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New Year, New Music: Some Early Sounds of 2022

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It’s a new year and a new slate for releases. With a surprisingly plentiful year of releases in 2021, artists are lining up to follow up their peers, and in some cases, themselves, with fresh sounds. Long-standing fans of artists like My Bloody Valentine and Björk have been waiting for a new sound, single or album, to no avail. Here are some releases to look out for as soon as next week.

Earl Sweatshirt: “Sick!”

Earl Sweatshirt’s latest release, “FEET OF CLAY” (2020), featured the West Coast native at his most elusive; the album was for the fans of Earl as a lyrical student, not those with a love for 808s. In 2021, famed producer, the Alchemist, worked on a series of outstanding albums with acts like Armand Hammer, Mach-Hommy and Boldy James. The Alchemist and Earl interacted with each other on social media often, and their connection amounted to a new piece of work. “2010,” the two and a half minute single from Earl’s upcoming album “Sick!,” showcases the rapper’s generative, past-tense raps that give bona fide snapshots of his life before music changed it all. In December 2021, “Tabula Rasa (feat. Armand Hammer)” dropped and the Alchemist-produced track was enough to prove that “Sick!” was bound to be a hit. Fans might not have been on board with Earl’s recent line of albums; however, this upcoming project sounds brave in production, confident in lyrical flows and rightfully sure of itself everywhere else.

“Sick!” was released on Jan. 14 for streaming services. 

Mitski: “Laurel Hell”

There’s something appropriate about a Mitski album in the midst of a global pandemic. “I cry at the start of every movie / I guess ‘cause I wish I was making things too” were her first lines from “Working for the Knife,” the single that broke the three-year silence from Mitski following her beloved album, “Be the Cowboy.” Instead of a grunge, noise-rock album like “Puberty 2” or the crumbling melancholy of “Bury Me At Makeout Creek,” her new album, “Laurel Hell,” contains Mitski’s vulnerability with an evolved sense for pop. The sounds are grand and developed without an ounce of hesitation. She isn’t afraid to show her true colors in every deprecating way, as “The Only Heartbreaker” stands. Compared to her previous work, her new album is looking to stand out in its vulnerability and ironclad grace. 

“Laurel Hell” is anticipated to release on Feb. 4 on streaming services.

Photo provided mitski @mitskileaks/Twitter

Pinegrove: “11:11”

“Orange,” the first single, from New Jersey-based rock band Pinegrove’s anticipated album, “11:11,” takes a hopelessly conscious angle to advocate for climate control. Premiering on YouTube in August 2021, the single walks you through a trying concern for the planet around us. When “Alaska” was released in November 2021, the organically alternative band brought the listener on a familiar thrill of their last album, “Marigold” (2020), with a bit more decisiveness than before. Evan Stephens Hall, the band’s frontman, voices his personal concern for change and awareness — each track brings your ear to a dear friend while they share their feelings. Their latest single, “Respirate” realizes “You’re having a hard time now / Finding a good way out / Well me also but / No one’s gonna rescue us” before promising companionship in this COVID-19-induced limbo.

“11:11” is anticipated to release on Jan. 28 on streaming services. 

FKA twigs: “CAPRISONGS”

FKA twigs has shown an impressive range of ability in these past few months. From her noir U.K. drill single, “Measure of a Man (feat. Central Cee),” to her fairy-pop single, “tears in the club (feat. The Weeknd),” the musician-choreographer is bringing in the new year with flair. Moreover, Twigs isn’t looking to release her mixtape “CAPRISONGS” without her usually captivating performances and visuals. Her Instagram displays the specific world she finds herself in — a bow and arrow, excellent make-up looks and visual influences from her astrological background. Each post oozes elegance and poise with a curiosity for the mystic while hinting at the mixtape’s subject matter. Unpacking her emotional tendencies in twigs-fashion, the artist looks to display a wonderful star show with her next release. 

“CAPRISONGS” was released on Jan. 14 for streaming services. 

Photo provided by FKA twigs @FKAtwigs/Twitter

It’s only the first month of the year and artists are confidently making their marks in 2022. While some artists have remained quiet, there are plenty of reasons to have hope in another year of great releases. It’s already time to consider the next album of the year. 

Mason Stoutamire is an Entertainment Staff Writer. He can be reached at mstoutam@uci.edu.