(Illustration: Nick Wanserski)

Having officially passed 2016’s midway point—look for a catch-up guide on the year’s best releases soon—the new music train just keeps on rolling. On first glance, July seems slight, but it’s stuffed in ways other months haven’t been. Featuring reissues from icons such as David Bowie and R.E.M. and new albums from pop-punk greats like Descendents and Blink-182, it’s an eclectic month. Let’s dive right in.

July 1

Bat For Lashes, The Bride

Natasha Khan, a.k.a. Bat For Lashes, loves a high concept. (Remember the dual personalities of 2009’s Two Suns?) And her new album, The Bride, is no exception, telling the tale of a bride whose fiancé dies in a car crash on the way to their wedding, so she goes on their honeymoon alone. Lead single “In God’s House” promises lots of dark romance, with ethereal vocals over a heavy, blown-out bass line. To promote the album, Khan is planning a series of shows that will take place in churches and whose audience members are encouraged to dress up like they’re going to a wedding, further proving that she’s this generation’s Tori Amos but without all the faerie stuff. [Katie Rife]

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Blink-182, California

When Tom DeLonge left or, depending on who you ask, was kicked out of Blink-182, it was a little unclear what the future would hold for the long-running pop-punk trio. And yet, here we are. With the group’s latest LP, California, due out at the beginning of July, DeLonge has been replaced by Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba, who, if the record’s first few singles are any indication, brings a tinge of darkness to the overly sunny band. Lead singles “Bored To Death” and 15-second-song-about-dongs “Built This Pool” aren’t exactly rocket science, but when you’re talking about Blink-182, that’s totally okay. [Marah Eakin]

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Blood Orange, Freetown Sound

Freetown Sound WEBSITE LOOP from doremi fasolati on Vimeo.

The third record under his Blood Orange moniker will be somewhat of a revolution for Devonté Hynes, even more so than his transition from Lightspeed Champion to his current synth-funk god identity. His commitment to equality for black and queer people has always been apparent, but with last year’s single “Sandra’s Smile” (a protest song about Sandra Bland’s death), his exhaustion with the status quo transforms into determination and power. [Sarah Sahim]

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Broken Beak, Some Nerve

Some view Broken Beak as a mere Modern Baseball side project, but those people are wrong. Based around the talents of songwriter Beau Brynes, the band’s debut full-length, Some Nerve, should act as its own flavor of introspective punk when it comes out on Near Mint Records July 1. As songs like “Humble” show, Brynes has a more distinct baritone and he’s more of a shouter than his peers. Fans of the modern punk scene have reason to look forward to this one. [Dan Bogosian]

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Gøggs, Gøggs

Let’s stop picking on garage savant Ty Segall for putting out a new record every month. At least they’re good records—his recent solo triumph, Emotional Mugger, is damn near great. And no doubt the self-titled Gøggs album he’s releasing with Fuzz bandmate Charlie Mootheart and Ex-Cult leader Chris Shaw will follow suit. The second single released, “Glendale Junkyard,” is a straight-ahead punk song that features molten riffs congealing into a mass to swallow everything even remotely near its path. In its wake, the track leaves a good 30 seconds of scorched feedback. [Kevin Warwick]

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Metronomy, Summer 08

Metronomy founder Joe Mount composed, performed, and produced every note of the seedy electro-disco and synth-warmed post-punk populating the band’s fifth studio album, Summer 08. That’s not a huge stretch—he also self-produced and wrote the band’s previous two records—though Summer 08 has a more cohesive vision than other Metronomy releases. (Bonus points as well for the squiggly, urbane Robyn duet “Hang Me Out To Dry.”) Think Chromeo without the shtick, Bloc Party’s electronic-leaning output, and the glitzy new wave of early Duran Duran. [Annie Zaleski]

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July 5

AraabMuzik, Dream World

Originally due out last summer, the long-anticipated sophomore album from MPC drum-machine whiz AraabMuzik, Dream World, will no doubt feature buildup after buildup of frenzied, sprinting rhythms, with plenty of aggressive EDM-like cathartic releases but perhaps without all the glow necklaces. “Chasing Pirates,” his collaboration with singer Raiche, is a foggy and sultry single that focuses more on AraabMuzik’s abilities as a meticulous composer—one which believes subtle, inventive accents add to the greater whole—rather than a party starter. A club jam in the making, no doubt. [Kevin Warwick]

