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The 30 most-anticipated albums of September

Héloïse Letissier of Christine And The Queens (Photo: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images); Donald Glover, a.k.a. Childish Gambino (Photo: Joseph Okpako/WireImage via Getty Images); and Neil Fallon of Clutch (Photo: Juan Aguado/Redferns via Getty Images). Graphic: Natalie Peeples.
Héloïse Letissier of Christine And The Queens (Photo: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images); Donald Glover, a.k.a. Childish Gambino (Photo: Joseph Okpako/WireImage via Getty Images); and Neil Fallon of Clutch (Photo: Juan Aguado/Redferns via Getty Images). Graphic: Natalie Peeples.
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Okay, so we don’t know for sure that Donald Glover’s fourth (and reportedly final) album as Childish Gambino will arrive this month, but the prospect looms large as we turn the corner into fall. What we do know is we’re getting big new albums from Chicago MC Noname, French synth-pop phenom Christine And The Queens, and rock veterans like Low, Pig Destroyer, and Spiritualized. Plus, electronic pioneers Tim Hecker and Aphex Twin return to soundtrack the inevitable introspection of the cooler season. Here are the 30 new releases we’re most looking forward to in September.


Childish Gambino, TBA

It’s hard to imagine a star with more cultural capital than Donald Glover right now, helming a groundbreaking television show, starring in a handful of huge-profile tentpole films, and releasing one of the most talked-about songs of the year in “This Is America.” His upcoming fourth (and, if his claims are true, final) record as Childish Gambino may or may not include that cut, but it’ll definitely feature lead single “Summertime Magic,” part of a pair of aquatic, summer-themed tracks released earlier this year. There’s a yawning stylistic gulf between the two, so how (or if) he attempts to bridge them on the full-length should be interesting. A release date hasn’t been announced yet, but it’d be fair to expect it before he kicks off his fall tour on September 6. [Clayton Purdom]

Noname, Room 25

After featuring on a number of projects by fellow Chicago MCs like Chance The Rapper and Mick Jenkins, in 2016 Noname made her full-length debut with the captivating Telefone, a poetic collection of distinctly soulful raps on black femininity and life in Chicago. Since then, she’s appeared on a couple of tracks with Smino and Joseph Chilliams while quietly working on follow-up Room 25. It’ll drop any day now, and Noname swears it’s even better than her first. [Kelsey J. Waite]

September 7

Clutch, Book Of Bad Decisions

Clutch’s beefy hard-rock boogie can veer dangerously close to the “authentic way-down-in-the-Delta blues” of Ghost World’s Blues Hammer. Except that the band does seem to have a sense of humor about its goofiness. The latest evidence: “Hot Bottom Feeder,” which is basically a recipe for Maryland crab cakes put to song. (“Just enough breadcrumbs and one raw egg,” bellows frontman Neil Fallon.) Best case scenario, forthcoming album no. 12, Book Of Bad Decisions, leans heavier on Clutch’s stoner-rock bona fides than its Buddy Guy worship. One hopes, at least, that the guys stumble onto a chorus as catchy as the one that powered minor radio hit “The Mob Goes Wild.” [A.A. Dowd]

Oliver Coates, Shelley’s On Zenn-La

The most expressive, avant-garde cellist since Arthur Russell, Oliver Coates has lent his saws and yaws to everything from movie soundtracks (Under The Skin, Phantom Thread) to collaborations with Radiohead and MF Doom. His new solo album, Shelley’s On Zenn-La, furthers that Russell connection in its distorted disco roots, with Coates drawing inspiration from the legendary, now-defunct England dance club Shelley’s Laserdome. You can hear that distant, refracted rave scene burbling up under lead single “Charlev,” which brings in vocalist Chrysanthemum Bear to offer icy shout-outs over an array of airy synths, pinging drum machine beats, robotic hand claps, and the warble and scratches of Coates’ endlessly versatile instrument. [Sean O’Neal]

