Chelsea Wolfe, JPEGMAFIA, and 28 more albums we can’t wait to hear in September

With certainly a few surprises still to come—from SZA, perhaps?—September is already a huge month for new music. In hip-hop, we’re anticipating JPEGMAFIA’s return and Sampa The Great’s The Return, a cheekily titled debut. In indie and rock, heavy hitters like The New Pornographers and The Messthetics are back, as are Lower Dens, Vivian Girls, and Tegan And Sara. It’s a particularly strong season for electronic music, too, with new releases from M83, Helena Hauff, and Alessandro Cortini. From the twanging four-part harmonies of The Highwomen to a long-lost Miles Davis record, there’s something for everyone below. Here are 30 albums we can’t wait to hear in September.


September 6

Barker, Utility

Last year, Sam Barker’s ongoing quest to rethink dance-floor formulas produced Debiasing, a revelatory EP of immersive, emotive techno with nary a kick drum in sight. This month the Berghain resident returns to the club’s in-house label Ostgut Ton for his full-length debut as Barker, Utility, where he continues to blend the experimental with the pragmatic across nine “deeply psychedelic” tracks. Expect reverb-drenched modular-synth arrangements, patched directly into the pleasure center of your brain. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Bat For Lashes, Lost Girls

The cinematic streak that runs through Lost Girls, Natasha Khan’s fifth studio album under the name Bat For Lashes, is no accident. Following her last album, 2016’s The Bride, Khan moved from London to Los Angeles, where she figured she’d start over by composing music for TV and film. (The first song on Lost Girls, “Kids In The Dark,” was originally written for Hulu’s Castle Rock series.) Inspired by the ’80s movies whose locations she saw all around her in L.A.—this is a woman who once wrote a love song for Daniel from The Karate Kid, remember—Khan also started developing a script about a band of teenage vampires called The Lost Girls. But although she originally sat down to write music for the movie, before long Khan found she had a full LP of dreamy synth-pop songs on her hands, and Lost Girls the album was born. [Katie Rife]

Frankie Cosmos, Close It Quietly

Though billed as the fourth Frankie Cosmos album, over the past decade Greta Kline has put out, uh, a lot more music than that. Close It Quietly doesn’t see Frankie Cosmos breaking new ground as much as settling into being a band, one that has Kline’s compact songs at the front, but now sees the other members of the group more inclined to inject their own personality into those compositions. Songs like “Rings (On A Tree)” feature a more diverse rhythmic sense than the band has previously utilized, giving these lo-fi pop songs a propulsive spark that’s certainly welcome. [David Anthony]

Miles Davis, Rubberband 

When Miles Davis departed Columbia for Warner Bros. in the mid-’80s, Rubberband was planned as the first release for his new label. But he decided to shelve the project, and the shelf is where it sat for almost 35 years, before Davis’ nephew, Vince Wilburn Jr.—along with original producers Randy Hall and Zane Giles—completed the recording, now being released in its entirety. (The title track was released last year as part of an EP.) It’s soulful and funky, with guest appearances from R&B singers Ledisi and Lala Hathaway, and an obvious must-listen for fans of its legendary headliner. [Alex McLevy]

The Highwomen, The Highwomen

Separately, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby are each a country-music force unto themselves. Together, they are The Highwomen, a new supergroup that believes that if you’re going to dream, you might as well dream big. Foremost of the group’s goals is to kick in the glass ceiling of country radio, and they seem poised to do so with “Redesigning Women,” whose sweet harmonies and straightforward melody look back into country’s past while its empowering lyrics keep their eyes fixed on the future. Same for the group’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” which stays faithful to the original’s sound while adding angelic four-part harmonies. [Katie Rife]

Mykal Kilgore, A Man Born Black 

For years, Broadway has turned to Mykal Kilgore for his soulful timbre and his ability to masterfully (and powerfully) glide from note to note. With a voice that defies both genre and, at times, physics, Kilgore has flexed his chops in Book Of Mormon and NBC’s The Wiz Live!, reimagined the classics with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, and even fashioned U.S. Representative Maxine Water’s iconic reclamation of her time into a gospel-inspired meme. Now, he’s stepping into his own spotlight with his debut album A Man Born Black, an effort that promises shades of sleek R&B, heart-sinking blues, and authentic soul. [Shannon Miller]

