19 albums you need to hear in January, including new works by Iggy Pop, Kimbra, and Sam Smith

19 albums you need to hear in January, including new works by Iggy Pop, Kimbra, and Sam Smith

Fresh music from the likes of Ladytron, Margo Price, and John Cale, will also get the new year off to a strong start

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Iggy Pop, Kimbra, Ladytron, Sam Smith
Iggy Pop, Kimbra, Ladytron, Sam Smith
Graphic: Karl Gustafson, Photo: Vincent Guignet, Wendy Redfern

A new year is just around the corner, with its promises of renewal and a fresh start—and that means we’ve got another whole year of music releases to look forward to. With a solid lineup of new albums in January from the likes of Iggy Pop, Sam Smith, Kimbra, Samia, King Tuff, it looks like 2023 will get off to a strong start.

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Iggy Pop, Every Loser [January 6]

Iggy Pop, Every Loser [January 6]

Iggy Pop - Frenzy (Official Audio)

This is how Iggy Pop describes his new album: “I’m the guy with no shirt who rocks ... The music will beat the shit out of you.” Eschewing the jazz-inflected haziness of 2019’s Free, the godfather of punk returns to his hard-hitting roots on Every Loser, produced by Andrew Watt and featuring backing from Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith and Josh Klinghoffer, Travis Barker, Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard, Jane’s Addiction’s Dave Navarro, Eric Avery, and Chris Chaney, and the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. Getting the shit beat out of you has never sounded so appealing. [Peter Helman]

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Margo Price, Strays [January 13]

Margo Price, Strays [January 13]

Margo Price - Been To The Mountain (Official Music Video)

Singer-songwriter Margo Price started writing her new album Strays during a drug-fueled trip to South Carolina and recorded it during a week-long visit to California’s Topanga Valley. Co-produced by Angel Olsen/Father John Misty collaborator Jonathan Wilson, featuring vocals from Sharon Van Etten and Lucius, and guitar parts from the Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell, Strays is Price’s most collaborative and varied work to date, continuing her evolution from country singer to genre-spanning classicist rock star extraordinaire. [Peter Helman]

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Velvet Negroni, Bulli [January 13]

Velvet Negroni, Bulli [January 13]

Velvet Negroni - Sinker (Official Video)

Velvet Negroni—the stage name adopted by Jeremy Nutzman of Minneapolis—reacted to the low-key success of his 2019 debut Neon Brown by sliding into a period of darkness. Drug use ran rampant as he dealt with the isolation of COVID, a hacked bank account and, worst of all, a house fire. None of this turmoil is pushed to the forefront of Bulli: it simmers under the surface, with Velvet Negroni placing an emphasis on his slick, shape-shifting pop, accentuating melodic hooks while leaving enough room to dabble in hip-hop and spacey textures. [Stephen Erlewine]

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Ville Valo, Neon Noir [January 13]

Ville Valo, Neon Noir [January 13]

VV - Echolocate Your Love

HIM’s darkly romantic frontman returns with his first full-length solo effort nearly a decade after his former band released their eighth and final album. The melancholy aching, poetic lyrics, and brooding riffs still abound, and Valo sounds reinvigorated and even a touch more upbeat after a long period away from the spotlight. This time out, the “love metal” guru mines a sound that is usually more atmospheric than heavy and sprinkled with modern musical touches. Standouts include the dreamy grooves of “The Foreverlost” and the ethereal elegance of “In Tredonia”. The album sounds fresh and proves Valo hasn’t lost his gothic touch. [Bryan Reesman]

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Ryuichi Sakamoto, 12 [January 17]

Ryuichi Sakamoto, 12 [January 17]

12 - album teaser

Influential and pioneering electronic Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto is set to release his first solo, non-soundtrack album since 2017’s async. Created during 2021 and 2022, 12 spurred from Sakamoto’s desire to be “showered in sound.” The 70-year-old Sakamoto, who made his debut as a composer and actor in Nagisa Ōshima’s Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, starring David Bowie, on December 20 played his last live performance for the foreseeable future following his cancer diagnosis. In a blog post, the composer wrote, “From now on, I will be living alongside cancer. But, I am hoping to make music for a little while longer.” [Gabrielle Sanchez]

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John Cale, Mercy [January 20]

John Cale, Mercy [January 20]

John Cale - STORY OF BLOOD feat. Weyes Blood (Official Video)

