james debate
james debate

Sunday 7 March 2021

Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2021 Hot List. I hope you enjoyed our last entry covering the essential literature of 2021. This week we will be having a look at the most exciting new music due for release in the coming year.

best anticipated new music 2021 albums hot list

I am sure I say this every year, but this has been a particularly difficult longlist to whittle down to the final 15. This year the reason is twofold: 1) with the ongoing global pandemic, a lot of creative minds have been stuck at home or in the studio when they might otherwise have been on tour, resulting in a large volume of new music in the works, and 2) with everything else going on, firm, reliable details as to what is coming out and when has been hard to come by, resulting in a great number of albums that are "maybe" coming out this year.

So as with every year I have done my best to come up with a list of the most exciting new music on the way and whittled it down to those that are most likely to actually happen during the next 12 months. The result is a list of 15 albums that represent an exciting blend of familiar names and new talents.

So without further ado, here is our list of the top albums to keep an eye on in 2021, starting with number 15:

15. Chvrches

chvrches churches new album 2021 best most anticipated musicFirst up: Chvrches, a Scottish synth pop band that has established themselves as one of the most exciting performers around today, with three critically acclaimed albums to their credit. Now a fourth, as yet untitled, album is on the way in 2021.

Since their debut and early EP work, the Scottish synth-pop band have shown a talent for crafting memorable hooks featuring innovative electronic genre combinations. Best seen with the likes of The Mother We ShareNever Ending Circles, and Graffiti

Little is known of their new album, although it is said to be heavily inspired by the classic bands of the 1980s. So expect this to be an album that doubles down on the wistful, synthy sound of its predecessors. The album itself? Expected sometime in the spring.

Release Date: Spring 2021

14. "Zoom In" by Ringo Starr

ringo starr zoom in paul mccartney dave david grohl nirvana foo fighters beatles 2021 best most anticipated new musicLittle more needs to be said about Ringo Starr, the legendary drummer of The Beatles, turned successful songwriter in his own right. In 2021 he is expected to release a new record, Zoom In, recorded during lockdown in 2020. 

While it is fair to say that his more recent output hasn't set the world alight, this is still a songwriter of consistent quality, and one who can attract the big names in terms of collaborators and producers. Zoom In will feature its own superstar collaborators in shape of Paul McCartney and Dave Grohl.

Zoom In releases this March, the first single Here's to the Night is out now. It's a bit schmoltzy, here's hoping the rest shows a bit more verve.

Release Date: March 2021

13. "Collapsed in Sunbeams" by Arlo Parks (New band)

collapsed in sunbeams arlo parks debut new album 2021 best most anticipated musicThe first of our newcomers: Arlo Parks. Hailing from south London, Parks has found herself featuring on many big in 2021 previews. A teenage prodigy and poet, Parks specialises in low-fi music that displays a control and lyrical nous that belies her tender years.

The key tracks from the scattering of EPs released to date include Cola and Paperbacks, two tracks that keenly demonstrate her characteristic tone that has been commonly described as "bedroom pop". Her newer releases Eugene and Caroline bode well for the full LP.

Parks' debut album, Collapsed in Sunbeams, was delayed from its initial 2020 release date due to the pandemic, but will now release early 2021.

Release Date: January 2021

12. Red Hot Chili Peppers

red hot chili peppers 2021 album best most anticipated new musicI do not think it would be controversial of me to say that the legendary California rockers Red Hit Chili Peppers have recently been punching somewhere below the peak of their heyday. But they are far from the spent force that some would suggest. There is a reason that the band has enjoyed the remarkable longevity of a nearly forty year career, during which time they have crafted an enviable discography of solid gold.

As they approach studio album number 12, there is particular cause for excitement with the return of longtime guitarist John Frusciante, who had sat out the last two albums. For many, Frusciante's sound is key to the band's identity, and his return bodes well for what could be a major return to form.

The newest album is said to be in the late stages of production, with a release expected later this year.