Mothers, Render Another Ugly Method

Mothers have undergone a bit of a reinvention since the release of When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired in 2016. Its latest, Render Another Ugly Method, is more experimental, taking bits of math- and psych-rock to turn in songs like “Blame Kit,” which recall Palm’s artful take on pop music. Kristine Leschper’s songwriting remains airtight, but she’s using gestures that are more overtly challenging, using Render Another Ugly Method to prove that Mothers can grow in whatever directions she sees fit. [David Anthony]

Pig Destroyer, Head Cage

After years of communicating its bat-shit depravity through nothing but guitars, drums, and larynx-abusing vocals, the veteran lunatics of Pig Destroyer finally invited a bassist, John Jarvis, to contribute to the racket in 2013. Head Cage is the band’s first album with a full rhythm section, and it’s resulted in, well, a more rhythmic assault, at least judging from the recently released “Army Of Cops” and “The Torture Fields.” Both are also marginally cleaner and more polished ragers than the ones Pig Destroyer usually inflicts on the pit, though those are relative distinctions in the filthy, ferocious arena of grindcore. In other words, only those with particularly extreme taste won’t still feel like their own heads have been locked in a cage, a feral animal stuffed in there with it. [A.A. Dowd]

Pile, Odds And Ends

Since the release of A Hairshirt Of Purpose last March, Pile has kept plenty busy. Its released two different live albums (Live At Third Man and an Audiotree session) and toured incessantly alongside the likes of Converge and Titus Andronicus, all the while working on new material. But before the Boston band records a new album, there’s Odds And Ends, a collection of a couple Hairshirt B-sides as well as assorted other rarities. While collection albums can often be seen as fans-only affairs, Odds And Ends features some of Pile’s best material, as tracks like “Special Snowflakes,” “Pigeon Song,” and “Afraid Of Home” are just as essential as anything on their full-lengths. [David Anthony]

Joey Purp, Quarterthing

Joey Purp’s 2016 mixtape iiiDrops made waves, announcing the emergence of a versatile, characterful rapper who could hang easily with Savemoney crew compatriots like Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, and Towkio. Not a ton is known about the rapper’s just-announced Quarterthing project, but it’s got a dynamite lead single in “Bag Talk,” all minor-key RZA pianos and trap hi-hats, with Purp prowling the beat at a cackling, staticky remove. Expect more big-name Chicago friends and a lot of variety from the musically agnostic emcee. [Clayton Purdom]

Spiritualized, And Nothing Hurt

It’s been six years since the last album from space-blues outfit Spiritualized, and from the sound of things, every single moment of that long interim has been spent on making it. Jason “Spaceman” Pierce recorded And Nothing Hurt entirely by himself in his London home, arduously creating the symphonic swells and dizzying, black-hole atmospheres that color his music without the benefit of extra players or money. It makes sense, then, that Pierce would proclaim it to be his last, saying it was such a mammoth undertaking that “I found myself going crazy for so long.” If it really is the final Spiritualized record, then it’s a typically lovely grace note to go out on: Lead single “I’m Your Man” retains all the bruised majesty of Pierce’s previous work, delivered here with a new, close-mic intensity. [Sean O’Neal]

Waxahatchee, Great Thunder

Katie Crutchfield is turning off the distortion pedals and getting back to basics. After the rocking, explosive churn of last year’s Out In The Storm, the musician is releasing a restrained, stripped-down arrangement of tracks that were written over the past five years, now revived and reworked with producer Brad Cook to deliver a simpler, sweeter, more organic sound. Pianos and acoustic guitars take pride of place here, with Crutchfield’s raw and unadorned voice providing aching counterpart to the simple melodies, nary a drumbeat to be found. There are only six songs on this EP (whose name is taken from one of Crutchfield’s old bands), but there’s emotion enough here for an entire night’s worth of heartache, reflection, and wanderlust. [Alex McLevy]

