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The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2016

on August 29, 2016, 12:00am
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As we enter the final trimester of the year, it’s hard to process that there are even more albums waiting to be heard.

After all, 2016 has been more than kind to us. Rihanna finally dropped a new album. We saw Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo change in real time. Beyoncé gifted us a visual album of epic proportions. Frank Ocean returned after four years with not one but two albums. Oh, and a little band called Radiohead returned with a new LP, too.

With so many chart-topping names dropping full-lengths, smaller acts should have struggled to stay afloat, but plenty stood out. Chance the Rapper unleashed a vivid mixtape, but so did one of his collaborators, noname. Modest groups like CoSigned fellas Mothers, Greys, and Weaves stepped up to the plate. Pinegrove and Sioux Falls became new obsessions.

It’s no secret that keeping up with all the new music released in a year is nearly impossible. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Keeping your eyes on this list should make things a tad easier. So it’s with heart-shaped eyes that we wave hello to fall, a season whose reputation of heavy-hitting albums precedes it.

Oh, and don’t start thinking about end-of-the-year list-making yet. If nothing else, 2016 showed that frontrunners shift spots every single week, and with four months left, it’s reasonable to expect at least one wrench to be thrown into the album pool. Who will throw it? We’ll just have to wait and see.

–Nina Corcoran
Associate Editor

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unnamed (2)25. Jack White – Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016

Release date: September 9th

Whether people want to admit it or not, Jack White is one of the more intriguing artists to emerge in the last two decades. As one half of The White Stripes, he carved out his own unique lane in mainstream music with his impeccable guitar playing and off-color vocal style. Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016 is a 26-track double LP featuring remastered alternate versions, mixes, and previously unreleased recordings from The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, and White’s solo catalog. White gave us a hint of what to expect with the never-before-released “City Lights”, which was originally written for 2005’s Get Behind Me Satan, but was finally finished this year, making it the first new commercially released White Stripes song since 2008. –Kyle Eustice


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say yes a tribute to elliott smith The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 201624. Various Artists – Say Yes!

Release date: October 14th

If you meet an Elliott Smith fan who says they don’t listen to his music in the fall, beware. They’re not really an Elliott Smith fan. The beloved singer-songwriter’s catalog comes to life every autumn, each acoustic ballad and tinkering piano waltz bringing energy back to ailing trees and a sea of rusted reds, burnt orange, and smoky skies. To honor his work, 15 artists have teamed up to cover his material for Say Yes! A Tribute To Elliott Smith. J. Mascis, Sun Kil Moon, Waxahatchee, Amanda Palmer, and more lend their talents to reimagine the folk icon’s work in their own voice. Juliana Hatfield’s “Needle in the Hay” and Julien Baker’s “Ballad of Big Nothing” left us clutching at our hearts. If the others are remotely similar, this compilation will be an emotional doozy. But, for some, Elliott Smith has yet to be a household name. If so, revisit our oral history of his debut LP and fall in love with him before falling in love with everyone’s poignant covers. —Nina Corcoran

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unnamed 231 The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 201623. American Football – American Football

Release date: October 21st

American Football’s debut album was a perfect storm in terms of establishing a cult status for the short-lived group: College radio stations loved it, and when fans realized they wanted more, they also realized the band was no more. The group never had a chance to release a sophomore slump, but after announcing a second self-titled album last week, we’ll see what they have left in the tank after a 17-year break. They shared a single called “I’ve Been Lost for So Long” when they announced the record, and based on the meandering, guitar-driven track, they ought to be just fine despite the incredible expectations placed upon them and their return. — Derrick Rossignol


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warpaint new album heads up The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 201622. Warpaint – Heads Up

