The 33 Albums That Will Power the Rest of Your Year
Saying "so long" to summer isn't entirely sadness-inducing, not with all the unmissable entertainment options queued up over the next few months. Our series of fall previews will guide you to the very best movies, shows, albums, books, video games, and events arriving this season.
It's easy to joke about album release dates being an antiquated notion -- just ask Frank Ocean and his live-streamed staircase -- but plenty of great artists and bands still release albums the old-fashioned way. Not everyone can drop their album at a moment's notice like Beyoncé. In fact, some artists even have release dates, singles, videos, tour dates, and all the other bells and whistles fans love.
To help you make sense of everything coming out this fall, we've got you covered with the best upcoming releases in pop, hip-hop, rock, R&B, metal, and other genres that probably don't have names yet. Time to dig in.
Angel Olsen, My WomanRelease date: 9/2
Judging from the three singles we've heard from this record from the genre-melding 29-year-old singer-songwriter, it covers a lot of ground: Neil Young guitar squall ramblers, scrappy punk anthems, and slinky synth-pop. There's nothing she can't do.
M.I.A., AIMRelease date: 9/9
Any new music from the relentlessly innovative, boundary-pushing Mathangi Arulpragasam deserves your attention, but given the rumblings that this could be her last record, the palindromic AIM feels especially like appointment-listening. There's a good chance she'll go out with a bang.
Wilco, SchmilcoRelease date: 9/9
After last year's jokey but refreshingly nimble Star Wars, the Chicago art-rock veterans look to be getting a little silly again with their 10th record, which finds them riffing on the album title of bathrobe pop classic Nilsson Schmilsson by Harry Nilsson.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Skeleton TreeRelease date: 9/9
Label: Bad Seed Ltd.
If the stark, haunting video for "Jesus Alone" is any indication, the latest record from these Australian post-punk warriors will explore similar territory of 2013's quietly menacing Push the Sky Away. Also, the record will be accompanied by One More Time With Feeling, a new documentary about the band directed by filmmaker Andrew Dominik (Killing Them Softly), so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Grouplove, Big MessRelease date: 9/9
This LA synth-pop group specializes in the type of soaring choruses that make them a favorite of TV and movie music supervisors -- The Fault in Our Stars, Girls, and BoJack Horseman have all used their tracks -- so be sure to check their new songs before you hear them scoring your latest weekend Netflix binge.
Bastille, Wild WorldRelease date: 9/9
Label: Virgin EMI
After conquering the singles chart with their inescapable hit "Pompeii" back in 2014, Bastille is back with another record that promises more impeccably produced anthems, syrupy ballads, and arena-rock-ready sing-alongs. Will they be able to climb to the same chart-topping heights? We'll have to wait and see.
Local Natives, Sunlit YouthRelease date: 9/9
Label: Loma Vista Recordings/Infectious Music
The low-key indie rock songcraft of this group sneaks up on you -- there's a reason their last album was called Hummingbird -- but the synth-speckled opening track "Villainy" of the new record suggests the band has found some new tricks to keep your head nodding this fall.
Okkervil River, AwayRelease date: 9/9
Besides singer-songwriter Will Sheff, the lineup of literary rock staple Okkervil River has changed entirely since their last record, 2013's warm-hued The Silver Gymnasium, but the new songs, which you can stream now (via NPR), are just as full of joy, sadness, and wry self-referential humor as ever. Grab a pair of headphones and embrace the bearded melancholia.
The Head and the Heart, Signs of LightRelease date: 9/9
Label: Warner Bros.
Though this Seattle-based folk-rock group has made the jump from indie Sub Pop to Warner Bros., expect to hear the same heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics, piano-filled instrumentation, and beer-toasting melodies on their major label debut. And try not to hold the fact that they showed up in an episode of Roadies against them.
Usher, Hard II LoveRelease date: 9/16
We're gonna guess that though Usher himself might be Hard II Love, this album, his follow-up to 2012's Looking 4 Myself, will be easy II listen II. See what we did there? Well, expect much better wordplay from Mr. Raymond on this new record, along with all the standard confessionals that have made the former Voice judge a beloved R&B staple for decades.