From his early days in the Velvet Underground to his impressively varied solo career, art-rock legend John Cale has never stopped experimenting. And on Mercy, his first new album of original songs in over a decade, he enlists a murderer’s row of interesting younger talent to help him chase his ever-evolving muse: Weyes Blood, Animal Collective, Sylvan Esso, Laurel Halo, Tei Shi, Actress, Fat White Family, Dev Hynes, Tokimonsta, Deantoni Parks. Inspired by Trump, Brexit, COVID, climate change, right-wing extremism, and the world practically bursting into flames before our very eyes, Mercy promises to be another vital collection from an elder statesman who refuses to rest on his laurels. [Peter Helman]

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Fran, Leaving [January 20]

Fran, Leaving [January 20]

Fran - Palm Trees (Official Music Video)

Fran—the nom de plume of Chicago-based singer/songwriter Maria Jacobson—conjures some of the spirits of Laurel Canyon on Leaving, her sophomore set that arrives nearly four years after their 2019 debut, A Private Picture. Fran’s high, keening voice can be a beacon within the slow, tense crawl of “Limousine” and is a balm on “Palm Trees,” a breezy piece of Southern Californian pop that shows her newly found embrace of lush, gentle textures. [Stephen Erlewine]

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Guided by Voices, La La Land [January 20]

Guided by Voices, La La Land [January 20]

Instinct Dwelling

Guided By Voices, indie rock’s most reliably prolific institution, already have two albums slated for 2023. The first is La La Land, no relation to the 2016 movie musical that almost mistakenly won Best Picture at the Oscars. “La La Land is somewhat of a companion piece to Tremblers And Goggles By Rank and continues to explore a path of diversity in styles and in longer, more adventurous song structures,” GBV mastermind Robert Pollard told Rolling Stone earlier this year. Guided By Voices’ 38th studio album, Welshpool Frillies, is also set to arrive later next year. [Peter Helman]

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Ladytron, Time’s Arrow [January 20]

Ladytron, Time’s Arrow [January 20]

Ladytron - City of Angels (Official Short Film)

On Time’s Arrow, Ladytron’s seventh studio album, these Liverpudlian electro explorers weave a dreamy web of icy synthscapes and hypnotic vocals that has become their trademark. While some of their past work has been perkier, these sonic tapestries work their magic best by washing over you as the group delves into themes like transitory memories and cultural impermanence. The beguiling title track feels like a jazzy number being performed in an off-world lounge, and co-vocalist Helen Marnie still has most of the unique and enigmatic voices around. [Bryan Reesman]

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Maneskin, Rush [January 20]

Maneskin, Rush [January 20]

Måneskin - THE LONELIEST (Official Video)

This bilingual, gender-bending quartet has made waves in multiple ways— winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021, reviving a 55-year-old Four Seasons hit for the modern day, opening for the Rolling Stones, and most recently headlining America on their own. From what we’ve heard of the upcoming Rush!, Måneskin continue cranking out organic rock ‘n’ roll with attitude and charm. You wouldn’t be wrong to think that they sometimes harken back to the early 2000s garage rock revival—these colorful Italians have already covered The White Stripes. It’s nice to see a young band with genuine personality getting back to mischievous rock shenanigans. [Bryan Reesman]

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Oddisee, To What End [January 20]

Oddisee, To What End [January 20]

It’s already been five long years since the last studio album from the perennially underrated Washington D.C.-born, Brooklyn-based rapper and producer Oddisee. Thankfully, his new album To What End is coming next month, bringing collaborations with Freeway, Bilal, Little Brother’s Phonte, and more along with it. “Music has always been a source of therapy for me,” Oddisee says. “To What End is a musical journal of my life in recent years. It’s a record of my experiences and gradual shift in perspective.” Judging by early tracks “Ghetto To Meadow” and “Hard To Tell,” To What End will be just as warm, thoughtful, and beautiful as we’ve come to expect from Oddisee. [Peter Helman]

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We Are Scientists, Lobes [January 20]

We Are Scientists, Lobes [January 20]

We Are Scientists - Lucky Just To Be Here (Visualizer)

Survivors of the great indie rock boom of the 2000s, We Are Scientists continue to discover unexplored emotions and textures in their stylish post-punk offerings. Designed as the nighttime counterpart to the bright, sunny Huffy, Lobes pulses to neon-lit nocturnal rhythms and percolating analog synths. Lobes might be designed to be played under cover of the night but it’s as celebratory as it is moody thanks to the duo of Keith Murray and Chris Cain’s dedication to hooks and nervy guitar. [Stephen Erlewine]

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Fucked Up, One Day [January 27]

Fucked Up, One Day [January 27]

Fucked Up - One Day (Official Music Video)

