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Bon Iver, Wilco, and much, much more: Here’s what’s coming to record stores in September

Illustration: Nick Wanserski
Illustration: Nick Wanserski

Every Friday, dozens of new records are released into the wild. Some make big splashes, and others sink almost immediately. For most music consumers, it’s almost too much information, and save for those precious few who spend their hours glued to review sites and release calendars, it’s hard to know what’s coming out when. Thankfully, The A.V. Club is ready to help those struggling souls. Each month, we’ll publish a fairly comprehensive list of what’s coming to record stores and streaming services in upcoming weeks, complete with capsule previews so interested parties can know what to expect.


September 2

Eluvium, False Readings On

Matthew Cooper found his voice within ambient music, a genre otherwise hard to find a voice in at all. After time spent working on side project Inventions, the man behind Eluvium returns with an impressively large outlook on both the larger overlapping sounds of ambience and the warmth of glacial structures—in this case atmospheric strings and moody melodies—which become welcome trademarks on False Readings On. [Nina Corcoran]

Chris Farren, Can’t Die

Chris Farren’s biggest problem is that he’s a good songwriter but a great comedian—the extremely unique brand of humor he employs on various forms of social media sometimes overshadows his solid back catalog as frontman of both Fake Problems and Antarctigo Vespucci. Now, he’s readying his full-length solo debut, Can’t Die, which is full of slightly retro-leaning indie pop that never shies away from catchy choruses and tackles the elephant in the room of existence—death. As Farren works through his personal quarter-life crisis, he’s created a stellar soundtrack for anyone else dealing with the same thing. [Scott Heisel]

Helms Alee, Stillicide

Tortured yet pensive, Seattle’s Helms Alee have long written ominous metal/post-hardcore songs that billow onward and upward via their dual male-female vocal harmonies and cyclical rhythms. A Hydrahead sound through and through—the trio did after all release their first two LPs on the now-defunct label—recent single “Tit To Toe” would work well alongside a full-on gallop from the Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse. Majestic and powerful, it’s saddled by a sense of dread as it crescendos through to the end. [Kevin Warwick]

J&L Defer, No Map

Experimentation comes naturally to Anita Rufer and Gabriele De Mario of J&L Defer. With No Map, the Swiss duo lean into reverb the way they do under alternate moniker Disco Doom, but this time tracing the footsteps of Low and Yo La Tengo. Guitars screech over looping synth on “Nowhere” and hi-hats ripple on “Hard Fiction Road.” In that, their instruments keep spiked edges, but the repetition-based work that stems from them finds mellow, meditative ground despite it. [Nina Corcoran]

Angel Olsen, My Woman

2014 kicked off with Angel Olsen’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness searing through eardrums and into hearts, with musings on high-fiving fellow loners and plans to “unfuck” the world. Two years later, Olsen is back with a stunning, pop-driven follow-up, My Woman, that’s simultaneously as tense, tragic, and full of wonder as the world we live in. It’s tempting to draw a through-line between the ongoing war on women’s health, the advent of feminism as #empowerment marketing, and the album’s title. Yet My Woman—which Olsen recorded with producer Justin Raisen (Santigold, Sky Ferreira) and toyed with timbre, arrangements, and tone—isn’t a treatise on fourth-wave feminism. It’s merely the extraordinary testament of someone who’s assured enough in their skills and brave enough to keep putting themselves out there, especially in the face of scrutiny. [Paula Mejia]

Signals Midwest, At This Age

Signals Midwest has long been Cleveland’s best-kept secret: The band has put out three albums of emotionally compelling, musically invigorating punk rock since its 2008 formation. For new record At This Age, Signals Midwest brought Into It. Over It. frontman Evan Weiss on board as producer; the result is a cleaner, stronger, and better version of the band than anything we’ve heard before. Pre-release singles “West Side Summer” and “Alchemy Hour” prove that point, showcasing a band successfully developing far beyond its early punk roots with integrity intact. [Scott Heisel]