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July 8

The Avalanches, Wildflower

It’s been 16 years since The Avalanches’ debut, Since I Left You, the immersive, kaleidoscopic headphone trip that remains a landmark for the sample-based art of plunderphonics. Where they’ve been since remains part of the group’s aura of mystery—though maybe they’ve just been tied up in paperwork, getting the thousands of clearances required to practice their craft in these litigious days. “Frankie Sinatra,” the first single from the ludicrously long-awaited Wildflower, officially ends that hiatus on an odd note, with Danny Brown rapping about (what else) weed and cunnilingus over a goofy, electro-swing earworm that couldn’t possibly live up to a decade and a half of anticipation. But then, Since I Left You was all about the big picture of its sonic collage—and there’s still no one who makes them bigger. [Sean O’Neal]

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Big Business, Command Your Weather

The heaviest, most hard-charging two-piece this side of Lightning Bolt is back with another dose of its signature bass-and-drums assault. Jared Warren and Coady Willis have returned to the two-man lineup with which they began, after interludes with The Melvins and a couple guitar players during the tours following their third album, Mind The Drift. There doesn’t look to be any wheel-reinventing going on here, just a further evolution of their delicious stoner-metal stew. It kicked ass before, and it kicks ass now. [Alex McCown]

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Boris, Pink (Deluxe Edition)

Japanese trio Boris has the kind of back catalog someone can get lost in. With 22 studio albums of its own—and plenty of collaborative LPs on top of that—Boris isn’t made for casual consumption. If one were to pick a single album from that discography, Pink would be the prime candidate with which to begin a Boris journey. The upcoming 10-year anniversary reissue on Sargent House expands the genre-bending classic with a nine-song record of unreleased Pink-era material. Although most expansions of classic records are superfluous at best, Pink isn’t most records, and Boris’ scraps are worth salivating over. [David Anthony]

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David Bowie, 1.Outside, Earthling, and hours… CD reissues

The latest round of Bowie reissues concerns his underrated ’90s output: 1995’s 1.Outside, a reunion with producer Brian Eno; 1997’s harsher-sounding Earthling; and 1999’s hours…, one of the least-mentioned albums in the Bowie canon. All three albums explore then-contemporary electronic and industrial sounds, with varying results. Still, the records’ singles (“Hallo Spaceboy,” “The Hearts Filthy Lesson,” “I’m Afraid Of Americans”) have held up well. Note: These reissues are just on CD, though all three received vinyl issues in 2015. [Annie Zaleski]

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Boys Night Out, Black Dogs EP

Boys Night Out weathered the early ’00s mall-emo dredges to deliver one of the more beloved cult albums of the time. 2005’s Trainwreck was a prog-emo concept record that filtered in classic rock influences and an intricate story of murder-ridden dementia. It holds up pretty well, and the band’s returned after a decade away from the studio with a nuanced alt-rock/post-hardcore sound that hearkens back to its creative peak. The choruses may not hit as hard, and the experimentation is more restrained, but it’s by and large a reminder of when this scene’s standouts reached for more. [Brian Shultz]

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Frameworks, Smother

Gainesville, Florida quintet Frameworks is part of the burgeoning screamo revival led by such bands as The Saddest Landscape and Touché Amoré—the latter of which is now Frameworks’ labelmate. On Smother, the band’s sophomore album and its inaugural release for Deathwish Inc., Frameworks’ intensity is ratcheted up but so is its inner beauty. While vocalist Luke Pate’s howl is as rib-cage-rattling as ever, his band produces surprisingly elegant, melodic instrumentals to support his caterwauling. [Scott Heisel]

