The coming of a new year always seems to be a time of deep reflection for people. The ending of a year seems to cause people to pause and think about the year that has passed: what they accomplished or failed to accomplish. Sometimes the impending new year makes people reflect even more deeply on the passing of time and the fleeting, fragile nature of life. “Time is a jet plane, moving way too fast…” as Bob Dylan once sang. New Year’s Eve seems to really focus on reflection (“may old acquaintances be not forgot” or however that song goes) and heavy drinking. Sign me up for the drinking (no driving folks) but not the reflection. Life is too short. Then again, it is the middle of the night and I can’t sleep… maybe there is something to this reflection stuff after all…
Everywhere I look somebody has come out with another “Best of 2015” list. I prefer to look forward. As I look out into 2016 I like to think about all the new rock and roll that is coming out or rumored to be coming out. Here is my list of what BourbonAndVinyl considers the most exciting new releases in 2016. Some of these are announced releases and others are rumors. I am refusing to indulge in the current Guns N Roses original line-up hysteria. I saw one publication speculate that a new album could come out of the reunion tour in ’16. It took Axl Rose over a dozen years to come out with “Chinese Democracy”. If anybody thinks he’s going to get giddy by reuniting with Slash, Duff (if he’s even involved), Izzy and Steve Adler and put an album out in 2016 you may be even more troubled than Axl. It’s like hoping for a Kansas City Chief’s Super Bowl… “I’ve got bad news for you sunshine…”
Without further adieu, in semi-alphabetical order (translation: off the top of my head) here are the 2016 albums to keep an eye out for:
- Gregg Allman – I was sad in ’15 to see the end of one my all time favorite bands, The Allman Brothers. However, I read that Gregg plans on reuniting with T. Bone Burnett who produced Gregg Allman’s superb solo album “Low Country Blues”. While “Low Country” was an album of blues covers, the new album is rumored to be all new material. Let’s hope for a little more organ on this one.
- Beck – I loved the single “Dreams” which was the polar opposite of his last full album, the acoustic “Morning Phase”. I loved that Beck swung back to a more “Odelay” type sound. I hope the album is as strong as “Dreams”.
- David Bowie, “Blackstar” – This album comes out January 8th, Bowie’s birthday, so less than two weeks from now. This album promises to be some of Bowie’s most experimental work since the Berlin Trilogy. What I’ve heard so far intrigues and terrifies me all at the same time.
- The Cult, “Hidden City” – Anybody whose read BourbonAndVinyl knows I’m counting the minutes to this album. I’ve already reviewed the first two songs.
- Fleetwood Mac – Christine McVie is back in the fold and apparently brought a trunk-load of songs with her. Lindsey is always good for a ton of new music… the hold up, as usual these days, appears to be Stevie Nicks. Once they corral her into the studio we should see something from the Lindsey/Stevie/Christine line-up for the first time since the live album, “The Dance”. McVie brings balance to the Force, i.e. Lindsey and Stevie, so this could be a great come back story.
- Green Day – After their RnR Hall of Fame induction I read that Billie Joe Armstrong had already written half a dozen or so strong songs and they were headed to the studio… I’m in the minority here, but I loved the hot mess that was “Uno”, “Dos”, “Tre”. Unfortunately Billie Joe’s collapse messed up the tour. Fingers crossed these guys get back on their feet again.
- Various Artists, “George Fest” – this tribute album to George Harrison will be an album to buy selectively from, but Ian Astbury from the Cult and Norah Jones both sing songs on this album. Those will be worth investigating.
- Elton John, “Wonderful Crazy Night” – Elton has been going through a creative renaissance that started with “Songs From the West Coast”. I really liked his last album, “The Diving Board” but it was a quiet, mellow affair. I loved the intricate, exquisite piano playing on that album. This album, knocked out over the course of a few days promises to be a more rocking affair. Longtime Elton guitarist Davey Johnstone is in the studio this time and T. Bone Burnett is back as producer.
- Metallica – These guys work slower than anybody out there. They’ve been promising the follow up to the very strong “Death Magnetic” for years now. I’m hearing they’re getting closer.
- Mudcrutch – Tom Petty’s first, pre-Heartbreakers band is reuniting for their second outing. I loved “Mudcrutch” the self-titled debut. Petty was going to take the summer to write some songs and hopefully like last time, they’ll record it live in the studio.
- Pearl Jam – despite Jeff Ament’s denials and claims that they haven’t even started recording, the rumors have had these guys in the studio for almost a year. “Lightning Bolt” was strong, though I liked “Backspacer” a lot more, but any new Pearl Jam is always good news.
- Tom Petty, “Wildflowers – The Leftovers” – Petty’s masterpiece “Wildflowers” was originally intended to be a double album. Someone, probably the record company suits, cut it down to a single album. They always say there’s one great album in any double album, so maybe that was the logic. After 20 years the “Leftovers” are slated to finally see release in the new year. They teased it with a single last year, which apparently was part of “The Entourage” movie soundtrack.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers – This is the first RHCP album since “Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik” that hasn’t been produced by Rick Rubin. Danger Mouse is at the helm. I still wish John Frusciante would return… but I think that ship has sailed.
- The Rolling Stones – they kick off a tour in South America in the new year but are reportedly following that up by doing some recording. Keith Richards was quoted as saying the “studio” word had come up in recent discussions. They looked like they were having so much fun on the Zip Code Tour last year, they need to capture that energy in the studio.
- Paul Simon – Paul’s last album, “So Beautiful or So What” was brilliant. I also love this new duet of his with Dion, “New York is My Home”. He’s been in the studio for a while but I still haven’t heard a release date.
- Smashing Pumpkins – I’ve heard the follow up to “Monuments to an Elegy” is all done. Still no release date? Tommy Lee of Motley Crue fame drummed on “Monuments” and I’d love to hear him back in the chair. I know Jimmy Chamberlin, the original drummer, sat in for them on part of their last tour. I’d love to hear him back in the fold at drummer as well. “Monuments” and its predecessor “Oceania” were a great return to form for the Pumpkins. I have no reason to expect the follow-up will be anything short of spectacular as well.
- Soundgarden – now that Chris Cornell has satisfied his acoustic leanings on the very strong “Higher Truth” LP, he’s returned to the studio with Soundgarden for some good old, ass-stomping rock and roll. Can’t wait for this one.
- Bruce Springsteen – on the heels of his “The River” box set, “The Ties That Bind”, Springsteen is taking the E Street Band out on the road. He said he’s working on what amounts to a solo album and he didn’t want to wait for another year to get the band back together. I’d expect the solo stuff later this year after the tour wraps.
- U2, “Songs of Experience” – supposedly Bono says it’s not going to take years between albums this time and we’ll see the next album in ’16. Most of “Songs of Experience” are purportedly already done. I’ll believe it when I’m holding it in my hand…
Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned to BourbonAndVinyl… as I hear updates I’ll let you know what the release dates are and when/where possible, I’ll review these albums as they come out.
Happy New Year, Happy & Prosperous 2016 to everybody!