The Wedding Present, Going, Going…

“I’ve always thought that The Wedding Present is kind of always a new band anyway,” The Wedding Present’s David Gedge told The A.V. Club back in 2012, citing the band’s many lineup changes and perpetual sonic evolution. And it does seem as if the band is always trying to tweak its sound, with Gedge allowing the band’s newer members to have a say in the direction of the next album. “Rachel,” the first single off Going, Going…, sounds sweeter and cleaner than much of 2012’s Valentina, with smiling strings underscoring a chorus that’s genuinely heartfelt. The Wedding Present’s always excelled with songs about heartbreak; maybe now the band will serenade us with songs of finding love. [Randall Colburn]

September 9

Bear Vs. Shark, Right Now, You’re In The Best Of Hands…/Terrorhawk reissue

Michigan’s Bear Vs. Shark was, in many ways, the 2000s’ answer to Drive Like Jehu. Both bands released very good debuts only to craft nearly flawless follow-ups, only to break up just as they were catching on. Both are undergoing reunions—Jehu for a couple years now—but, for Bear Vs. Shark, it comes with a reissue of the band’s two seminal studio albums. The second, Terrorhawk, still sounds ahead of its time even a decade later, and Right Now, You’re In The Best Of Hands… (an album with a title so long it would make Fiona Apple proud) shows how great the band was right out of the gate. For fans, it’s a good reason to repurchase two of the millennium’s great, overlooked LPs. And, for those unfamiliar, it’s a couple of unearthed classics worth getting excited about. [David Anthony]

Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Skeleton Tree

There’s not much known about the upcoming 16th Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds album. What is known can be derived mostly from the trailer: Cave speaks about the idea that a “catastrophic” event can force someone to change completely, and the assumption is that event was the death of his young son last year. The only music in the trailer heavily features the outstanding violin of longtime collaborator Warren Ellis. The first chance anyone will have to hear Skeleton Tree will be September 8, the day before its release, when feature film One More Time With Feeling—directed by Andrew Dominik and containing performance footage, interviews, and Cave’s narration—screens for that night only. [Matt Williams]

Grouplove, Big Mess

Grouplove’s 2013 album Spreading Rumours was a pretty big mess, so it’s disconcerting to see the title of its forthcoming album. Fortunately, the pre-release singles are restrained in ways that little of their previous album was. Of course, restrained for Grouplove is still pretty damn massive—“Do You Love Someone” and “Welcome To Your Life” are both arena-ready bangers, with soaring choruses that are sure to please those of us who still haven’t got “Tongue Tied” out of our minds. [Randall Colburn]

The Head And The Heart, Signs Of Light

Much as its band name indicates, The Head And The Heart has been a feel-good story since emerging from the Seattle open-mic scene in 2010. The self-released debut built enough buzz to catch the eye of Sub Pop, and within a couple years the band became a festival fixture. With the lead single from third album Signs Of Life, THATH are conquering a whole new realm: alternative radio. “All We Ever Knew” is already No. 1 at Billboard’s Triple A, and climbing the Alternative Songs chart rapidly. [Philip Cosores]

Local Natives, Sunlit Youth

Los Angeles’ Local Natives followed a debut anchored in anthems (2009’s Gorilla Manor) with a moody, emotional sophomore collection (2013’s Hummingbird), leading the way for a major-label debut that looks like a make-or-break moment for the band. Sunlit Youth promises less guitars and a five-piece band that’s less reliant on sounding like a five-piece band. And for a group that’s never had trouble with critical acclaim, the quality of the output is hardly a worry. But without a breakthrough on radio or through licensing, it will be hard for Local Natives to improve upon its standing. [Philip Cosores]

M.I.A., A.I.M

Prepare to have your mind blown by M.I.A.’s latest slew of bangers. Forthcoming from Interscope Records, the activist and hip-hop artist’s highly anticipated follow-up to 2013’s Matangi proves that her knack for crafting anthems as politically aware as they are audibly memorable is a constant that fans can depend on. Jam-packed with titillating backbeats and hooks that sink deep, M.I.A. amplifies her already iconic sound by teaming up with renowned names like Skrillex, Zayn Malik, Blaqstarr, and longtime collaborator Diplo, whose remix of “Bird Song” illustrates with ease why A.I.M. is bound to become essential listening for fall. [Dianca London]