September 14

Aphex Twin, Collapse

There’s a new Aphex Twin thing! Few figures in electronic music inspire such devotion, confusion, and anticipation as Richard D. James, who quietly reemerges every few years with some great videos and a new collection of incomprehensibly titled tracks. Get ready for new fan-favorites like “Abundance10edit (2 R8’s, FZ20m & a 909)” and “Pthex” on the new Collapse EP, which runs just under 30 minutes but will likely contain enough polyrhythmic eccentricity and lingering, ghost-in-the-machine melodies to keep heads spinning until the next phantom missive. The new video, for what it’s worth, is no “Rubber Johnny,” but it’s a hell of a journey on its own. [Clayton Purdom]

Bosse-De-Nage, Further Still

Bosse-de-Nage got a big boost in visibility about five years ago, thanks to a split it recorded with the newly minted crossover stars of Deafheaven. Both Bay Area bands offer an unconventional, genre-blending take on black metal, but Boss-De-Nage’s is more paranoid and claustrophobic, finding new depths of darkness in the instrumental traditions of ’90s indie rock, post-rock, and shoegaze. On Further Still, the group tightens its songcraft further (no track this time runs longer than seven minutes), while continuing to pen the kind of bleakly introspective lyrics that distinguished 2015’s superbly anxious All Fours. Deafheaven fans, meanwhile, may appreciate the more prominent inclusion of soaring guitars, though they’re used to much less, ahem, heavenly effect here. [A.A. Dowd]

Fenster, The Room

Inspired by the dazzling, impersonal wattage of the Las Vegas strip, Berlin four-piece Fenster’s fourth album, The Room, is a real chameleon of a record. The band smoothly glides between genres, not just between songs, but within them as well: Lead single “HBW” adds a sunny, sexy energy to repetitive electronic rhythms that recall a ride down Kraftwerk’s “Autobahn,” while “HAHA Lol” inverts that dynamic by pairing a groovy-’60s pop-psychedelic melody with a cold electronic beat, giving the song a very postmodern edge. [Katie Rife]

Guerilla Toss, Twisted Crystal

Describing Guerilla Toss in terms of genre is a fool’s errand. The band’s always played fast and loose with its influences, bringing in classic new wave and harsh, chaotic dance beats to create something that’s confrontational yet somehow inviting. With Twisted Crystal, Guerilla Toss crafted an album that, while still harsh and consuming, feels accessible. “Meteorological” is a prime example of the band’s ability to make an all-consuming racket while still offering a path through the madness. [David Anthony]

The Holydrug Couple, Hyper Super Mega

The Holydrug Couple makes music that sounds like the soundtrack to that one obscure European art movie you watched back in college… if only you could remember what it was called. New album Hyper Super Mega takes The Holydrug Couple further down the ethereal, synth-driven path it’s been following over the past few albums; lead single “I’ll Only Say This” floats into the dream-pop airspace, while still retaining the psychedelic sensibility that brought the Santiago, Chile duo together in the first place. [Katie Rife]

Jóhann Jóhannsson, Mandy OST

Just one month before his death in February, Icelandic film composer Jóhann Jóhannsson completed his final work, the score for Beyond The Black Rainbow director Panos Cosmatos’ new film Mandy. Starring Nicolas Cage as a lumberjack hellbent on revenge against the crazed ’80s acid cult that killed the title character, the film is heavy metal-influenced and trippy as hell. The score also fits that description, full of atmospheric dread, blissful washes of sound, and rumbling guitars from Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley. [Katie Rife]

Low, Double Negative

Not since The Great Destroyer back in 2005 has Low put out an album that so redefined what a Low recording could sound like. In this, the band’s 25th year of making music, it is demonstrating a bold desire to continue pushing forward artistically with what is easily the most challenging and experimental collection of songs yet released by the trio. Glitching electronic loops, distorted-beyond-recognition vocals, overdriven bass, and more signal an album not easily digested. Underneath it all, there’s still the same commitment to lush, gorgeous melodies and spare poeticism (not to mention a number of achingly pretty pop songs scattered among the avant-minimalist soundscapes), but it’s heartening to see a band so unafraid of scaling unexplored musical vistas this far into its career. [Alex McLevy]