Against Me!, Shape Shift With MeRelease date: 9/16
Label: Total Treble Music
With the publication of singer Laura Jane Grace's memoir Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout in November, this will be the perfect soundtrack to your system-fighting, book-reading morning commute. As the group continues to refine the sound they explored on 2014's Transgender Dysphoria Blues, prepare for more tuneful blasts of righteous punk aggression.
AlunaGeorge, I RememberRelease date: 9/16
English synthpop duo AlunaGeorge make futuristic party music that sounds beamed in from some intergalactic night club -- check out the single "I'm in Control" for a taste -- but the title of their sophomore LP suggests they might be human after all. What will they be remembering this time around? Some great songs, hopefully.
Cymbals Eat Guitars, Pretty YearsRelease date: 9/16
It's easy to bemoan the status of guitar-based indie rock -- the genre has certainly seen better days -- but instead of complaining, it's a better idea to check out the latest batch of sprawling, melodic emo anthems from this reliably excellent Staten Island group. Pretty Years is a slightly more streamlined but worthy follow-up to 2014's impressive LOSE. There's still great indie rock out there if you know where to look.
Mac Miller, The Divine FeminineRelease date: 9/16
Label: Warner Bros.
Coming off last year's relatively understated GO:OD AM, the rapper and producer is back with a new collection of laid-back tracks featuring guest appearances from Kendrick Lamar, Cee Lo Green, Anderson .Paak, Ariana Grande, and more. Just don't expect a wild party here -- it's more of a chill afternoon-BBQ vibe.
Mykki Blanco, MykkiRelease date: 9/16
Label: Dogfood Music Group
Rap deconstructionist Mykki Blanco will release the genre-bending debut album he's been steadily building towards for the last few years with infectious tracks like "Wavvy." After multiple mixtapes and EPs, it will be exciting to see what he's been cooking up.
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani, SunergyRelease date: 9/16
Label: RVNG Intl.
Experimental synth artist Kailtlyn Aurelia Smith already released one of our favorite records of the year, so we're betting this sunny collaboration with pianist Suzanne Ciani will be worth getting lost in as well.
Beach Slang, A Loud Bash of Teenage FeelingsRelease date: 9/23
Far from the hazy beach-pop their name might evoke, these Philadelphia punks deliver the type of rowdy, beer-soaked shout-alongs like "Punks in a Disco Bar" that play as you burn down the cabana.
Bruce Springsteen, Chapter and VerseRelease date: 9/23
The latest release from the Boss is a companion piece to his new memoir Born to Run, but don't expect new tracks here: this is a career-spanning compilation album featuring tracks hand-picked by Bruce himself, so you know you're getting the good stuff.
Neurosis, Fires Within FiresRecent date: 9/23
Label: Neurot Recordings
Autumn is the best time of the year for a blast of metal aggression, so let the latest record from Neurosis, the Oakland doom veterans, soundtrack your pumpkin spice adventures. At the very least, it'll be louder than a leaf blower.
Bon Iver, 22, A MillionRelease date: 9/30
Since becoming the favorite cabin-dwelling vocalist of Kanye West and releasing 2011's Bon Iver, Bon Iver, Justin Vernon has kept a low profile, collaborating with friends and curating a music festival in his Wisconsin hometown of Eau Claire, but prepare for the bearded singer-songwriter to step back into the spotlight with his latest full-length.
Danny Brown, Atrocity ExhibitionRelease date: 9/30
With his crazy hair, graphic sex talk, and aggressive delivery, it's easy for the uninitiated to be a little confused by an artist as creative and provocative as Danny Brown. But that would be a mistake: the Detroit rapper is one of hip-hop's most consistently innovative and thoughtful album-oriented artists, and his latest collection, which references a Joy Division track in its title, should be a bracing, experimental mapping of his current headspace.
