Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Danny Brown (Photo: Xavi Torrent/WireImage via Getty Images), FKA Twigs (Photo: Xavi Torrent/WireImage via Getty Images), and Angel Olsen (Photo: Gary Miller/Getty Images)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

Ambitious new albums by Angel Olsen, Danny Brown, or FKA Twigs would each be big enough events to anchor a month of releases all their own. But this October? We get all three, plus new music from a ridiculously stacked list of names we couldn’t get into the headline: Nick Cave, Big Thief, Blood Orange, Jimmy Eat World, Floating Points, Neil Young, Caroline Polachek, and many more. Some artists, like Olsen, are trying on new sounds, while others, like Twigs, are rebuilding from the ground up. Elsewhere artists return, comfortingly and reliably the same: Lil Yachty boards Lil Boat for a third trip out, Gucci Mane is back for Woptober part two, and That Dog’s first album in 22 years still shows the band’s earliest hallmarks. You’ll also find K-pop, queer pop, and anthemic power pop below. Here are 30 or so albums we can’t wait to hear in October.


October 4

Boris, LOVE & EVOL

While Sonic Youth is definitely one of the bands that’s baked into Boris’ DNA, the Japanese heavy rockers’ latest, LOVE & EVOL, is more concerned with symmetry than “Star Power.” The album marks Boris’ move to typically garage-oriented label Third Man Records, but Atsuo, Takeshi, and Wata are as committed to drone dynamics and shivery daydream soundscapes as ever on the album’s lead single, “Love.” Also typically Boris is LOVE & EVOL’s sweeping two-album scope and protracted song lengths, capped off by the 11-minute, 59-second epic “Shadow Of Skull.” [Katie Rife]

Danny Brown, uknowhatimsayin¿

The next stop on the wild ride that is Danny Brown’s discography finds the Detroit native backed by Q-Tip productions and joined by collaborators like Run The Jewels, JPEGMAFIA, and Blood Orange. Following the recent debut of his Viceland comedy-talk series, Danny’s House, Brown describes his fifth LP as “my version of a stand-up comedy album.” He explains, “Most of my close friends now aren’t rappers—they’re comedians and actors. So I wanted to create something that mixed humor with music. Something that was funny but not parody.” Lead singles “Best Life” and “Dirty Laundry” accomplish that, and capture the rapper in the middle of yet another compelling evolution. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Nick Cave, Ghosteen

Nick Cave is about to release his 17th full-length studio recording with the Bad Seeds, and in typically ambitious fashion, it’s a double album. Ghosteen’s online debut on October 4 will follow a series of worldwide “listening events” the day before. Other than that, there’s not a ton of info on the record, except for the following poetically vague quote from Cave: “The songs on the first album are the children / The songs on the second album are their parents / Ghosteen is a migrating spirit.” The song titles, including “Bright Horses” and “Sun Forest,” “Fireflies” and “Hollywood,” don’t offer much more insight, but Ghosteen will be the first album written in full after Cave’s son’s death in 2015, and it will conclude the trilogy that includes Push The Sky Away and Skeleton Tree. [Gwen Ihnat]

DIIV, Deceiver 

The third full-length from Brooklyn indie act DIIV promises to be transformative in more ways than one: Along with trimming the ambitious sprawl of 2016’s Is The Is Are down to a sleeker 10 tracks, Deceiver will be the first release following frontman Zachary Cole Smith’s lengthy 2017 treatment for substance abuse. A study of addiction and pain, the album continues to expand the shoegaze-meets-post-punk vibe of the band’s previous work while embodying personal rebirth both musically and lyrically—as already demonstrated on initial single, “Skin Game.” [Alex McLevy]

Angel Olsen, All Mirrors

From her early lo-fi bedroom recordings to 2017’s expansive My Woman, Angel Olsen has made her songs richer and fuller with each album, and her latest is her grandest yet. Although Olsen first recorded a solo, bare-bones version of All Mirrors, the singer-songwriter ultimately reunited with John Congleton—who produced her 2014 breakout, Burn Your Fire For No Witness—for a more elaborate take. With walls of synths and rousing strings from a 14-piece orchestra, All Mirrors is a bold work of high drama from an artist turning her sound up to an 11. [Laura Adamczyk]

