Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Robyn (Photo Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Governors Ball), Kurt Vile (Photo: C Flanigan/WireImage via Getty Images), and Homeboy Sandman (Photo: John Parra/Getty Images). Graphic: Natalie Peeples.

Robyn, Thom Yorke’s Suspiria score, and 18 more scary-good albums out this month

Robyn (Photo Taylor Hill/Getty Images for Governors Ball), Kurt Vile (Photo: C Flanigan/WireImage via Getty Images), and Homeboy Sandman (Photo: John Parra/Getty Images). Graphic: Natalie Peeples.

The spooky season is nearly here, and with it will come John Carpenter’s excellent soundtrack for the Halloween series’ 11th installment and Thom Yorke’s music for Luca Guadagnino’s masterful Suspiria remake. Beyond horror scores, October offers exciting new records from High On Fire, Robyn, Daughters, Julia Holter, Neneh Cherry, and more. And though hip-hop largely remains on its own schedule, we at least expect the new Homeboy Sandman and Edan project to be great, while on the R&B front, Empress Of and soul-jazz veteran Georgia Anne Muldrow turn in some of their best work to date. And hey, maybe that Childish Gambino album will finally arrive once Donald Glover’s foot heals. In the meantime, these are the 20 albums we’re most looking forward to hearing in October.

October 5

Cat Power, Wanderer

Chan Marshall has been making records as Cat Power for almost 25 years now, and Wanderer, her 10th, will be the first not released by Matador since 1996’s breakthrough What Would The Community Think. With renewed creative freedom at Domino and a personal stability anchored by motherhood, Marshall returns to form with beautifully spare, self-produced songs centered on guitar, piano, and her singular, husky voice. While still as emotionally raw as we’ve come to expect from Marshall, Wanderer is largely full of hope, an “album-length imagining of alternate paths, redemptions, connections, and open-ended possibility.” [Kelsey J. Waite]

Fucked Up, Dose Your Dreams

Fucked Up’s last full-length, Glass Boys, was relatively straightforward melodic punk—just a solid collection of songs, not a manifesto. Four years later, the Toronto band is aiming for the stratosphere again, cutting another exhausting epic along the lines of 2011’s anthemic concept record David Comes To Life. It may be a kind of sequel, in fact, following that album’s eponymous antihero across a sonically ambitious, double-album rock opera. The usual layers of guitar and Damian Abraham’s guttural bellow share space this time with moody piano interludes, spoken-word passages, humming organ, clicking electronic flourishes, Queen-style harmonizing, a choir of guest vocals, strings from violinist-to-the-indie-rock-stars Owen Pallett, and other elements that stretch the definition of what a Fucked Up record can be. Dose Your Dreams might turn off some fans, but no one can accuse these hardcore heroes of playing it safe. [A.A. Dowd]

High On Fire, Electric Messiah

Matt Pike is having a busy year, and a pretty great one, too. Just a few short months after adding some colossal, smoky riffs to the comeback album from his legendary doom outfit Sleep, the growling and perennially shirtless ax man is back behind the mic of his main gig. Just about every High On Fire record is at least solid (and solidly ass-kicking), but Electric Messiah gallops alongside the band’s best, thanks to memorable, full-speed blitzkriegs like the title track (an homage to late Motörhead frontman Lemmy, to whom Pike is sometimes compared) and beefier numbers like the lumbering “Sanctioned Annihilation.” All told, the bar for metal album of the year just got set a little higher. [A.A. Dowd]

Petite Noir, La Maison Noir

South African singer-songwriter Petite Noir blurs genre lines more complexly and seamlessly than most of his peers, existing in a space between R&B, rap, African pop, dream pop, indie, and goth rock he calls “noirwave.” Since his debut album, La Vie Est Belle, was released in 2015, his sound has notably been embraced by hip-hop’s front lines; he’s performed with Vince Staples, Kendrick Lamar, El-P, and others. In 2016, he lent his affecting baritone to Danny Brown’s outstanding Atrocity Exhibition, and on the six-song mini-LP La Maison Noir, Brown returns the favor on spellbinding, sub-heavy single “Beach.” La Maison Noir is also a visual album, with stunning images made in collaboration with Red Bull Music South Africa. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Swearin’, Fall Into The Sun

Romantic relationships have ended many a great band, but against the odds, Swearin’ is back after the breakup between singer-guitarists Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride put the Philly indie-rock outfit on hiatus in 2015. (In the interim, Crutchfield released an excellent solo album and toured with her sister Katie’s band, Waxahatchee.) After reuniting for some shows earlier this year opening for Superchunk, Swearin’ announced it had written a new record, a more mature, forward-looking effort it calls “the adult Swearin’ album.” The album’s title, Fall Into The Sun, suggests a kind of surrender, and there’s an effortlessness to these new songs that invite you to do just that. [Kelsey J. Waite]