Kindness, Something Like War

With a stage name like Kindness, you know that Adam Bainbridge is all about making people feel good. And now, after a five-year stint behind the boards collaborating with the likes of Solange and Blood Orange, they’re back out front with Something Like War, their third album under the Kindness name. Another Kindness friend and collaborator, Robyn, guests on “Cry Everything,” a soulful, disco-influenced dance-pop track that invites the listener to sweat it all out on the dance floor. One does wonder how they’ll pull off these layered electronic sounds with the four-piece band Bainbridge says they’re bringing on tour with them this fall. But a little Kindness, as we all know, can work miracles. [Katie Rife]

Lower Dens, The Competition

The Competition, Lower Dens’ first new album since 2015, has already ignited a bit of controversy. Lead single “Young Republicans,” a thrumming slice of synth-forward indie pop, was banned by a handful of radio programmers for having lyrics criticizing its namesake. Don’t expect songwriter Jana Hunter to dial things back, though—on Twitter, he described the album as being about “losing one’s mind living under capitalism.” Lower Dens couches that anxiety in big, cinematic pop songs, ones Hunter hopes can create “a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love” are possible. [Randall Colburn]

The Messthetics, Anthropocosmic Nest

The original selling point of The Messthetics was that it featured bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty, the pair that made up the backbone of the Washington D.C. institution Fugazi. But it was abundant from the jump that The Messthetics weren’t attempting to build on that shared lineage, as guitarist Anthony Pirog was a virtuosic player, the kind that made the band sound like if Joe Satriani was dropped into a nascent indie-rock band. On Anthropocosmic Nest, The Messthetics offer a batch of songs that feel more immediate than the ones on last year’s debut album, as if the musicians have fully locked in with one another and are only now hitting their stride. [David Anthony]

Mizmor, Cairn

It’s easy to retell Mizmor’s origin story when talking about Cairn. The project started when solo musician A.L.N. began to fall away from his Christian faith, and instead of creating extreme metal to disparage the god he once loved, he opted to make a blackened doom act that reflected the pain of that loss. Mizmor became a vehicle not to explore black-metal tropes, but to search for a life’s purpose, expressing the struggle inherent in that process. In many ways, Cairn feels like the end of that journey, as the four lengthy compositions offer a glimmer of hope amidst the thunderous, desolate riffs and A.L.N.’s anguished shrieks. Cairn is not another expression of A.L.N.’s personal struggles, but the sound of someone finally coming out the other side. [David Anthony]

Also due September 6: Oliver Coates & Spatial, Decouple ][ Series; Daphne Oram & Vera Gray, Listen Move And Dance; Sandro Perri, Soft Landing; Iggy Pop, Free; Tinariwen, Amadjar


September 9

Helena Hauff, Living With Ants

Just over a year after releasing her sophomore album, Qualm, Hamburg DJ and producer Helena Hauff is back with a new EP via her own label, Return To Disorder. Hauff is characteristically uninterested in overthinking things on Living With Ants: “Electro stuff, s alright, nothing more to say really,” is how she describes the four-song collection, and frankly, that’s much of the draw—just physical analog grooves. Though Hauff does seem to venture into appealingly spacier territory than expected on “Catso,” and that snippet of “Slim Filter” suggests it could be among her most memorable, melodic cuts to date. [Kelsey J. Waite]


September 13

Devendra Banhart, Ma 

The eponymous Ma on Devendra Banhart’s forthcoming album is none other than Venezuela, where the psychedelic folk artist (and Houston native) spent much of his childhood before moving to California. Released in July, “Abre Las Manos” wanders the Venezuelan countryside and cityscapes, visiting with Banhart’s relatives while chronicling the political and economic crisis in the South American nation: “Que porcentaje de gente con hambre / Es necesario que algo cambie.” Ma takes a few detours, though, most notably on lead single “Kantori Ongaku,” which translates to “country music” in Japanese and a reliably bizarre aesthetic in the accompanying video. [Danette Chavez]

