It's that time again, the time where people start asking you to nominate the best albums you've heard this year. Well, that can keep for now, because here at Louder, we're already getting excited about the tsunami of brilliant new sounds heading our way next year.
Here are ten excellent reasons to start getting excited about 2024 right now.
Sprints - Letter To Self (City Slang, Jan 5)
We've been on-board with Sprints since the Dublin post-punk quartet announced their arrival with a string of truly brilliant singles in 2020/2021, and on the evidence of the three tracks released to date previewing Letter To Self - Literary Mind, Adore Adore Adore and Up And Comer - their debut album is going to kick off 2024 in the most exhilarating fashion. Recorded in 12 days with Daniel Fox at Black Box Studios, in the Loire Valley, the album - “an exploration of pain, passion and perseverance” - tackles a host of dark subjects, from internalised homophobia to suicidal ideations, but in a cathartic manner, offering comfort, support and hope to listeners.
“No matter what you're born into, or have experienced, there's a way to emerge from this and be happy within yourself,” says frontwoman Karla Chubb, explaining the message at the album's core. “Lyrically it was about acknowledging everything that's happened in my life – my traumas, my struggles with anxiety – and to close that chapter by putting it on the page.”
Green Day - Saviors (Reprise, Jan 19)
Though the cover of Green Day's 14th studio album, Saviors, features a digitally-doctored photo of a smiling Belfast teenager taken during a 1978 riot, it is not - thank fuck - a rock opera concept album about 'The Troubles'. Instead, as Billie Joe Armstrong's band have said in a statement, “Saviors is an invitation into Green Day’s brain, their collective spirit as a band, and an understanding of friendship, culture and legacy of the last 30 plus years. It's raw and emotional. Funny and disturbing. It’s a laugh at the pain, weep in the happiness kind of record. Honesty and vulnerability.
“What is Saviors about, you ask? Power pop, punk, rock, indie triumph. disease, war, inequality, influencers, yoga retreats, alt right, dating apps, masks, MENTAL HEALTH, climate change, oligarchs, social media division, free weed, fentanyl, fragility,,.. What would Andy Warhol do? What would John Waters do? What would Quentin Tarantino do? What would GREEN DAY do?”
As Green Day's last album, the embarrassingly-titled Father of All Motherfuckers, was the single worst album in the Californian band's catalogue, the two new songs teasing Saviors - The American Dream Is Killing Me and Look Ma, No Brains! - suggest a welcome return to form. With the recent announcement of a huge worldwide stadium tour to promote the new record, the East Bay trio are clearly planning on making 2024 a year to remember, and that starts with the arrival of Saviors on January 19.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes - Dark Rainbow (International Death Cult / AWAL, Jan 26)
Frank Carter's journey from Gallows to Pure Love to Frank Carter & The Rattlenakes has been fascinating, and as signposted by recent single Man Of The Hour, the fifth FC&TR album, Dark Rainbow, finds the Watford-raised singer evolving once more. The new album, a more mellow, mature affair than what we've come to expect from Carter and his trusted aide Dean Richardson, was born from “self-reflection, memory and gratitude”, we're told, with Carter stating “I’m still trying to come to terms with who I am and what the authentic version of me is. By giving people what I thought they wanted I think I got further and further away from who I actually am.” From punky, punchy opener Honey through to the sophisticated slow burn of album closer A Dark Rainbow, this is Frank Carter as never heard before, with plenty more to say.
Slift - ILION (Sub Pop, Jan 26)
One of the mesmerising live bands you could ever hope to see, Toulouse, France psych-prog power trio Slift signed to Sub Pop last year, and will unleash their epic, expansive third album, ILION in January. The follow-up to 2020's UMMON, the album - which features two 12 minute songs, and four further songs stretching past the 9 minute mark, is billed as a sequel of sorts to its predecessor, and is titled after the ancient Greek word for the city of Troy.
“This is an album constructed in the manner of a Homeric story,” the band, fronted by brothers Jean and Remí Fossat, say. “Where the two records differ is that ILION is about human emotions and feelings, whereas UMMON was telling an epic story with a distant view. ILION represents the fall of humanity and the rebirth of all things in time and space.”
Heavy, in every sense.
