The 10 Albums You Need to Hear in August

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Summer is generally a pretty fallow period for albums/films/books/etc. (unless you like crushingly expensive blockbusters about murderous robots, in which case knock yourself out). This August is no exception, but happily, there are still enough decent records due out over the next four weeks to make it worth everyone’s while to sit down and thumb through the upcoming release schedules. We’ve done exactly that, so here’s our regular monthly lowdown on the ten albums you need to hear in the month to come, along with a roundup of everything else of note that’s due out.

Phaeleh — Tides (August 6)

Back before Sonny Moore got his hair cut and farty softsynth patches became the aspiring producer’s weapon of choice, dubstep was a faintly ominous atmospheric sound rooted in a synthesis of 2-step rhythms and the ambient, bass-heavy atmosphere of dub. Back then, Bristol producer Phaeleh’s music existed very much at the dub end of the spectrum, and since then it’s only become more stripped-back and ambient, so much so that these days it has more in common with classical music than it does with his former contemporaries.

Pop. 1280 — Imps of Perversion (August 6)

From the sublime to the… well, sublimely nasty, perhaps. Sacred Bones noiseniks Pop. 1280’s new album is streaming at Pitchfork right now, and it’s loud, scabrous swamp punk. The arrangements sound not unlike the good old days of the Birthday Party and/or like-minded latter day bands like Slug Guts, and if you like music that sounds like a chainsaw to the skull, look no further. Good times!

Pond — Hobo Rocket (August 6)

Tame Impala’s hirsute side project has ended up being rather more prolific than the Impala themselves — this is their fifth album, and like its predecessors, it’s an ongoing psychedelic freakout that’s underpinned by some pretty impressive songwriting. As ever, it doesn’t take itself too seriously — this is a band that once made an album called Psychedelic Mango, after all — and it sounds Pond had a rollicking good time recording it. It’s streaming at NPR, along with a nice picture of the band apparently vomiting aluminum foil.

Julia Holter — Loud City Song (August 20)

OK, now onto the albums that are really worth looking forward to. The sublimely talented Julia Holter’s Ekstasis was one of the best records of last year, a strange and wonderful rabbit hole of an album. From what we’ve heard so far, this album is similarly ambitious and idiosyncratic, although its subject matter is less oblique — as per this fascinating interview, it’s an exploration of Holter’s home city of LA and its obsession with celebrity.

No Age — An Object (August 20)

No Age have spent plenty of time emphasizing the idea of this album as product — their press release discusses how they “performed, recorded, produced, and prepared and assembled the entirety of the physical packaging of An Object, including jackets, inserts, and labels, taking on the roll of manufacturer, artist, and musician until the roles trip on themselves and individual parts lose their distinct meanings, demanding to be considered as a whole.” It all sounds very Pop Art and very interesting, although the key question remains: is the music any good? From what we’ve heard so far, the answer is “yes,” and we’re looking forward to hearing the rest in due course.

Shigeto — No Better Time Than Now (August 20)

This third album from Ghostly mainstay Zach Saginaw, aka Shigeto, is apparently based in a Saturn-returnesque year of personal change, involving a relationship breakup, a whole lot of travel, and an eventual move from Brooklyn back to his home city of Detroit. There’s definitely a restlessness to the music that sets it apart from his earlier work, and the change seems to suit him well, giving his often cerebral work a real visceral energy.

Crocodiles — Crimes of Passion (August 20)

There are certain bands from whom you know exactly what you’re going to get, and that’s not such a bad thing. Crocodiles have released three albums in the course of their five-year career, all of which have been full of their own brand of garage-y psych rock. This fourth record doesn’t diverge from that formula at all, really — but then, when things work so well, why change them?

Earl Sweatshirt — Doris (August 20)

Odd Future’s “other” rapper — y’know, the one who isn’t an utter cock — is out of boarding school and finally releasing his debut album. The album trailer features Earl himself as crazed fan Mocha Desire, and the whole thing sounds like it’s gonna be thoroughly strange. Excellent.

Braids — Flourish // Perish (August 20)

Perma-underrated Calgary band Braids return with their second full-length album, released on constantly fascinating Montreal DIY label Arbutus. Lead single “In Kind” (above) sounds kinda like an oblique arty version of Luscious Jackson’s “Naked Eye,” which is perfectly OK with us.

Zola Jesus — Versions (August 20)

Zola Jesus’ much-touted “orchestral” album, which comes with string arrangements by JG Thirlwell and a heap of expectation. Really, though, for all that the arrangements differ, the key point remains Nika Danilova’s voice, which is as distinctive and powerful as ever.

Also out this month:

Eric Copeland — Joke in the Hole (August 6) New album from Brooklyn experimental royalty. Huzzah!

Bloc Party — The Nextwave Sessions (August 13) Ratchet!

Jagwar Ma — Howlin’ (August 13) Much-tipped Australian band get belated US release for debut album.

Washed Out — Paracosm (August 13) #splash

John Mayer — Paradise Valley (August 20) Please tell me that album title isn’t an oblique vagina reference.

Superchunk — I Hate Music (August 20) Aw. Well, we’re glad you’re still making it.

Stereophonics — Graffiti on the Train (August 20) Yes, this band still exists! (I)

Travis — Where You Stand (August 20) Yes, this band still exists! (II)

King Krule —6 Feet Beneath the Moon (August 24) Precocious talent or mannered pretender? Whatever your opinion on Archie Marshall, you’re gonna be hearing a lot more about this.

Dent May — Warm Blanket (August 27) His magnificent ukulele is nowhere to be seen these days, sadly.

The Dodos — Carrier (August 27) They spelled their album title right this time!