Bruce Springsteen, BLACKPINK, and 23 more albums we can’t wait to hear in October

Clockwise from left: Gorillaz’ Noodles (Image: Panasonic Jaguar Racing via Getty Images), Westside Gunn (Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images via Getty Images), Bruce Springsteen (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rainforest Fund), BLACKPINK (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella)
Clockwise from left: Gorillaz’ Noodles (Image: Panasonic Jaguar Racing via Getty Images), Westside Gunn (Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images via Getty Images), Bruce Springsteen (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rainforest Fund), BLACKPINK (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

As the leaves turn and we all brace ourselves for the deafening roar of noise that will constitute daily life in the final month before America’s presidential election, it’s nice to know that we can pop on some headphones and find respite in the upcoming swell of great new music arriving in October. From big names like the return of the Boss (E Street Band by his side) to the gentle holiday twang of Dolly Parton; from all-caps attacks in the form of frenetic K-pop thumpers BLACKPINK to the furious noise assault of METZ; and from the stirring hip-hop of Westside Gunn to the understated beats of Open Mike Eagle, here are the albums we’re most excited to hear in the coming days.

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Aloe Blacc, All Love Everything [October 2]

Aloe Blacc, All Love Everything [October 2]

Best known for his R&B-pop single “The Man” and his Avicii collaboration “Wake Me Up,” Aloe Blacc is back with his first album in seven years. On the three tracks available before All Is Love’s release, it’s clear Blacc’s sound has softened a bit in that time. The driving beats of his earlier work have given way to more mellow vibes akin to John Legend (as on the piano ballad “I Do”) and Andy Grammar (on the “you can do it”-messaged “Hold On”) or Sam Smith (on the falsetto-laded “My Way”). Blacc may have lost a little of his edge with age, but who hasn’t? Now, instead of vibing to his tracks before a night out, we can vibe to them on a lazy morning. [Patrick Gomez]

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BLACKPINK, The Album [October 2]

BLACKPINK, The Album [October 2]

It’s always a big deal when South Korean girl phenomenon BLACKPINK releases new music, but the long-awaited arrival of The Album is an especially momentous occasion: It’s the group’s first full-length album since its debut over four years ago. When you consider how much they’ve accomplished in that time— for instance, becoming the first female K-pop act to headline Coachella and garnering high-profile collaborations with pop tentpoles like Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez—the wait seems unthinkable. But if boisterous summer jams like “How You Like That” are any indication of what’s to come, the wait will be worth it. [Shannon Miller]

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Death Valley Girls, Under The Spell Of Joy [October 2]

Death Valley Girls, Under The Spell Of Joy [October 2]

Now that dropping out of society and living off the grid seems like a good idea again, can we admit that some of those ’70s flower-child communes made some pretty good tunes? Death Valley Girls are certainly feeling the apocalyptic vibes, recruiting a children’s choir to give new album Under The Spell Of Joy just that little extra cult-like touch. Group member Bonnie Bloomgarden describes the record as “space-gospel,” blending DVG’s sinister fuzzed-out psychedelia with ecstatic, chanted choruses that evoke glassy-eyed singalongs by a desert bonfire. [Katie Rife]

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Dolly Parton, A Holly Dolly Christmas [October 2]  

Dolly Parton, A Holly Dolly Christmas [October 2]  

One might argue October 2 is too early to celebrate the holidays, but 2020 has been a big lump of coal—can’t we open one present early? Leave it to our nation’s great unifier, the Queen Of Country Dolly Parton, to deliver a much-needed pre-yuletide gift: Her first Christmas album in 30 years. Featuring duets with Willie Nelson, Miley Cyrus, and more, A Holly Dolly Christmas will put Parton’s Smoky Mountain sparkle on some holiday favorites, and offer up a stocking full of originals too. Dolly really is the gift that keeps on giving. [Cameron Scheetz]

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Elvis Perkins, Creation Myths [October 2]

Elvis Perkins, Creation Myths [October 2]

Elvis Perkins is best known for ballads that cut to the lonesome bone, but Perkins is chasing a more idiosyncratic muse on his latest full-length Creation Myths. Like his fellow soundtrack composer Joe Wong, Perkins’ attention is currently turned toward lush, symphonic retro-pop, but his particular take is less sunny and more of a dusty velvet armchair in an abandoned Parisian apartment that’s sat untouched since its owner died in 1946. That is to say, the Tom Waits-meets-Ray Davies vibes are strong on this nine-song set, building on Perkins’ signature alt-folk ache. [Katie Rife]