Craig Wedren - The Dream Dreaming (Tough Lover Records, January 26)
The former frontman of brilliant Washington DC art-punks Shudder To Think, Craig Wedren - once hailed as "the Freddie Mercury of the Dischord scene" by Vanity Fair, no less - is now a much in-demand film and TV composer, recently acclaimed for his work on cult cannibal schoolgirls drama Yellowjackets. Set for release on his own Tough Lover Records, The Dream Dreaming is Wedren's first album since 2017's Adult Desire, and, as he tells it, an encapsulation of all the music he holds dear. “D.C. punk, heavy alternative, ‘80s and ‘90s pop, dance music, and soundtracks – the cubicles all fell away and it became a common romper room for the entire history of what I love and where I’m coming from musically,” he says. “In the same way I was inviting friends in to do whatever they wanted, it was the same way with all the genres I love. I’m so happy The Dream Dreaming is all-inclusive in that sense.”
The Last Dinner Party - Prelude To Ecstasy (Island, February 2)
The UK's most hyped band of 2023, who've so far lived up to every glowing review, The Last Dinner Party will release their debut album, Prelude To Ecstasy in February. Produced by James Ford (Blur/Arctic Monkeys), the group's much-anticipated album might not hold too many surprises for those already attuned to the quintet's theatrical baroque rock 'n' roll given that they've been playing 11 of its 12 tracks live for some time, but newcomers can be assured that its superb singles Nothing Matters, My Lady Of Mercy and On Your Side are only the tip of the iceberg.
“Ecstasy is a pendulum which swings between the extremes of human emotion, from the ecstasy of passion to the sublimity of pain, and it is this concept which binds our album together,” Abigail Morris' band explain in their typically understated manner. “This is an archeology of ourselves; you can exhume our collective and individual experiences and influences from within its fabric. We exorcised guitars for their solos, laid bare confessions directly from diary pages, and summoned an orchestra to bring our vision to life.”
If this all sounds too good to be true, check out the band's recent Later... TV performance to see exactly why TLDP are set to explode in 2024.
Chelsea Wolfe - She Reaches Out to She Reaches Out to She (Loma Vista, February 9)
One of the most singular and consistently innovative voices in left-field underground metal, Chelsea Wolfe says that her intriguingly-titled new album is themed around healing, acceptance, catharsis and change. “It’s a record about the past self reaching out to the present self reaching out to the future self to summon change, growth, and guidance,” she explains. “It’s a story of setting yourself free from situations and patterns that are holding you back, in order to become self-empowered. It’s an invitation to step into your authenticity.” Produced by TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek, a man who's worked with everyone from Beyonce to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, She Reaches Out to She Reaches Out to She promises to be a compelling new chapter in Wolfe's already storied career.
IDLES - TANGK (Partisan, Feb 16)
The follow-up to 2021's Crawler, album number five from IDLES is, says frontman Joe Talbot, “the best we’ve done because it’s the best we are.” Produced by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead), Kenny Beats (Denzel Curry) and the Bristol band's guitarist Mark Bowen, and previewed by the last month's Dancer single, the 11-track TANGK is described as “transgressive” by Talbot, who told NME earlier this year that the band have been “given the space to shed our skin again.”
“This is our album of gratitude and power,” says the singer. “All love songs. All is love.”
USA Nails - Feel Worse (One Little Independent, March 22)
Though they'd doubtless laugh at the description, USA Nails - comprised of members of Kong, Future Of The Left, Blacklisters, Death Pedals and Silent Front - are something of a noise rock supergroup, and ten years into their career, the ferocious, relentless Feel Worse, their first release for new label One Little Independent, finds the quartet at the top of their game. Feel Worse explores schadenfreude - the pleasure derived from another person's misfortune - and promises to deliver attacks on austerity and UK authoritarianism, consumer culture, youth culture, bullying, and more. The most intense, and arguably least commercial, collection on this list, Feel Worse is a fiercely confrontational the-absolute-state-of-this-nation address, and an entirely appropriate reaction to being spoonfed a steady diet of shit by self-serving, corrupt, elistist idiots.
Bob Vylan - Humble As The Sun (Ghost Theatre, April 5)
If you thought that Bob Vylan might mellow somewhat after being granted some overdue respect by the music industry, the winners of the first-ever Best Alternative Music Act award at the 2022 MOBOs have got news for you. Introducing the forthcoming Humble As The Sun, the band say, “This album is for the underdogs, the ones who come out swinging and those who refuse to be defeated in the face of injustice, and aims to remind listeners that anger is a fire that can be harnessed and put to use. The album creation started from a conversation with the sun, which is, after all, a big ball of fire that sustains life. From masculinity to myths about the G Spot, the themes and topics explored on Humble As The Sun make for an often humorously empowering celebration of the peoples ability to endure, overcome and bring about change." Listen to the lyrically savage lead-off single He's A Man, and prepare to fall in love all over again with one of Britain's most vital, fearless, and necessary, bands.