August is generally a pretty slow month for album releases — when the sun’s out, the music industry, just like the rest of us, is more interested in going to the beach than it is in working. But in 2015, at least, there’ll be a steady serving of new music to soundtrack the hottest moth of the year. There’s the new Dr. Dre record, of course, which is meant to be out this Friday, but beyond that, there’s a pleasantly diverse selection of releases, from beautiful ambient techno to ear-bleeding noise pop.
HEALTH — Death Magic (August 7)
What an age we live in — as of last week, HEALTH have been the subject of a rather good feature in the New Yorker. The piece is about how, in the era of the loudness wars, ear-bleeding noise music can be considered pop music, and HEALTH are a good example to cite — especially this album, which alternates between distinctly hummable melodies and pulverizing drums/guitars that sound like 747s landing next to you. Its best moments, though, combine those things to thrilling effect. Listen for yourself: the album is streaming on NPR right now.
Dr. Dre — Compton (August 7, allegedly)
We’ll believe it when we hear it, to be honest.
Heathered Pearls — Body Complex (August 7)
Heathered Pearls’ ambient masterwork Loyal was one of our favorite records of 2012, and this follow-up builds on the same sort of material — long, slow ambient loops, the sonic equivalent of sinking into a warm bath after a long day. Body Complex is more beat-driven than its predecessor, though, and the result is some of the prettiest and most immersive ambient techno you’ll hear anywhere. It’s streaming at Hype Machine all week.
Carly Rae Jepsen — E.MO.TION (August 21)
Despite the success of “Call Me Maybe,” Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2013 album Kiss was woefully under-heard. With E.MO.TION, she returns with another collection of near-flawless 1980s-indebted pop. From the emotive saxophones that open “Run Away With Me” to the self-affirming chants in “When I Needed You,” it’s all big synths, big drums, and bigger feelings, a full-throated blast of love and confusion that bludgeons from all angles and leaves you as deliriously, disorientedly contented as a day spent baking in the sun. — Jacob W. Moore
Royal Headache — High (August 21)
It’s summer on this side of the globe, which means it’s a perfect time to listen to a new record by Australian quartet Royal Headache, whose music sounds like something you might have heard on a tinny FM radio en route to the beach one sun-drenched sepia summer decades ago. So far only the title track is publicly available — you can hear it at the band’s Bandcamp — but it suggests that this will be getting played on a whole lot of similar car journeys circa 2015.
Advance Base — Nephew in the Wild (August 21)
Owen Ashworth no longer goes by the name Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, but the music he’s producing as Advance Base is just as good as anything he made under his old moniker — he’s still without peer as a certain kind of contemporary storyteller, his lyrics finding meaning and heart in the minutiae of everyday life, all related in Ashworth’s familiar drawl.
Method Man — The Meth Lab (August 21)
Their heyday might have been decades ago now, but a new Wu-Tang affiliated release is always a cause for celebration (and as Ghostface Killah reminded Action Bronson recently, Wu-Tang still ain’t nothin’ to fuck with). This is particularly noteworthy as it’s Method Man’s first solo album proper since 2006’s 4.21… The Day After. (And c’mon, the above Breaking Bad-inspired video is ace.)
Beach House — Depression Cherry (August 28)
If lead single “Sparks” (above), with its lashings of distorted electric guitar, has led you to think that Beach House might be striking out in a new direction, then the rest of this album will disabuse you of any such notions. This is not to say that it’s a case of same old, same old, but Depression Cherry is as full of Beach House’s signature sounds — funereal organ-esque synth, atmospheric slide guitar, Victoria Legrand’s remarkable voice — as anything else from their back catalog. It’s a unique formula, so why mess with it?
Destroyer — Poison Season (August 28)
Dan Bejar’s work is the sort of music that tends to divide listeners, and this may be either a masterpiece or irritatingly mannered and overly theatrical, depending on your point of view. If you’re in the former camp, you’ll clearly want to get a copy immediately — and even if you find yourself in the latter, you might find that Poison Season bears repeat listens if you approach it with an open mind.
Foals — What Went Down (August 28)
Foals are one of those bands that are both surprisingly popular and critically under-discussed (outside the pages of the NME, anyway). If you like driving, kosmische-y rhythms, a good degree of intensity, and some incongruously catchy melodies, this could be for you!