October 12

Daniel Avery, Diminuendo

U.K. DJ/producer Daniel Avery’s sophomore album, the meticulous ambient-house dreamscape Song For Alpha, is one of our favorite albums of the year so far, and one of its best features is that it’s a sort of ever-expanding universe all its own, with Avery releasing EPs that branch off from standout album cuts like “Slow Fade” and “Projector.” Diminuendo is one such effort, launching from Alpha’s cavernous seven-minute centerpiece into a labyrinth of similarly intoxicating acid rhythms and textures. [Kelsey J. Waite]

William Basinski & Lawrence English, Selva Oscura

William Basinski and Lawrence English are two vanguards of avant-garde composition, frequently (but not exclusively) producing the sort of stuff we call “ambient,” albeit unusually dense, thoughtful examples of the form. They’ve teamed up for two extended pieces on Selva Oscura, dedicated to their late friend, the experimental filmmaker Paul Clipson. The one sample they’ve released from the album comes from the title track, and it’s foggy, beautiful, and eerily concrete stuff. [Clayton Purdom]

Kurt Vile, Bottle It In

Kurt Vile’s classic rock influences and open, collaborative spirit are again on display on Bottle It In, the singer-songwriter’s seventh solo outing, and sixth total for Matador. Following up last year’s laid-back pairing with Courtney Barnett, Lotta Sea Lice, Vile is this time joined by the likes of Cass McCombs, Lucius, Stella Mozgawa, Mary Lattimore, and none other than Kim Gordon. Advance single “Bassackwards” offers more of what fans have come to expect from Vile, his Bob Dylan-inflected talk-singing naturally coupled with ambling backmasked guitars on the nearly 10-minute track. Recorded over the past two years at multiple studios across the country, sessions often punctuating the ends of tours or family vacations, Bottle It In looks to be the soundtrack of a very chill road trip, one that has soaked up influences from friends (The Sadies) and legends (Willie Nelson) along the way. [Laura Adamczyk]

October 19

John Carpenter, Halloween OST

John Carpenter directed just one Halloween movie: the first, the best, and what some purists might insist is the only one. But musically speaking, he’s been playing around in the world of Michael Myers for decades, tweaking that tinkling-piano theme for early sequels, an anthology soundtrack collection, a kind of remix tribute to the original film, and his popular live show. For the latest Halloween sequel, directed by David Gordon Green from a script co-written by Danny McBride, Carpenter has recorded more variations on his own iconic score, toying with the tempo, futzing with the structure, and adding new synth and electric-guitar motifs. It’s at once old and new—which it to say, a lot like Green’s throwback Halloween on a whole. Except, you know, good. [A.A. Dowd]

Neneh Cherry, Broken Politics

Gun violence has Neneh Cherry up in arms on her fifth solo album, Broken Politics. This follow-up to 2014’s Blank Project marks the first time the Swedish artist overtly invokes politics in her music, but she sounds like a pro on new tracks like “Kong” and “Shotgun Shack.” Cherry’s message about the inversely proportional relationship between resources and violence cuts through the Four Tet-provided soundscapes, her polished delivery mixing with a new sense of urgency. [Danette Chavez]

Cloud Nothings, Last Building Burning

As rock bands age, they tend to lose a bit of their bite. After two albums that saw Cloud Nothings embrace the pop side of things a bit more, they return with the most primal record of their career, showing that a decade on they’ve not lost their vigor. The songs on Last Building Burning are still catchy, but they fully embrace the Wipers influence that’s been foundational to Cloud Nothings from the very beginning, offering meat-and-potatoes rock music that still has a good bit of experimentation baked in. As “The Echo Of The World” shows, Cloud Nothings are as inspired and angry as ever, and it’s refreshing to hear them embrace this side of themselves. [David Anthony]

Empress Of, Us

Empress Of’s 2015 debut, Me, was an unusually focused record—10 pulsing, narcotic cuts blurring the line between R&B and dance, held together by Lorely Rodriguez’s confessional, introspective lyrics. Beneath the hazy wash of sound was a surplus of character—not to mention hooks—that has only made the album sound better with each passing year. The name alone of the new Us marks a turn toward a broader sound, as does the production on lead single “When I’m With Him”: cleaner, bigger, and more open, suggesting a shift toward smart pop in the mold of early Jessie Ware or even Lorde. [Clayton Purdom]

