"Got a feeling '21 is gonna be a good year" sang Pete Townsend in Tommy, his magnum opus from 1969. And though the lyric, referencing 1921, is spoken by Tommy's mother, who is about to traumatize her son into being deaf, dumb and blind in order to cover up her lover's adulterous, murderous transgressions, why split hairs? As of this writing, with the lockdown still in full force and vaccine distribution in its early stages, let's take our optimism any way we can get it. Which is to say that there's a lot of great music on tap for 2021, and confidence is high that there will be ticket sales in 2021 for future live shows that come off without a hitch. Also, Record Store Day 2021 is already confirmed for June 12, so it's never too early to mark your calendar for that Saturday! Here is a list of musical releases on the horizon for the coming year.
UPCOMING RELEASES BY DATE
Jeff Tweedy--Love is the King (January 15): One of 2020's best finally sees CD and vinyl editions.
Kurt Vile--Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (January 15): This 5-song EP includes two John Prine covers (one featuring Prine himself), a "Cowboy" Jack Clement cover and two Vile originals.
The Band--Stage Fright (February 5): The 50th Anniversary Edition of The Band's Americana classic features some of their best-loved material. The box also includes previously unheard "hotel jams" from the group's 1970 Festival Express Canadian tour that included Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead.
Fleet Foxes--Shore (February 5): Robin Pecknold surprised fans by dropping the first Fleet Foxes album in three years on the fall solstice on streaming services; the vinyl edition is finally seeing release four months later. Pecknold recently revealed for the first time that he is the sole musician on all Fleet Foxes records, a one-man-studio-band a la Tame Impala's Kevin Parker.
Foo Fighters--Medicine at Midnight (February 5): Dave Grohl and company's first new studio album since 2017's Concrete and Gold.
The Weather Station--Ignorance (February 5): Canadian folkie Tamara Lindeman records under the moniker The Weather Station. Her fifth full-length studio album is her first since 2017's excellent self-titled effort.
Bob Dylan--The Bootleg Series Vol. 15: 1970 (February 26): This archival collection includes various rarities from 1970. The big draw is a previously-unreleased session with George Harrison, but outtakes from New Morning and Self-Portrait are also included. The first release is in a 3-CD format, with a vinyl edition still to be scheduled.
Neil Young--Way Down in the Rust Bucket (February 26): Although Neil has provided few details yet other than the release date, this long-sought-after show from November 1990 finds Young and Crazy Horse bashing their way through Ragged Glory-era material.
Neil Young--Archives Vol. 2 (March 5): To no one but Neil's surprise, the first 3000 copies of his Archives Vol. 2 box--10 CDs encompassing 1972-1976--sold out in under an hour. Neil is putting out a less-expensive, "retail" edition of the box in early March.
The Beatles--Get Back Peter Jackson Documentary (August 27): Based on the footage Jackson recently released, this documentary should be revelatory: tons of previously unseen footage from the Let It Be sessions, and hopefully a complete version of The Beatles' legendary January 1969 London rooftop concert, the last time they played together live. The presumption is that the film, which paints a much more harmonious picture of the band than the original documentary, with be accompanied by a deluxe reissue of Let It Be, but that is not a sure thing considering how much Paul McCartney hated Phil Spector's production of their final release.
ARTISTS THAT ARE OVERDUE AND/OR HAVE MENTIONED 2021 RELEASES
Adele--The newly-svelte British crooner hasn't released anything since 2015's 25, but has been hinting at new music recently.
Arcade Fire--Everything Now is over three years old, and Win Butler spoke of studio time being booked on the Rick Rubin's Broken Record podcast a few months ago. The group also played a new song on Stephen Colbert's Election Special.
Courtney Barnett--The Australian rocker hasn't released new material since 2017's stellar Tell Me How You Really Feel (my favorite record that year). She played a bunch of new songs on her recent paid livestream, so confidence is high for a new LP in 2021.
The Cure--It's been nearly two years since Robert Smith spoke about the group's first foray into the studio in more than a decade. The goth-pop pioneers haven't released a new LP since 2008, but Smith has been prolific in the studio during the pandemic.
Lana Del Rey--Del Rey's latest has a title--Chem Trails Over the Country Club--but no release date yet.
Father John Misty--After releasing three great albums in three years, the prolific singer/songwriter has been quiet since 2018's God's Favorite Customer. One can only imagine the angst he'll channel whenever he decides to describe 2020.
Steve Gunn--It may be wishful thinking, but Philly's greatest guitar gunslinger is due for a follow-up to 2019's excellent The Unseen in Between.
Kacey Musgraves--Golden Hour took the world by storm almost immediately upon it's early 2018 release. Musgraves hinted at new material last summer.
My Morning Jacket--My Morning Jacket had a new album in the can and had planned extensive touring in support; instead, they put out The Waterfall II, a great collection from the same sessions that birthed 2015's The Waterfall. Bassist Tom Blankenship reconfirmed in a recent interview that the new album will be released once live music returns.
Spoon--The Austin rockers haven't put out a new studio record since 2017's great Hot Thoughts. The band was reportedly done recording the follow-up as of early 2020, and (like so many others) are still deciding when and how to release their new album.
St. Vincent--Annie Clark says her next record is "locked and loaded" and will see 2021 release. Following up 2017's brilliant Masseduction will be no small feat, but Clark is surely up to the task.
Weyes Blood--Natalie Mering aka Weyes Blood's 2019 release Titanic Rising was a critical favorite, a marriage of indie folk-pop and Carpenters-like grandiosity. She's already released a new video with a hint at an upcoming release.
HOPED FOR REISSUES/BOX SETS
Beach Boys--Feel Flows: The Beach Boys have purportedly been working on a box set of material from their underrated and less-known 1969-71 era, which included the great Sunflower and Surf's Up albums.
Radiohead--Kid A: In a recent MOJO interview, Thom Yorke specifically referred to going through the archives for a re-release of their groundbreaking Kid A record, which largely abandoned rock for a more techno-beat orientation.
Wilco--Yankee Hotel Foxtrot: Jeff Tweedy and company have been methodically moving through their back catalog and releasing box sets of Wilco albums. This past holiday season saw a great deluxe edition of Summerteeth, which places their groundbreaking Yankee Hotel Foxtrot next up in the queue (maybe for the 2021 holiday season?)