Release date: September 23rd

There’s always been something eerie at the heart of Warpaint’s music. By the sound of it, their third LP, Heads Up, opens windows to let light in, highlighting a pop structure and bouncy bass that encourages dancing instead of dark swaying. After spending 2015 working on solo projects and personal endeavors, the quartet join forces once more for the LP, but this time they tried something new. Instead of recording as a full band, they partnered off into duos and single rooms, chasing creative freedom that sees their individual ideas stacked on top of one another, allowing them to cherry-pick the best moments. As a result, Heads Up is their most mature record to date, and yet it carries a youthful glee (especially in “New Song”) that feels playful and coy, a welcome side to the band that will keep us smiling throughout fall. —Nina Corcoran

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joyce manor cody The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 201621. Joyce Manor – Cody

Release date: October 7th Entertainment

Joyce Manor’s Never Hungover Again made us want to run out and get a heart tattoo, and that album’s Epitaph follow-up is only going to reinforce our lust for permanent ink. The first track we’ve heard off Cody, lead single “Fake I.D.”, is a bona fide ripper, but it’s also notably more melodic than almost anything the band have done in the past. There may not be a proper refrain, but try counting the hooks in this motherfucker. And this time around, Joyce Manor’s getting help from producer Rob Schnapf, who has worked with everyone from Elliott Smith and Dr. Dog to Saves the Day and FIDLAR. Those last two bands are the ones to pay attention to, as the best case for Joyce Manor is to land somewhere in the middle. –Collin Brennan

jenny hval blood bitch The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 201620. Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch

Release date: September 30th

Jenny Hval is unafraid to challenge her listener. In fact, she’s more than eager to push thoughtful conversation on subjects the general public often avoids, frequently when it comes to misogyny and feminism. Fittingly, her upcoming Blood Bitch looks to menstruation, “the white and red toilet roll chain which ties together the virgins, the whores, the mothers, the witches, the dreamers, and the lovers.” It also, according to her statement, tells the story of an Orlando-based vampire and is inspired by Norwegian black metal. That might make you think that this one won’t be for everybody, but Hval excels at drawing listeners in, making even the difficult seem appealing and natural. –Adam Kivel

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ChildishGambino1119. Childish Gambino – PHAROS 

Release date: TBA

Regardless of whether critics are buying into Donald Glover’s rap persona, fans dig it. Big time. Childish Gambino rose to near-arena-level popularity on the back of 2013’s Because the Internet, and it appears that he’s ready to make an even bigger splash for his next album. While the record doesn’t have an official release date, it does have an official release plan. The album will be unveiled during a three-day multimedia experience in Joshua Tree, California. The event is called PHAROS and has an app, and there will be camping and art installations and a live performance by Glover. No one can say that Gambino isn’t putting his money were his mouth is. –Philip Cosores

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preoccupations cover The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 201618.  Preoccupations – Preoccupations

Release date: September 16th

Last year, a band that went by the name of Viet Cong at the time released a rough, jagged, hypnotic debut LP that brought post-punk back into the spotlight, showing that it can not only be revived with authenticity, but that it can be original and distinct, standing out from the countless number of post-punk bands regurgitating the same noise-filled repetition. Their name, rightfully so, raised eyebrows. It may have taken them a long time to change it, picking up the moniker Preoccupations in its place, but the CoSigned Canadian quartet return with a sophomore LP that reminds us why we fell in love with them at the start. Preoccupations is filled with classic late ’70s-styled post-punk. Joy Division and Gang of Four weren’t the only ones who perfected this style. Preoccupations are too, and their sophomore self-titled full-length details it in winding, intricate tracks, placing them at the top of the post-punk revival game. —Nina Corcoran


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Okkervil River17. Okkervil River – Away

Release date: September 9th

Okkervil River’s follow-up to 2013’s The Silver Gymnasium comes in the form of Away, a welcome return from mastermind Will Sheff. Recorded on the same Neve 8068 console responsible for John Lennon’s Double Fantasy and Steely Dan’s Aja, Away is the result of some tough years for Sheff. On first single “Okkervil River RIP”, he touches on losing his grandfather, an overdose death, and his temporarily inescapable depression. If the single is any indication of what’s to come on Away, there are more intriguing tales, haunting acoustics, and impeccable songwriting right around the corner. –Kyle Eustice


