Bright Eyes, The Killers, and 19 more albums we can’t wait to hear in August

From left: Alicia Bognanno of Bully (Photo: Scott Legato/Getty Images), Katy Perry (Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images), Aminé (Photo: Burak Cingi/Getty Images), Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes (Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
From left: Alicia Bognanno of Bully (Photo: Scott Legato/Getty Images), Katy Perry (Photo: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images), Aminé (Photo: Burak Cingi/Getty Images), Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes (Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

We may be in the dog days of summer, but 2020’s list of great new music isn’t slowing down in the least. All the way from rapper Aminé to singer Zella Day, there are great albums coming out in August that we can’t wait to get our hands on. (Yes, we’re mostly ordering the vinyl online these days, but consider doing it through your local record store to support small businesses.) This isn’t a comprehensive list of the month’s new releases—just the ones we’re most excited to hear.

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Aminé, Limbo [Aug. 7]

Aminé, Limbo [Aug. 7]

Animated Portland rapper Aminé has been working on his upcoming album Limbo for years, penning tracks between his many travels. “I haven’t really gone this in-depth with my music in a while, so it feels good,” the “Caroline” performer said in a 2019 interview with Bandwagon. Though he was hesitant back then to give too much insight into the forthcoming release, he’s since shared three laid-back tracks from the collection—“Shimmy,” “RiRi,” and Young Thug collab “Compensating.” The through-line that connects all three is a West Coast ease that billows with confidence. [Shannon Miller]

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Jason Molina, Eight Gates [Aug. 7]

Jason Molina, Eight Gates [Aug. 7]

Jason Molina was nothing if not prolific. Not yet 40 when he died in 2013 due to complications related to alcoholism, the singer-songwriter left behind a vast catalog of work, both under his own name and Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. Recorded in 2008 while he was living in London, Eight Gates assembles nine previously unheard tracks. While Molina embraced a fuller sound as his career progressed, these songs are spare and moody—with the occasional whispers of drums and low organ hums—placing Molina’s plaintive, elegiac tenor at their center. [Laura Adamczyk]

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The Microphones, Microphones In 2020 [Aug. 7]

The Microphones, Microphones In 2020 [Aug. 7]

“The name it has been called has never mattered much to me,” Phil Elverum writes in the press notes for Microphones In 2020. But it does matter to Elverum’s fans, which is why a concert impulsively thrown under his old moniker in 2019 caused such a stir online. That eventually led to Microphones In 2020, Elverum’s first album as The Microphones since 20003’s Mount Eerie. And as one might expect from a seasoned purveyor of experimental lo-fi indie pop, the album takes a somewhat unconventional form: One long, swelling track that ebbs and flows between ragged guitar feedback and fractured snippets of melody, a dreamlike, immersive experience that greets the listener like an old friend. [Katie Rife]

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June Of 44, Revisionist: Adaptations & Future Histories In The Time Of Love And Survival [Aug. 7]

June Of 44, Revisionist: Adaptations & Future Histories In The Time Of Love And Survival [Aug. 7]

Oh, hey, no biggie, just a 21-year gap in between albums. Two decades is a long time to harbor regrets about a recording, but that’s apparently the driving factor behind legendary Chicago post-rock supergroup June Of 44’s decision to reunite and completely rework songs from its previous studio release, 1999’s Anahata. The band’s new album is about reimagining and delivering a brand-new collection of material that never satisfied them in the original iterations—and if it all sounds as compelling as “Rerecorded Syntax,” the revised version of “Recorded Syntax,” then hopefully this signals the start of a new chapter. [Alex McLevy]

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Alison Mosshart, Sound Wheel [Aug. 7]

Alison Mosshart, Sound Wheel [Aug. 7]

The howling soul of rock duo The Kills and supergroup The Dead Weather, Alison Mosshart has spent much of the past 20 years on the road. So, while quarantine has been an adjustment for the musician, it’s been no less productive: In addition to releasing a pair of haunting solo jams, she’s also unleashing her first spoken-word album, Sound Wheel, described as an ode to “cars, rock n’ roll, and love”—the holy trinity of Mosshart’s brand of elemental Americana. Preview track “Returning The Screw” is evidence that, even when she’s not singing, Mosshart’s voice is raw, powerful, and alluring. [Cameron Scheetz]

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Jacob Collier, Djesse Vol. 3 [Aug. 14]

Jacob Collier, Djesse Vol. 3 [Aug. 14]

Jacob Collier’s four-volume compendium, Djesse, is a sprawling flex for an artist who refuses to exist solely within one genre. Where volume one soared with orchestral jazz and the follow-up swayed with bucolic folk, the third installment is sure to pivot rather sharply into a groovy, occasionally chaotic blend of R&B, house, EDM, funk, and pop. A tout-worthy list of collaborators—T-Pain, Mahalia, Rapsody, and Tori Kelly, just to name a few—emphasize Collier’s ability to meld his sound against any sonic backdrop, making this one of his most exciting ventures yet. [Shannon Miller]