Nots, Cosmetic

Although Nots hails from modern-day Memphis, Tennessee, it’s easy to mistake the band for a group of time travelers beamed in from the late-’70s U.K. punk scene. The quartet’s second LP, Cosmetic, is driven by Natalie Hoffmann’s scratchy, howling banshee wails and doomy no-wave guitars, with Alexandra Eastburn’s analog synth splatters (as heard on “No Novelty” and the churning “Rat King”) popping up to add dystopian edges. [Annie Zaleski]

Okkervil River, Away

Over the first seven albums by Okkervil River, Will Sheff’s musical project saw the world of indie rock swell in popularity and, recently, recede. Beyond that narrative, Sheff saw his personal world undergo some more direct changes in the years since Okkervil’s last album, 2013’s The Silver Gymnasium: Band members left; family members died; the music industry felt less like home. Away promises to be a record where Sheff can quarantine the past and move on to something new, a clean break that the songwriter appears to be longing for. [Philip Cosores]

Self Defense Family, Colicky

For its fourth EP this year—though, technically, it’s being called a mini-LP—Self Defense Family offers up some of its heaviest work in years. Much like Superior before it, vocalist Patrick Kindlon is ruminating on a ruined relationship, but this time his former partner has a chance to weigh in. Her face is on the cover of Colicky and, when Self Defense announced the EP, Kindlon stated, “When I asked her for permission to theme an album around her, she only asked I not make myself the victim.” It shows in “Brittany Murphy In 8 Mile,” where he mines one of their conversations for lyrical fodder, making for a song that’s emotional but even-keeled in the process. [David Anthony]

Slow Mass, Treasure Pains

A couple veterans of various punk, hardcore, and indie rock bands (Into It. Over It., Former Thieves, My Dad) come together in Slow Mass for a debut EP that’s sure to span the post-hardcore spectrum. “Dark Dark Energy” is a rare slice of slightly discordant, ’90s-alt-rock energy fans of stuff like Jawbox and Shudder To Think should flock to, while “Portals To Hell” is looser and more aggressive, and yet pretty fun, like a No Idea Records-ified version of Title Fight’s Shed. [Brian Shultz]

Teenage Fanclub, Here

For its first album in six years, Teenage Fanclub went the egalitarian route: Each of the Glasgow band’s main songwriters—Norman Blake, Gerard Love, and Raymond McGinley—contributed four songs. The results are nevertheless cohesive, as the group’s usual ornate indie-rock and stately jangle mingle with psychedelic-tinted sprawls (the spaced-out “I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive”) and grungier pop (“Live In The Moment”). [Annie Zaleski]

Wilco, Schmilco

The Chicago-bred cult rockers are back with a new record just one year after the jagged, electronic Star Wars. With Schmilco, it feels like they’re floating back to Earth, as the gently rollicking “If I Ever Was a Child” feels positively plucked from a cornfield. “Locater,” the other pre-release single, bears Star Wars’ frenetic fingerprints, but early buzz points toward a personal, more stripped-down release, which is where Wilco is most inviting. [Randall Colburn]

Wovenhand, Star Treatment

David Eugene Edwards’ gothic alt-country vehicle formed in 2001 and has released a new record every two years like clockwork. Thankfully, the dude churns out refreshingly unique stuff. “Come Brave” is a galloping and cinematic first listen into his forthcoming record, Star Treatment, which also features members of Planes Mistaken For Stars. Given PMFS’ underappreciated take on grimy, harrowing post-hardcore, there’s no telling what the collaboration has yielded on an album conceptually centered around the night sky. [Brian Shultz]

September 16

Against Me!, Shape Shift With Me

Against Me! has always done the unexpected. So it should come as no surprise that for the follow-up to 2014’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues, the band has crafted a sweetly shuffling album that’s sonic cousins with its anthemic major-label releases. That’s not to say that anything on Shape Shift With Me is watered down; instead songs like the fuzzed-out rocker “333” show how frontperson Laura Jane Grace shines in a stripped-down setting without being weighed down by any superfluous instrumentation or fancy studio trickery. Now that’s punk. [Jonah Bayer]