Belle And Sebastian, Days Of The Bagnold Summer OST

The upcoming film adaptation of Joff Winterhart’s graphic novel is getting a full soundtrack of original music from Belle And Sebastian. Stuart Murdoch’s band of erudite popsters recorded 11 new songs for the movie, as well as new versions of “Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying” and “I Know Where The Summer Goes.” The group has dabbled in movie music before—a largely discarded soundtrack for Todd Solondz’s Storytelling; most of its members played on Murdoch’s concept album-turned-film God Help The Girl—so it’s well-suited for this type of thing, especially when it’s a coming-of-age story. Single “Sister Buddha” ventures into a swoony, lush groove that almost sounds like a Cranberries track. [Alex McLevy]

Charli XCX, Charli

More than most pop stars, Charli XCX has always had an experimental bent. As her last two mixtapes proved, she always has an eye on the future, bringing in ascendant musicians to collaborate on tracks while also reaching out to PC Music’s A.G. Cook to spearhead the production on them. The early singles from Charli are proof that Charli XCX’s third album is another step in her constant evolution. Be it mixing thick bass hits and unbridled hatred in the chorus of “Gone,” or tossing out a hook that sounds downright effortless on “Blame It On Your Love” before kicking it over to Lizzo to carry it home, every risk she takes lands, and Charli is all the better for it. [David Anthony]

Jenny Hval, The Practice Of Love

The Practice Of Love, Jenny Hval’s seventh studio album, finds the Norwegian novelist, producer, and musician opening up her writing process: to a “community of voices” (including Vivian Wang and Felicia Atkinson) and to the topic of love—“love as a practice, a vocation that one must continually work at.” The result is intimate, intuitive synth-pop inspired by ’90s trance music, with Hval delivering her half-spoken, half-sung poetics via frequently radiant melodies. See: the volant lead singles “Ashes To Ashes” and “High Alice.” [Kelsey J. Waite]

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JPEGMAFIA, All My Heroes Are Cornballs

JPEGMAFIA swears the follow-up to his 2018 breakout, Veteran, will be a big disappointment. Do we trust him? Not anymore than we can trust that new single “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot” wasn’t some sort of brain virus that he just gave us all. What we do know is that, following a slew of recent guest spots alongside the likes of Flume, Injury Reserve, and Channel Tres, the Baltimore rapper has lined up his own deep list of features for All My Heroes Are Cornballs, including the three aforementioned artists returning the favor, as well as James Blake, Jeff Tweedy, and Kenny Beats. Yeah, sure, that lineup has “disappointment” written all over it. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Pixies, Beneath The Eyrie

Pixies’ music won’t rattle your bones like it used to, but Black Francis and company still possess a keen sense of melody, the likes of which buoy shadowy new singles “On Graveyard Hill” and “Catfish Kate.” Beneath The Eyrie, the first LP from the post-punk legends since 2016’s Head Carrier, doubles down on its predecessor’s spooky vibes, delivering atmospheric, guitar-forward rock that burns with witches, crossroads, and bloody moonlit battles. Accompanying the album is a podcast, It’s A Pixies Podcast, that chronicles both the making of the album and the band’s legacy as it exists today. [Randall Colburn]

Sampa The Great, The Return 

“OMG” is right. Australian innovator Sampa The Great brews a heady potion on The Return, her debut album on the Ninja Tune label. (Yes, she named her debut The Return.) Sampa came up in Sydney’s jazz and hip-hop scenes, and her music is informed by the flexibility and innovation that feeds those two styles, paired with the traditional rhythms of Botswana, where Sampa grew up. The result is exhilarating and innovative, a bracing rejoinder to the cynics who think there’s nothing new under the sun. Sampa The Great has arrived and returned all at once, twisting the fourth dimension in her wizardly quest to bring the world a mind-bending good time. [Katie Rife]

