From Elvis to Coldplay, Little Richard to Radiohead, rock music has evolved at a lightening pace since the genre “arrived” in the 50’s. Just look at this year’s Grammy award for Rock Performance, which finds women filling the entire category. When it comes to rock and roll, artists are never done pushing boundaries, exploring fresh sounds, experimenting, making themselves new.
Indie rock, folk, heavy metal, and pop rock. This is one of the most diverse genres in the music industry, with new artists emerging each year. The rockers making music today are worth listening to, as they continue to write and play for this radical musical tradition.
Here they are. The Most Anticipated Rock Albums of 2021, the records we are most looking forward to hearing next year.
Ani DiFranco: Revolutionary Love
Album Release Date: January 29, 2021
The vast and roving life of the artist takes form in the works of Ani DiFranco, who will be releasing a new album at the beginning of next year. On January 29th, via her label Righteous Babe Records, Ani DiFranco will be out with Revolutionary Love, the follow-up to 2017’s Binary. The announcement was paired with the release of the album’s first single and title track, which you can listen to below.
According to DiFranco, Revolutionary Love is “about carrying the energy of love and compassion into the center of our social movements and making it the driving force,” DiFranco said of the new album. “It’s about finding it within ourselves to stay curious about our opponents instead of shutting down.” In the time since announcing Revolutionary Love, DiFranco has been busy performing for get-out-the-vote initiatives, in addition to publishing a memoir titled No Walls and the Reoccurring Dream.
Foo Fighters: Medicine At Midnight
Album Release Date: February 5, 2021
Not only did the Foo Fighters finally announce the long-awaited album release date for their upcoming record Medicine at Midnight, they did so with the release (and performance) of a new single: “Shame Shame.” According to guitarist Chris Shifflet, the new track “kind of stands out on the record,” adding: “it’s definitely a little different than anything we’ve ever done before and it’s a little bit different than anything else on the record…although the record has a lot of songs that are, you know, groove-based like this one is. Dave’s a drummer so he’s always coming up with rhythmic twists and riffs based on rhythms that he hears in his head.” You can check out the Foo Fighters performance of “Shame Shame,” below.
Medicine at Midnight, originally slated for release in 2020, is the band’s tenth studio album. Meant to commemorate 25 years of Foo Fighters, Medicine at Midnight, according to Dave Grohl, is the group’s “Saturday night party album.” He elaborated to NME, saying, “I hate to call it a funk or dance record, but it’s more energetic in a lot of ways than anything we’ve ever done and it was really designed to be that Saturday night party album. It was written and sequenced in a way that you put on, and nine songs later you’ll just put it on again. Y’know, songs like ‘Making A Fire’. To me that’s rooted in Sly & The Family Stone grooves, but amplified in the way that the Foo Fighters do it.”
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: New Fragility
Album Release Date: January 29, 2021
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the Alec Ounsworth–fronted rock band, will be releasing their follow-up to 2017’s The Tourist at the beginning of next year. The album, titled New Fragility, takes its name from the David Foster Wallace short story from Brief Interviews with Hideous men, titled “Forever Overhead.” With a lens similarly disillusioned as the late fiction writer, Ounsworth has admitted to New Fragility containing his most straightforward, politically-driven disappointment to date. “These songs are politically motivated, which is unusual for me,” Ounsworth said of “Hesitating Nation” and “Thousand Oaks”—the album’s two lead singles.
“This is a song meant to convey my sense of disappointment and alienation with the rewarded mentality of getting ahead at all costs, inevitably to the detriment of those who didn’t sign up to be part of the experiment,” Ounsworth added of “Hesitating Nation.” With rock music’s history of confronting political issues and establishments, we think the forthcoming album from Clap Your Hands Say Yeah will find home in millions of furious hearts, both at home and abroad.
Alice Cooper: Detroit Stories
Album Release Date: February 26, 2021
The upcoming album from heavy rockers Alice Cooper, titled Detroit Stories, is a return to the city which first gave breath to their passionate fan base. It’s a commemoration of something that no longer exists, a small world, every big band in the genre being beneath a single roof for the admission cost of four dollars. “Detroit was Heavy Rock central then,” said Cooper to UCR, recalling his band’s early days in the Motor City. “You’d play the Eastown, and it would be Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, the Stooges and the Who for $4! The next weekend at the Grande it was MC5, Brownsville Station and Fleetwood Mac, or Savoy Brown or the Small Faces. You couldn’t be a soft-rock band or you’d get your ass kicked.”