SuperM, The 1st Mini Album

While SuperM may not be Korean music conglomerate SM Entertainment’s first supergroup, it is definitely its most ambitious effort. Already proclaimed “the Avengers of K-pop,” the men of the newest seven-piece ensemble hail from some of the label’s biggest current acts—SHINee, EXO, WayV, and NCT—each group sonically different than the rest. With the inherent promise that every member will be given ample opportunity to showcase their individual essence, SuperM should culminate in a cosmic blend of bass-beating hip-hop, R&B, experimental EDM, and unabashed pop. [Shannon Miller]

That Dog, Old LP

That Dog, the ’90s-era alt-rockers who split after dropping three indelible albums, have been tinkering with new songs since they reunited in 2011, but Old LP marks their first new album in 22 years. The band’s orchestral strain is alive and well on the new material, which, as you can hear on the sumptuous title track, is sometimes heavier on strings than guitars. Rest assured, however, because songs like “If You Just Didn’t Do It” and “Just The Way” are riddled with cathartic bursts of distortion that, as was often their appeal, compellingly clash with the vibrant harmonies of singers Anna Waronker and Rachel Haden. An impressive lineup of collaborators include Maya Rudolph, Blur’s Graham Coxon, The Go-Go’s Charlotte Caffey, and the great Randy Newman. [Randall Colburn]

Wilco, Ode To Joy

There hasn’t been a new Wilco album since Schmilco, which was released way back in the before times of September 2016. Not that those three years were a period of inactivity: Bandleader Jeff Tweedy, in particular, has kept busy, publishing a memoir, making another record with Mavis Staples, and releasing a trio of solo albums—the third of which, Warmer, just came out in April. The new album promises to take its title sincerely, an invitation to cut the dread that’s mounted in the time that’s passed between Schmilco and Ode To Joy. Though, this is Wilco we’re talking about, so there’s still an undercurrent of dread, at least. In a statement introducing the tranquil strummer “Love Is Everywhere (Beware),” Tweedy says “ I guess the song is sort of a warning to myself that YES, Love IS EVERYWHERE, but also BEWARE! I can’t let that feeling absolve me of my duty to create more.” [Erik Adams]

Also due October 4: Carla Dal Forno, Look Up Sharp; The Menzingers, Hello Exile; The Penguin Cafe, Handfuls Of Night


October 11

Big Thief, Two Hands

You might expect Two Hands to be some kind of toss-off, what with Brooklyn’s Big Thief having already dropped one of the year’s most compelling records, U.F.O.F., this past May. But, no, Two Hands is every bit as fascinating as its predecessor, serving as a muscular, grounded counterpoint to the ethereal folk of U.F.O.F. “I feel like they’re siblings,” singer Adrianne Lenker told Stereogum. “They come from the same place, and all the songs were written in the same time span, and they were forming in the womb of all of our spirits. So there’s some connective DNA, but they’re very different beings.” Lead single “Not,” for example, represents an angrier, louder approach, with a freewheeling electric guitar solo puncturing its back half like daggers of white lightning. [Randall Colburn]

Blood Orange, Fields

Blood Orange’s 2018 album, Negro Swan, has a slippery energy that eludes easy classification, and Blood Orange mastermind Devonté Hynes continues to challenge himself musically with his next project, a classical album called Fields. Here, Hynes puts his dynamic compositions entirely into the hands of Chicago quartet Third Coast Percussion, allowing them to arrange and orchestrate his sheet music and digital files however they see fit. The result, according to Third Coast, does have Hynes’ signature “warm glow.” But it’s also “primarily pitch-, texture- and harmony-driven music”—in other words, emphatically not dance floor-ready. [Katie Rife]