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leonard cohen you want The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 201616. Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker

Release date: September 19th

Leonard Cohen is making up for lost time, releasing his third record in six years at the ripe, old age of 82. When Old Ideas came out in 2012, it seemed astonishing, the then-77-year-old sounding vigorous, vibrant, and eager. But it had taken eight years since his last album, and you can amass a lot of material in that time. But he’s since produced another stellar record and toured the whole way and looks set to do so yet again with the ominously titled You Want It Darker. Produced by Cohen’s son Adam, insiders have reportedly called the record “a masterpiece.” With a few in his catalog to measure up against, it’s exciting to think of another Songs of Leonard Cohen around the corner. –Adam Kivel

unnamed (3)15. Conor Oberst – Ruminations

Release date: October 14th

When you’re as prolific as Conor Oberst, it could be hard to keep new releases from seeming like old hat. But by continually revolving his projects, be it Bright Eyes or Monsters of Folk or Desaparecidos or as simply Conor Oberst, the singer-songwriter manages to keep the work of Oberst feeling fresh, even if he has released an album in each of the past couple of years. Boding well for Ruminations is the fact that his last two musical endeavors, 2015’s Payola and 2014’s Upside Down Mountain, were some of his strongest of the last decade. Is Oberst riding a winning streak? We’ll see on this acoustic collection, recorded during the Omaha winter in a whirlwind session. –Philip Cosores

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regina spektor remember us to life14. Regina Spektor – Remember Us to Life

Release date: September 30th

It’s been long enough since Regina Spektor last released a record that some youngins may only know her as “the lady from the Orange Is the New Black theme.” But lucky for them, the follow-up to 2012’s What We Saw From the Cheap Seats is right around the corner. The first two previews of Remember Us to Life suggest that the Russian-born singer-songwriter’s many eccentricities, passionate performances, and piano wizardry remain in prime condition. The groovy “Small Bill$” verges on hip-hop while “Bleeding Heart” shows roots tied with St. Vincent that may not have ever been this obvious. To be unshaken by Spektor is to be dispassionate towards complex emotions. While the piano keys she so effortlessly plays might well be black and white, her music is as colorful and vibrant as ever. –Lior Phillips


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Pixies Head Carrier13. Pixies – Head Carrier

Release date: September 30th

Pixies are now two years into their tenure with Paz Lenchantin on bass, and the results seem to speak well for her involvement. She’s worked with … eccentric … ’90s rock frontmen before, contributing to four records with Maynard James Keenan’s A Perfect Circle and playing bass for Billy Corgan’s Zwan. While we can’t necessarily attribute the renewed energy of the group’s latest tracks to Lenchantin, it’s good to hear Black Francis sounding like his old Pixies self again, even writing a song designed as a “thank you” to Deal, sung by their new bassist. While it remains to be seen whether they can keep the passion and energy of the early samples, Head Carrier should easily outpace Indie Cindy and bode well for Pixies establishing themselves as having plenty new to say. –Adam Kivel


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Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 6.25.57 PM12. S U R V I V E – RR7349

Release date: September 30th

At this point, Survive are best known as the “house band” behind Netflix’s Stranger Things — even if the score was technically created by Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon — but that shouldn’t be surprising. The series is, after all, a total pop-culture phenomenon and the music has often been cited as a crucial element to the show’s success. So much so that their score received a two-volume release within a month of the show’s debut. Now, just in time for fall, Stein and Dixon rejoin Adam Jones and Mark Donica to dish out a third helping of bleak synth experiments with their proper sophomore album, RR7349. Proving themselves capable of ably capturing a cinematic atmosphere, this record has the potential to show what they can do without any restraints on following a theme or story arc. They’ve engulfed us in the world of Stranger Things, now it’s time to get lost in their own universe again. –Dusty Henry

