Although July is often a quiet month for new music, hip-hop won’t be following suit over the next few weeks: New albums from Chance The Rapper, Maxo Kream, Big K.R.I.T., Kool Keith, and Westside Gunn are on their way, not to mention any surprise releases that are sure to arise. Elsewhere, some of our most anticipated listens come from indie/dream-pop act Cuco’s major-label debut, David Berman’s return as Purple Mountains, and new metal from Immortal Bird, Tomb Mold, and Torche. Here are 19 records we’re looking forward to hearing in July.


July 5

Immortal Bird, Thrive On Neglect

Chicago’s Immortal Bird is hard to describe without sounding foolish—or, at the very least, reductive. Calling Immortal Bird a metal band is accurate, but its experimental bent sees it hopping between styles, bring in black metal, grindcore, and even a bit of off-kilter sludge without ever fully committing to one sound. Thrive On Neglect sees Immortal Bird enter a space that it solely owns. Songs like “Anger Breeds Contempt” and “Vestigial Warnings” are experimental yet pummeling, capable of building worlds full of twisted, distorted carnage that never take the easy path forward. [David Anthony]

The Soft Cavalry, The Soft Cavalry

Slowdive’s music has always had a heady quality reminiscent of the rush of new love, and now the group’s vocalist and guitarist, Rachel Goswell, has a real-life love story inspiring her music. Goswell’s collaborated with a number of supergroups and solo artists over the years, and her latest project, The Soft Calvary, sees her making music with her husband, Steve Clark. Lead single “Dive” is sun-kissed and smitten, with dreamy harmonies that blossom into a shoegaze guitar whirl over the steady mechanical heartbeat of a vintage drum machine. [Katie Rife]

Also due July 5: Felicia Atkinson, The Flower And The Vessel; Blueface, Bust Down; Jesca Hoop, Stonechild; Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak), Midsommar OST; Westside Gunn, Flygod Is An Awesome God

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July 12

Big K.R.I.T., K.R.I.T. Iz Here

Even when a Big K.R.I.T. project sprawls like 2017’s 4eva Is A Mighty Long Time, a double LP whose strong first disc slumped into an uneven second, we’re going to find something to love: K.R.I.T.’s charisma is rare, after all, and he consistently delivers compelling beats and collaborations. And seeing as fourth LP K.R.I.T. Iz Here (a sequel to 2010 mixtape K.R.I.T. Wuz Here) already has both in the woozy, Weezy-featuring single “Addiction,” we’re excited to see what else it holds. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Bleached, Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough?

Continuing the progression from raw to refined that began in earnest with the group’s previous LP, Welcome The Worms, Bleached has jumped even more fully into a retro-pop sound that strives for elegant and, dare we say, smooth, while exploring new directions in the clever shimmy-punk songwriting that has defined its style from the start. Lyrically and thematically, Don’t You Think You’ve Had Enough? is a sharp break with the past, with sisters Jessie and Jennifer Clavin entering sobriety and discovering a new creative and emotional impetus for their songs. As demonstrated by new single “Hard To Kill,” with its ABBA-meets-Duran Duran disco thump, fans should expect a new evolution in the band’s existence. [Alex McLevy]

Mal Blum, Pity Boy

Indie-rocker Mal Blum calls their first album in four years “the next chapter of my therapy session,” saying Pity Boy spins yarns about “bad habits, self-sabotage, setting boundaries,” and, eventually, the painful march toward optimism. It also, per Blum, touches on their own process of coming out as nonbinary and transgender, making it perhaps the most personal LP from the prolific New York artist. Heavy themes, sure, but Blum’s early singles balance tipsy bloodletting (“Salt Flats”) with buoyant pop-punk anthems (“Things Still Left To Say”), each brimming with thoughtful, relatable lyrics and no shortage of infectious hooks. [Randall Colburn]

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Karen Gwyer, Man On Mountain

In her first solo release since 2017’s excellent Rembo, Berlin-based producer Karen Gwyer continues to straddle the line between cathartic dance music and heady experimentalism. The four tracks on EP Man On Mountain vacillate between Detroit-influenced techno (“Faces On Ankles,” “Cherries On Shoulders”) and darker drone experiments (“Ian On Fire,” “Ribbon On Neck”). We’re glad to have a fresh batch of analog jams from Gwyer’s eccentric mind. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Imperial Teen, Now We Are Timeless

