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Sia 'This is Acting' (Photo: RCA)

2015 is about to dispense the very last of its available thrills, the new year’s eve party, and when that’s done, we have to face the new year with nothing but a thirst for fresh excitement and a slightly throbbing head for company. What we need is fresh music, and we need it now.

So, what shall be the soundtrack to the year ahead? What musical marvels do we have to look forward to in the coming months?

Let’s have a look, shall we?

David Bowie

Blackstar—which in true rock presumptuousness is supposed to be written ★—is due on January 8, and the heartening news for long-time Bowie-philes is that he’s gone wobbly again. Certainly the two songs that have been made public so far—the album’s title track and “Lazarus”—are made of woozy, stretchy stuff. These are songs that play with elements of his various classic sounds of the past, while also brave enough to knock over some of the classic exhibits in the Bowie musical museum.

Major Lazer

2015’s “Lean On” was named by Spotify as its most streamed song of all time, so it’s fair to say expectations have been raised for another album from Switch, Diplo and chums. The follow up to this year’s Peace is the Mission will be called Music is the Weapon and should be released early in 2016. The band’s associate member Walshy Fire told In The Mix: “It’ll have a few more club songs, a few more festival songs, but it’ll be in the same spectrum, just super-well-written songs with really great production that the entire world can understand.”

PJ Harvey

The title for her ninth album is still unknown, as is the release date, but these secrets are comparatively rare for an album that was recorded in a specially built recording exhibition at London’s Somerset House, in front of passing fans. The album was researched in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C., prompting speculation that it will continue the themes of war and community that made her last album—the Mercury Music Prize winning Let England Shake in 2011—such a unique document.


Album titles are often a mixture of cool words that render themselves opaque and vague at the same time, becoming effectively meaningless, but Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future, the name given by the pioneering dance duo to their ninth album, is ripe with hidden meaning. The album is due on March 18, and has been trailed with this audio postcard, offering a few aural glimpses of the dazzling glories to come.


Ever the seasoned traveler, M.I.A. has been gathering footage for forthcoming multimedia project Matahdatah in India and West Africa, for songs that explore “the concept of borders,” as she told Rolling Stone: “The concept for this LP is ‘broader then a border’ and Matahdatah is the journal of Matangi [the Hindu goddess of music and the arts].”

The album will be trailed by a series of videos, each one made in a different country, beginning with “Matahdatah Scroll 01,” which was released in July. “Making songs and videos at the same time out of a suitcase on location is something I did on my album Kala,” she explained, “but it’s video, as well as music, made by me in a very Arular [her first album] way.”

The Last Shadow Puppets

By the time the second album by the Last Shadow Puppets is released this spring, it will have been eight years since Alex Turner first took a break from his Arctic Monkeys) day job to write a few orchestral pop songs in the vein of 1960s Scott Walker with his close friend Miles Kane. The pair have been keeping the actual songs under wraps, preferring to put out gnomic teaser trailers like the one above. All we know is the album has been produced by James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco, and like its predecessor, it’ll probably have fancy lyrics.


#ANTi #coverart @roynachum

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

The biggest album of 2015 (that was never released in 2015), Rihanna’s ANTI must surely be heading shopwards by now. Or soon. Or eventually. The lead single “B***h Better Have My Money” and its accompanying video—which played with the same tropes of gang justice, revenge and horrible violence of a good deal of Hollywood blockbusters but caused far more outrage—has been almost as effective in raising expectations as the sudden three-year gap in Rihanna’s previously prolific release schedule. Oh wait, scratch that; once we’re past midnight it’s four years.


The black-hearted John the Baptists of Britpop release Night Thoughts, their second album since their triumphant return to action, on January 22. As well as scalpel sharp guitar riffs and Brett Anderson’s romanticized anthems to doomed youth, there’s a feature film accompanying the album (available in a special edition of the album), which is directed by the photographer Roger Sargent.


A sincerely fascinating and enigmatic pop star in an era where blank honesty appears to be the norm, Sia deserves all the attention going just for the deliberately childish cover of her seventh studio album This is Acting, which is due for release on January 29. Being a prolific writer, she had this album finished and ready to go as far back as February 2015, and told the NME at the time: “I’m calling it This Is Acting because they are songs I was writing for other people, so I didn’t go in thinking ‘this is something I would say’. It’s more like play-acting. It’s fun.”

The 1975

Honestly, this hasn’t made the list just because of the slightly creepy and verbose title, but the 1975’s next album will be called I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It and is due sometime in February. You may have already heard the slinky lead single “Love Me,” in which the band channel the spirit of Peter Gabriel, had he ever had INXS for a backing band on one of his more accessible experiments in stadium-filling ’80s funk-pop.

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By Fraser McAlpine