Mykki Blanco, Mykki

Orange County native Mykki Blanco—inspired by icons like Lil’ Kim, Kathleen Hanna, and Vaginal Davis—first captivated listeners with the buzzing hum of “Freak Jerk” and the hypnotizing trill of “Wavvy.” Set to hit the road this fall for a string of U.K. tour dates pegged to the release of her self-titled debut, Blanco’s latest LP will be the first to be released under her moniker. Clocking in at 13 tracks (including the recently dropped club ballad “The Plug Won’t”), the album, much like its creator, is unrelentingly honest, existentially aware, and the furthest thing from cliché. [Dianca London]

Cymbals Eat Guitars, Pretty Years

Staten Island’s Cymbals Eat Guitars looked toward brighter spots for its fourth album, the shimmering Pretty Years (though the album art, which features an open coffin surrounded by candles, suggests otherwise). This time around, the band is bringing songs to life by expanding characteristic interlacing guitar lines with synthesizers and saxophones, along with big choruses and a more pointed focus on dynamics. On paper, the new album seems worlds removed from CEG’s knotty, pummeling previous effort, 2014’s fantastic Lose. But there’s plenty of cacophony, catharsis, and fun on the album, especially in the triumphant sparks lit by “4th Of July, Philadelphia (Sandy),” a song that invites listeners to find magic in the mundane. [Paula Mejia]

Die Antwoord, Mount Ninji And Da Nice Time Kid

Die Antwoord has promised great change on its fourth album. For one, the band has hooked up with a mysterious artist referred to only as The Black Goat, who made DJ Hi-Tek change his name to God. Hmmm, The Black Goat and God, huh? Does this mean their latest record will explore some kind of battle between heaven and hell? The June mixtape, Suck On This—a prelude to Mount Ninji that came from the same L.A. recording sessions—leads us to think not. But those songs do often find Ninja rapping in his own voice: a slower, more laid-back drawl than exhibited on the South African rap trio’s earlier albums. The vocal adjustment has also carried over to Mount Ninji’s first single, “Banana Brain,” where Ninja and Yolandi both sound desperate, pensive, pleading even. Don’t worry, Die Antwoord will always be freaky. But it wouldn’t be surprising if its new album has a more diversified emotional palette than before, even if the band doesn’t live up to the spiritual (or Satanic) implications of its new collaborator’s name. [Dan Caffrey]

Kishi Bashi, Sonderlust

It should be no surprise that Kaoru Ishibashi (a.k.a. Kishi Bashi) was once in Of Montreal: The violinist/composer’s well-orchestrated, keyboard-driven tunes are as whimsical and inventive as the music crafted by Kevin Barnes and company. Kishi Bashi’s third album, Sonderlust (produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor) runs the gamut from ’80s-inspired synth-rock to luxurious, string-swept pop. [Annie Zaleski]

Meat Loaf, Braver Than We Are

If “Going All The Way Is Just The Start (A Song In 6 Movements)” is any indicator, Braver Than We Are could be the most Bat Out Of Hell-sounding album since Bat Out Of Hell, far more so than either of its sequels. There’s the instantly quotable title, hokey sound effects, and production so anthemic, it could be a parody of Born To Run if it weren’t so sincere. Most importantly, there’s the return of Jim Steinman. Having last collaborated with Meat on 2006’s disappointing Bat Out Of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose, the composer wrote or co-wrote all 10 of Braver Than We Are’s tracks. It’s too early to say if Meat Loaf’s voice—its range having dwindled with age—can still match the bombast of Steinman’s compositions, but his inclusion of several guest vocalists is a smart move. Most notably, Ellen Foley (the female voice on “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”) and Karla DeVito (who subbed in for Foley on the Bat Out Of Hell tour) both lend their talents to “Going All The Way.” By the time they’re wailing “Say a prayer to all the Gods to make us braver than we are” as stadium piano shakes, rattles, and rolls in the background, it truly does feel like 1977 again. [Dan Caffrey]

