Looking ahead to upcoming album releases is a precarious proposition in 2015. Surprise midnight digital releases are de rigueur, and an ill-timed leak can postpone, move up, or scrap an album’s release date altogether. But as long as artists (and labels) keep promising to deliver the goods, we’ll be waiting with bated breath.
This fall’s crop features new music from British stalwarts old (PiL, New Order) and young (Disclosure, Chvrches), even including a band that appears to have risen from the dead (The Libertines). Prince is set to drop his new record exclusively on the celeb-studded streaming service Tidal, and while Fetty Wap has been ubiquitous on the airwaves this summer, his self-titled debut is still forthcoming. The noisier set has new albums from Destruction Unit and Diät to look forward to, as well as Deafheaven‘s highly anticipated followup to the beautiful horror of 2013’s Sunbather.
And what about the likes of Kanye, Frank Ocean, Grimes, Adele, and (gasp) Justin Bieber? They’re all expected to release albums this season, but outside of a few nebulous hints, little is known about their plans. But it’s likely we’ll see a release from at least one of them. And then there’s that album made by cats…
Click through to take a look at the rest of what’s new for fall.
Public Image Ltd. — What the World Needs Now… (September 4, PiL Official)
John Lydon’s PiL returns this fall with What the World Needs Now, their tenth release. Still sneering and snarling, Lydon reassembles the crew from the 2012 comeback record This Is PiL for the 11-song LP. Recorded at Steve Winwood’s Wincraft in England, the album is out now on the band’s own PiL Official label, and coincides with the recent release of Lydon’s memoir, Anger Is an Energy: My Life Uncensored. If the raucous “Double Trouble” is any indication, Grandpa Rotten hasn’t lost a step.
Diät — Positive Energy (September 4, Iron Lung)
East Berlin post-punks Diät like to refer to the music they make as “tough new wave.” And while their individual toughness may be more difficult to measure, the first tracks from their debut Positive Energy express a bleakness that could only come from hardcore kids obsessed with English dreariness recording in a former communist state’s industrial wasteland in winter. Think Total Control meets Killing Joke.
The Wonder Years — No Closer to Heaven (September 4, Hopeless)
As the Philly scene has matured, so have pop-punk heroes The Wonder Years. No Closer to Heaven, the band’s fifth LP, features the same soaring hooks and emotive screams that have put them at the vanguard of what passes as emo in 2015. But as evidenced on Heaven‘s two singles, “Cigarettes & Saints” and “Cardinals,” the band sounds as tight as they ever have.
Prince — HITNRUN (September 7, Warner Bros.)
The artist formerly and then presently and, if we’re being honest, always really known as Prince has nothing left to prove. He’s released 38 (!!!) studio albums, performed on the largest stages with the most eyeballs, and can even control the weather. He’d be on this list even if his singles didn’t sound exciting, and not just because his Tidal-exclusive release will be an interesting experiment in the streaming wars. Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about that, as “HARDROCKLOVER” builds from hushed tones and whispers into a frenetic, scowling hook peppered with piercing fret-tapping guitar solos. May the Prince never leave us.
Beirut — No No No (September 11, 4AD)
It’s been four years since Beirut’s last LP, The Rip Tide, but Zach Condon and co. have been touring at a steady clip, keeping his band’s brand of coquettish chamber pop fresh in the minds of anyone interested in paying for the privilege of watching them perform. The title track from this, the band’s fifth LP, seems to continue the evolution of the sound he first fleshed out on Gulag Orkestar, just tighter, cleaner, and more confident.
Petite Noir — La Vie Est Belle/Life Is Beautiful (September 11, Domino)
Petite Noir is Yannick Ilunga, a musician born in Belgium, raised in South Africa, and currently living in London. His debut EP The King of Anxiety mesmerized critics with its border-hopping sound, emulating Ilunga’s life. On his new LP La Vie Est Belle/Life Is Beautiful, the musician hones his “noirwave” aesthetic (a composite of New Wave and trans-African musical influences). Through a restless wanderlust, he’s created his own solid and stable musical world, stretching beyond the oneiric bliss of King with immediate lyrics and impatient rhythms, pushing his immensely commanding voice to the limits of its range. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor
The Libertines — Anthems For Doomed Youth (September 11, Harvest)
Pete Doherty is not dead. I know, it seems unlikely, but much like the defiance of biology that allows Keith Richards to still be alive decrying the artlessness of hip-hop, Doherty is back, looking (relatively) healthy, and writing new music. And we’re better off for it, as “Gunga Din,” which the band has shared ahead of Anthems For Doomed Youth‘s release, is one of the band’s strongest tracks to date. Here’s to many more.
