So far this year, we haven’t been treated to an array of exciting new music. With the exceptions of Weezer making everyone either nostalgic or annoyed with The Teal Album, and Ariana Grande becoming the empress of the pop world, there really hasn’t been a lot going on.
However, with summer on the way at last, there’s thankfully plenty on the horizon for rock fans. Though this isn’t everything of the genre that’s set to be released before summer, here are my five picks for the soundtrack to your spring.
Honeyblood – In Plain Sight – 24th May
It seems this garage-pop two-piece has become a garage-pop solo act, with Scottish frontwoman, guitarist and vocalist, Stina Tweeddale, deciding to go it alone upon the departure of drummer Cat Myers. Probably the least-known act on this list, Honeyblood are not to be underestimated and their previous two albums have been indie hits. In the form of lo-fi, grungy power-pop, Honeyblood’s self-titled debut (2014) and 2016 follow-up, Babes Never Die had snappy, aggravated lyrics, gritty guitar tones and catchy choruses.
The first single from In Plain Sight, The Third Degree, continues in the same vain but with a new production style. The departure of drummer Myers is likely to have influenced Tweeddale to fill the once instrumentally-sparse soundscape as she takes her new songs live with a band bigger than two. This move away from the two-piece style allows Honeyblood to achieve a larger and more varied sound by dismissing the requirement that tracks are playable by a duo. For that reason, expect smoother production and some new sounds on this record which is sure to be infectious and energetic.
Weezer – The Black Album – 1st March
The 13th studio album and sixth self-titled release by Weezer drops off the back of their Teal Album of covers, rounding off a very busy start to 2019 for the Californian rock band. With four singles released so far, The Black Album is shaping up to be interesting and experimental, and after 12 other albums, who can blame it? Produced by Dave Sitek, who’s produced TV on the Radio and all four Yeah Yeah Yeahs records, the Black Album’s released singles so far have paired a modern production style with Weezer’s archetypal eclectic brand of alternative rock. Get ready for an easy listen.
The Heavy – Sons – 17th May
British band The Heavy have made a career on making funk-driven, blues-influenced neo-soul style rock. Their latest single, Heavy for You – the first from fifth album, Sons – shows that they have no intention of dramatically changing that. Characterised by lead singer Kelvin Swaby’s vocal rasp, Dan Taylor’s bluesy guitar riffs and the regular inclusion of a horn section, there’s a certain nostalgia about the music that The Heavy makes.
Heavy for You carries itself with a swagger that would be welcome on the rest of the album but it would be interesting to see if Sons marks the start of The Heavy experimenting a little more freely with styles. At the least, this will be an album that easily satisfies lovers of old school rock and roll.
Band of Skulls – Love Is All You Love – 12th April
Another blues-tinged British band, Band of Skulls are set to release their fifth album, Love Is All You Have, which follows on from 2016’s By Default. Though their music has obvious stylistic influences their actual sound is quite unique – duel lead male and female vocals aren’t unheard of but are very effective here, along with the stripped-back instrumentation, sauntering guitar riffs and clever dynamic controls.
In recent years, Band of Skulls’ music has crept towards more a more habitual style of rock than the tangible blues hue that adorned their first two records and latest single, Cool Your Battles, suggests that this change could manifest itself further on album five. Regardless, Band of Skulls are set to deliver some more of what makes them so easy to listen to.
Hozier – Wasteland, Baby! – 1st March
Hozier fans have waited for five years for the follow-up to the Irish singer-guitarist’s self-titled debut. By the quality of the five tracks released so far, it looks to be a wait that will pay off. Co-produced by Hozier himself, Wasteland Baby! includes Movement, Shrike and Almost (Sweet Music) along with the brilliant Nina Cried Power and Dinner & Diatribes. The production of the album has been beautifully represented in the tracks so far and one can only hope that the rest of the tracks include some of the same elements – the choral sections in particular are powerful and add so much depth.
Hozier’s unique vocal timbre will no doubt dominate and lead the mix of dark, brooding and contrastingly upbeat tracks and the rich texture of the songs so far points to a highly promising second album from the County Wicklow frontman.
Though there hasn’t been much announced for release this summer, the spring certainly promises a great variety of new rock music. Of course, this is a list only containing artists who have previously released albums; here’s hoping we get some excellent debuts too.