Farao, Pure-O

Norwegian-born, Berlin-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kari Jahnsen makes refreshingly organic, unconventional pop as Farao, and her second LP, Pure-O, looks to deliver big on the promise of her underrated 2015 debut, Till It’s All Forgotten. The range of influences on Pure-O is wide and intriguing: Jahnsen drew from a newfound love of old Soviet disco, using analog synths from the era, plus ’90s R&B, Alice Coltrane’s harp playing, and the minimalism of Terry Riley. You can hear them all come together on single “Lula Loves You,” a song as transportive and uncynical as its inspiration, David Lynch’s Wild At Heart. [Kelsey J. Waite]

October 26

Daughters, You Won’t Get What You Want

It’s been eight years and one hiatus since Daughters last made a record, and it’s only fitting that they return with an album that’s completely different from those of their initial tenure. For a band that has always put a premium on reinvention, You Won’t Get What You Want is the culmination of everything Daughters have worked toward. Unlike their early, hardcore-indebted material, the bulk of You Won’t Get What You Want plays like Nick Cave at his most deranged. The seven-minute-long “Satan In The Wait” sees vocalist Alexis S.F. Marshall achieving his final form, his delivery so disconcerting that he sounds like a horror movie villain instead of a guy fronting a hardcore band. By every metric, You Won’t Get What You Want is a perfect Daughters record, from the antagonistic album title down to the challenging sprawl of the music itself. [David Anthony]

Julia Holter, Aviary

Julia Holter’s fifth studio album, Aviary, arrives three years after the highly acclaimed Have You In My Wilderness, which saw the Los Angeles-based avant-pop artist scale down her heady inclinations to a more accessible, yet no less extraordinary, place. Literary inspiration is still here: The starting point for Aviary is a line from a short story by Etel Adnan—“I found myself in an aviary full of shrieking birds”—a fitting metaphor for the cacophony of modern life. First single “I Shall Love 2” cuts through the noise with a slowly building crescendo of resplendent trumpet, strings, and psych-pop harmonies chanting radical intention: “I shall love.” [Kelsey J. Waite]

Homeboy Sandman & Edan, Humble Pi

Homeboy Sandman’s a long-running Stones Throw staple, his burly, unflashy flow delivering endless, effortless bars across a vast slate of sleepy LPs. What’s particularly exciting about Humble Pi is the reemergence of Edan, a rapper and producer whose last LP, 2005’s Beauty And The Beat, is a benchmark in post-millennial underground hip-hop, fusing ’60s psych-rock with ’90s sampledelic boom-bap. The new work sounds just as dense and lush as you’d expect, bringing out the bleary-eyed best from Homeboy Sandman. [Clayton Purdom]

Georgia Anne Muldrow, Overload

Longtime L.A. jazz/soul fixture Georgia Anne Muldrow, who has already featured on excellent albums from Blood Orange and New Orleans rapper Cavalier this year, makes the jump to Flying Lotus’ likeminded label, Brainfeeder, for Overload. Muldrow is a powerhouse producer who typically works alone, but here she’s assembled her most collaborative album since 2012’s Madlib-produced Seeds. Duo Mike & Keys produced the title track, a vitalizing psychedelic-soul cut about “the process of building loving relationships in spite of the malfunctions of Western society.” Expect the rest of Overload to mine similar depths. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Robyn, Honey

Eight years after her career-(re)defining Body Talk series, Swedish electro-pop icon Robyn returns with sixth solo LP Honey, a collection of nine songs that luxuriate in the singer’s softer side. Although the title track debuted last year in an episode of Girls, Robyn officially returned in August with the bittersweet dance-floor cut “Missing U,” the album opener and a perfect bridge from Body Talk to now. But from there, Honey forges a new direction, taking its time with spacious, dreamy, and often playful arrangements, and taking joy in the full scope of what it means to be human. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Tasha, Alone At Last

Activism meets bossa nova on Alone At Last, the debut album from Chicago native Tasha. Like her tourmate Jamila Woods, Tasha—who’s a part of the Black Youth Project 100—doesn’t shy away from politics in her art, but if the lead single, “Kind Of Love,” is any indication, what the poet-musician is offering is a kind of cocoon. Over the gentle strumming of a guitar, the track invites the listener to “Bring your sleepy bruising bones / I will kiss them fine,” an invitation that grows more appealing by the day. [Danette Chavez]

Thom Yorke, Suspiria OST

The pairing of Thom Yorke, director Luca Guadagnino, and cult horror classic Suspiria is enough to give a large swath of music and film fans the vapors. Yorke has large shoes to fill—the original film’s soundtrack, by Goblin, is one of the all-time greats—but early trailers and one surprisingly Radiohead-like single suggest he’s following bandmate Jonny Greenwood’s path and finding a new well of inspiration in the constraints of scoring. Yorke has described the process as “making spells,” and cited Vangelis’ score for Blade Runner score as inspiration. [Clayton Purdom]