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The Julie Ruin, Hit Reset

Although it’s probably best-known for being Kathleen Hanna’s band that’s not Bikini Kill or Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin has been kicking around in some shape or form since 1997, when Hanna first released a solo Julie Ruin LP. The current iteration of the band came together in 2010, and Hit Reset is the gang’s second record, its first for Hardly Art. It’s simultaneously dance-friendly and touching and should give listeners plenty of empowering tunes to jam to. If nothing else, it’ll be essential listening for fans of Hanna, who dives deep into personal issues and illnesses on tracks like “Calverton” and “Mr. So And So.” [Marah Eakin]

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TTNG, Disappointment Island

TTNG’s Disappointment Island may sound like it’ll be a letdown, but the first album under a moniker other than This Town Needs Guns arrives with high expectations. TTNG has always been one of the few math-rock bands to have an innate sense of melody—something that’s improved after playing with the likes of American Football and rubbed off on tourmates like Tera Melos—and jams like “Coconut Crab” suggest that maybe there’s a benefit to knowing all that music theory. Its first opus as a three-piece, there’s reason to believe TTNG isn’t losing a step but is actually picking up speed. [Dan Bogosian]

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July 12

Dikembe, Hail Something

Dikembe’s Mediumship was an overlooked gem for emo-revival coverage in 2014. It was a half hour of brilliantly controlled and dynamic rock that resembled Brand New’s best material in three-minute-long bursts, shedding the band’s looser, sillier aesthetic of its earlier fare. Last year’s rougher-’round-the-edges Ledge EP signaled yet another sea change, which comes to fruition on Hail Something—a reckless performance in the spirit of scrappy ’90s DIY indie rock (think Archers Of Loaf) with a hint of the worn emotions that made Mediumship hit so hard. [Brian Shultz]

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July 15

-(16)-, Lifespan Of A Moth

In an era when guitar sweeps and polyrhythmic double bass dominate the metal world, -(16)- is a necessary reminder that simplicity can be a beautiful thing. Sounding like a lost record from the golden age of ’90s noise rock, Lifespan Of A Moth filters the caustic drive of Helmet through Crowbar’s subterranean tuning. Topped with Cris Jerue’s nihilistic, feral-cat-through-a-loudspeaker vocals, the LP is a perfect way to ruin a summer day. [J.J. Anselmi]

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Bright Light Bright Light, Choreography

Choreography, the third album from Bright Light Bright Light, a.k.a. Rod Thomas, features three songs with his pal Sir Elton John. This is not their first pairing—John appeared on Thomas’ last album and Thomas supported John on a chunk of his 2014 tour. Thomas’ exposure to the filled-arena world has given Choreography a polish that buffs his clear, soulful voice, particularly on the grand-sounding collaborations with the Rock Man. Also present are actor Alan Cumming, Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears and Ana Matronic, and The Wiz Live’s Mykal Kilgore, giving Choreography’s playful ’80s-inspired rhythms and melody lines a theatrical bent. [Lily Moayeri]

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Clams Casino, 32 Levels

Seven years after breaking out with Lil B’s “I’m God,” Jersey-born producer and “cloud rap” progenitor Michael Volpe, a.k.a. Clams Casino, finally gets around to dropping his full-length debut. Guests include the aforementioned “BasedGod” as well as past collaborators A$AP Rocky and Vince Staples. Volpe’s beats always go great with A-level rapping—check out Staples on the ice-cold single “All Nite”—but he’s plenty engaging in solo ambient mode. The new tune “Blast” is Cocteau Twins dream pop with a nightmarish twinge. [Kenneth Partridge]

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Good Charlotte, Youth Authority

Good Charlotte’s first album in six years, Youth Authority finds the “Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous” band once again diving dick-first into the world of positive pop punk. In press materials, guitarist Benji Madden said the goal of the record was to make listeners feel like they’re kids again, driving around and listening to music, and if singles “Life Changes” and “40 Oz. Dream” are any indication, that goal seems well within the album’s crosshairs. Good Charlotte certainly isn’t for everyone, but for those who are interested in a little life regression, this album should get the job done. [Marah Eakin]

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Lifted Bells, Overreactor EP

Although its long-awaited full-length still seems a ways off, Chicago’s Lifted Bells has done a bang-up job working in the EP format. On its first release for Run For Cover, the band offers four of its best tracks, showing that sometimes working in short bursts has its benefits. “Prodigal” is a perfect distillation of Lifted Bells’ intricate math-rock riffs and Bob Nanna’s ability to drop powerful pop hooks into the proceedings. If anything, it makes waiting for an LP a whole lot easier. [David Anthony]