Phantogram, Three

Electro-shoegazers Phantogram continue their tradition of leaving listeners weak in the knees with this month’s release of Three. Picking up where Voices left off, Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter’s latest batch of satisfyingly flawless backbeats and heart-wrenching vocals make the two years since their sophomore LP well worth the wait. Fans who’ve been bingeing on back-to-back listens of “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” and the delectably melancholy “Cruel World” will undoubtedly consider Three the album of their dreams. [Dianca London]

Preoccupations, Preoccupations

Formerly Viet Cong, the newly ordained Preoccupations releases an eponymous second album as another reminder that, see, the name is finally changed. The single “Anxiety” is gloomy, dark post-punk of the finest variety: listless vocals, a dragging rhythm, and a barely fluctuating omnipresent buzz that sounds like a chainsaw gnawing away at a mud-filled trench. A bright, fleeting melody is there just enough to add a few interesting ripples to the muck, without threatening to give too much of a hint for hope in anything in life. [Kevin Warwick]

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Suzanne Ciani, Sunergy

Discovering they were neighbors in the small Northern California town of Bolinas, composer-synthesist Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and electronic music pioneer Suzanne Ciani bonded over their shared geography, craft, and passion for the Buchla synthesizer. The boundless Buchla is the perfect analogue to the generative yet volatile panorama of the Pacific Coast, and Sunergy is part hopeful exploration of and part melancholy reflection on these forces. Teaser track “Closed Circuit” feels like a time-lapse of sea, sand, and sky—in some ways cyclical but with no path exactly retraced, no looking back. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Taking Back Sunday, Tidal Wave

This band has made a rare move: its lead single (and title track), “Tidal Wave”, sounds like a throwback to a band it never was. Mix an edge of Against Me! with a ton of The Clash, and somehow they still sound just like Taking Back Sunday. (There’s still bubblegum harmonies!) Will the rest of the album be amazing? Will it be god-awful? Time will tell, but by diving straight into the deep end, the Hopeless Records veterans have proven that the new record is going to be worth a quality examination either way. [Dan Bogosian]

Touché Amoré, Stage Four

On its latest album, the California hardcore punk outfit continue the progressive streak employed on 2013’s excellent Is Survived By—that is to say, this is screamo that non-screamo people will dig. The introduction of clean vocals and a general melodic uptick make this the group’s most accessible album yet, but the album’s overarching concept is mired in a specific trauma: Jeremy Bolm’s attempts to reckon with the loss of his mother from cancer. Consider it punk’s Carrie & Lowell, but with a happier ending: acceptance, and a love that never goes out. [Zoe Camp]

September 23

Beach Slang, A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings

Currently everyone’s favorite band to compare to The Replacements, Beach Slang returns with what will no doubt be another album of punk-influenced pop-rock anthems that will sound best while you’re posted up alongside bar stools and trash cans filled with bottles of Grain Belt. The combo of hard-driving beats and bending guitar melodies on “Punks In A Disco Bar” could get the most jaded of naysayers up and sloshin’ around. [Kevin Warwick]

Billy Bragg And Joe Henry, Shine A Light: Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad

As its name implies, this collaborative album between punk-folk troubadour Billy Bragg and eclectic songwriter Joe Henry was recorded while on the road—more specifically, during a 2,728-mile train trip between Chicago and Los Angeles. Naturally, the LP is a bare-bones, rootsy, and often DIY-sounding affair featuring select covers (e.g., Lead Belly, Hank Williams, and Jimmie Rodgers) and sparse, busker-friendly arrangements. [Annie Zaleski]

Dysrhythmia, The Veil Of Control

The proggiest of prog metal, Dysrhythmia does us the favor of forgoing vocals, instead letting its calculus-formula brand of timing and perplexing cascade of riffs do all the work. The Veil Of Control is their first record in four years and “Internal/Eternal” is proof that the rabbit hole the group is willing to go down still has no bottom. Colin Marston’s bass playing alone—a whirlwind of hyper tapping that often flares off on its own—is cause enough for a close listen. It’s no wonder Marston and guitarist Kevin Hufnagel were recruited by Gorguts upon its reformation. [Kevin Warwick]

