Migos - Culture II (January 26)
Chris Schulz: I'm still recovering from just how absolutely awful last year's Migos show was, one of the most pitiful performances I've ever seen. Coming off the back of Culture, last year's most influential rap album, it was especially disappointing. However, on record, the Atlanta trio are effortlessly comical, and their three-word quotables remain endlessly enjoyable. Case in point: Stir Fry, the Neptunes-produced second single from Culture II, due out later this month. I'll never see them live again, but this? This is cooking with gas.
Black Panther - OST (February 9)
Chris Schulz: Let's face it: we're not going to get another Kendrick Lamar album this year. He's still touring DAMN for much of the first half of 2018, and in the second half he will absolutely 100 per cent be performing in New Zealand (NB: this is a wild rumour based on zero factual evidence, but can someone, anyone, please make it happen). But - and this is a big but - he's producing the soundtrack for Black Panther, which is very good news indeed. Make the most of it: it's likely to be all we get from K.Dot until 2019.
Franz Ferdinand - Always Ascending (February 9)
Karl Puschmann: Twitchy art-rockers Franz Ferdinand were always positioned better than most of their mid-2000's peers to just keep calm and carry on while musical tastes morphed and shifted around them. Right from the start their stated mission was to make music for people to dance to and busting a move on the d-floor never really goes out of fashion. If the foot-tapping, synth-bass driven, sax solo featuring new single Feel the Love Go is any indication the group's upcoming album is going to be filled with many more dancefloor, er, fillers.
Marlon Williams - Make Way For Love (February 16)
George Fenwick: Marlon Williams' second album Make Way For Love is already shaping up to be one of the most exciting New Zealand albums of 2018. The alt-country crooner has made waves around the world for his wholly original music and strikingly powerful voice, and the first few tracks he's released from his sophomore effort promise an exciting evolution for the Kiwi performer. The album is said to be an intensely personal breakup record, examining the fallout from his split from another Kiwi legend, Aldous Harding.
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Kimbra - Primal Heart (April 20)
Siena Yates: I'm far too excited about Kimbra's new sound. I jumped on the bandwagon with Settle Down and since then I've just been waiting for Kimbra to really let loose. From what I've heard, Primal Heart is her doing just that. Just listen to Top of the World and all those rich layers of production, not to mention the fact that Kimbra is mixing rap and hip hop with dark-pop while still sounding like Kimbra. Plus she's reportedly got the likes of Skrillex, Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth and Childish Gambino on board so it's gonna get weird, but in a really good way.
Kody Neilson - Birthday Suite (May 9)
Karl Puschmann: Earlier thie week Kody Nielson delivered Bic's Birthday, the first track from his forthcoming album Birthday Suite, and it's one of the most deliciously bonkers things we've heard. Taking inspiration from those dusty old Synths play Bach records you find in every opshop around the country, the song transplants that sound onto raw block rockin' beats and indecipherable vocoder melodies. Crazy? Yes. But brilliant too. It may be Bic's birthday but we got the present.
Frank Ocean - album and release date TBC
George Fenwick: In 2012, Frank Ocean tweeted: "5 albums before 30". Ocean turned 30 last October with four albums to his name – Nostalgia, Ultra, Channel Orange, Blonde and Endless. Then, in November, he shared a cryptic message on Tumblr: "Well I made the album before 30. I JUST AINT PUT THAT B**** OUT!" After a year of excellent singles such as Chanel and Biking, it seems Ocean has another secret weapon up his sleeve. We can't wait.
Nicki Minaj - album and release date TBC
Siena Yates: It's been more than three years since we got Nicki's last release, The Pinkprint and since then we've largely just had to be content with guest spots. But with the likes of Cardi B on the rise, I feel like Nicki needs to release something new and cohesive, and prove she has more to say than constantly bragging about being "the best". Nicki released a few tracks last year which are said to be from the upcoming album, which she says will be her "best body of work" and the "most memorable and impactful of my career yet." Here's hoping.
Arctic Monkeys – album and release date TBC
Rachel Bache: I was a huge fan of 2013's AM album, so the rumours swirling that a new Arctic Monkeys record will be coming out sometime this year make me pretty excited. Alex Turner's style has changed over the years from a rapid explosion of words into more of a velvet croon, so it will be interesting to see where they go with this forthcoming album.