If 2015 hasn't exactly been kind to Chicago so far (nothing like subzero frigidity to ring in the new year), it at least comes with the promise of a whole batch of new music to anticipate. Chicago winters are the perfect time to take a break from playing shows and hole up in the studio; lucky for us, some of the city's most exciting artists have been doing just that. Here's a quick roundup of some of the records I'm most eagerly anticipating this year.
Oshwa - TBA
Oshwa spent a good part of 2014's final quarter teasing the as-yet-untitled follow-up to their 2013 debut, Chamomile Crush. The quartet, led by singer and songwriter Alicia Walter, posted a photo of themselves in the studio with the caption "it's coming . . ." on their Tumblr a few weeks ago. On New Year's Eve, the band announced via Facebook that one of the new songs from the album is called "Genie." A new single and its video should emerge this month; until then, here's Walter covering Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line."
Roommate - Make Like
It's been more than a decade since Roommate's Kent Lambert moved to Chicago from New York, and since then he's released a steady string of singles, EPs, and the fantastic LP Guilty Rainbow. That album came out almost four years ago, so it's about time new material surfaced from the avant-pop group. Make Like will be released at some point later this year. The band's website currently displays what appears to be the album's cover art rotating rapidly, as well as the caption "2015." Further details remain murky, but keep an eye out for this hard-to-Google band in the coming months.
Tink - TBA
With a Timbaland cosign and a standout debut mixtape, Tink hasn't been far from the radar of anyone who keeps tabs on Chicago hip-hop. The young rapper put out a protest song the morning after the nonindictment of Darren Wilson last fall, and her video for the song "Around the Clock" dropped a month ago. Tink hasn't announced her first album yet, but she's playing a big show at the Metro in February. It wouldn't be a stretch to think a release date might follow shortly.
Chance the Rapper & the Social Experiment - Surf
Chance promised that Surf, his first album with his band the Social Experiment, would be released before the end of 2014; whether that was an overenthusiastic estimate or he simply encountered some unexpected delays, it's still unavailable. But after Acid Rap, his breakout 2013 mixtape, I'm willing to wait for whatever he comes up with next. Like the two tapes he's already put out, Surf will be available as a free download to anyone who wants it. And judging by the singles Chance and SoX are already streaming on Soundcloud, the record sounds like it'll be a life-affirming blaze of hip-hop, soul, and funk—with a sarcastic snarl around the edges.
Melkbelly - TBA
Local noise-rock favorites Melkbelly premiered a new single called "A Case of the Krampus" just a couple days before the end of 2014. According to an interview with Loud Loop Press, the song will be out as a seven-inch this month, and then the band's jumping right back into the studio to record a follow-up to last year's Pennsylvania. They're hoping to get it done by the end of the spring, so fingers crossed that the final product will be out before 2016 comes knocking.