Low — Ones and Sixes (September 11, Sub Pop)
Slowcore stalwarts Low are still going strong, 21 years from their 1994 debut I Could Live In Hope. “No Comprende,” the single off Ones and Sixes, the band’s latest LP, doesn’t deviate much from the book they’ve been writing the past couple decades, but with “major indie” Sub Pop backing them, it’s clear their recording budget is larger than it has been in the past. Lo-fi fetishists may scoff, but the music is as crushing as it has ever been.
Destruction Unit — Negative Feedback Resistor (September 18, Sacred Bones)
It’s been two long years since Destruction Unit’s 2013 LP Void — all the while the band has been touring the world, “battling the greedy club owners, show promoters and control pigs to bring the new American heavy underground through your back door,” as Negative Feedback Resistor‘s liner notes explain. And they’re knocking; Negative Feedback Resistor picks up where the desert psych punks left off, kicking, rolling, and punching their way to the front of the house, demanding attention. We enter first single “If Death Ever Slept” as evidence.
Mac Miller — GO:OD AM (September 18, Warner Bros./REMember Music)
On his last LP, Watching Movies With the Sound Off, Mac Miller shed the “Easy Mac with the cheesy raps” rep he earned after the runaway mainstream success of his debut, Blue Slide Park, enamoring fans and critics with his drug-fueled armchair fantasies and absurdist humor. Now, with both the mainstream and the critics firmly in his camp, Miller looks to reinvent himself yet again, this time a little older, a little wiser, and a little more sober.
Lana Del Rey — Honeymoon (September 18, UMG)
While the fuzzy ’50s simulacrum of Honeymoon‘s album art might suggest a thematic follow-up to last year’s Ultraviolence, when Lana Del Rey discussed her upcoming album with Zane Lowe on Beats 1, she said it was “kind of like a hip-hop record” — which would be more reminiscent of her style on her debut album, Born to Die. At the time, her handling of cultural pastiche seemed clumsy, with the hip-hop-lite verses — appendages to an intriguing ’50s-revisionist fantasy — never quite flowing. But Honeymoon single “High by the Beach” shows Del Rey bringing in hip-hop with an assured lack of ostentation. A couple of years after Born to Die, it’s a sound that, as a wiser artist, it’s compelling to hear her reattempt. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor
Disclosure — Caracal (September 25, Capitol)
The precocious 20-something wunderkinds behind Disclosure are wise beyond their years; their historical appreciation of house music, mastery of the four-on-the-floor rhythms, and comprehension of negative space belie the relatively short length of their career thus far. Caracal, their sophomore album, should avoid any jinx discussions, with guest appearances from The Weeknd, Lorde, Gregory Porter, Sam Smith, and Kwabs, who bounces atop the bouncy jaunt “Willing & Able,” hinting at what will undoubtedly be an LP full of earworm dance jams.
Chvrches — Every Open Eye (September 25, Universal)
In the two years since 2013’s The Bones of What You Believe, Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry has made almost as much news for fighting Internet trolls as she has for singing catchy pop hooks. Thankfully, the Scots are back with a new full-length, and we can all get back to the music. Every Open Eye picks up right where the debut left off, with staccato syncopated synths and Mayberry’s syrupy sweet vocals layered over danceable pop rock rhythms. It’s more of the same, and if Bones’ earworm status is any indication, there’s room for more.
Fetty Wap — Fetty Wap (September 25, RGF Productions/300)
It seems odd, considering his ubiquity on the airwaves, but Fetty Wap’s upcoming self-titled album is in fact his debut. He’s already got three singles on Billboard’s Hot 100, and is a huge draw in concert — the crowd almost crushed security guards trying to hold them back from entering the at-capacity Beach stage for his set at Billboard’s Hot 100 festival. One could ponder whether the success or failure of Fetty Wap will have an impact on the staying power of Fetty Wap, but in the current music industry climate, album sales may not even matter.
Sexwitch — Sexwitch (September 25, Echo/BMG)
Sexwitch is the new project from Natasha Khan, she of Bat for Lashes, with TOY and producer Dan Carey. This debut self-titled EP is a set of six covers of psych and folk songs from around the world (Iran, Morocco, Thailand, and the US) from the ’70s — “Helelyos,” the first track shared from the EP, is from Iran. It’s been interesting to watch Khan’s career twist and turn, from the shamanistic Fur and Gold, to the ’80s synth pop of Two Suns and the stripped-down The Haunted Man. While Sexwitch isn’t necessarily original material, it should prove fascinating to watch where this sound takes Khan next.
