With large-scale tours and festivals still nowhere in sight, getting pumped about new music this fall means getting pumped about the season’s upcoming albums.
Fortunately, there are plenty to stoke our excitement, from the highly anticipated debut by K-pop’s biggest girl group to a timely return from a veteran club queen.
Here are the 20 LPs we can’t wait to hear.
The Neighbourhood, ‘Chip Chrome & the Mono-Tones’ (out now)
A character-driven concept album is a counter-intuitive conceit for a rock band in the age of TikTok’s streaming firehose. But OC-formed rockers the Neighbourhood are more in tune with modern tastes than most, and their R&B-influenced, big-budget indie sound has proved both adept and incredibly popular with Gen Z years into their career.
Singles like “Devil’s Advocate” and “Cherry Flavoured” show how the band can still carve room for ambitious rock around the top charts. (August Brown)
Listen to “Devil’s Advocate” here:
Sufjan Stevens, ‘The Ascension’ (out now)
Two years after the exquisitely wispy “Mystery of Love” (from “Call Me By Your Name”) carried him to the Oscars, Sufjan Stevens has returned with a furious and densely arranged electro-folk album about what he views as the “diseased” state of American culture in the age of Trump. (Mikael Wood)
Here's the title track from the album:
SuperM, ‘Super One’ (out now)
A K-pop supergroup featuring members of EXO, SHINee, NCT127 and WayV, Super M was built with the express purpose of producing the biggest records and stadium shows possible.
They got there almost immediately with the instantly meme-able techno-pop single “Jopping,” a Billboard 200-topping EP and sold-out Forum dates, and now they’re prepping a full-length debut, preceded by a pair of high-octane singles, “100” and “Tiger Inside.” (AB)
Here's the video for SuperM's “100”:
Blackpink, ‘Blackpink: The Album’ (Oct. 2)
When the four members of Blackpink walked offstage at Coachella in April 2019 — the first K-pop girl group to perform there — everyone who keeps up with the genre expected them to sweep the U.S. in a matter of months.
A turbulent 18 months delayed their ascent, however. The Burning Sun entertainment and sex scandal, which involved several celebrities, including Korean idols of popular K-pop groups, upended their Korean label YG. And COVID-19 put a stop to touring.
Now after months spent tweaking the record, they’ve finally popped the cork on their full-length rap and electro-pop-influenced debut. (AB)
Here's Blackpink's "Ice Cream," featuring Selena Gomez:
North Americans, ‘Roped In’ (Oct. 9)
The Los Angeles guitarist Patrick McDermott’s first album for Jack White’s Third Man imprint expands on ideas set forth on North Americans’ previous album, “Going Steady.”
An instrumental record inspired by the so-called American primitive guitar style developed by John Fahey, “Roped In” sees McDermott teaming with pedal steel guitarist Barry Walker, fellow guitar traveler William Tyler and harpist Mary Lattimore. (Randall Roberts)
Here's "American Dipper," one of the album's tracks:
Loudon Wainwright III, ‘I’d Rather Lead a Band’ (Oct. 9)
The veteran singer, songwriter and actor Loudon Wainwright is best known for his insightful, painfully honest folk-based songs. Rather than update his sound for millennials, “I’d Rather Lead a Band” travels back to Wainwright’s big-band-era youth.
In conference with noted music supervisor Randall Poster, Wainwright dipped into the Great American Songbook, rounded up a big band and went to work. (RR)
Here's "A Ship Without a Sail," a song made famous by Ella Fitzgerald:
Open Mike Eagle, ‘Anime, Trauma, Divorce’ (Oct. 16)
The Chicago-born, LA-based rapper, thinker and costar of Comedy Central’s “The New Negroes” is one of the most insightful lyricists in the business.
His previous album, “Brick Body Kids Still Daydream,” explored his life growing up in a South Chicago housing project.
In announcing “Anime, Trauma, Divorce,” the artist explained the thematic genesis: “S--- had gone haywire personally and professionally and my therapist had to remind me that I have an outlet to process some of my s--- in rap music.” (RR)
Here's "Bucciarati," one of the few tracks released so far:
Various Artists, ‘The Harry Smith B-Sides’ (Oct. 16)
The Atlanta archival imprint Dust-to-Digital describes this set as “the closing of a collector’s circle.”