Kim Gordon, No Home Record

Kim Gordon’s first solo single, 2016’s “Murdered Out” was a bit discordant, but had some appealingly rage-fueled riffs to wrap the song around. The same can’t really be said for the first songs from the founding Sonic Youth member’s upcoming solo effort, No Home Record. “Air BnB”’s “this is not a video” setup is clever, as the song rants against the false security of a fake home. “Sketch Artist” gets even more experimental: Gordon’s somnambulant talk-singing navigates shrill cacophony only occasionally tamed by soothing strings that flee too soon, a world where somehow the striking of wind chimes is the most violent thing imaginable. Perhaps not for everyone, but it’s impressive that Gordon is still finding new ways to express (and stretch) herself. [Gwen Ihnat]

Also due October 11: Allah-Las, LAHS; Cursive, Get Fixed; Lindstrøm, On A Clear Day I Can See You Forever

Due October 17: Gucci Mane, Woptober II


October 18

Battles, Juice B Crypts

Battles are now a supergroup of two, a membership that nevertheless sounds as huge and twisty as the four-man configuration that turned listeners inside-out on 2007’s Mirrored. The new Juice B Crypts is a feature-laden affair, with a guest list that includes Tune-Yards and Shabazz Palaces; Battles’ place within prog- and art-rock traditions is cemented by appearances from Yes’ Jon Anderson and Liquid Liquid’s Sal Principato, the latter yelping over the martial rhythms of “Titanium 2 Step” as if in response to the younger version of himself forever echoing away within “Cavern.” Drummer John Stanier and multi-instrumentalist Ian Williams lock together to form the inhumanly tight core of Juice B Crypts, slipping in and out of beats and loops with phenomenal precision. [Erik Adams]

Floating Points, Crush

Sam Shepherd’s 2015 debut under the Floating Points moniker, Elaenia, was crafted over a five-year period, and you could hear it in the album’s reflective, meticulous arrangements. By contrast, forthcoming follow-up Crush was recorded in an explosive five-day stretch, resulting in an urgent, but no less thoughtful, piece of work from one of electronic music’s most intriguing producers. On Crush, Shepherd is processing society’s current “pressure-cooker environment” with highly experimental, occasionally oblique tracks that reflect on nature and its destruction—an album of equal parts wonder and alarm from an endlessly probing creative mind. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Jimmy Eat World, Surviving

Almost 20 years removed from the heavy-rotation heyday of “The Middle” (well, the first one), Jimmy Eat World is still kicking out bright, periodic blasts of heart-on-the-sleeve power pop. The band’s 10th studio album works in some fresh sonic flourishes, like the cheesetastic ’80s saxophone that arrives near the end of lead single “All The Way (Stay).” But Surviving doesn’t stray too far from the sincere, anthemic sound that has earned these guys a lifetime slot on the soundtrack of eternal adolescence. Their appeal is in the delivery of “Delivery”—the way frontman Jim Adkins can still sell a primo line of prom-night confession like, “It’s only special once because there’s an ending.” [A.A. Dowd]

Karen & The Sorrows, Guaranteed Broken Heart 

Songs about breakups appear in every genre of music, but there’s something about a broken heart and a country twang that go together like biscuits and gravy. And singer-songwriter Karen Pittelman’s loss is the listener’s gain on Guaranteed Broken Heart, the new album from Pittelman’s group Karen & The Sorrows. In 2018, the queer-country trailblazers lost two of their founding members, Tami Johnson and Elana Redfield, the latter of whom is also Pittelman’s ex. And the agony of processing both a professional and a personal split at the same time comes through on the album’s title track, where the deceptively upbeat, Dolly Parton-esque music puts a strained smile on painfully raw lyrics. [Katie Rife]

Mark Lanegan Band, Somebody’s Knocking

Ever since Bubblegum, the 2004 album that saw the former Screaming Trees singer release his work under the name “Mark Lanegan Band” for the first time, the creatively restless musician has used the sobriquet as an outlet for his fascination with dirty, bluesy rock ’n’ roll, albeit with a steadily increasing element of electronic instrumentation. Somebody’s Knocking continues to straddle the line between Iggy Pop-style dirge-punk and soulful, almost Leonard Cohen-esque, meditations on life and death. [Alex McLevy]

