by Zachary Belles
If there’s anything good that’s coming out of our yearlong lockdown, it’s that in that time, nearly all active artists have started working on, and many have finished, brand new albums, or at the very least new songs. Weezer’s Ok, Human came out in late January, Foo Fighters dropped Medicine at Midnight on February 8th, and The Offspring’s Let the Bad Times Roll comes out in April. We haven’t seen a new album from The Offspring since 2014!
With all this time we’ve spend inside, our favorite artists have been coming up with new, experimental sounds that they either never could, or never had time, to write, record, mix, and master due to touring conflicts (the keyword here being experimental). Some artists have even given us just teasers of what’s to come, such as Twenty-One Pilots, who last year came out with the quarantine bop that is “Level of Concern,” SHAED released the psychedelic anthem “No Other Way,” and even the Smashing Pumpkins put out an album last November, and Billy Corgan says he’s already working on a “Rock-opera” only a few months later.
So, what should we expect when music venues open back up again? I would expect to see a vast majority of currently active, and potentially even some inactive artists, bring new music from new albums. I also think we could hear a new/experimental sound from some bands, some of which you may not enjoy at first. One artist that comes to mind is Aaron Bruno and his band AWOLNATION. After the success from their debut and sophomore albums Megalithic Symphony and Run, they released Here Come the Runts in 2018, which was a phenomenal album, but it was nothing like the sound we got from the first two albums. Then, early last year, we were surprised with Angel Miners & Lightning Riders, which had a new sound from the other three before it. Both of these albums it took me several listens to get used to the new style, and I expect that to be the case with many of the artists we listen to that will be providing us with new music in the coming months.
Mixing up your sound is a key ingredient in keeping things interesting for the fans in most, but not all, cases. There are some bands, like AC/DC, who never really changed their musical or vocal style, but fans listened anyways. Those cases are few and far between, however, and if you look back at your favorite artist and how their sound evolved over the years, you can point out the periods of experimentation to see what the fans enjoyed. Twenty-One Pilots, on their sophomore album Regional At Best, had several songs that weren’t mixed or mastered well: “Ode to Sleep” and “Car Radio.” So, they remixed and remastered them, and re-released them on their third album, Vessel.
So, wear your mask, socially distance yourselves, and we’ll be able to see all the new music that our favorite artists have spent so much time on in-person!