True to its name, One Day, the new album from Toronto hardcore greats Fucked Up, was written and recorded in one literal day. “After you’ve been in a band for this long, you lose track of what your sound actually is,” Fucked Up guitarist Mike Haliechuck explains. “Twenty-four hours can feel like a long time, but you can get a lot done then, too. It can feel like forever and one minute at the same time. If you work on something for one day, it can end up being really special.” Featuring lyrical contributions from vocalist Damian Abraham for the first time since 2014’s Glass Boys, One Day is small in scope but unbelievably epic in sound. [Peter Helman]

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Kimbra, A Reckoning [January 27]

Kimbra, A Reckoning [January 27]

Kimbra - save me

It’s been four years since Kimbra’s Primal Heart, and now she’s back with a whole new slate of thought-provoking pop work. Reckoning roots itself in Kimbra’s need to process things on a macro, worldly plane, as well as the need to confront her own inner mechanisms. Of the single replay, Kimbra says, “This song is about the experience of being on loop. There’s this movie going around in my head replaying both the beautiful and the terrifying times during a relationship. But there’s also an inability to let go. Hanging onto the pain made me feel like this person was still in my life. There was an addictive quality to the cycle, even though I knew it was time to face and release it.” There’s so much more to Kimbra than one featured verse on “Somebody That I Used To Know,” as she’s cultivated an entire world of pop that’s constantly pushing the boundaries of her sound and lyrical expression. [Gabrielle Sanchez]

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King Tuff, Smalltown Stardust [January 27]

King Tuff, Smalltown Stardust [January 27]

King Tuff - Smalltown Stardust (Official Video)

King Tuff’s new album, Smalltown Stardust, is a love letter to his own past and the natural beauty of the small Vermont town that shaped him. “I wanted to make an album to remind myself that life is magical,” King Tuff’s Kyle Thomas says. “An album about love and nature and youth.” Co-written and co-produced by his housemate, Sasami Ashworth, who released one of the best albums of this past year with Squeeze, Smalltown Stardust finds Thomas moving beyond the melodic garage-rock he’s known for to incorporate more tender moments and orchestral flourishes. [Peter Helman]

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Meg Baird, Furling [January 27]

Meg Baird, Furling [January 27]

Meg Baird “Will You Follow Me Home?” (Official Music Video)

Returning to her solo career after a seven-year hiatus, Meg Baird broadens her musical horizons with Furling. Working with Charlie Saufley, a partner and collaborator since Heron Oblivion in 2016, Baird opens up her sound by dressing her finger-picked guitar with picturesque keyboards, mellotrons, and percussion, expansions that offer a measure of polish without diminishing her aching, delicate signature folk-rock. The warmth of the added instruments can sometimes suggest the glory days of 1970s studio craft but Baird never succumbs to gloss; she keeps things intimate and emotionally direct throughout Furling. [Stephen Erlewine]

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Samia, Honey [January 27]

Samia, Honey [January 27]

Samia - Sea Lions (Official Video)

For her sophomore record, indie-pop darling Samia elevates her dreamy, tender sound as she examines the intricacies of relationships. On Honey, Samia shares, “This record is about learning to see the love around you. Sometimes the only thing I can be certain of is the way it feels. Even when I zoom all the way out, the little things matter the most. I was trying to imagine looking back at the end of life and what I’d have to say about it right now. This is a little bit of it. Telling stories, making amends, trying to show people I love them.” Fun fact: Samia also happens to be the daughter of actors Kathy Najimy and Dan Finnerty. [Gabrielle Sanchez]

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Sam Smith, Gloria [January 27]

Sam Smith, Gloria [January 27]

Sam Smith, Kim Petras - Unholy (Official Music Video)

Although they made their name on big, weepy piano ballads, Sam Smith is at their best when they embrace pure pop euphoria. Smith has said that their new album Gloria, titled after their name for the “voice in my head that just says, ‘You can do it,’” is centered on queer joy. In addition to the previously released single “Love Me More” and the Kim Petras-assisted number one hit “Unholy,” Gloria will feature songs with Jessie Reyez, Koffee, and Ed Sheeran. “Gloria got me through some dark times and was a beacon for me in my life,” Smith says. “I hope it can be that for you.”[Peter Helman]

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Evita Manji, Spandrel? [January 30]

Evita Manji, Spandrel? [January 30]

Evita Manji’s forthcoming debut Spandrel? roots itself in the depth of human evolution and experience. The album was birthed in a time of immense strife starting with the sudden death of their partner, hyperpop pioneer SOPHIE. Over the summer of 2022, wildfires covered Manji’s hometown of Athens in ash. The resulting work taps into a primordial depth, fitted with industrial percussion and experimental vocal work. Singles such as “Body/Prison” are unyielding, ominous, and cathartically bold. [Gabrielle Sanchez]

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