For reasons unclear to even the wisest amongst us, time continues to march onwards at an increasing trajectory, indifferent to your pleas. And thus we now find ourselves in the fall season, ever closer to orange-hued leaves and pumpkin lattes, ever closer to death’s final embrace.
But hey, at least there will be some cool new albums to stream! From bloodcurdling metal to Gucci Mane, here’s our picks for the best set of tunes to put between you and your impending existential crisis this fall.
American Dream, September 8
In case you’re still a little sore that James Murphy broke up your favorite band only to change his mind five years later (or you’re salty because tickets to LCD Soundsystem tend to sell out as soon as they go on sale), the band’s gorgeous new album American Dream is here to make you fall in love with them all over again. The time away from music has only sharpened Murphy’s one-liners (he deserves a Nobel Prize for the jab about “vape clowns”) as well as his as skill with slow bubbling grooves that eventually erupt into euphoria. It’s time to dance yourself clean once more.
The Hanged Man, September 8
It’s been seven years since Ted Leo, one of the most incisive songwriters of this century, released a solo album and by his own account, he’s “lived more in the last seven years than in the previous 20.” His new release The Hanged Man is more than worth the wait; he self-produced and is self-releasing the album, which finds him pushing his anthemic punk songwriting to soaring new heights and also crafting layered, symphonic ballads that suggest Elvis Costello as produced by ELO. The album explores personal and national trauma with empathy and insight from one of rock’s greatest humanists, suggesting the only way forward is together.
Sleep Well Beast, September 8
The poet-laureates of overeducated American ennui return with Sleep Well Beast. Their first album in four years is as enveloping as ever, but also finds the band deliberately spiking their established template, adding in unruly guitar solos, squawking keyboards and a looser, off-the-cuff feel that, in feral outbursts such as “Turtleneck,” get closer to thrash metal than you would have thought these guys would be capable of. But there’s plenty of wry, lovely ballads to be found as well, such as “Dark Side of the Gym.” As ever, Matt Berninger remains a sharp, mordantly funny chronicler of free-floating anxiety and hard-won grace.
Mr. Davis, September 15
Since his release from prison last year, Gucci Mane has been on such a hyper-productive tear that it was impossible to completely dismiss those rumors that he’s a clone, because how else could one man release the trillions of albums, mixtapes, loosies and streetwear apparel he’s given us in one year? Mr. Davis is his second “official” album of the year, and with guests such as Nicki Minaj, Migos and The Weeknd involved, it seems like Radric Davis wants to cement the pop radio breakthrough he made earlier this year when “Black Beatles,” his collaboration with Rae Sremmurd, topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. But even when he’s going for hits, Mane can only play things so straight, so expect plenty of his famous non sequiturs and sideways punchlines.
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
Thrice Woven, September 22
The Olympia, Washington trio Wolves in the Throne Room has become one of the most popular acts in extreme metal by ignoring the rules of an often hidebound scene. They’re black metal without the corpse-paint cosplay, taking the slow-build majesty of the Scandinavian scene and goosing it with thrash tempos, often lovely shoegazery atmospherics and the occasional choral breakdown or gently strummed folk guitar hook. Thrice Woven is their first album since 2014’s ambient-leaning Celestite and early indications find them leaning toward a more direct approach this time. Get thine head ready to bang!
Heaven Upside Down, September 29
You are hardly the only person who had quit paying attention to Marilyn Manson. No one would have guessed that Tyler Bates, aka the guy responsible for the Guardians of the Galaxy score, would be the one who would help Manson right the ship, but 2015’s The Pale Emperor was a beastly comeback, proving there is still some afterlife in the Antichrist Superstar’s industrial-strength swagger and that the guy can still be fun when he lightens up. The follow-up Heaven Upside Down finds him wisely teaming up again with Bates, and this time Manson has promised his most politically charged album yet. Based on this video, Trump diehards might take issue with Manson’s interpretation of the First Amendment. They wouldn’t be the first.
Now, September 29
Long before Taylor Swift crossed over from country to pop stardom, Shania Twain had America wondering just what it would take to impress her. Now is her first album in 15 years and her first release since splitting with former husband, former producer Mutt Lange. If her first single, “Today Is Your Day,” is any indication, Twain is scaling back from the arena-pop polish that made “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” so inescapable and returning to her homespun country roots. But don’t be surprised if the album spawns at least one world-conquering ear worm—or if Taylor tries to recruit her for the squad.
Colors, October 13
Back in a more innocent time, Beck promised that an upbeat follow-up to his Grammy-winning, quite beautiful-if-sedate 2014 album Morning Phase was in the immediate offering. Three years later, Beck is delivering on his promises, and we’ve healed enough from his betrayal (how dare he make us wait?) to give him another chance. Beck recorded the album with pop-whisperer Greg Kurstin, and if early singles like “Wow” and “Dreams” are any indication, we might be in for a 21st-century update of his Dadaist-funk classic Midnite Vultures. Sad Beck is great and all, but what the world needs now more than ever is Party Beck.
Reputation, November 10
Look, it is what it is with “Look What You Made Me Do.” And to clarify: what it is is pretty bad. But Swift has recovered from bad first impressions before (if you can remember back 1,000 years ago, people hated “Shake It Off” when it dropped), so it’s entirely possible “LWYMMD” will be prove to be a momentary blip on the way to another installment in one of the most impressive back-to-back-to-back runs of top-flight pop blockbusters in recent memory. Or maybe it’ll be tin-eared, ill-considered debacle that will make Katy Perry blush and Arcade Fire send a muffin basket. We just don’t know right now. But screw it, let’s speculate what it’ll sound like anyway! Will she go deeper into the millennial Madonna-isms of 1989? Go back to her country roots? Go full adult-contempo? Or will she go full-on Wagnerian doom metal, raining death on all who cross her? Based on her second single, “…Ready For It?”, it’s probably the last option.