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Young Jesus, Welcome To Conceptual Beach [Aug. 14]

Young Jesus, Welcome To Conceptual Beach [Aug. 14]

Searching, meditative, hushed—there are a lot of adjectives that could be piled on Welcome To Conceptual Beach, the new album from L.A.-based Young Jesus, but “inviting” might be the most succinct. The record’s sprawling, organic post-rock vibe is dedicated to letting listeners join the band’s emotional soundscapes, exploring feelings both raw and gentle in a way that feels like a collective call to musical communion. That all may sound a bit hokey, but Young Jesus’ heart-on-sleeve approach to deceptively laid-back instrumentation holds hidden depths. [Alex McLevy]

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Bright Eyes, Down In The Weeds Where The World Once Was [Aug. 21]

Bright Eyes, Down In The Weeds Where The World Once Was [Aug. 21]

Emerging after nearly a decade, Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst and bandmates Nathaniel Wolcott and Mike Mogis) sounds like a group of old friends reconnecting after a lengthy absence. Down In The Weeds… finds the band synthesizing disparate elements of its past work (orchestral swoons, fluttering electronic percussion, piping horns, and more) to deliver another ambitious record still based in the folk-rock origins of Oberst’s earliest work, but with blues, jazz, and whatever other stylistic flourishes that caught their fancy thrown into the mix. It makes for a heady slice of bombastic Americana—it’s nice to have them back. [Alex McLevy]

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Bully, Sugaregg [Aug. 21]

Bully, Sugaregg [Aug. 21]

God bless Bully. Alicia Bognanno and company found their ideal fusion of scrappy, noisy rock and proceeded to spend the subsequent years perfecting it, each album evolving a little closer to the platonic ideal of Bully’s raucous, rousing anthems. The new record, Sugaregg, looks to broaden the scope—some poppier hooks here, some slower rhythms there—while adding a looser, richer palette of production techniques that was missing from the elemental and claustrophobic vibe of 2017’s Losing. All of which is to say, hey, it’s a new Bully album, and maybe the finest one yet. [Alex McLevy]

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Erasure, The Neon [Aug. 21]

Erasure, The Neon [Aug. 21]

Erasure beckons fans to the space disco with The Neon, the duo’s 18th full-length album and the follow-up to 2017’s World Be Gone (and its 2018 re-recording, World Beyond). The Neon marks a return to synths and dance club for Andy Bell and Vince Clarke, who once again espouse a message of love and hope in challenging times. “Shot A Satellite” is an especially rousing number, a tale of interstellar love set to a thumping disco beat. [Danette Chavez]

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Old 97’s, Twelfth [Aug. 21]

Old 97’s, Twelfth [Aug. 21]

If you’re not content with Rhett Miller’s ongoing series of at-home concerts, there’s now a new Old 97’s album to look forward to. The aptly named Twelfth (for the band’s twelfth studio album) finds Miller and the boys—Murry Hammond, Ken Bethea, and Philip Peeples—jamming once more, breaking up ruminations on past relationships and mistakes with guitar riffs and a head-bopping backbeat. “Turn Off The TV” works as a mid-pandemic breather, encouraging people to step away from their glowing screens. [Danette Chavez]

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Secret Machines, Awake In The Brain Chamber [Aug. 21]

Secret Machines, Awake In The Brain Chamber [Aug. 21]

It’s about time Secret Machines got back together. The band’s unique blend of psych-rock, slowcore, and arena-ready anthems carried it through the first decade of the 21st century, even as the band grew more restless and experimental with each release. But now, returning after a lengthy hiatus, the group sounds more inspired than ever; the record may address some heavy topics (founding member Benjamin Curtis died of lymphoma in 2013), but the music is positively stratospheric in its soaring melodies and ethereal appeal. [Alex McLevy]

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The Front Bottoms, In Sickness & In Flames [Aug. 21]

The Front Bottoms, In Sickness & In Flames [Aug. 21]

The stalwart slacker poets of The Front Bottoms are all about “positive and creative energy” on In Sickness & In Flames, the follow-up to 2017’s existential (and excellent) Going Grey. An album that aims to “celebrate life” and “purge angst,” it’s been teased with singles that burst at the seams with Brian Sella’s blunt, reflective lyrics. “Camouflage” sounds like someone trying to talk themselves out of a mental breakdown, while “Montgomery Forever” and “Everyone Blooms” destruct the past and embrace the future, respectively. “My attitude, my outlook,” Sella sings on the latter, “I realize now it matters.” It’s a lesson you’re never too old to learn. [Randall Colburn]

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The Killers, Imploding The Mirage [Aug. 21]

The Killers, Imploding The Mirage [Aug. 21]