Release Date: TBA 2021

11. Holly Humberstone (New band)

holly humberstone best new most anticipated debut album 2021For 20 year old songwriter Holly Humberstone, 2020 was the year in which her star began its meteoric rise, with a smattering of singles and EPs earning praise and accolades all the way from the BBC to the New York Times. 

Sounding like a cross between Haim, Damien Rice and Radiohead, last spring's single Falling Asleep at the Wheel has been played tens of millions of times on Spotify and charted in the UK.

Now a debut studio album is in the works, expected for release sometime this spring. I expect Holly to be one of the more successful new artists of 2021.

Release Date: Spring 2021

10. "If I Could Make It Go Quiet" by Girl in Red (New band)

girl in red if i could make it go quiet new debut album 2021 best most anticipatedAnother exciting new songwriter, but of a very different style. Girl in Red, the stage name for Norwegian singer Marie Ulven has been generating great hype over the past few years for her low-fi bedroom pop that touches on issues from LGBT issues to mental health and the gender divide. 

Her's is an introspective sound reminiscent of some of the best indie acts of recent years. There's a little bit of Yeah Yeah Yeahs in there as well as The Smiths. Her early work has been characterised by dreamy, introspective tracks such as We Fell in Love in October and Two Queens in a Kingsize Bed although some of the more recent songs like Rue have hinted at an increasing electronic influence.

First coming to this blog's attention in 2018 with the release of her first EP, a smattering of subsequent EPs and singles have drawn acclaim and coverage by the industry's great trendsetters. Now a debut studio album, If I Could Make It Go Quiet is due in April.

Release Date: April 2021

9. Arcade Fire

arcade fire album best new anticipated music 2021Two decades and four accolade and acclaim-ridden albums have established the Montreal-based Arcade Fire as one of the world's premier art rock performers. Their most recent album Everything Now marked arguably the first minor stumble of the band's career, receiving mixed reception for its relatively uninspired songwriting and re-tread of themes already well covered in previous work. Have Arcade Fire run out of creative juice? Their next album should answer that question.

Quite what form this new album will take is still a mystery. Frontman Win Butler has said that he has two or three albums' worth of material written during lockdown, and the band is said to be in Texas right now working on the next LP. There's great reason to be excited about the prospect of new music from a band that has given us songs such as Rebellion (Lies), Wake Up, and Sprawl II.

I would expect to see this ready for release in the latter half of 2021.

Release Date: TBA 2021

8. "Music of the Spheres" by Coldplay

coldplay music of the spheres new album best new anticipated music 2021Album number nine is on the way from Coldplay and supposedly it will be their last (although they seem to say this with every album so take that with a pinch of salt). Little is known so far aside from the title, Music of the Spheres, and a collection of official artwork released via social media. 

Coldplay are not a band who require introduction, having been one of the industry's biggest names over the past twenty years. For every person who will argue that they're past their best, you will find another who insists that they are better than ever. The truth is this is a band that has consistently put out good music. 

If their sound seems mainstream or overly familiar, it is only because they created that mainstream. Coldplay's last album, Everyday Life showed that they still have the desire to innovate and experiment. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Release Date: Summer 2021

7. "Come Over" by Kowloon (New band)

kowloon come over new debut album best most anticipated new music 2021Kowloon is the California-based musician and filmmaker who over the past year has been putting out an irresistible lineup of chilled out indie pop, earning himself some buzz as an upcoming artist.

So far, he has put out a number of impressive tracks such as Walk With Me, Paradise and Wake Up, offering up a tantalising taste of what is to come from his debut album Come Over. Kowloon might just be the smooth dose of calm that we all desperately need right now.

Initially due out at the end of last year, Come Over is now expected to be out sometime this spring.

Release Date: Spring 2021

6. Jade Bird

jade bird new album 2021 best most anticipatedA promising newcomer of years gone by, Jade Bird's debut album earned significant plaudits and spawned a number of charting singles.

Sounding like a cross between Janis Joplin and Alanis Morissette at her peak, Jade Bird's brand of no holds barred rock and roll provides a thoroughly fun slice of Americana, with great tracks like Lottery and Uh Huh to her credit.