For the band’s first album in the better part of a decade, all the familiar elements of Imperial Teen are in place: the clean, burnished pop songs, kissed with fuzzed-out guitars; the shimmering harmonies; the steady four-on-the-floor beats. But there’s a tension and quiet passion to the music this time around that feels new, a mounting sense of existential worry overlaying the usual attention to interpersonal relationships and the celebratory power of the music. The band’s not reinventing its polished pop wheel—even the title of single “We Do What We Do Best” lets you know you’re getting an Imperial Teen song—but there’s an urgency that demands to be heard. [Alex McLevy]

Kool Keith, Keith

Any new release from Kool Keith is a welcome event, but the upcoming Keith is probably best explained by the man himself: “The album is so well rounded and put together without being overproduced. Track to track it’s real raw art.” Do you really need more? If so, give a listen to the retro-pleasure thump of single “Zero Fux,” featuring a guest turn from B-Real. The whole thing was produced by Psycho Les of The Beatnuts, but the main attraction remains the abstract and profane flow of Kool Keith. [Alex McLevy]

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Metz, Automat

If we can’t yet have a new album by Metz, at least we can get by on Automat, the Canadian punk trio’s new collection of non-album singles, B-sides, and rarities via Sub Pop. Automat is, by nature, a hodgepodge of material—ranging from the band’s first recorded singles a decade ago to 2015 Three One G tracks “Eraser” and “Pure Auto”—but one that promises to highlight the evolution of the blistering, road-honed energy last captured in the studio by Steve Albini on 2017’s Strange Peace. The vinyl edition includes yet more bonus material: covers of Sparklehorse’s “Pig,” The Urinals’ “I’m A Bug,” and Gary Numan’s “M.E.” [Kelsey J. Waite]

Purple Mountains, Purple Mountains

The name may have changed, but the song remains the same. More than a decade since Silver Jews’ last record, David Berman is back with another full-length LP, this time under the moniker “Purple Mountains.” “I’m the same old wreck I’ve always been,” he reassures listeners on the opening track. While there is tenderness and vulnerability throughout—death and dying are recurring themes—the singer-songwriter’s nihilistic sense of humor is well intact, with the album’s bookends conjuring a jaunty, Merle Haggard-by-way-of-Warren Zevon vibe. [Laura Adamczyk]

Torche, Admission

In a better world (or more rock-centric age), Torche would be superstars. The Miami four-piece plays a style of metal catchy enough to dominate arenas and airwaves: joyfully infectious stoner anthems, big on hooks and crunch. (Think: Foo Manchu.) Maybe Admission, the band’s typically accessible fifth LP, will grow the fanbase; songs like the soaring title track and the jaunty, riffy “Slide” blissfully defy the laws of physics and pop. They’re at once heavy as an anvil and light as a feather—which it to say, very Torche. [A.A. Dowd]

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Tycho, Weather

Tycho’s been leaning toward a more organic sound for years, the producer having interwoven guitar, bass, and live drums into his kaleidoscopic beats over his past few releases. Now, Scott Hansen says, he’s ready to “finally fulfill what had been a vision of mine since the beginning: to incorporate the most organic instrument of all, the human voice.” The lucky voice belongs to Saint Sinner (a.k.a. Hannah Cottrell), and you can hear her crystalline vocals glint off the club-ready beats of “Pink & Blue” and the hypnotic drums of “Japan.” The starlit results maintain Tycho’s techno bonafides while conjuring atmospheres familiar to Chromatics fans. [Randall Colburn]

Yuna, Rouge

Appropriate for an artist who got her start on Myspace, Yuna is always changing with the times. Relocating from Kuala Lumpur to Los Angeles nearly a decade ago made the Malaysian-born singer acutely aware of her otherness as a Muslim in the music industry, but on her new album Rouge, Yuna has evolved into a confident woman who’s comfortable in her own skin. “The whole album is about how I am with myself… It’s the color of becoming this woman I am,” she says. And the woman she is bridges continents, decades, and genres, sliding fluently between traditional Malaysian music, slinky ’90s R&B, bumping disco, and hypnotic contemporary pop on singles “Forevermore” and “Blank Marquee.” [Katie Rife]

Also due July 12: Banks, III; Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Tracing Back The Radiance; Kyle Craft, Showboat Honey; Drab Majesty, Modern Mirror; Gauche, A People’s History Of Gauche; Khruangbin, Hasta El Cielo; Prurient, Garden Of The Mutilated Paratroopers