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Sting11. Sting – 57th & 9th

Release date: November 11th

For Sting’s 12th solo album, 57th and 9th, manager/producer Martin Kierszenbaum, who worked as the former Police frontman’s A&R man before getting hired full time earlier this year, suggested he book studio time with a small group of musicians. The group included touring drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and guitarist Dominic Miller, in addition to Jerry Fuentes and Diego Navaira of the Last Bandoleros, a San Antonio Tex-Mex group. Every day, Sting reportedly arrived without any material and wrote each song on the spot with the musicians surrounding him. More rock-oriented than his past solo endeavors, 57th and 9th is the first proper album he’s released since 2013’s The Last Ship. During an interview posted by his label, Cherrytree Music Company, Sting said he believes the new record to be “energetic and noisy, but also thoughtful.” Guess we’ll find out. –Kyle Eustice

against me shape shift me album new The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 201610. Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me

Release date: September 16th

When Against Me! released Transgender Dysphoria Blues back in 2014, it represented a watershed moment for transgender visibility in punk rock and pop culture in general. It also gave the former anarchists a new lease on life, saving them from the alienating excess of White Crosses while breathing new life into the idea that, yes, Against Me! can still make socially relevant music that transcends the stubborn limits punk so often sets for itself. Frontwoman Laura Jane Grace and co. will look to continue that trend with the forthcoming Shape Shift with Me, and the early returns look promising. Grace’s transgender identity is still front and center, but the melodies behind “333” and “Haunting, Haunted, Haunts” are strong enough to prop up an album on their own. Pints of Guinness aren’t making this band any stronger, but time and perspective seem to be doing the trick. –Collin Brennan

Listen: “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)”

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local natives sunlit youth album new1 The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 201609. Local Natives – Sunlit Youth

Release date: September 9th

Sunlit Youth – what an apt, if not entirely forthcoming title for a Local Natives album. Although the Los Angeles band have leapt out of the sorrowful shadows that loomed over 2013’s Hummingbird, it seems that we’ll still be able to find dysfunction between the seams of their optimism. Those signature crescendos and vocal harmonies buoy Local Natives’ pleas for redemption on “Villainy” and “Past Lives”, while the band have made a determinedly positive statement against the United States’ political dystopia on “Fountain of Youth”. Local Natives surely have more silver-lined clouds in store for us, and soon we’ll find out just what they are. –Karen Gwee


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nick cave skeleton tree08. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Release date: September 9th

For decades, Nick Cave has explored what had seemed like the darkest depths of the human psyche, dealing in the rawest, most visceral emotions and music. Then, the tragic and unthinkable happened: Cave lost one of his children, his son, in a tragic accident at an early age. It should come as no surprise that his new album, his first with the Bad Seeds since 2013’s Push the Sky Away, reportedly digs even deeper. Skeleton Tree has been described as “a true testament to an artist trying to find his way through the darkness.” It’s telling that the label’s description uses the word “trying” — Cave never shies from showing the difficulties of life, and to pretend that he can wrap things in a pretty bow would deny the sad reality he now faces. If there was anyone who can shift pain into beauty, it’s this artist. –Lior Phillips


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danny brown atrocity exhibition07. Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition

Release date: September 30th

There may not be an inspiration list as unique as that of Detroit rapper Danny Brown for his upcoming Atrocity Exhibition. The long-awaited follow-up to 2013’s Old is reportedly influenced by Talking Heads, Joy Division, Björk, and System of a Down. Add features from Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, and Kelela and you’ve got the recipe for a real high-profile headscratcher. And yet the two previews of the record have absolutely worked, indicating a futurist head-rush of paranoia, claustrophobia, and distortion. –Adam Kivel


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wilco The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 201606. Wilco – Schmilco

Release date: September 9th

If we’re going by album titles alone, it might appear that Wilco were taking their lamely tagged dad rock peg a little too literally. Whether it was Wilco (The Album), Star Wars, or now Schmilco, the Chicago-based rock institution is one step away from wearing socks with sandals and sweatpants to dinner. Luckily, their music has not fallen into such IDGAF territory. Last year’s Star Wars was feisty and raw, displaying a band that was not willing to go quietly into the night, even opting for something completely of the moment in a surprise, free release. Schmilco gets a more proper unveiling, but Jeff Tweedy and co. are not set in their ways. No, they’re making music just as necessary as ever. –Philip Cosores

