Fresh Earworms: 2021 Albums to Shape the Year

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2021 is looking to be another great year in music even if we don’t get any live concerts. Several artists delayed their latest releases during the ongoing pandemic and as we’re inching closer to a time when they can tour again, some of the albums are finally seeing the light of day. Without further ado, here are some of the releases I’m most excited for.

  1. Steven Wilson – “The Future Bites”: Releases Jan 29 This album has been in the can so to speak for nearly a year but naturally was delayed until Wilson might have a chance to tour with it. Now we’re only a day out and I’m excited to see what he will bring to the table. It’s clear he’s going a very different direction with his latest, appearing to abandon his prog roots almost entirely and embracing retro art pop fully. Regardless of any genre labels, Wilson is consistently brilliant and “The Future Bites” looks to be the next big step in his evolution.

2. Soen – “Imperial”: Releases Jan 29

Soen has been cranking out terrific albums since their inception. Their last album, “Lotus”, was a near masterpiece in my eyes so the hype is incredibly high for “Imperial”. The singles so far have been total bangers, so I expect we will have another great album in our hands come Friday.

3. Tribulation – “Where the Gloom Becomes Sound”: Releases Jan 29

Three potential albums of the year are all releasing this week. Tribulation‘s last two albums were some of the best music in the previous decade. If you haven’t yet checked out the song “Strange Gateways Beckon” from their 2015 album “The Children of the Night”, time to draw the shades, light some candles and slap that baby on the vinyl player. Tribulation‘s new album is likely to feature some changes in the band’s sound and even includes a nearly 20 minute epic as a B-side. Check out one of the singles below:

4. John Carpenter – “Lost Themes 3”: Releases Feb 5

John Carpenter is one of the best filmmakers and composers of all time and he’s continuing to stay busy during the quarantine with his musical endeavors. The last two “Lost Themes” albums have been like hearing your new favorite score to a film that doesn’t yet exist. That is to say Carpenter‘s songs are so well crafted, you can easily imagine a film that would fit perfectly with each song. Needless to say, his latest should kick all kinds of ass.

5. Cult of Luna – “The Raging River EP”: Releases Feb 5

It may be an EP but given this is Cult of Luna, every song here should be fucking grand. Seriously though, Cult of Luna never fails to impress. Their previous full length, “A Dawn to Fear” was fantastically brutal and they’re one of the best live acts around. Don’t miss this.

6. Evergrey – “Escape of the Phoenix”: Releases Feb 26

Evergrey is back with album number twelve and the band looks to be re-energized with new catchy songs and seriously terrific artwork. Can’t wait to see what singer, Tom England, and the rest of the group have in store for us.

7. Liquid Tension Experiment – “LTE 3”: Releases March 26

The last album from Liquid Tension Experiment released when I was in junior high, which was (double checks current age) 22 years ago. Additionally, this is the first time John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy and Jordan Rudess have jammed on record since Dream Theater‘s 2009 album, “Black Clouds & Silver Linings”. If the first single is any indication, this may well be their finest hour. The hype is very real.

8. Panopticon – “…And Again Into the Light”: Releases TBA

Though not much is known about Panopticon‘s new album, it was just announced to be releasing in the first half of the year. If you haven’t yet been introduced to Austin Lunn AKA Panopticon‘s blend of atmo-BM, folk, bluegrass, it’s a great time to start. Austin generally plays every instrument on his albums and the ridiculous thing is he’s exceptional no matter he’s playing on. If you want to see a true DIY artist in the scene, give Panopticon a listen.

9. Carcass – “Torn Arteries”: Releases TBA

Another casualty of the 2020 release schedule, Carcass‘ latest should release at some point this year. Based on last year’s excellent EP, “Despicable”, which consisted of the tracks that didn’t make the cut on the album, this should absolutely CRUSH.

10. Devin Townsend – “Puzzle”: Releases TBA

Devin flirted with releasing this last year but realized “Puzzle” needed more time to develop and he pushed it into 2021. It is unclear when it will be released (or what it is exactly) but whenever it does (and whatever it is), it is sure to be a doozy. Devin is also working on a number of other projects that could be released as well which should surprise no one if you’ve followed his career to date. He’s one of the busiest artists out there and “Puzzle” is sure to be another crowning achievement.

There are a number of other artists who are currently in the studio or have hinted at having a release in the works so I’ll add on more releases as the 2021 schedule firms up.

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