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No Joy, Drool Sucker

Montreal shoegaze outfit No Joy is back only a year after releasing its previous record, More Faithful. The band has not forsaken sound for speed though. “A Thorn In Garland’s Side” is a hedonistic blur, with Jasamine White-Gluz’s intoxicatingly smooth vocals blending in with the looming fuzz that envelops the track. The guitars are surprisingly distinguishable, which adds a layer of focused rock to combine with the rest of the song in interesting ways. [Sarah Sahim]

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Jack & Amanda Palmer, You Got Me Singing

You Got Me Singing is Amanda Palmer’s first album since 2012’s Theatre Is Evil and collects a number of covers she recorded with her father, Jack. Amanda describes the album as being composed of “really simple, meaningful songs,” with her on piano or ukulele and her father on guitar. Covers include songs originally recorded by Leonard Cohen, Sinéad O’Connor, and Kimya Dawson as well as more obscure artists like John Grant and Noah Britton. Simplicity aside, it feels ambitious, with Amanda’s urgent, emphatic delivery leavened by Jack’s Johnny Cash-like baritone. [Randall Colburn]

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Saetia, Collected

Given the band’s short life span and that the screamo scene had yet to explode, most fans of Saetia missed the band when it was around in the late ’90s. Consequently, this means anyone looking to buy a copy of the band’s records on the secondhand market has been paying an arm and a leg for quite some time. Collected changes all that. Assembling the band’s body of work into one convenient package—along with extensive liner notes—the double LP gives Saetia’s discography the loving treatment it’s long deserved. [David Anthony]

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July 22

The Amazing, Ambulance

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Sweden’s The Amazing is responsible for two of the best neo-psychedelic rock albums of the past half decade—2011’s Gentle Stream and last year’s Picture You—but the band heads off in somewhat newer directions with its fifth LP. Ambulance is every bit as dreamy as what the group’s done before but less grandiose. Songs like the title track, “Divide,” and the aptly named “Floating” find a pleasant middle ground between ’70s Euro-prog and ’80s post-punk, and they sprawl out there, relaxed and pensive. It’s not so much a new start for The Amazing as a new exploration with the same well-tempered equipment. [Noel Murray]

MSTRKRFT, Operator

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With its upcoming record, Operator, Toronto electronic duo MSTRKRFT is on a mission to exhibit the breadth of its musical inspirations. When Jesse F. Keeler and Al-P showcased the record in June at Toronto’s multi-venue North By North East festival, they didn’t perform at a nightclub in an effort to break away from that association. Their gamble proved worth it. It doesn’t mean that their songs are no longer “danceable,” but they’ve added dimension to what’s often perceived as a vapid genre. “Priceless” nearly adapts their previous cleaner sound and tears it to shreds; it’s exhilaratingly fresh and messy. [Sarah Sahim]

July 29

Billy Talent, Afraid Of Heights

It’s baffling how Canadian quartet Billy Talent has yet to crack through in America. This is a band who fills hockey stadiums on the regular in the members’ home country, yet its only song to even make an appearance on U.S. charts is 2003’s “Try Honesty” (which is still a jam). Afraid Of Heights, their fifth album, finds the band split, if their pre-release singles are any indication: The title track is a melancholy breakup song that shows maturity, while “Louder Than The DJ” is a hokey, clunky number about how rock will never die, man. Pick your poison. [Scott Heisel]

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Bouncing Souls, Simplicity

It sounds like the title of Bouncing Souls’ 10th (!) studio album is apropos, as the band stressed that it wanted to keep this new release as raw and similar to capturing its live sound as possible, “not over-thought or over-produced.” It’s been more than four years since the last record, and Simplicity comes with a new drummer, George Rebelo (Hot Water Music, Against Me!), laying down the beats. Still, something tells us this will be immediately recognizable as the newest entry in the band’s dependable discography of joyous, anthemic punk rock. [Alex McCown]