A second album is in the works and due for release sometime in 2021. Based on an EP released at the end of 2020, it certainly doesn't seem like Jade Bird has lost any of her edge.

Release Date: Summer 2021

5. Kavinsky

kavinsky nightcall new album best most anticipated music 2021
French house artist Kavinsky spent much of the 2000s developing his signature synthwave sound, inspired by the cinema and pop culture of the 1980s. That process culminated in his debut, and so far only studio album, OutRun.

An ambitious concept album, complete with its own mythology and distinct artwork. But it's the great singles we care about, including his most famous tracks Nightcall, and Odd Look. Indeed OutRun was so successful that it is considered among some internet subcultures to have created its own aesthetic genre, and is now an umbrella term used to describe any form of neo-futuristic 1980s revival.

Yet despite the success, there has been almost complete radio silence since that album's release in 2013. That appears to be finally changing, with Kavinsky posting to social media throughout 2019 and 2020 that new work was upcoming, before finally confirming at the tail-end of 2020 that a sophomore album was close to completion.

Release Date: Summer 2021

4. The Killers

the killers new album best most anticipated new music 2021Yes, you read that right. The Killers may have put out an album just a few short months ago, but they are allegedly already gearing up for LP number seven sometime in 2021. Frontman Brandon Flowers chalks this up to the lack of touring in 2020 and several months with nothing to do but record. Wembley Stadium's loss is our gain, I suppose.

These guys don't need any introduction, they're one of the world's biggest bands and have produced an array of hit songs from Mr. Brightside to All These Things I've DoneRead My Mind and Human. We know nothing about the new album aside from a tracklist that was posted to the artist's Instagram some weeks ago.

Last year's Imploding the Mirage marked something of a return to form for the band, a critical and commercial success with some memorable anthems for an otherwise dour year. The only reason this isn't higher up the list is that I have doubts as to how polished an album they can really put out in just a few months.

Release Date: Late 2021

3. Nilüfer Yanya

nilufer yanya second 2021 new album best new anticipated musicNilüfer Yanya's 2019 debut album Miss Universe was among the year's best, met with widespread acclaim and accolades including a few Debbies on this very blog. She closed out 2020 with a new EP, a teaser for a second studio album, due for release some time in 2021.

Suffice it to say, i'm excited for this one. Miss Universe was a remarkable demonstration of a songwriter with immense talent and the ability to shift between different genres and moods with aplomb. If the follow up can continue this fine run of form, it should make for one of 2021's most essential releases.

Yanya is said to be in the studio as we speak finishing this off, which suggests a release due sometime later on in 2021.

Release Date: TBA 2021

2. Aloboi (New band)

aloboi new debut album 2021 best new anticipated musicOur top ranked newcomer for 2021 is Aloboi, a Berlin-based composer with a knack for dreamy soundscapes and a juxtaposition of the old and new.

Aloboi's work-to-date has been remarkable. From the retro chill out vibes of A Pleasing Smile, to the more danceable electronic stylings of Want To Love, the classical remix of Night Train (Claire de Lune), or the dazzling genre mash up of Somebody Feel, it's a very impressive array of work for a newcomer that is fast establishing Aloboi as one of the more exciting talents in the industry.

As we await a debut album, one gets the impression that there is a lot more to come from this artist, whether its in 2021 or beyond, Aloboi is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Release Date: TBA 2021

1. "As the Love Continues" by Mogwai

mogwai new album 2021 most anticipated best new musicAnd finally, the most hotly anticipated album of 2021 is the latest from Scottish post-rock band Mogwai, As the Love Continues.

Mogwai's career has been long and influential, yet even as they approach the end of their third decade they show no signs of slowing down. This latest album represents their fourth in the last decade, and the buzz so far is that it ranks among their best yet. 

Lead single Ritchie Sacramento sets the mood for what promises to be a "big" sounding album, one that draws from three decades' worth of influences. As the Love Continues releases in February.

Release Date: February 2021

So there you have it folks: 2021 in music. Tune in next week for this year's final Hot List, where we look at the most exciting new movies in 2021 (and trust me, that one is going to be interesting)!

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