For the fans who’ve kept up with Alice Cooper’s releases over the years, Detroit Stories, conceptually, is closely related to the 2019 EP Breadcrumbs. “Breadcrumbs was sort of like leading you into the next album,” Cooper explained, treating the EP as a sonic appetizer to what fans will hear on the full-length. Detroit Stories will feature all original members of Alice Cooper, making the album effort as “purely Detroit” as it can be.
Rob Zombie: The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy
Album Release Date: March 12, 2021
For the first time in four years, shock-rock icon Rob Zombie is releasing a new album. The title of the upcoming album, traditionally elaborate and provocative in its meaninglessness, The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy will be out March 12th via Nuclear Blast. The album has been preceded by a song and music video, “The Triumph of King Freak.” You can check out the video, with an expectation for some level of derangement, below.
Zombie says, of The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy, that it’s the best record they’ve ever made. The album was originally slated for a February 2020 release.
Album Release Date: March 19, 2021
Fans have been anxiously anticipating the release of a new album from Sting, a record said to have been made over the past few decades of the iconic musician working with the legends surrounding him. The new album, Duets, will feature a dazzling range of collaborators, from Mary J. Blige, Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, Charles Aznavour, Mylène Farmer, Shaggy, Melody Gardot, Gashi and more. Duets will also feature a new original song with Italian icon, Zucchero, titled “September.”
What better way to commemorate decades of influence, of being the cornerstone of popular music, than to collaborate on a record with the best in the industry? A victory lap of the highest caliber, Duets is bound to dazzle us with its inherent star power.
Evanescence: The Bitter Truth
Album Release Date: TBA
It’s been nine years since Evanescence has released a new album, which makes the band’s recent meticulousness, their slow and sparse dispersal of new music, all the more tantalizing. Led by the iconic voice of singer Amy Lee, Evanescence has been on the radar for a huge release for awhile now. But the album, titled The Bitter Truth, still doesn’t have a release date.
Though it would be comforting to know when a whole studio album from Evanescence will arrive, we haven’t been shorted on new music from the group. From “Wasted On You,” to “Use My Voice,” Amy Lee and her hard rock crew have been delivering in the freshest way possible. “The idea behind this whole thing was always to go one song at a time, release it in real time with the fans while it’s still going on and it’s still fresh and live in the moment more,” Amy Lee said in an interview with SiriusXM.
Liz Phair: Soberish
Album Release Date: TBA
Originally slated to arrive this past summer, Liz Phair’s first new album in a decade will arrive sometime next year via a very reputable label. Now signed with Chrysalis Records, home to albums by Blondie, Pat Bentar, Generation X, and more, Liz Phair is perfectly situated for the rock comeback we all need to hear.
On the move to Chrysalis, it seems that the artistic direction offered there was exactly what she needed to execute the album on her heart. In an article by Brooklyn Vegan, Phair states: “They hear the way I hear. I feel like I have found a home at Chrysalis and that we will do great work together. I am humbled and honoured to embark on this next part of my career in the sure and steady hands of some of the best in the business.”
Though Liz Phair’s United States and European tours were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the musician is slated to return to the road alongside fellow female rocker Alanis Morrissette and Garbage.
Weezer: Van Weezer
Album Release Date: May 7, 2021
Now dedicated to Eddie Van Halen, the forthcoming Weezer album—Van Weezer —is due out May 7th. Inspired by Van Halen long before his untimely passing, Van Weezer will be a record brimming with guitar, its prominent noise and intent being to shred. “Last album we didn’t have any guitars, this one is just all guitars. A hundred guitars,” said Rivers Cuomo in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music’s Beats 1. According to Cuomo, the album’s first single—”The End of the Game”—features 100 guitar overdubs.
Inspired by the live reaction to melodic riffs, whammy pedal digressions, and all-out spontaneous guitar-driven rock solos, Cuomo had the idea to create an entire album around that specific, uncontrollable energy. “We just noticed over the last few years there’d be these moments during the show where I’d accidentally bust out a few harmonics or a whammy bar dive or a little tapping just because I can’t control myself.“
Originally slated to appear in the joint “Hella Mega” tour with Fall Out Boy and Green Day, we hope that Weezer has similarly grand plans to tour Van Weezer in 2021.