Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Madonna and The Boss lead an otherwise indie-heavy June in new music

Madonna and The Boss lead an otherwise indie-heavy June in new music

Photo: Georgia Anne Muldrow (Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Adult Swim), Madonna (Venturelli/Getty Images for LDC Foundation), Bruce Springsteen (Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images), Graphic: Natalie Peeples

Aside from new albums by Madonna and Bruce Springsteen, June is slim on big-name releases for the time being, and we very much expect some surprise announcements in the coming weeks, particularly from the hip-hop world. The start of the summer is not slim, however, on indie music and promising debuts. Here are some of the records we’re looking forward to hearing in June.

June 7

Tim Heidecker, What The Brokenhearted Do…

To be clear, Tim Heidecker is not actually going through a divorce. Yes, his new album What The Brokenhearted Do… is composed entirely of depressing breakup songs. But, as Heidecker points out in the low-key video for lead single “When I Get Up,” they’re not autobiographical. It’s all part of the “activist Harry Nilsson” persona Heidecker’s been cultivating over the past three years, inspired by a rumor that Heidecker’s wife had left him started by “alt-right” trolls angry over his anti-Trump protest songs. True to his sardonic sense of humor, Heidecker found this pretty funny, and used it as fuel for an 11-song album detailing his completely fictional crushing depression over the split. But the most ironic part is this—Heidecker’s actually pretty damn good at this whole ’70s singer-songwriter thing. [Katie Rife]

Naytronix, Air

If you know Tune-Yards, you know Nate Brenner, the longtime bassist whose inventive riffs (and co-production) have helped define the duo’s sound. But you may not know that Brenner also makes mind-bending psych-pop as Naytronix. Air will be his third full-length under the moniker, capturing a “dramatic turning point” for the Oaklander in which he embraces more lavish arrangements. The lyrics, meanwhile, are both celebratory and searching, inspired by a reading of Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Palehound, Black Friday

Boston’s Palehound built a career on loud, shredding strains of guitar, but songwriter Ellen Kempner, inspired by Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker, among others, opted for simpler, more intimate arrangements for her third LP. That’s been evident on shadowy, evocative singles like “Worthy,” “Aaron,” and the haunting “Killer,” a “self-proclaimed murder fantasy” written about her friends’ abusers. Kempner’s impactful themes rise above the violence, however, her songs depicting the struggles of becoming comfortable in both our bodies and our anger. [Randall Colburn]

Pixx, Small Mercies

Two albums in, 23-year-old Brit-moper Hannah Rodgers (a.k.a. Pixx) continues to happily plumb the depths of her own discontent to notable effect. If anything, the new tracks off of Small Mercies sound even grimmer than 2017’s Age Of Anxiety; while Rodgers still supplements her moody, deep vocals with occasional explosions of synths, she seems more confident in the power of her own voice to carry her messages of failed love and failed institutions. [William Hughes]

Prince, Originals

There are few musical artists with discographies so strong that you could build an entire album out of songs they had the confidence to give away. The obvious exception, of course, is Prince, who was happy to hand out newly penned tracks to his various musical protégés (and, occasionally, Kenny Rogers) in such strong supply that when his estate announced the 15-track Originals—collecting Prince’s unreleased original versions of songs like “Jungle Love” and “Manic Monday”—it felt like a welcome step into his fabled vaults. Not all of these songs are strictly “new,” but the album is a novel way to look at The Artist’s copious musical contributions across the years. [William Hughes]

Silversun Pickups, Widow’s Weeds

The simplistic assessment of L.A.’s Silversun Pickups is that they’ve been mining the same strip of fuzzed-out ’90s alt-rock their whole career, but it’s long past time to acknowledge the group’s evolution over its past two albums. Neck Of The Woods ramped up the band’s goth and industrial influences in 2012, while 2015’s Better Nature made a sharp turn into full-on synth-pop, for better and worse. The group’s musical identity continues to morph in intriguing directions for Widow’s Weeds (produced by Butch Vig, a move that doesn’t exactly rebut the claims of ’90s guitar fetishism), as evidenced by lead single “It Doesn’t Matter Why,” a pulsing uptempo groove that finds the band sounding more vital than it has in years. [Alex McLevy]

Yeasayer, Erotic Reruns

Yeasayer, the Brooklyn indie weirdos whose 2010 single “Ambling Alp” still rings in our ears, are back with their first new album since 2016, the year that helped shape this upcoming release. Erotic Reruns is colored by the fall’s gutting election and directly references the likes of James Comey, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Stephen Miller, making it clear that, like the rest of us, these dudes really need to get off Twitter. Still, the new tracks aren’t as morose as the material might suggest; there’s always been a playfulness to the band, and that’s fully on display in buoyant tracks like “Ecstatic Baby” and “Fluttering In The Floodlights.” [Randall Colburn]