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Fitz And The Tantrums, Live In Chicago [October 2]

Fitz And The Tantrums, Live In Chicago [October 2]

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of first album Pickin’ Up The Pieces, Fitz And The Tantrums goes back to the beginning with a live version of that debut. Live In Chicago features 11 tracks previously aired on the Palladia Network (now MTV Live) as well as six previously unreleased performances recorded in 2011 over two nights at Metro. Fitz Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs’ vocals mix well with their brass band on fan favorites like “L.O.V.” and “Moneygrabber”—plus, who doesn’t want a little taste of live music right now? [Patrick Gomez]

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Shamir, Shamir [October 2]

Shamir, Shamir [October 2]

Shamir has always delivered insightful, infectious music for the introvert crowd, but not since his 2015 debut Ratchet has his brand of bedroom pop been quite this danceable. Infectious singles like “On My Own” and “Other Side” find ways to filter anthemic rock and country flair (respectively) through his unique, lo-fi perspective. The self-titled album looks to reintroduce the innovative artist as a party-starter—even if it is a “party for one”—and assert his position as one of the most exciting young voices working today. [Cameron Scheetz]

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Westside Gunn, Who Made The Sunshine [October 2]

Westside Gunn, Who Made The Sunshine [October 2]

Few artists have had as prolific a year as Westside Gunn, who is set to drop his third release of 2020 (who is he, Robert Pollard?) with Who Made The Sunshine, the rapper’s debut for Shady Records. Both previous releases, Pray For Paris and Flygod Is An Awesome God II, were bursting with inventiveness, skittering trap beats, and his signature treble-heavy flow, making enthusiasm for his latest feel as expected as a guest appearance from the rest of Gunn’s Griselda crew. [Alex McLevy]

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METZ, Atlas Vending [October 9]

METZ, Atlas Vending [October 9]

Ferocious post-hardcore trio METZ has always sounded like a band on the verge of spontaneously combusting, in a good way: The explosive bursts of noise paired with throbbing rhythms and Alex Edkins’ hollered-from-the-rafters vocals are a potent mix, blending Shellac-like intensity with sinewy melodies and a jagged, almost math-like sense of pacing. The band has slowly expanded its sonic palette with each successive album, and while there’s no denying the group’s primary setting is still full-steam-ahead rock, a sense of thoughtful experimentation penetrates the singles from upcoming fourth album Atlas Vending. [Alex McLevy]

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Slow Pulp, Moveys [October 9]

Slow Pulp, Moveys [October 9]

Chicago’s Slow Pulp is only just now releasing its debut album, three years into the band’s existence, but Moveys makes the case for being worth the wait. The band’s fusion of shoegaze, psychedelia, and Laurel Canyon-esque rock—all united by singer Emily Massey’s airy, ethereal vocals—creates a heady and intoxicating vibe of downtempo beauty. And when the group does kick up the intensity, on jangly indie-rock jams like “At It Again,” it proves equally adept, making for a record that can score late-night reflections and lazy Sunday afternoons alike without missing a beat. [Alex McLevy]

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Touché Amoré, Lament [October 9] 

Touché Amoré, Lament [October 9] 

It’s been four years since Touché Amoré’s Stage Four, a record suffused with grief and frustration, recounting as it did singer Jeremy Bolm’s experience watching his mother’s battle with cancer. And while the group’s high-octane hardcore still retains all its pummeling, four-on-the-floor punk energy, a newfound sense of exploration is in the air of Lament, incorporating elements of shoegaze, noise, pop-punk, and more, all filtered through the band’s anthemic sense of songcraft. It’s mosh pit-ready music that also allows for moments of lighters-in-the-air catharsis. [Alex McLevy]

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NCT 2020, The 2nd Album RESONANCE Pt. 1 [October 12]

NCT 2020, The 2nd Album RESONANCE Pt. 1 [October 12]