Drawing on noted experimental filmmaker and music collector Harry Smith’s famed 1951 six-album Folkways Records collection, “The Anthology of American Folk Music,” producers compiled remastered versions of those folk, blues and country songs’ B-sides. (RR)
Here's a promo for the album:
Boy Pablo, ‘Wachito Rico’ (Oct. 23)
Lovers of Cuco’s overlooked 2019 “Para Mi” should check out this crafty bedroom-pop maestro from Norway, whose tender but jumpy music has a similar modern-retro vibe and sits in the same emotional register. His debut LP follows a string of singles and EPs that made Boy Pablo a welcome presence at music festivals around the world (back when music festivals were a thing). (MW)
Here's Boy Pablo's "leave me alone!":
Gorillaz, ‘Song Machine: Season One — Strange Timez’ (Oct. 23)
The latest from Damon Albarn’s shape-shifting animated troupe is a collection of tunes created as part of his rolling multimedia Song Machine project. But the smart-alecky spirit and spooky-festive sound are classic Gorillaz, as is the delightfully random guest list, which includes Beck, Elton John and more. (MW)
Here's "Strange Timez" featuring Robert Smith of The Cure:
Bruce Springsteen, ‘Letter to You’ (Oct. 23)
Springsteen tends to release albums right at moments of national crisis. His 2002 LP “The Rising” helped speak to the grief of 9/11, and “Letter to You” will no doubt be some kind of salve for the most divisive election in a generation. His 20th album, recorded in a five-day blitz with his longtime comrades in the E Street Band, betrays no signs of age. (AB)
Here's the title track:
Sam Burton, ‘I Can Go With You’ (Oct. 30)
With a high-lonesome wail that recalls Roy Orbison’s, the Salt Lake City singer and songwriter Burton, who recently relocated to L.A., taps into an old, weird Americana sound filled with echo and longing.
Issued by the crucial folk imprint Tompkins Square, Burton’s debut album offers 11 emotionally deep, expertly produced country-rock songs, each with a timelessness that belies their newness. (RR)
Here's the title track:
Elvis Costello, ‘Hey Clockface’ (Oct. 30)
For his 33rd studio album (give or take) since 1977, the British bard went to Paris where, over two days just before the coronavirus ruined everything, he worked with an ensemble he named “Le Quintette Saint Germain.” In addition to longtime collaborator Steve Nieve on piano, Costello gathered a trumpeter, a woodwind player, a cellist and a drummer. (RR)
Listen here to "We Are All Cowards Now," one of the tracks from the album:
Rico Nasty, ‘Nightmare Vacation’ (Oct. 30)
Like some wild convergence of Missy Elliott, Bjork, Danny Brown and Johnny Rotten, the marvelously in-your-face singer-rapper Rico Nasty delivers rhythmic fury while reveling in the performative requirements of her job.
Last year’s breakout mixtape, “Anger Management,” found her collaborating with producer Kenny Beats. For her forthcoming follow-up, Nasty has wandered even further afield from the mainstream. The first single, “iPhone,” is a collaboration with experimental pop duo 100 Gecs. (RR)
Kylie Minogue, ‘Disco’ (Nov. 6)
If anyone deserves to capitalize on 2020’s dance-pop revival, it’s 52-year-old Kylie Minogue, who was pairing airy melodies and ecstatic grooves before Dua Lipa and Doja Cat were born. As if to prove the point, the Australian diva’s latest — her follow-up to 2018’s country-accented “Golden” — is called simply “Disco.” (MW)
Here's the official video for the song "Magic" from the new album:
Chris Stapleton, ‘Starting Over’ (Nov. 13)
Will country music’s most impressively bearded traditionalist jump on the Fleetwood Mac bandwagon that’s been rolling through Nashville of late? Seems unlikely — though Stapleton’s new one does feature a cameo by Mike Campbell, the longtime Tom Petty sideman who stepped in for Lindsey Buckingham on FM’s last tour. (MW)
Here's the title track:
Josh Groban, ‘Harmony’ (November)
America’s cuddliest baritone is back this fall with a new studio album (his first since 2018’s “Bridges”) and a series of virtual concerts in which he plans to revisit his favorite show tunes and his most treasured holiday songs.
As always with Groban, the music’s quality will increase in direct proportion with how much of his oddball sense of humor he lets in.
Album art not yet released. (MW)
The Avalanches, ‘We Will Always Love You’ (Dec. 11)
They took 16 years to follow up their landmark 2000 debut, “Since I Left You.” But these dogged Australian crate-diggers are due back after a mere four years with their third LP, which promises more of the Avalanches’ intricate weaving of dusty samples and newly recorded vocals, in this case from the likes of Blood Orange, Denzel Curry and Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo. (MW)
Here's the title track:
Benee, title TBD (date TBD)
You know her from “Supalonely,” her breezy TikTok hit that became an inadvertent quarantine jam a few months after it came out last year.
Now 20-year-old Benee is looking to outlast quick-burn virality with a debut album showcasing her witty songwriting and her cool but yearning vocals.
Album art not yet released. (MW)
CNCO, title TBD (date TBD)
Idiosyncratic Latin acts like Bad Bunny and Anuel AA proved you don’t have to compromise to find global success, or gloss up your sound to appease Anglo tastes. But what if you put modern movimiento music in the tried-and-true package of a heartthrob boy band helmed by Simon Cowell?
CNCO’s 2018 self-titled album was the biggest Latin album debut in the U.S. that year, and while hits like “Reggaeton Lento” proved their mettle there, the R&B-driven “Pretend” showed their range and ambitions for this long-delayed 2020 LP.
Album art not yet released. (AB)
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