Caroline Polachek, Pang

Putting a song called “Parachute” on her first solo album may be a subconscious expression of anxiety for former Chairlift frontwoman Caroline Polachek. Only she can say for sure. But it’s also an apt description of her music: Polachek’s stint working as a songwriter for Beyoncé is reflected in the slightly unorthodox, glitchy beats on “Ocean Of Tears” and “Door,” the first two singles off of her upcoming album Pang. But floating above the rhythm are layers of gossamer dream-pop that evoke a jellyfish bobbing in open water—or a delicate silk parachute puffing up with air, as the case may be. [Katie Rife]

Vagabon, Vagabon

For her self-titled sophomore album, Vagabon is shifting from guitar-driven hooks to a digital, more experimental synth-heavy soundscape. Not one to shy from deeply emotional sentiments, she delivers lyrics like “I came back around / Knowing you’d wreck my shit all over again / It’s funny how I’ll never regret / Going low for you” with arresting sincerity. As a writer and producer, Vagabon is still testing the bounds and shades of her own sound, refusing to remain tied to a single genre. [Shannon Miller]

White Reaper, You Deserve Love

White Reaper tends to treat its album titles like sly jokes; this is a band, after all, that called its very first LP White Reaper Does It Again and its second one The World’s Best American Band. Maybe they were only half-kidding last time around, though—if that triumphant sophomore record didn’t announce the Kentucky garage rockers as, well, the world’s best American band, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. And judging from the supremely catchy singles from You Deserve Love, White Reaper’s by-all-appearances sincerely titled third album, that superlative isn’t so far out of reach. “Real Long Time,” especially, is bliss. [A.A. Dowd]

Anna Wise, As If It Were Forever

A departure from her previous EPs The Feminine Acts I and II, Kendrick Lamar’s long-time, Grammy-winning collaborator Anna Wise is setting aside her more politically charged voice to dive into something more personal. Like its previously released single, “Nerve,” Wise explores intimate life lessons via gauzy melodies and experimental alt-R&B. Boasting a roster of superb collaborators like Little Simz and Denzel Curry, As If It Were Forever has the trappings of a debuting effort as distinctive as her otherworldly vocals. [Shannon Miller]

Also due October 18: Clipping, There Existed An Addiction To Blood; Foals, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Pt. 2; Nils Frahm, All Encores; Hovvdy, Heavy Lifter; Matana Roberts, Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis


October 25

Black Marble, Bigger Than Life

For the third release from Black Marble, a.k.a. minimalist synth-pop artist Chris Stewart, the musician moved from New York to Los Angeles, with the sun-dappled environs providing new inspiration for his brand of pulsing, lo-fi retro-’80s grooves. His first release since 2016’s It’s Immaterial—and his first for the Sacred Bones label—the artist once again kept everything analog, as evident from the hazy sheen of single “One Eye Open.” [Alex McLevy]

Cigarettes After Sex, Cry

On sophomore album Cry, Cigarettes After Sex returns to the sleepy, sexy, sometimes sad dream pop the group waded around in on its 2017 self-titled debut. Frontman Greg Gonzalez again unfurls a deep yearning, acknowledging that knit within every embrace, kiss, or fuck is the ache of fleeting pleasure. The chorus for airy lead single “Heavenly” sets the vulnerable tone: “I’m giving you all my, giving you all my, giving you all my love.” [Laura Adamczyk]

FKA Twigs, MAGDALENE

In April, FKA Twigs made a stunning return after five years away with the haunting “Cellophane,” the video for which features Twigs artfully pole-dancing into a fantasy land built by Björk collaborator Andrew Thomas Huang. Carrying the strong expectations set by that first single, and the more recent “holy terrain,” LP2 finally arrives this month with significant contributions from Nicolas Jaar and work from “a host of other collaborators.” MAGDALENE was written in a difficult period for Twigs, following laparoscopic surgery and her breakup from actor Robert Pattinson, and finds the U.K. art-pop musician “reconfiguring, emotionally and physically.” [Kelsey J. Waite]

