Apart from the creeping stench of pumpkin spice, October is the best month of the year — it’s not stupidly hot, it’s not stupidly cold, the leaves are turning all sorts of amazing colors, and there’s a bunch of good new music to listen to. Excellent! Let’s get started.
Deafheaven — New Bermuda (October 2)
It’s a Deafheaven record, which means it’s a) the most amazing thing you’ve ever heard, b) false hipster metal that should be punishable by sacrifice on the altar of Slayer and/or Beelzebub, or c) quite good until the vocals come in. It all depends on your point of view, right? (Make up your mind here.)
Janet Jackson — Unbreakable (October 2)
Features a Missy Elliott collaboration. Also features some of the best songs Janet Jackson has written in years. Huzzah.
Alex G — Beach Music (October 9)
The prince of whimsical bedroom miserabilia is back, and sounding as good as ever. If, like me, you’ve enjoyed Alex’s previous work, you’ll be happy to find that not a great deal has changed here — same high-pitched voice that sounds like it’s going to break at any moment, same sense of sitting in a somewhat unkempt living room as these songs are played to you and you alone — but there are moments that suggest he’s exploring new musical ideas (the distinctly “In the Air Tonight”-esque drums of “Salt” and the Ween-ish “Bright Boy,” in particular). Either way, this is thoroughly enjoyable.
Protomartyr — The Agent Intellect (October 9)
People tend to make a song and dance about whether bands are or aren’t heavily indebted to the sounds of the past — which is nonsense, really, because pretty much every artist is the sum total of their influences. It’s just what you do with those influences that matters. In the case of Protomartyr, they take the sounds of the darker end of UK post-punk — Pere Ubu, Gang of Four, Magazine — and rework them into a bleak indictment on the modern world. “False happiness is on the rise,” sings Joe Casey toward the end of the album, “See the victims piled high.” Quite. (The Agent Intellect is streaming at NPR right now, by the way.)
Deerhunter — Fading Frontier (October 16)
If you’re wondering what this is gonna sound like, then look no further than Bradford Cox’s interactive concept map for the record, which lists inspirations as diverse as INXS’s Kick (yes!), iced Earl Grey tea (yes!), Pantone process yellow aka chrome yellow (um… sure!), and gated reverb snare (nooooooo!). It’s difficult to know to make of such a morass of conceptual influences, but one thing’s for sure: it’s going to be interesting.
Majical Cloudz — Are You Alone? (October 16)
Impersonator was one of our favorite records of 2013, and the radical vulnerability that Devon Welsh pioneered on that record remains undiluted here. If anything, this record is more open-hearted than its predecessor, which makes it both uncomfortable and deeply emotive listening.
Joanna Newsom — Divers (October 23)
It’s not 17 hours long, but beyond that, Divers promises to be as idiosyncratic and inscrutable as ever. Newsom’s voice, too, will remain divisive — the way she sings “the drums upon a plastic bag” in the video above will either strike you as adorable whimsy or make your skin crawl, depending on your point of view — but her talent remains undeniable.
Sharon Jones — It’s a Holiday Soul Party (October 30)
As anyone who’s suffered through that fucking Mariah Carey Christmas album on at least one occasion can attest, Christmas albums are usually risible jingle-jangly, faux-cheerful, despair-inducing pits of endless darkness. Nevertheless, a Sharon Jones album is always cause for celebration (especially in light of the sad news about the recurrence of her cancer recently), and if anyone can wring new life out of overplayed old works, it’s her. (Plus there’s a Hanukkah song!)
Wolf Eyes — I Am a Problem: Mind In Pieces (October 30)
It’s a strange day when you see Wolf Eyes releasing an album on Jack White’s record label, although the connection perhaps makes more sense than one might think — both the band and White himself are from Michigan, after all, and it’s not unfeasible that they knew each other back in the day. In any case, this album sounds exactly like its title might suggest, which is perfectly OK with us.
Escort — Animal Nature (October 30)
Big-band live disco? Abso-fucking-lutely.