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 1.42.53 PM05. Beck – TBA

Release date: October 21st

“I’m so tired of being alone!” Beck sings on “Blue Moon”, a highlight from his 2015 stunner Morning Phase. On “Morning”, from that same album, he asks: “Won’t you show me the way it used to be?” Clearly, Beck was looking for a connection, and considering the Grammy he won for the record, he certainly found it. After that moment of yearning and tenderness, it would seem he’s ready to celebrate. The anthemic “Dreams” and the swagged-out “Wow” set the stage for upbeat experimentation and a return to some of the funk and hip-hop experimenting he’s done in the past. “Standing on the lawn doin’ jiu jitsu/ Girl in a bikini with the Lamborghini shih tzu,” he offers in the latter, a sign of exactly how far he is from Morning Phase and how much fun the as-yet-unnamed record should be. –Lior Phillips

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MIA-AIM-compressed04. M.I.A. – A.I.M.

Release date: September 9th

We’re three years removed since the release of M.I.A.’s criminally underrated fourth album, Matangi, six years since critics felt safe writing her off following Maya, and eight years since “Paper Planes” gained her global recognition, not to mention the second best-selling single in XL Recordings history. It’s interesting to look at all those timespans and think that for everything that has come along the way, be it a Super Bowl middle finger or tons of outspoken activism, the British rap titan has maintained a mystique equaled by few other artists. So with A.I.M., which she has said will be her last album, appearances from Skrillex and Diplo can’t overshadow another time peg for one of the most singular musicians of our time. It’s no accident that her album art reads “Uniting people since 2003.” –Philip Cosores


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Bon Iver03. Bon Iver – 22, A Million

Release date: September 30

We’ve gone five years without a new Bon Iver album, but in that time, Justin Vernon’s influence on modern music has remained inescapable. Flitting from collaborator to collaborator, Vernon has lent his voice to a range of projects, some that feel of a piece with Bon Iver (James Blake’s “I Need a Forest Fire”, for instance) and others that appear to exist on a different paradigm (Kanye West’s Yeezus). But as September ends, Bon Iver will take center stage with 22, A Million. The strange lyric videos of the two songs officially released so far and the head-scratcher song titles pose this third album as an inscrutable puzzle, but as this essay by band member Trevor Hagen reveals, 22, A Million might very well be Vernon’s most painful, powerful, and personal album yet. The world can hardly wait. –Karen Gwee

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metallica hardwired02. Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct

Release date: November 18th

Metallica built up enough good will that not even the absolute stinker and Lou Reed collaboration Lulu could quell the anticipation for their new album. Their first record on their own since 2008’s strong Death Magnetic sounds like it’ll get back to basics. As an early preview of Hardwired…To Self-Destruct, the thrashy “Hardwired” puts vocalist James Hetfield front and center, his vicious riffs and iconic venom leading the charge. This one’s been in the works for nearly three years, so there should be plenty more of the pummeling pace and razor-sharp guitar that metalheads have been craving. –Lior Phillips

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unnamed (11)01. Green Day – Revolution Radio

Release date: October 7th

There’s a viral Tumblr post that reads “You know we fucked up when Green Day had to come back with another political album.” Indeed, we last saw the Bay Area punk rockers a whole American election ago, and now they’re striding back into a modern music landscape inevitably informed by the particularly dangerous epic that is American politics today. “Bang Bang”, the single they’ve led with, doesn’t reinvent any musical wheels, but its urgent subject matter (the lyrics are written from the point of view of a mass shooter) makes it far more invigorated and specific than anything on their last triple release, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, ¡Tre!. Come October, Green Day won’t become the voice of a generation like they were with American Idiot, but they’ll still speak truth to power in their own solid, pop-punk way. –Karen Gwee

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