Drive-By Truckers, American BandRelease date: 9/30
Carrying the banner of Southern Rock must get tiring -- it's crazy to think that the group's classic Southern Rock Opera came out all the way back in 2001 -- but these Alabama-repping ruffians show no signs of hitting the breaks. If the raucous first single "Surrender Under Protest" is any indication, this record should be the band's most confrontational and political outing yet.
Meshuggah, The Violent Sleep of ReasonRelease date: 10/7
Label: Nuclear Blast
Just look at that title: The Violent Sleep of Reason. If that's not a scary enough reason to get you into these longtime Swedish metal spine-tinglers, then I don't know what is.
Goat, RequiemRelease date: 10/7
Label: Sub Pop Records
Afrobeat, psych-rock, and metal don't necessarily go together -- actually, they don't go together at all -- but that hasn't stopped this Swedish experimental group from concocting some wild songs, like new single "Try My Robe," that should appeal to adventurous listeners looking for something very outside the mainstream.
Green Day, Revolution RadioRelease date: 10/7
After scoring a Broadway show and releasing a trilogy of albums back in 2012, it feels like the all-grown-up pop-punk group are doing the classic "back to basics" thing with this 12-song record, which will hopefully skimp on the bombast in favor of the hooks that made them mall favorites in the '90s.
Pitbull, Climate ChangeRelease date: 10/7
Don't act like you don't want another Pitbull album. The king of all things Dale will bless the world with yet another collection of Miami party tracks to play on your speedboat as you gaze out at the sunset and think to yourself, "Damn, I bet Pitbull is having a lot more fun than me right now."
French Montana, MC4Release date: 10/14
Label: Bad Boy/Epic
The follow-up to 2013's star-making Excuse My French was delayed right before its previous release date in August -- but not before the record appeared in Target -- so it's hard not to be a combination of excited, curious, and a little nervous about this one. But there's also a monkey with a cool necklace on the cover, so I guarantee this album will be good.
Conor Oberst, RuminationsRelease date: 10/14
Though most people know him for his work under the Bright Eyes moniker -- don't feel embarrassed about that "Lover I Don't Have to Love" tattoo -- singer Conor Oberst has carved out a quietly impressive career as a solo artist too. Don't sleep on this one.
Kings of Leon, WallsRelease date: 10/14
If you're still humming along to Southern-fried arena-rock anthems like "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody" every time they pop up on the radio, just hope that this record delivers more songs to stomp your feet to than the group's lackluster 2012 album Mechanical Bull. (Yes, the Kings of Leon put out an album called Mechanical Bull. That is not a joke.)
American Football, American FootballRelease date: 10/21
We found proof that the emo revival is real: these genre standard-bearers, fronted by Mike Kinsella of Owen and Joan of Arc, will be releasing their first album since 1999's now beloved self-titled record. Judging from the stellar first single, "I've Been So Lost for So Long," it might be time to pull that old American Football T-shirt out of the closet.
Beck, TBARelease date: 10/21
After the somber, Grammy-winning Morning Phase, which found Beck returning to his acoustic Sea Change sound, the first single for this still untitled record indicates that genre-mixing artist will be back in his Odelay party mode for this new collection. Personally, I'm ready for a return to "fun" Beck; you can only stay mopey for so long.
Sleigh Bells, Jessica RabbitRelease date: 11/11
Label: Torn Clean
If jumping up and down to music that sounds like it was made by a sentient candy bar is your thing, you owe it to yourself to check out the fourth full-length from the Brooklyn noise-pop specialists. They may be a few years removed from their "Crown on the Ground" peak, but they're still capable of whipping a bar full of sweaty 20-somethings into a frenzy with a few Def Leppard-like riffs.
Metallica, Hardwired... to Self DestructRelease date: 11/18
It's Metallica, man! (Yeah!) Just look at that cover! (Scary!) Listen to the single! (Maybe good?) If you haven't figured out whether or not you want to get excited about a Metallica album in 2016, I don't know what to tell you.
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