As the constant and continuous cycle of new music and album releases turns over, new music by the biggest artists quickly fades into the background as the next popular artist releases their new hit. As audiences increasingly have access to a wider and more rapidly-evolving music library with digital streaming, an emphasis on producing albums tailored to fans and listeners is quickly falling out of the entertainment zeitgeist. Although the modern music landscape is largely oversaturated with stream-trolling records packed with bland, indistinguishable pop-rap and trap hits by massive record label-backed artists, some acts and artists still manage to find a niche audience to produce their content for. Here are six upcoming albums that may buck the popular trend and make it to the Top-40 charts.
Billie Eilish- “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”
Underground alternative pop sensation Billie Eilish has grown her fanbase on a bass-heavy, electronica and piano-led instrumentals with echoing, whispery vocals and an overall sleepy and emotional demeanor. Her upcoming project, “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” seems to take a dramatically darker turn. Eilish seems to make a conscious effort to be different; in many cases, an unnatural shift in musical style can leave an artist sounding uninspired and uninterested in the curation of a new sound, but Eilish seems to be at her most emotional and forceful on the four teaser tracks from the upcoming record. In these singles, Eilish still maintains her lofty, edgy vocal performances, but relies on a bizarre range of instrumentals and borderline instrumental sounds on “bury a friend” and sallow, quiet guitars on “wish you were gay.” Even the album’s artwork and promotional material, comprised of stark black and white tones, replaces Eilish’s generally vibrant artwork. “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?” releases on March 29, 2019.
Khalid- “Free Spirit”
Perhaps the most mainstream artist on this list, Khalid exploded onto the music scene in 2016 with hits like “Location” and “Love Lies.” Then only a high school student, audiences were taken aback by his remarkably-toned and resonant vocal performances that perfectly contrasted his juvenile and expressive lyrics. In 2018, Khalid found another hit in the track “Better,” from his EP-style album “Suncity.” In 2019, Khalid is returning with “Free Spirit,” a 17-track LP containing his three-times-platinum “Better,” lifted from “Suncity.” The album marks a dramatic tonal shift in Khalid’s writing, from bubbling teenage angst on his debut “American Teen” to darker, more brooding deliberations on the notion of freedom in America, especially as a young, successful African-American. “Free Spirit” debuts on April 5, 2019.
Six months after the release of mainstream breakthrough “Oxnard,” R&B, soul, and rap titan Anderson.Paak is returning to the musical world with his latest full-length LP, “Ventura.” While “Oxnard” found Paak resting on his rap laurels and not experimenting too far out of the mainstream genre, “Ventura” feels much more like the better known soul and R&B side of the California-born singer. The album’s lead single, “King James,” blends “Oxnard’s” heavy, stark vocal style with the musical blend of soul and blues of Paak’s 2016 record, “Malibu,” wiping away the melody-scarce, bass-heavy “Oxnard.” “Ventura” releases on April 19, 2019.
Cage the Elephant- “Social Cues”
After a four-year hiatus, Kentucky-based garage rock and noise rock group Cage the Elephant is returning to the mainstream rock stage with their fifth full-length LP, “Social Cues.” With each of their previous records representing a dramatic shift in the band’s sound, their newest outing seems poised to blend each of the band’s previous sounds into one record. While the album’s first teaser track, “Read to Let Go,” feels like a cut straight from the group’s fourth record, it’s second single, “House of Glass,” feels like a reckless, noisy throwback to “Melophobia,” the band’s 2013 record. Predicated on the bitter divorce of lead singer Matt Schultz, the album will focus on the band’s well-known storytelling style to craft a fuller picture of revenge, drama, and pain. “Social Cues” debuts on April 19, 2019.
Vampire Weekend- “Father of the Bride”
Returning to the alternative and indie rock scene following a six-year hiatus, legendary punk rock outfit Vampire Weekend is returning for their fourth full-length album, “Father of the Bride.” After the band left audiences with the dark and brooding “Modern Vampires of the City” in 2013, the indie rock core moved on without the band. The four singles that have cropped up from “Father of the Bride,” though, cast a much more adventurous, playful light on the band’s sound, a complete tonal shift from the band’s previous and largely homogenous discography. “Father of the Bride” debuts on May 3, 2019.
Mac DeMarco- “Here Comes the Cowboy”
Since his breakout record “2” released in 2012, Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco has enjoyed a near-constant spotlight in the alternative and indie rock scene. DeMarco followed it up with his most widely-known album to date, “Salad Days,” in 2014. With each subsequent record, DeMarco seems to slip deeper into a sleepy, echoing, atmospheric sound, and his upcoming project “Here Comes the Cowboy” is no exception. Gone are the upbeat, guitar-led jams from “2;” instead, DeMarco employs, his sleepiest, most melancholic sound yet on the album’s lead single, “Nobody.” Like his efforts on his previous LP, “This Old Dog,” DeMarco is slowly shifting into focusing on the wholistic vibe of an album, not the individuality of a single track. This tactic flies in the face of the traditional stream-trolling rules, so it remains to be seen how successful DeMarco will be in distributing his album. Regardless, the singer-songwriter’s newly minted sound will be impossible to keep from drifting along to. “Here Comes the Cowboy” releases on May 10, 2019.