Descendents, Hypercaffium Spazzinate

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Few punk bands play the reunion game quite like Descendents. Having gone on hiatus and reconvened two or three times depending on what you consider a “hiatus,” Hypercaffium Spazzinate will be their first release since 2004’s Cool To Be You and their return to Epitaph Records. Recorded over three years of back-and-forth track trading, since everyone in the band is now spread across America, those in need of fast punk can expect iconic scientist Milo Aukerman and the band to deliver. [Dan Bogosian]

Nao, For All We Know

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Nao’s 2015 EP, February 15, earned Pitchfork’s coveted Best New Music tag for its simmering electro-R&B concoction—a sublime mix of cloudy synthscapes, brawny funk, and electric neo-soul. Based on its first few singles, the East London singer’s full-length debut, For All We Know, promises more of that same magic combo. Its latest track, “Girlfriend,” delivers a warm, woozy buzz, as Nao’s sweltering pipes blast skyward out of a chorus dense with blissed-out synth. It’s also got a feature from English songwriter/producer A.K. Paul, Jai Paul’s brother. [Matt Williams]

Owen, The King Of Whys

Under his solo moniker Owen, Mike Kinsella hasn’t put out a bad album. But there’s no denying that some of his records have felt a bit slight, including 2014’s pleasant covers LP, Other People’s Songs. That’s why his upcoming Owen release (his ninth) is so exciting. While it retains the quiet beauty and dissections of the past that fans have come to expect from Kinsella, there’s a greater weight to the arrangements. Chalk it up to a change of scenery: Not only did he record outside of Chicago for the first time in his solo career but he also had an outside musician—producer and Bon Iver multi-instrumentalist S. Carey—play on the album. Lush strings accompany Kinsella’s trusty acoustic guitar on “Lost,” and there’s even some stomping distortion as he gives a nod to famed Chicago music venue in “Empty Bottle.” [Dan Caffrey]

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Panopticon, Revisions Of The Past

Before Austin Lunn’s Panopticon became one of the best black-metal crossover acts with its trilogy of bluegrass-inspired works, it was still wildly capable when working solidly within genre confines. Unfortunately, as Lunn has attested, those early works were incredibly lo-fi, due to him not really knowing how to record the material he was laying down. Revisions Of The Past corrects that, taking On The Subject Of Mortality and Social Disservices and polishing them into something that sounds entirely new. The album gives Panopticon’s early works the facelift they’ve long needed without altering the spirit of those essential, underappreciated works. [David Anthony]

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R.E.M., Lifes Rich Pageant, Dead Letter Office, and Eponymous vinyl reissues

Whether you have worn down your nearly 30-year vinyl editions of these R.E.M. classics or are looking for a fine analog introduction to the band, these three reissues will suit your needs. Arguably the band’s finest moment, 1986’s Lifes Rich Pageant eschews murk and consonant dropping in favor of crisp guitars and enunciation. The 1987 B-side compilation Dead Letter Office, with its junk-shop ethos, features pastel covers of three Velvet Underground songs. In addition to housing the band’s greatest hits from its years with I.R.S. Records, Eponymous is sprinkled with the original Hib-Tone version of “Radio-Free Europe,” the rarity “Romance” from the film Made In Heaven, and vocals-at-the-fore “Gardening At Night.” These albums encapsulate three distinctive sides of the band: You can get early hits on Eponymous, à la David Bowie’s Changesonebowie; one of its best records with Lifes Rich Pageant; or the playful frivolity of Dead Letter Office. As Peter Buck once said, “Happy hunting.” [John Everhart]

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Ringworm, Snake Church

“Rise, serpent on the cross!” goes the happy-go-lucky chorus from the longtime metal disciples in Ringworm on the title track of their eighth album, Snake Church. A blend of smoking metalcore riffs and frontman James Bulloch’s gravelly vocals—he mostly sounds like he’s gargling a mix of black bile and nails—the track is unrelenting as it shifts gears from chugging double-kick-roll rhythms to full-steam, barreling beats. Ringworm epitomizes the road-dogging metal band: Find them smack dab in the middle of most bills, never stopping to catch a breather from being hateful. [Kevin Warwick]

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