You very, very rarely see all of NCT, SM Entertainment’s growing multi-unit collective, in one place. With Resonance Pt. 1, members of NCT 127, younger unit NCT Dream, and Chinese pop outfit WayV (along with newest additions Shotaro and Sungchan) will converge on a single album for the first time since 2018’s Empathy. We’re inclined to expect more of the experimental noise pop that has set them apart for so long, but considering how much each performer has grown as artists—both within and outside of their respective groups—there really is no telling what we’re about to get… and that’s truly exciting. [Shannon Miller]

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Helena Deland, Someone New [October 16]

Helena Deland, Someone New [October 16]

Straddling the line between spare guitar folk music and ethereal synth-pop, Helena Deland stands out from the crowded field of similar artists by crafting music that maintains an unsettling aura, like the sort of sounds you’d hear emanating from the Bang Bang Bar in Twin Peaks. She still has a way with catchy, hummable melodies, but on this evocative debut album, the Montreal-based musician applies her breathy, youthful voice to songs that are just as likely to keep you up at night as soundtrack your end-of-week masked trips to the liquor store. [Alex McLevy]

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Open Mike Eagle, Anime, Trauma And Divorce [October 16]

Open Mike Eagle, Anime, Trauma And Divorce [October 16]

For his sixth solo album, quick-witted rapper Open Mike Eagle digs into the intensely personal pain of his recent past, as opposed to the larger nostalgia-laced scale of 2017’s Brick Body Kids Still Daydream. “I made a bunch of painful rap songs and Jacknife Lee was kind enough to help me make good music out of them,” Eagle said when he announced the album, noting the producer helped shepherd these 12 tracks to completion. If leadoff single “Bucciarati” is any indication, his jazzy, understated flow will once more find an expressive and compelling musical accompaniment. [Alex McLevy]

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Tomberlin, Projections [October 16]

Tomberlin, Projections [October 16]

The hazy, sepia-toned songs of Sarah Beth Tomberlin washed like fog over fans of her 2018 debut, At Weddings. Projections, an EP consisting of four original songs and a gorgeous cover of Casiotone For The Painfully Alone’s “Natural Light,” feels more immediate in early singles like “Hours” and “Wasted,” confident cuts that interrogate relationships old and new. Alex “G” Giannascoli produced the EP alongside bandmate Sam Acchione, working with Tomberlin to augment her sound with rhythmic waves of percussion and guitar lines that cycle round like autumn leaves in a whirlpool. [Randall Colburn]

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Bruce Springsteen, Letter To You [October 23]

Bruce Springsteen, Letter To You [October 23]

Just when we could all use a vital dose of hope, Bruce Springsteen delivers with the stirring title track to his upcoming 20th album Letter To You, an allegory for the heartfelt songwriting he’s delivered for decades. And just try not get chills when the 71-year-old proudly proclaims “I’m alive” in the similarly triumphant “Ghosts.” With keys and guitar chords that would fit right in on Darkness On The Edge Of Town, this much-anticipated new release will include nine new tracks and three ’70s standbys, all recorded live in Springsteen’s home studio with the similarly ageless E Street Band over the course of only five days. [Gwen Ihnat]

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Gorillaz, Song Machine: Season 1 [October 23]

Gorillaz, Song Machine: Season 1 [October 23]

Damon Albarn’s animated alter egos once again come together to deliver a heady fusion of dark pop, hip-hop, rock, and a plethora of other musical genres filtered through the band’s warped, weary grooves. The album is being called a “season,” as it compiles the first collection of songs made from the band’s “Song Machine” project that has spanned the course of the year, with guests like Beck, St. Vincent, and more. We can probably expect season 2 on the horizon. [Alex McLevy]

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Jeff Tweedy, Love Is The King [October 23]

Jeff Tweedy, Love Is The King [October 23]

At home in Chicago after COVID-19 indefinitely paused Wilco’s touring commitments, Jeff Tweedy began, as he says, “writing country songs to console myself.” One of those songs is called “Natural Disaster,” but it’s no current-events play-by-play—it’s a twangy number wrapped around a love-as-meteorology metaphor. Love Is The King delivers 11 such tracks of spare Americana: promises of romantic faith and devotion and humble expressions of gratitude recorded with the other quarantining members of the Tweedy family. [Erik Adams]

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Lera Lynn, On My Own [October 23]

Lera Lynn, On My Own [October 23]