(Sandy) Alex G, House Of Sugar

(Sandy) Alex G is that rare artist whose music is both wholly distinctive and relentlessly adventurous. Whether he’s mumbling over banjo plucks, strumming an acoustic guitar, or blowing a saxophone, you know you’re listening to Alex Giannascoli. Breezy singles like “Southern Sky” and “Gretel” evoke the songwriter’s folkier tendencies, while a cut like “Near,” with its chunky, modulated vocals and skittering drum machine, represents House Of Sugar’s digital, more experimental side. As is often the case with a (Sandy) Alex G record, you’re engaging with an artist who refuses to ignore his peripatetic whims. [Randall Colburn]

Chelsea Wolfe, Birth Of Violence

Birth Of Violence is Chelsea Wolfe’s “back to the land” record, an unexpected return to her acoustic roots following her 2017 sludge-metal outing Hiss Spun. But don’t fret: Just because Wolfe is sitting still for a little while doesn’t mean she’s lost her edge. Nature is full of fearsome, primal darkness as well as sunshine and butterflies, and Wolfe rides in on thunder, lightning, and pagan imagery in “The Mother Road,” the album’s lead single. A press release for the record takes a similar philosophical tack, describing Birth Of Violence as “an internal awakening of feminine energy, a connection to the maternal spirit of the Earth, and a defiant stance against the destructive and controlling forces of a greedy and hostile patriarchy.” Sounds pretty fucking metal to us. [Katie Rife]

Also due September 13: Alex Cameron, Miami Memory; Chastity, Home Made Satan; KAZU, Adult Baby; The Lumineers, III; Metronomy, Metronomy Forever; Mike Patton & Jean-Claude Vannier, Corpse Flower; Gruff Rhys, Pang!; Tiny Moving Parts, Breathe


September 20

Chastity Belt, Chastity Belt

Chastity Belt learns to trust itself on its self-titled fourth album, the Seattle indie rockers’ third on label Hardly Art. After a six-month break for its members to tend to their personal projects as well as their physical and mental health, Chastity Belt came back together for a series of at-home sessions before handing the result over to producer Melina Duterte, a.k.a. Jay Som. The result is the group’s lushest, most tender, most introspective album yet, informed by the deep bonds of friendship that have formed over Chastity Belt’s nine years together as a band. [Katie Rife]

Fitz And The Tantrums, All The Feels

Those who saw the band on tour this summer already got a taste of the music from Fitz And The Tantrums’ forthcoming album, All The Feels. The bombastic electronic pop group deliver on the comprehensive promise of that title with a sprawling, 17-track behemoth that looks to touch on nearly everything under the sun. The four singles they’ve released ahead of the album suggest the group is in no danger of losing its uplifting, get-on-the-floor-and-dance vibe any time soon, though the breadth and scope of the new record suggests a band stretching the boundaries of its previous sound. [Alex McLevy]

Brittany Howard, Jaime 

Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard took a break from her Grammy-winning band to create Jaime, her debut solo album. Named after her late sister, Jaime will easily be Howard’s most vulnerable work yet as she soulfully mines her small-town past, from encounters with racism to processing her sexuality. “Stay High,” a sway-inducing tribute to her father and the second song Howard has released from the album, is coated in all the bluesy warmth that has made Howard and Alabama Shakes so essential over the years. Fans should steady themselves not just for her funk-infused growl or whatever spell she plans to cast with her guitar, but also unadulterated honesty. [Shannon Miller]

M83, DSVII

In 2007, M83 dropped Digital Shades Vol. 1, an album of ambient-adjacent tracks that, by virtue of its title, promised more instrumental experiments were on the way. Well, it took 12 years, but here it is. The fully analog album is described as having been “influenced heavily by early video game soundtracks, ’80s sci-fi/fantasy films, and analog synth pioneers” like Brian Eno, Suzanne Ciani, and John Carpenter, which sounds about right for the artists behind wonderful, nostalgic LPs like Junk and Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. On Twitter, frontman Anthony Gonzalez described it thusly: “With DSVII, I wanted to come back with something stronger that featured the depth of a proper studio album without the pressure of providing pop music.” In lieu of any pre-release singles, peep the album’s full list of influences here. [Randall Colburn]