Pale Waves, My Mind Makes Noises

They grew up the shadow of Morrissey and Joy Division, but while Pale Waves did indeed absorb the mopey goth-pop sensibilities that put their hometown of Manchester on the musical map, they’d rather be compared to Prince or The Cure. This month the band releases its debut LP, My Mind Makes Noises, amid major buzz from the British music press; the five songs that have already been released in the buildup to the album alternate between radio-ready rock riffs and bubbly electro-pop, all built around insanely catchy melodies and clean-cut vocals. [Katie Rife]

Spirit Of The Beehive, Hypnic Jerks

Philadelphia’s Spirit Of The Beehive has always been a band’s band. Its records push the limits of guitar music, as the five-piece throws out conventional song structures, treating its own compositions like sound collages. While that worked in spots on last year’s Pleasure Suck, the results are much more refined and rewarding on Hypnic Jerks. Instead of merely showing that it can stray from conventions, Spirit Of The Beehive has finally found a way to make all those deviations feel purposeful and part of a greater whole. [David Anthony]

September 21

Beak>, >>>

Though Beak>’s last studio album was released six years ago, the U.K. trio led by Geoff Barrow (Portishead) never really rests. The group’s upcoming third LP, >>>, follows a 2015 split EP, the 2016 score for Couple In A Hole, and last year’s Sex Music 7-inch. Barrow, meanwhile, has been busy composing for films like Annihilation, Ex Machina, and Free Fire. Invada Records manager Redg Weeks calls the new album a clear step forward and a refinement, noting, “Now we are hearing Beak> in sharp focus, but without forfeiting what the band see as its ‘wrongness.’” Singles “Brean Down” and “Allé Sauvage” are both transfixing, krautrock-tinged tracks, albeit traveling in excitingly different directions. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Christine And The Queens, Chris

Christine And The Queens, the synth-pop outfit of French singer, songwriter, and dancer Héloïse Letissier, made its full-length debut in 2014 with Chaleur Humaine, a striking collection of smart, ’80s-indebted pop. The album made a strong showing on American charts when it was repackaged as Christine And The Queens a year later, despite Letissier being an unknown, but follow-up Chris promises to travel even further. Letissier is as much a visual, physical artist as she is a musical one, and excellent singles “Girlfriend” and “5 Dollars” are paired with glorious videos reflecting her music’s nuanced explorations of gender and sexuality. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Metric, TBA

Canada’s Metric has touted its still-untitled new album as a return to its rock roots, with guitars and dark riffs front and center. And while it’s true there are dirtier licks anchoring some of the songs, this is still right in the group’s comfort zone of recent years, with an ’80s, synth-heavy sound driving much of the music, not unlike 2016’s Pagans In Vegas. It’s a pop-friendly fusion of Duran Duran, Tears For Fears, and a bevy of other “Me”-decade touchstones filtered through Emily Haines’ distinctive voice and groove-centric rhythms. Don’t let leadoff single “Dark Saturday” fool you—this is still a Metric record, albeit with a few of the noisier flourishes from back in the Live It Out-era thrown in. [Alex McLevy]

Prince, Piano & A Microphone 1983

Prince’s legendary archive has been cracked open, and the first full album to emerge from its depths is Piano & A Microphone 1983. Culled from a live rehearsal at Prince’s Paisley Park home studio, the album finds Prince working out original material like “Purple Rain” and “17 Days” alongside covers like Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” and the spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep.” Longtime Prince fans may recognize the 35-minute set that makes up Piano & A Microphone 1983 from a decades-old bootleg called Intimate Moments With Prince; edited and accompanied by new liner notes, either name suits this rare look into the private world of one of the 20th century’s greatest musical geniuses. [Katie Rife]