If you watched season 2 of True Detective and thought to yourself, “Meh, that season was a bummer, but who was that great musician always performing in the bar?”, you’re in luck, because artist Lera Lynn is back with her latest studio album, full of the affecting, spare, moody folk that is her signature. The musical wunderkind wrote and performed every instrument on the album (as well as producing it), once again showcasing her idiosyncratic and uncompromising vision. Describing music as “haunting” is often silly, but in her case, it fits. [Alex McLevy]

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No Thank You, Embroidered Foliage [October 23]

No Thank You, Embroidered Foliage [October 23]

Philadelphia’s No Thank You sound like a band ready to level up in a major way. After the appealing lo-fi sheen of the raw and cathartic All It Takes To Ruin It All, the three piece has found a larger, more anthemic production for its stirring, late ’90s-esque alt-rock sound. Adding a barrage of new instrumentation and arrangements to the guitar-bass-drums foundation, Embroidered Foliage balances intimacy with a wall-of-sound intensity that should earn the band a lot more notice. [Alex McLevy]

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PUP, This Place Sucks Ass EP [October 23]

PUP, This Place Sucks Ass EP [October 23]

A year as shitty as 2020 wouldn’t be complete without the boys of Toronto’s PUP inflaming our hard-earned rage with some well-timed molotov cocktails. This Place Sucks Ass, easily the year’s best album title, comes locked and loaded with songs deemed “too unhinged” for last year’s explosive Morbid Stuff, as well as the reverent cover of Grandaddy’s “A.M. 180” the band dropped over the summer. “Everything sucks and that’s okay, because it sucks for everybody,” says frontman Stefan Babcock in a statement. “And we can make it a little bit better by being together in the shittiness.” Amen. [Randall Colburn]

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The Big Easy, A Long Year [October 23]

The Big Easy, A Long Year [October 23]

The Big Easy’s chaotic video for “It’s All Fun And Games Until Someone Gets Hurt” is as good an intro to the Brooklyn punk outfit as the song: Hard-rockin’ dudes just losing their absolute shit despite there being nary a soul at their busted basement prom. A Long Year is loud, messy, and cathartic as all hell, with frontman Stephen Berthomieux emptying his guts over songs that revel in emo, pop-punk, and indie influences. Add “not being able to see these guys live right this minute” to 2020’s many affronts. [Randall Colburn]

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The Mountain Goats, Getting Into Knives [October 23]

The Mountain Goats, Getting Into Knives [October 23]

After the conceptual bigness of 2019’s In League With Dragons, The Mountain Goats have returned with an album that takes the band back to a state of intimate simplicity. Sure, there are some horns here, additional percussion there, but Getting Into Knives—recorded in a single week in Nashville—retains the band’s evolution while still delivering fundamental songcraft, like a musical document of a night of friends getting together for a dive-bar performance for old times’ sake. [Alex McLevy]

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Zeal & Ardor, Wake Of A Nation EP [October 23]

Zeal & Ardor, Wake Of A Nation EP [October 23]

“They’re coming closer just to kill us,” Manuel Gagneux crooned on Stranger Fruit, the blistering second album from his metal-gospel fusion act, Zeal & Ardor. If it wasn’t difficult to intuit the they and us of this warning, Gagneux is leaving nothing to implication on the band’s new six-song EP, whose cover art is two police batons arranged into the shape of a cross. The lyrics further dispel ambiguity, as the frontman pleads “I can’t breathe, it’s a cellphone / Please don’t shoot” over the mournful piano of “Vigil.” But it’s not all sorrow: “Tuskegee,” a black-metal blitzkrieg with a touch of Kurt Cobain’s quiet-loud-quiet strategy, meets the horror of American injustice with cauterizing fury. [A.A. Dowd]

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Elvis Costello, Hey Clockface [October 30]

Elvis Costello, Hey Clockface [October 30]

At least the current political hellscape has apparently fired up the prolific Elvis Costello to release yet another record. He recorded the first few singles from Hey Clockface in a mostly solo effort from a studio in Helsinki, resulting in the protesting yet painfully personal “No Flag,” a rant reminiscent of Costello’s iconic angry young man status. But at this point in his career, Costello can do whatever the hell he wants, and so indulges himself with a wide swath of genres, from the cheery Dixieland of the title track, to the bleak ballad-esque “We Are All Cowards Now,” to a spoken-word monologue referencing no less an influence than Orson Welles in “Phonographic Memory.” [Gwen Ihnat]

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