Vivian Girls, Memory

The reverb smothers like a soft, slightly bristly blanket on “Sick,” the first new single from Vivian Girls in eight years; ecstatic, lovely, and timeless, it’s almost as if this fourth LP were nipping at the heels of 2011’s Share The Joy. But they did break up, exhausted by the toxic attitudes that swarmed the indie landscape around the turn of the ’10s, when internet trolls were just beginning to find their voice. Now, with each member having spent nearly a decade refining their own projects—Katy Goodman’s La Sera, Cassie Ramone’s Babies, and Ali Koehler’s Upset—they’re back and, as they put it to Rolling Stone, “coming out swinging.” The attitude and energy are evident, not just on “Sick” but also on follow-up single “Something To Do,” which might be one of the best songs they’ve ever released. [Randall Colburn]

Also due September 20: Pieta Brown, Freeway; Efterklang, Altid Sammen; Fly Pan Am, C’est Ca; Hiss Golden Messenger, Terms Of Surrender; Loraine James, For You And I; Fumio Miyashita, Wave: Sounds Of The Universe; Trentemøller, Obverse; Zac Brown Band, The Owl


September 21

The Thurston Moore Group, Spirit Counsel

Never one to follow a safe or predictable muse, Thurston Moore’s newest is an ambitious three-CD boxset that sees the former Sonic Youth guitarist trying out a variety of bold sonic experiments, with electronic musician Jon “Wobbly” Leidecker joining the lineup in the studio. The first disc’s noise guitar rave-ups are a tribute of sorts to jazz singers; the second boasts a whopping 12 guitarists working in tandem to craft its more orchestral sound; and the last is Moore’s personal homage to his late mentor, avant-garde composer Glenn Branca. The release also includes a 20-page book of photos and writings by Moore, so get ready to set aside some serious time for this thing. [Alex McLevy]


September 27

Alessandro Cortini, Volume Massimo

You can take the title of Alessandro Cortini’s new solo LP at its word: Volume Massimo scales the Nine Inch Nail keyboardist’s analog synth wizardry outward to maximum pop appeal. Cortini’s experimental sensibilities are still very much intact, but his keen sense of melody comes to the fore in rich, emotive arrangements, many of which feature guitar work. Singles “Amore Amaro” and “Batticuore” both follow a gradual panoramic build, from guttural subs to towering psych textures. [Kelsey J. Waite]

The New Pornographers, In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights

Whether or not it is in fact a concept album, In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights represents The New Pornographers’ offer of musical refuge in these trying times. The follow-up to the band’s “bubblegum krautrock record,” 2017’s Whiteout Conditions, contains multitudes: The starry-eyed lead single, “Falling Down The Stairs Of Your Smile,” is an unabashed love song, while “The Surprise Knock” is vintage New Pornographers sound, all bounding keys and vibrant harmonies. Just don’t call it a throwback—not to A.C. Newman’s face, anyway. [Danette Chavez]

Tegan And Sara, Hey, I’m Just Like You

While most of us would prefer not to revisit our adolescence, Tegan And Sara are doubling down on the retrospective works this September—the indie pop duo is accompanying the publication of their joint memoir, High School, with Hey, I’m Just Like You, an album full of re-recordings of unused demos the twin sisters wrote as teens. But don’t expect some LiveJournal entries set to great synth beats: Tegan And Sara have rewritten some of the lyrics and worked with Alex Hope to put together a collection as polished as it is earnest. Just listen to “I’ll Be Back Someday,” which is full of the kind of unremitting hope you only have while you’re still part of roll call, delivered with the duo’s glowing vocals. [Danette Chavez]

Young M.A, Herstory In The Making

Brooklyn rapper Young M.A is finally unveiling her debut studio LP this month, three years after the release of triple-platinum single “Ooouuu” made her a seemingly omnipresent figure in hip-hop. While listeners shouldn’t expect too radical a change in her topics of discussion—presumably women, sex, money, and power will still feature prominently—she has said the record is dedicated to the memory of her brother, who died from gun violence a decade prior, and involves her opening up in a far more personal manner. [Alex McLevy]

Also due September 27: Laurie Anderson, Jesse Paris Smith, and Tenzin Choegyal, Songs From The Bardo; Moon Duo, Stars Are The Light; Opeth, In Cauda Venenum; Telefon Tel Aviv, Dreams Are Not Enough

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