Sumac, Love In Shadow

On February’s collaborative album with Japanese artist Keiji Haino, Sumac did away with conventional songwriting and instead allowed freeform improvisations to inform the final product. The same is true of Love In Shadow, as the experimental three-piece once again does away with premeditated songs and instead allows its collective spirit to guide the work. The album sees Aaron Turner (ISIS, Old Man Gloom, Split Cranium), Brian Cook (Russian Circles, Botch) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) working more with open space, using metal as a form of free jazz while keeping every churning movement compelling. [David Anthony]

September 28

Exploded View, Obey

Exploded View debuted in 2016 with a thrillingly raw, improvised record that stood out for both its otherworldly dub-punk-psych aesthetic and its provocative yet tender way of reflecting our warped political and social realities back at us. The group returns to Sacred Bones a trio, with singer Annika Henderson (a.k.a. Anika, also known for her work with Beak>), Hugo Quezada (Robota), and Martin Thulin (Crocodiles) dropping the improvisational approach of their first record in favor of crafting a concise set of songs. Singles “Sleepers” and “Raven Raven” both showcase one of EV’s greatest skills: luring listeners into its dreamlike songs with a strong groove, then revealing the dream is equally part nightmare. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Fatima, And Yet It’s All Love

Swedish-born, London-based singer Fatima debuted in 2014 with an immersive album of stoned, jazzy R&B, and the focus and confidence of a much more established artist. Which has made the four years’ wait for follow-up And Yet It’s All Love a long one. Eglo Records calls the new effort “an emotional, yet entertaining trip through the full cycle of a romantic relationship,” and the honeyed vocals and forward-thinking production of singles “Somebody Else” and “Caught In A Lie” make it sound like a trip well worth taking, messy breakup and all. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Tim Hecker, Konoyo

Tim Hecker’s first album, way back in 2001, was called Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again. The title proved telling. Since then, the electronic pioneer hasn’t gone more than a few years without releasing another hour or so of masterfully sculpted sound, impossible to pick apart and impossible to shake. The forthcoming Konoyo is his ninth such LP, produced in Japan alongside a gagaku ensemble, and it constitutes just seven tracks, but they’re big ones, sprawling up to 16 minutes. Press materials attribute its genesis to a conversation with a recently deceased friend about negative space, which sounds about right. [Clayton Purdom]

The Joy Formidable, Aaarth

Hitch, the 2016 album from Welsh trio The Joy Formidable, was the sound of the group entrenched in its native land and digging to find the essence of its raw, distorted rock sound. New album Aaarth, by contrast, is a more ragged and experimental affair, as singer-guitarist Ritzy Bryan and company relocated to Utah after Hitch and spent the subsequent months recording in a mobile studio setup in hotel rooms the world over. Perhaps the band’s new adopted home provided inspiration of a different sort, as lead single “Dance Of The Lotus” injects some psychedelic canyon-rock elements into the group’s bluesy arena-rock sound. It’s both spacier and more experimental than albums past, while retaining The Joy Formidable’s anthemic sheen. [Alex McLevy]

Lala Lala, The Lamb

On Lala Lala’s debut for Hardly Art, Lillie West guides her project through the delicate space of moving from the recklessness of your early 20s into actual adulthood. The Lamb is introspective to the point of pure transparency, allowing West the room to firmly establish her take on indie rock. “Water Over Sex” is an ode to getting sober and trying to reestablish your place in a social circle as a result of it, as West mines all that uncomfortable energy to make a record of purposeful action. [David Anthony]

Marissa Nadler, For My Crimes

For My Crimes marks the eighth album from dark Americana folk artist Marissa Nadler, and her third for Sacred Bones. And as we’ve come to expect from Nadler, it’s as ethereal as a piece of gauze being gently bathed in rings of puffy gray smoke. Angel Olsen guests on the remorseful lead single “For My Crimes,” setting a stark, sinister, achingly mournful tone that continues throughout the album, described in a press release as “the sound of turmoil giving way to truth.” [Katie Rife]

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