New Order — Music Complete (September 25, Mute)
The first proper studio album from post-punk legends New Order since 2005’s Waiting for the Sirens’ Call — 2013’s Lost Sirens compiled outtakes from those sessions — Music Complete is also the first New Order album sans Peter Hook. He isn’t missed; “Restless,” the LP’s first single, is driving and limber, with new bassist Tom Chapman laying down pulsing grooves for Bernard Sumner’s jangly guitars to bounce along top of. Also notable is the return of Peter Saville, who designed much of the band’s early artwork and typefaces. If the rest of the record sounds anything like “Restless,” we’re in for a treat. And maybe we can stop talking about Peter Hook.
Deafheaven — New Bermuda (October 2, Anti-)
Deafheaven’s 2013 LP Sunbather was one of the most talked-about records of the year; it’s the metal record you play for your friends who aren’t into metal. It’s because Deafheaven prioritizes epic beauty over black doom and gloom; the melodies are sweeping, and while George Clark’s vocals are still scratchy, passionate, and aggressive, the mix is muted, so rather than compete with Kerry McCoy’s riffs, they blend together. It’s metal music for a lazy summer day in a hammock in the backyard. “Brought to the Water,” the first track from the band’s upcoming LP New Bermuda, fits in with Sunbather‘s structure, with an 8:37 track time and extended intro, but Clarke’s vocals are given a bit more priority in the mix, hinting at a subtle evolution of their sound.
Janet Jackson — Unbreakable (October 2, Rhythm Nation)
Janet is back. Her massive world tour recently kicked off in Vancouver, and while her new album is still a month away, she’s already debuted a new track with the opening act on her tour, the resurgent Missy Elliott. Jackson has been opening shows with the number, which reportedly features a sample of Missy’s “Lose Control” that segues into Jackson’s own “Control.” It’s still very much an exclusive experience for tour audiences, as even poorly recorded fan videos have gotten 86’d from YouTube with the quickness. Expect to hear a lot more from these two before the season is out.
Kelela — Hallucinogen (October 9, Cherry Coffee/Warp)
The follow-up to Kelela’s killer tape Cut 4 Me was expected in the spring of 2015, but her perfectionist nature delayed its release until October. The six-song EP features production from Fade to Mind resident genius Kingdom and a co-writing credit from the ascendant Venezuelan producer Arca on “A Message.” However long it takes Kelela to get these tracks ready for our ears, it’s worth it; “A Message” smolders with raw sexuality, and “Rewind” is a bouncy, breathy dance-floor anthem. More, please.
Deerhunter — Fading Frontier (October 16, 4AD)
There is no shortage of adjectives to describe Deerhunter, Bradford Cox and co.’s ambient punk, art rock, post-punk-pop noise shoegaze band. And none of them do much to accurately describe the experience. On the funky single “Snakeskin,” Cox vamps like Bowie in his glam phase, and the guitar riff bounces along, driving the track forward at a steady clip. When Deerhunter tours behind Fading Frontier, the band’s seventh LP, Cox will actually be his own opening act — his other project, Atlas Sound, is booked as Deerhunter’s tourmate.
Wax Idols — American Tragic (October 16, Collect)
After an extended stint bolstering the rhythm section of White Lung’s touring lineup, Hether Fortune has returned to her own project, Wax Idols. Fortune plays almost every instrument on American Tragic — other than drums — and her fingers dance over strings on tracks like “Deborah,” which sounds like a goth take on the Stone Roses. The record is coming out on Geoff Rickly’s (of the seminal emo band Thursday) label Collect Records, which will also release the new album from No Devotion, Rickly’s new band with the remnants of the British act Lostprophets. Everything about Fortune is immeasurably cool, from her dominatrix career to her husky croon. Her persona has a palpable gravitational pull, and it carries through into her music.
