album. The Philly rapper hasn’t rested much since her breakthrough, and all the recent singles she’s dropped – specifically “Peppers & Onions” – have proven she’s not content to just stick with the same formula. Confirmed to have been working on it throughout 2019 and 2020, it’s only a matter of time before we hear something. – Tim Sentz

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