Guided By Voices, Sweating The Plague

With the release of its 29th album, Sweating The Plague, Guided By Voices is now only one album short of a 30 rack. Dayton, Ohio’s own rock ’n’ roll torchbearers have always played an invigorating blend of quirky indie, bombastic stadium, and beer-swilling garage rock, and a press release builds on this combination by proclaiming that Sweating The Plague was “constructed as a classic 12-song album experience, made to be played loud.” Furthering the sense of everything old being new again are the returns of Doug Gillard on guitar and Kevin March on drums, a so-called “modern classic” lineup that reinvigorates the band’s sound on stage and record. [Katie Rife]

Steve Hauschildt, Nonlin

Steve Hauschildt, the Chicago-based artist and Emeralds alum, returns just a year after his acclaimed Dissolvi with an LP he describes as “freer, leaner, and looser” than its predecessor. In a press release, Hauschildt goes on to say Nonlin imbues “his signature grid-oriented and hand-played techniques” with the “improvisatory and generative nature of modular systems.” To put it simply, this is immersive, hypnotic electronica that layers cosmic significance into its wash of stark, star-dusted sounds. [Randall Colburn]

King Princess, Cheap Queen

When Fiona Apple rides for someone, you pay attention, and there’s no modern artist Apple’s repped harder than King Princess, the moniker of 20-year-old singer Mikaela Straus. An eclectic collection of R&B-inflected queer pop, King Princess’ debut LP is packed with songs about, in Straus’ words, “getting my heart smashed.” And, yes, there’s plenty of heartbreak on pre-release singles like “Ain’t Together,” but it’s the confident groove of the title track that marks Straus as a singer to watch. “I can be bad sometimes,” she sings, a smirk in her voice, “I’m a real queen, I can make grown men cry.” We don’t doubt it. [Randall Colburn]

Anna Meredith, FIBS

Anna Meredith followed up 2016’s acclaimed Varmints by scoring Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade, but now the composer is back with a new album she describes as “45 minutes of technicolour maximalism” and “almost perpetual rhythmic reinvention.” You can hear it on lead single “Paramour,” a kaleidoscopic track that sounds like a hundred anxious, lovestruck hearts beating at once. More ambitious than Varmints, FIBS is positively strewn with instruments, of both the acoustic and electronic variety. But it’s not all so intense—“moonmoons” is decidedly more relaxed, a rippling bath of synths that elevates in temperature without ever scalding. [Randall Colburn]

Swans, Leaving Meaning

Swans’ first record since 2016’s The Glowing Man is also its first since frontman Michael Gira disbanded the group of musicians who had comprised the act since 2010. Swans is now made up of “a revolving cast of musicians, selected for both their musical and personal character, chosen according to what I intuit best suits the atmosphere in which I’d like to see the songs I’ve written presented,” Gira said in a press release. Members of Gira’s Angels Of Light are among these collaborators, and their influence is felt in lead single “It’s Coming It’s Real,” which evokes the ghostly folk leanings of his side project more than it does the punishing sense of abandon of Swans’ cathartic noise symphonies. [Randall Colburn]

Also due October 25: Anna Of The North, Dream Girl; Hemlock Ernst, Back At The House; Josh Homme, Desert Sessions Vol. 11 and 12; Ariel Pink, Odditties Sodomies Vol. 2; Meemo Comma, Sleepmoss; Allison Moorer, BLOOD; Sunn O))), Pyroclasts; Neil Young And Crazy Horse, Colorado; Young Guv, GUV II


TBA

Actress, Karma And Desire

There’s not much information out there yet about the forthcoming Karma And Desire, Darren Cunningham’s seventh LP under the Actress moniker. The artist’s tweet announcing the release notes simply, “Out October 2019,” and, “Mixed by Chaos III.” Who Chaos III might be, exactly, is anyone’s guess, though given that the U.K. techno producer has been working with AI in recent years (see: the 2018 mini-album Young Paint) there is a strong possibility that it’s another “learning program.” But whatever direction Karma And Desire takes, we hope the music remains as physical and playful as it is heady. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Also due in October: Lil Yachty, Lil Boat 3

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