Spring semester album guide

Records to anticipate during the rest of the academic year


Spring semester just started, but spring is certainly not in the air. If anything, we haven’t seen the worst of Buffalo’s winter. So before your fully charged phone dies from barely stepping foot outside this semester, it’s time to explore some new music.

Take our advice and keep an eye on some of our recommended upcoming releases this semester.

Brockhampton – “Team Effort”

Date: TBA

Calling your hip-hop group a boy band is easy, but being accepted as one is a challenge.

In 2017, boy band Brockhampton came out of nowhere, dropped a trilogy of quality hip- hop albums and solidified their group as one of modern hip-hop’s most inventive collectives.

The 14-member band, led by mastermind Kevin Abstract, flooded the market with music and left its mark. “Saturation,” “Saturation II” and “Saturation III” were met with critical praise for their honest lyricism, dreamy production and overall freshness.

Yet, even as Brockhampton claims to be the “best boy band since One Direction,” publications and the general public refuse to refer to them as a boy band.

That changes in 2018.

Brockhampton’s upcoming album “Team Effort” is set to release this year, and judging by how quickly they’re able to finish a project, it’ll most likely surface sometime this semester.

If Brockhampton can balance sticking to their popular “Saturation” formula while still venturing into something new, “Team Effort” should be the project that finally defines them as “America’s favorite boyband.”

Jorja Smith – TBA

Date: TBA

Hearing Jorja Smith’s voice is like walking on a cloud.

The British soul singer has such a special tone and each single she’s released showcases it wonderfully. Her most recent single “Let Me Down” features rapper Stormzy and follows Smith through a plea to a missing loved one. It’s raw, emotional and depicts Smith as a powerhouse vocalist to keep an eye on.

Smith’s most popular single, “On My Mind” is the polar opposite. Its luring production and Smith’s charming pipes create one of 2017’s most exciting pop tracks, as it made massive waves in her home turf of England.

Smith has yet to conquer the US, despite a few features on Drake tracks, but with the release of her 2018 debut album, you’ll surely be seeing a lot more of her.

Tinashe – “Joyride”

Date: TBA

It’s almost second nature to throw this record on a “music to look forward to” list. After teasing it for several years and watching her label sweep it under the rug, pop/R&B singer Tinashe may just be ready to release her much-anticipated album “Joyride.”

In January, Tinashe dropped her lead single from the project called “No Drama” featuring a verse from Offset. The track is a refreshing ode to anyone who tries to tell Tinashe she’s fallen off and it pushes the anticipated-pop record into new R&B territory.

It looks like her label is finally ready to promote her, and more tunes are on the way. Regardless of what genre Tinashe decides to explore with the album, let’s just hope we get to hear “Joyride” in time for summer.

Jack White - “Boarding House Reach”

Date: March 23

Attributing a specific genre to Jack White’s body of work is daunting.

The former White Stripes front man and guitar virtuoso is gearing up for his third solo LP release, announced last March. White is really looking to do something different, and sounds as if his individuality is coming to fruition.

The album picked up steam this past December with the release of “Servings and Portions from My Boarding House Reach,” a compilation of sound bites encompassing the forthcoming album. White is stepping further and further outside of the realm of rock with each album, and is looking to accumulate as many sounds as possible.

“Boarding House Reach” sees White advancing his sound further towards larger than life orchestration as opposed to a collection of tracks coming together for an album. White commented last year that he wanted to write songs “like Michael Jackson would write.” From the sound of single “Corporation,” White is far from cemented to a specific space of sound.

Awolnation: “Here Come the Runts”
Date: February 2

When referring to Awolnation, grandiose is an understatement. Even with the success of larger than life tracks such as “Sail,” front man Aaron Bruno isn’t done yet, recently describing the forthcoming third album as “superior to anything I’ve come close to making before.”

There is a lot riding on “Here Come the Runts.” 2015’s studio LP “Run” saw critics split between half-hearted praise and dignified polarization. Three albums in, Awolnation has yet to release a work seen as a collective commercial smash.

Lead single “Passion” sees the group taking a larger step towards a rock-oriented sound with heavier drums and less reliant on studio-orchestrated beats.

A$AP Rocky: TBA

Date: TBA

After two successful albums, A$AP Rocky has teased new material for a follow up to “At. Long. Last. ASAP.”

Over the past several weeks, Rocky has released a consistent stream of new tracks exclusively on Soundcloud, with “Money Bags Freestyle” emerging this past Thursday. Rocky is audaciously laid back on the new tracks, but a strong flow supported by exceptional lyrics drive the tracks towards new territory for the rapper.

With one hand in music and the other in fashion, Rocky has become a larger than life icon in rap. His next release will look to etch his name into a collection of the best of the best in hip-hop. His most recent full length work saw the rapper collaborate with A$AP Mob, culminating in “Cozy Tapes Vol. 2: Too Cozy.” Rocky was true to form on the album, with his presence consistently rising to the top of each track throughout.

It’s hard to tell what’s next for Rocky. The rapper often finds comfort in a niche of rap that necessitates lyrics be as equally important as the beat driving them. A re-imagination or change of form seems distant, but Rocky will most certainly be back to business as usual come album announcement.

Brenton Blanchet and Brian Evans are arts editors and can be reached at arts@ubsectrum.com


Brenton J. Blanchet is The Spectrum's editor-in-chief and a senior communication major. He specializes in interviews with rising pop stars, but makes sure to still give UB the news scoop. Blanchet contributes to Billboard, DJBooth, and other publications in his free time.


Brian Evans is a senior English major and The Spectrum's senior arts editor.