The Killers have never shied away from a little self-mythologizing, and moving from the decadent neon desert of Las Vegas to the holy hills of Utah can’t stop frontman Brandon Flowers from producing the bombastic, stadium-worthy melodies that made him famous. Imploding The Mirage is an expansive record, steeped in both the thrill of romance and the simple joy of just being alive; if you’re looking for a soundtrack that will make your weekly trips to the grocery store seem like a heroic journey, look no further. [Katie Rife]

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The Lemon Twigs, Songs For The General Public [Aug. 21]

The Lemon Twigs, Songs For The General Public [Aug. 21]

Prolific Long Island brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario, better known as The Lemon Twigs, now unfurl album number three despite being barely out of their teens. While their last release was extremely specific (a concept album told from the perspective of a chimp raised as a human), Songs For The General Public goes the opposite route, with one universally appealing pop confection after another. “The One” and “Live In Favor Of Tomorrow” offer sprightly sounds reminiscent of the sweetest bands from the ’60s British invasion. But “Moon” is an epic ’70s rock ode, right next door to Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell” and across the street from Springsteen’s “Thunder Road,” displaying youthful insecurities against the height of the Twigs’ impressive theatricality: “We resent those who know who they want to be.” [Gwen Ihnat]

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Disclosure, ENERGY [Aug. 28]

Disclosure, ENERGY [Aug. 28]

During the EDM explosion of the 2010s, brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence rose above all the (head-throbbingly loud) noise with a pair of soulful dance records in Settle and Caracal. After a hiatus, the duo returns this year with Disclosure’s third album, ENERGY, which promises to be another rousing, thoughtful tour through eclectic house and world music sounds, this time bringing rap into the fold. Reliably, Disclosure’s latest comes with another impressive guest roster of artists like Kelis, Common, Syd, and Aminé. [Cameron Scheetz]

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Metallica, S&M 2 [Aug. 28]

Metallica, S&M 2 [Aug. 28]

Merging one kind of pit with another, 1999’s S&M immortalized Metallica’s two-night stint with the San Francisco Symphony—a collaboration that gave the band’s already stadium-scaled thrash some extra orchestral oomph (and spawned a new hit, “No Leaf Clover”). Now comes the sequel, recorded during a pair of anniversary shows last fall; new symphonic renditions of tracks from the last few albums sit alongside a bunch of classics that already appeared on the first S&M. Sad but true: Those wondering what Lulu sounds like with a full string section behind it will have to keep wondering. [A.A. Dowd]

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Katy Perry, Smile [Aug. 28]

Katy Perry, Smile [Aug. 28]

So far, the best songs off of pop queen Katy Perry’s new album, Smile, appear to be breakup-related: The cheeky “Small Talk” (a bonus track) traces the path from “strangers to lovers to strangers,” while the irresistible hooks of “Never Really Over” capture the inevitable second-guessing that comes at the end of a relationship (“Oh we were such a mess / But wasn’t it the best?”). While some of the already released tracks (like “Harleys In Hawaii” and the title song) fail to display any all-important earworms enough to be truly memorable, Pride anthem “Daisies” gets a welcome jolt from its club mix version (also available as a bonus track on the fan edition). [Gwen Ihnat]

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Samia, The Baby [Aug. 28]

Samia, The Baby [Aug. 28]

When music venues safely reopen, Samia’s fans will be ready and rarin’ to belt every lyric off The Baby right back at her. The rising songwriter’s debut LP follows singles like “Paris” and “Ode To Artifice” and comes packed with wry, relatable insights into body image, sex, and confrontation. The Baby’s 11 songs oscillate between hushed ballads (“Is There Something In The Movies”) and cathartic, pop-tinged stompers (“Fit N Full”), highlighting the range of the singer’s piercing vocals. [Randall Colburn]

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Zella Day, Where Does The Devil Hide EP [Aug. 28]

Zella Day, Where Does The Devil Hide EP [Aug. 28]

The new EP from Zella Day looks to embrace the retro sounds of sun-dappled pop history: smoldering torch songs, bouncing disco, Laurel Canyon grooves, and more. The five-song release is like a jukebox time capsule, all held together by Day’s warm vocals, sounding like a combination of Linda Ronstadt and Belinda Carlisle. It may not be the full-length album we’d prefer, but this EP, produced with lush arrangements by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, will have to tide us over in the meantime. [Alex McLevy]

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Angel Olsen, Whole New Mess [Aug. 28]

Angel Olsen, Whole New Mess [Aug. 28]

Those who fell in love with the rich, multilayered arrangements provided by the 14-piece orchestra on 2019’s All Mirrors (count us among the fans) might be startled by what they find here: Angel Olsen’s latest album is the original incarnation of that record, a spare and haunting collection of those songs (plus two not included on All Mirrors), made with just a couple guitars and her stirring, soulful voice. Consider it the raw nerve that eventually healed and grew into that previous masterwork; yet from the sound of first single “Whole New Mess,” this has the potential to be even more powerful. [Alex McLevy]

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