Every Time I Die, Low Teens

Although plenty of its metalcore peers have resorted to lowest-common-denominator tricks to survive, Every Time I Die has never lost the fire in its belly. On its eighth album, Low Teens, the Buffalo band sounds like it has something to prove. The angry, boiling “The Coin Has A Say” is pure post-hardcore aggression; “Fear And Trembling” boasts the kind of sick metallic riffs that inspire kids to form bands; and a vocal cameo from Panic! At The Disco’s Brendon Urie adds agony to the churning “It Remembers.” [Annie Zaleski]

How To Dress Well, Care

How To Dress Well, the recording project of Tom Krell, has seen ambition realized over the course of three previous albums. The bedroom haze of debut Love Remains gave way to mini pop anthems, and by the time of 2014’s What Is This Love?, Krell’s songs had ceased being seen for their potential. Care promises to further expand Krell’s vision, featuring co-production from the likes of Jack Antonoff and CFCF. If the press materials’ mentions of full-fledged guitar solos and Celine Dion-inspired melodies are close to being true, then Care could push Krell into completely unexplored territory. [Philip Cosores]

Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, I Had A Dream That You Were Mine

Hamilton Leithauser was in The Walkmen. Rostam Batmanglij was in Vampire Weekend. They probably co-headlined a dozen festivals in the late ’00s, but they still weren’t musicians you’d pair together as collaborators. The duo’s two singles, however, are rife with potential. Leithauser’s voice is as passioned as ever on “A 1000 Times,” and Rostam’s instrumentations on “In A Black Out” gorgeously merge ethereal howls and spare percussion with the fervent fingerpicking of Spanish guitar. As evidenced on Black Hours, his 2014 solo record, Leithauser’s been looking for a new sound to accompany his signature yowl, and it seems he may have found it in Rostam’s restrained, sophisticated compositions. [Randall Colburn]

LVL UP, Return To Love

For its Sub Pop Records debut, New York’s LVL UP cleaned itself up. While the band has always written fuzzed-out pop songs, Return To Love is LVL UP’s most polished work while also being its most heartfelt. “Hidden Driver” shows what would have happened if that Neutral Milk Hotel reunion resulted in new music, and “Pain” takes one simple phrase and turns it into the feel-bad anthem of the fall. Return To Love is LVL UP at its most streamlined, and that’s far from a bad thing. [David Anthony]

Merchandise, A Corpse Wired For Sound

After mining the depths of ’80s alternative on 2014’s After The End, the Tampa band are back with A Corpse Wired For Sound, their most expansive LP to date. (The name’s taken from a J.G. Ballard short story, in a description of Ronald Reagan: “The president was scarcely more than a corpse wired for sound.”) The new record marks a turn away from the guitar-heavy paradigms of its predecessor: This time, they’re doubling down on the synths and loops, not to mention doling out more gated snares than Peter Gabriel. This corpse is definitely not dead yet. [Zoe Camp]

Neurosis, Fires Within Fires

Three decades into their career, Neurosis show no sign of ceasing its amorphous, leaden racket—and that’s totally fine, because the metal titans have yet to disappoint. Recorded alongside longtime producer and living legend Steve Albini, Fires Within Fires marks the Californians’ 11th full-length, as well as the successor to 2012’s Honor Found In Decay. The band have kept mum on specifics, but expect it to be loud. And good. [Zoe Camp]

Bruce Springsteen, Chapter And Verse

While there are plenty of reasons to be excited for Bruce Springsteen’s forthcoming autobiography, Born To Run, a companion album featuring five previously unreleased tracks only sweetens the pot. Three of these songs are from Springsteen’s early bands, The Castiles and Steel Mill, both of which haven’t had much of their material filter out into the world. The other two come from the same year he launched his career with Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., all of which prove as enticing as 500 pages of Bruce talking about Bruce. [David Anthony]

Trap Them, Crown Feral

Hallelujah! A new Trap Them record. One of the world’s better (and more underrated) filthy, Tragedy-inspired hardcore bands returns with their loudest, most hateful album to date (thanks, Kurt Ballou!). Frontman Ryan McKenney is as fucking pissed as ever as he keeps on spittin’ nails between grinding, double-kick rhythms and guitarist Brian Izzi’s serrated licks. Lord, it’s good. The one single the band has dropped thus far, “Hellionaires,” features a glorious stomping breakdown that deserves to have the floor bust wide open for it. [Kevin Warwick]