July 19

Maxo Kream, Brandon Banks

Rapper Maxo Kream has emerged as one of Houston’s most distinctive young voices in recent years, a storyteller who spares no detail in recounting his life’s hardships. After last year’s studio debut, Punken (a runner-up for The A.V. Club’s best hip-hop of 2018), he signed a seven-figure deal with RCA, and Brandon Banks will be his first release for the major label. It sees Maxo wrestling with how success has already changed his life, as well as his likeness to his father, after whom the album is named. Look forward to features from fellow Houstonites Travis Scott and Megan Thee Stallion, the latter of which brings her own recent hot streak to single “She Live.” [Kelsey J. Waite]

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Tomb Mold, Planetary Clairvoyance

Last June, Toronto’s Tomb Mold released Manor Of Infinite Forms, a record that would go on to become one of our favorite metal records of 2018. And now, a little over a year later, Tomb Mold is back with Planetary Clairvoyance, a record that’s somehow even better than its predecessor. Given the fact that the band has released four demos and now three full-lengths since 2016, one could worry that, eventually, it would start running on empty. But as Planetary Clairvoyance shows, the band only gets better with each new release. It’s been a hot couple years for death metal, with countless new bands coming in and offering updated takes on the style, and Tomb Mold is one of the very best to do it. [David Anthony]

Also due July 19: Lingua Ignota, Caligula; Murs & 9th Wonder, The Iliad Is Dead And The Odyssey Is Over


July 26

Cuco, Para Mí

After two mixtapes, it’s still difficult to narrow down a genre or even a hybrid that encapsulates Cuco’s floating musical fusions, but if recent tracks like “Hydrocodone” and “Bossa No Sé” are any indication, the SoCal artist (real name Omar Banos) intends to double down on the indie/dream-pop/jazz experimentation for his debut album, Para Mí. Cuco mixes up psychedelic surf rock with more pulsating synths before settling into an easygoing, sambalike groove. But just when your mind starts to wander, trumpets blare in the opening to “Feelings”—and just like that, Para Mí is off on another melodic adventure. [Danette Chavez]

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Florist, Emily Alone

Florist songs are delicate, yet resilient, with Emily Sprague’s emotional weight giving strength to the sparest flourishes of guitar and atmosphere. It might not come as a surprise, then, to learn that Emily Alone was made “during a time of great stillness and isolation with the self.” As such, there’s a searching quality to the record, not just of physical environments but mental and spiritual ones as well. In a recent interview, Sprague revealed that the album was recorded after the loss of both her mother and a long-term relationship. “The album is definitely meant to be listened to within this void of the self, or within a void of the mind,” she said. “It’s like if you were to go into somebody’s brain and really just be the only thing in there—it’s about that sense of self.” [Randall Colburn]

Violent Femmes, Hotel Last Resort

The Violent Femmes return this month in classic form with their 10th album, Hotel Last Resort. Together, the 13 songs barely top a half-hour as Gordon Gano and company spin new spirited, countrified parables like “Adam Was A Man” and “Not Okay.” The haunting title track, featuring poignant guitar work by Television’s Tom Verlaine, kicks off with “I don’t change chords any more / The chords change by themselves,” possibly an accurate portrayal of the band’s songwriting process nearly four decades in. Some classic tracks get a new bent: Pro skateboarder Stefan Janoski chimes in on the Femmes’ “I’m Nothing,” and the album closes with a pointed, minor-key take on Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” [Gwen Ihnat]

Also due July 26: Kaiser Chiefs, Duck; Mono/Poly, Monotomic; Only Child Tyrant (Amon Tobin), Time To Run. Due July 28: Soulja Boy, How Can You Blame Me?


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TBA

Chance The Rapper, TBA

Summer 2016 was saturated with Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book. It wasn’t just the hometown emcee’s third mixtape here in Chicago; it was a mood, blaring out from car windows and beach radios. Its euphoric blend of hip-hop and gospel was so undeniable that the Recording Academy even broke its own rules to award it Best Rap Album. And here we are three years later, another summer and another Chance project on the way. We know very little about his first official “owbum,” except that the great tracks he released last winter will not be on it, while the 2017 Daniel Caesar collaboration “First World Problems” will. We also know that the 26-year-old rapper/entrepreneur/activist remains firmly rooted in his faith, and we’re looking forward to seeing where it’s taken him. [Kelsey J. Waite]