Majical Cloudz — Are You Alone? (October 16, Matador)
Majical Cloudz is best suited for hiding inside on a bright sunny day, crying yourself to sleep at 3pm, wiping your tears with the corner of that T-shirt your ex thought they lost but really you secretly hid because you like the way it smells. Devon Welsh’s lyrics and vocals are emotive to a fault, bleeding love and despair in a way that makes it seem like he actually enjoys heartache. On “Silver Car Crash,” from the band’s upcoming release Are You Alone?, he croons:
I want to kiss you inside a car that’s crashing / and we will both die laughing / because there is nothing left to do / and we will both die laughing / while I am holding on to you
If you’re lucky enough to catch them in Brooklyn at National Sawdust on October 21, the week after the album’s release, bring tissues — if not for you, for the handful of criers that are sure to populate the front row.
Joanna Newsom — Divers (October 23, Drag City)
Joanna Newsom’s three-part 2010 opus Have One On Me was a winding affair, intermingling — as she is wont to do — mythology and esoterica with deeply personal narratives. Based on “Sapokanikan,” the first single off her upcoming album Divers, it seems Newsom has no intention of veering from such coiled lyricism: she described the track to NPR as “a ragtimey encomium to the forces of remembrance, forgetting, accretion, concealment, amendment, erasure, distortion, canonization, obsolescence and immortality.” But while Have One On Me deliberately languished — in the sonic equivalent of an endless melancholic California afternoon — across two hours and 18 tracks, Divers is more compact, with 11 songs whose mean length appears to be five minutes. The first single hints that within these tracks, Newsom has favored tautness and jarring beauty, meant to keep the listener riveted by storytelling, rather than hypnotized by it. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor
Beach Slang — The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us (October 30, Polyvinyl)
After a pair of EPs scored them tours with the likes of Cursive and a deal with indie bastion Polyvinyl, it’s finally time for Beach Slang to stretch out its massive hooks and catchy riffs over a full-length. The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us touches on themes of friendship and youth and, as the title suggests, finding one’s tribe. Their sound is a little more fleshed out, having added Ruben Gallego’s guitar to the mix, but it’s songs like the single “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas” that sound like the soundtrack to your awkward teen phase. Bask in the sweet spring of youth with these boys; you won’t regret it.
Escort — Animal Nature (October 30, Escort)
Disco gets a bad rep, but that’s mostly thanks to a boomer-generation backlash that’s been reverberating through pop culture for the last 20 years. The reality is, people love to dance, and there’s no music that’s easier to dance to unintentionally than disco. Escort’s brand of disco funk sounds like neon looks: bright, colorful, and, in the club, sexy as hell. The title track from their latest LP on their eponymous label pulses with driving four-on-the-floor bass rhythms and Moroder-esque synths. Listen for it anywhere that the party starts after midnight.
Boots — AQUARIA (November 13, Columbia)
Boots is one of the hottest producers in pop right now, with recent credits on records by Beyonce, Kelela, Run The Jewels, and FKA Twigs. He debuted an art film he directed and scored, Motorcycle Jesus, on the art site Nowness.com, and recently shared the title track from his debut LP, AQUARIA, featuring Deradoorian. The pulsing, twisting production on “AQUARIA” is reminiscent of his freelance work, which is a good thing. Expect to hear much more about Boots this fall, especially when Meow The Jewels sees the light of day (more on that later).
The Mystery Wo/men
Grimes, who scrapped an entire album she was dissatisfied with earlier this year, has promised a “surprise” release for her yet unnamed follow-up to 2012’s Visions. She has already shared “Go,” an aborted Rihanna track, and “REALiTi,” which seems more like an outtake from Visions, and likely indicative of her ideas for the record that got scrapped. The 25-year-old Adele has announced that 25, her followup to 21 (which itself was a follow-up to 19… sensing a theme?), will be released in November. Justin Bieber‘s album still doesn’t have a name, but it’s got a release date penciled in: November 13. Frank Ocean seemed to be ready to release his Channel Orange follow-up in 2015, but appears to have retreated from the public eye. Kanye West‘s latest, tentatively titled Swish, is rumored to be ready for a fall release, and will likely feature “All Day“and Paul McCartney duet “Only One,” but any of that could change at the slightest whim.
Finally — and arguably, most importantly — there is Meow The Jewels. The chronic-smoke fantasy of noted cat lover and hip-hop luminary El-P, Meow the Jewels is a remix album of the wildly successful Run The Jewels 2, composed entirely of noises made by cats. El-P farmed out all but one of the album’s tracks to producer friends, including Prince Paul, Just Blaze, Boots, Zola Jesus, Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, and Massive Attack’s 3D. El-P says the album has been mastered and completely finished — all that’s left is for him to grace us with the insanity. All proceeds will go to charity.