True Widow, Avvolgere

Dallas’ best slowcore trio who also happen to mix in tones of stoner rock and shoega—okay, sorry, we all know they’re the only. The pair of currently available cuts promise that True Widow’s Avvolgere should be another blissfully mopey collection of stoner blues. “Entheogen” is a predictably sterling example of the vibe they’ve made their signature, that being steady, dark, and contemplative over the course of six minutes. “Theurgist,” the somewhat more compact track of the two, gets noisier and burlier with a jolt of sludgy energy injected into things. [Brian Shultz]

Warpaint, Heads Up

Los Angeles four-piece Warpaint has long leaned on its greatest strength: the live chemistry of its members. But after a couple of well-regarded albums, the biggest shakeup on Heads Up comes from the revelation that the band began working apart from each other. Citing influences as diverse as Björk and Kendrick Lamar, the album hopes that by taking the band out of their comfort zone, their groove-heavy compositions can reach new plateaus. [Philip Cosores]

September 30

Alcest, Kodama

Alcest ditched black metal with 2014’s Shelter, turning in a post-rock–meets–dream-pop record that more closely resembled an airier version of mid-2000s Sigur Rós than anything from Alcest’s past. It was pretty good, but if “Oiseaux De Proie” is any indication, the French duo are hitting a rather incredible sweet spot on Kodama, with a much duskier tone and invigorating crescendo that leads to ringleader and frontman Neige bringing back his desperate screams of yore. Be ready for Kodama to potentially enter the conversation when talking about intensely thrilling and thrillingly intense albums like Envy’s A Dead Sinking Story and Deafheaven’s Sunbather. [Brian Shultz]

Blonde Redhead, Masculin Féminin

Over the last two decades, Blonde Redhead takes pop and test its sonic limits, lighting it on fire (1995’s self-titled), dropping it in sludge (2014’s Barragán), or toying with it in a darkroom (2004’s Misery Is A Butterfly). As such, demos shed more light on their creative process than finished products—and now you can get your hands on them. Box set Masculin Féminin chronicles their first two 1995 albums as well as a collection of demos, singles, and radio sets. To understand Blonde Redhead, its work must be broken down, and no release aids in that process quite like this. [Nina Corcoran]

Bon Iver, 22, A Million

It’s been five years since Bon Iver’s self-titled LP, and the indie music scene’s fever for another plaintive Justin Vernon record has been growing ever since. 22, A Million will attempt to satisfy that desire, albeit on Vernon’s very rigid terms. Given that the tracklisting includes titles like “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” and “21 M♢♢N WATER,” 22, A Million is probably going to be one of Bon Iver’s weirdest records to date, but, hey, that could be a good thing. [Marah Eakin]

Drive-By Truckers, American Band

The Drive-By Truckers have made a name for themselves by tempering their rock stylings with a healthy sense of historical context and their 11th full-length, American Band, sees our collective past and present converging in sublime fashion. Distortion-drenched folk songs like “Surrender Under Protest” are as sonically timeless as they are lyrically, maintaining a sense of hopefulness in the face of an uncertain future. “Compelled but not defeated,” guitarist-vocalist Mike Cooley repeats like a mantra throughout the song and, by the end, you can’t help but believe him. [Jonah Bayer]

Jenny Hval, Blood Bitch

“Come with me, I want to show you something,” sings Norwegian artist Jenny Hval on “Conceptual Romance,” from her upcoming album Blood Bitch. We’ll gladly follow Hval anywhere she goes, given that her last album, the spectacular Apocalypse, Girl, was one of the best and most forward-thinking albums of 2015. On it, the Norwegian avant-garde force channeled prophecy, poetry, and psychic incantations from what she called “soft dick rock.” The approach is more focused this time around on Blood Bitch, a brilliant meditation on blood in all its forms, from menstrual blood to the kind that provides a life force for vampires, that also unearths Hval’s goth and black metal roots. Light some candles, and turn this album up until it’s in the red. [Paula Mejia]

Peaer, Peaer

Tiny Engines may or may not be one of the little labels that could. Following in the footsteps of artists like The Hotelier, Beach Slang, and Cayetana is Peaer (take songwriter Peter Katz’s first name and exchanging the T for a vowel, and pronounce it like the fruit). Previously a musician in regional bands (including a stint drumming for the gone-too-soon band Poverty Hollow), Katz’s songs sound like David Bazan on a warpath or the desperate pleas of a man on his last breath. Songs like “Pink Spit” unleash a certain venom, but not in a nasty way—Peaer tastes good. [Dan Bogosian]

Pixies, Head Carrier

People were way into the idea of Pixies returning in 2004 as a touring entity. Even as the band flogged its flawless back catalog into the next decade, folks kept showing up. It wasn’t until 2013, when the alt-rock godheads started making new music without founding bassist Kim Deal, that the goodwill dried up. With Head Carrier, Pixies look to garner more than the collective shrug that met 2014’s Indie Cindy—a pretty okay album that struck many as subdued, uninspired, and wholly unnecessary. The band has previewed its second comeback LP with the spiky Jack Palance-referencing punk tune “Talent” and the bizarro Reverend Horton Heat-style road-burner “Um Chagga Lagga.” “All I Think About Now,” co-written and sung by newbie bassist Paz Lenchantin, is a thank-you to Deal. That’s one way to coax old fans back. [Kenneth Partridge]

Public Access TV, Never Enough

In the video for their terrific single “Sudden Emotion,” the hook-loving strummers in NYC’s Public Access TV pay homage to the scene in Rock ’N’ Roll High School where Joey and Johnny Ramone perform “I Want You Around” in Riff Randell’s bedroom. That’s not the only Ramones reference on Never Enough, an album of politely punky power-pop straight out of 1981. “They say the kids don’t like rock ’n’ roll anymore,” frontman John Eatherly sings on “End Of An Era,” a song about realizing you’re living in the past but having too much fun to care. Marshall Crenshaw, The Strokes, and The So So Glos probably all felt the same way at one time or another. [Kenneth Partridge]

Regina Spektor, Remember Us To Life

In a switch from the regular, Regina Spektor’s seventh full-length comprises entirely newly written songs—past records contained fresh recordings of tunes written throughout her career. That change is partly because of a highly productive writing period during and after her pregnancy (she gave birth to her first child in 2014). The first singles for Remember Us To Life are packed with Spektor’s signature off-kilter pop: “Bleeding Heart” provides a mix of sweeping synths and playful percussion that turns explosive, while “Small Bill$” is a dark, swaggering thump that shows Spektor borderline rapping. Like all her records, it’s sure to contain multitudes of sounds. [Matt Williams]

Survive, RR7349

Talk about timing. Two members of Survive, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, recently struck gold with their gripping and nostalgic soundtrack to Netflix’s Stranger Things, which is sure to add a little shine to the Austin-based band’s forthcoming release. Lead single “A.H.B.” is every bit as absorbing as anything on the Stranger Things soundtrack, but pulses with urgent, spacey synths that would no doubt eclipse anything it soundtracked on screen. The band’s mostly found success in film and TV composition—their contributions to the soundtrack to The Guest are just as revelatory as their work on Stranger Things—but RR7349 looks to be the band’s chance to stand on its own. [Randall Colburn]

Yellowcard, Yellowcard

Even when a band announces that their next album is going to be their last, it’s rare that they make the work specifically about their demise. But it seems that’s exactly what Yellowcard’s doing, which could be either a boon or a hindrance to their final, self-titled record. On one hand, lead single “Rest In Peace” takes on a nostalgic urgency for the group’s Ocean Avenue heyday, once again pushing Sean Mackin’s violin to the forefront and embracing their pop-punk roots instead of futilely trying to run (way) away from them. On the other hand, the song’s also called “Rest In Peace,” and there’s a chance the blatant eulogizing—the title, the farewell message to the fans, the thanks-for-the-photo-memories music video—could become a bit much over an entire LP. Either way, there’s enough catchiness at play to make us want to find out. [Dan Caffrey]


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