Yohuna, Mirroring

Brooklyn indie-pop artist Yohuna (née Johanne Swanson) developed her follow-up to 2016’s synth-heavy Patientness among friends, a process that reflects Mirroring’s themes. “So much of the album is about relationships and being in a relationship with the people around you,” she told Stereogum. “Loss, change, and what it means to be close and how disorienting your own sense can get in that.” Her collaborators include LVL UP’s Mike Caridi and Greg Rutkin, Told Slant’s Felix Walworth, and Foxes In Fiction’s Warren Hildebrand, as well as songwriters Emily Yacina and Adelyn Strei. “Everyone that plays on the record and that plays in my band right now is my best friend,” she said, and that warmth glows within the album’s guitar-forward singles like porch lights in a black night. [Randall Colburn]

Neil Young, Tuscaloosa

Fervent Neil Young fans already have live albums like Rust Never Sleeps to love, but if you’re a Young completist looking for yet another version of “After The Gold Rush” or an eight-minute take of “Don’t Be Denied,” you can add the three vinyl sides (side four is etched artwork) of Tuscaloosa to your collection. The album is composed of 11 tracks of an incomplete 1973 concert with the Stray Gators recorded in Alabama. Young told Rolling Stone earlier this year, “It’s really trippy to be down in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and singing those songs from Harvest and the songs that we were doing for Time Fades Away before it came out… I just loved the whole night.” [Gwen Ihnat]

Also due June 7: Stef Chura, Midnight; Tee Grizzley, Scriptures; Jonas Brothers, Happiness Begins; The Mattson 2, Paradise; Pelican, Nighttime Stories; Plaid, Polymer; Penelope Trappes, Penelope Redeux

Due June 12: GoldLink, Diaspora

June 14

Baroness, Gold & Grey

Abandon all hope ye who enter the new Baroness expecting a return to the blitzkriegs of old. Gold & Grey, the band’s fifth color-coded LP and its first with guitarist Gina Gleason, pushes onward down the path the Savannah, Georgia rockers have forged over this past decade, away from virtuosic metal and into a mellower, more offbeat psychedelia. Piano, strings, plinking electronics, and ghostly cooing pop up over the album’s 17 tracks, which sometimes find magnificently bearded frontman John Baizley lowering his signature bellow to a gentle murmur. This is still Baroness, of course, meaning that there’s never too long a stretch of sonic experimentation separating one crunchy lick from the next; anthems like “Borderlines” and the galloping “Throw Me An Anchor” should raise plenty of fists and heart rates on stage this summer. [A.A. Dowd]

Bill Callahan, Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest

“True love is not magic, it’s certainty,” Bill Callahan sings, nearly exactly in the middle of new double LP Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest. The sentiment, from “What Comes After Certainty,” feels representative of the entire album—20 spare, leisurely folk songs that find comfort in domesticity, family, and nature. On his first release of new music in nearly six years, Callahan (of the erstwhile Smog moniker) is settled in but still curious and observant, the album sounding like a collection of journal entries written with a slow and steady hand. The singer-songwriter released the first six tracks last week, including the assured “Shepherd’s Welcome,” and they’re indicative of the considered songs that follow. [Laura Adamczyk]

Madonna, Madame X

Madonna returns in a new persona in her upcoming 14th album, Madame X; according to the series of accompanying videos, Madame X is some sort of spy—“a secret agent/traveling around the world/changing identities/fighting for freedom/bringing light to dark places”—who sports an impressively color-coordinated series of eyepatches. The 60-year-old pop icon is, as expected, collaborating with younger artists to breathe new life into her work, like Latin pop star Maluma in “Medellín.” Madge even tries out some reggae with Quavo in the fun (but repetitive) “Future,” showing that, as ever, Madonna remains ready to completely reimagine herself. [Gwen Ihnat]

Bruce Springsteen, Western Stars

It’s been five years since the odds ’n’ sods collection High Hopes brought a new studio release from the Boss, but don’t look for arena-ready bombast from this next one. As opposed to one of his albums with the E Street Band, Western Stars is a return to his solo output, albeit with more instrumentation than Nebraska or The Ghost Of Tom Joad. Inspired in part by Laurel Canyon pop of the ’60s and ’70s, the record pairs Springsteen and his guitar with sweeping, lush orchestration. Single “Hello Sunshine” suggests that this could be his most Americana record, which for the Boss is no small thing. [Alex McLevy]

Also due June 14: Bastille, Doom Days; Burial, Claustro / State Forest; Calexico + Iron & Wine, Years To Burn; Julia Shapiro, Perfect Version; Kate Tempest, The Book Of Traps And Lessons; Two Door Cinema Club, False Alarm

June 21

Fruit Bats, Gold Past Life

Fruit Bats’ first album in three years summons the same shades of ’70s and ’80s pop radio as much of their latter-day work, which is most certainly not a complaint. The first glimpses at Gold Past Life—the title track and “The Bottom Of It”—are vibrant ditties elevated by songwriter Eric D. Johnson’s swaggering, elastic vocals, which occasionally veer into a sunny falsetto. [Randall Colburn]

Hatchie, Keepsake

Harriette Pilbeam’s star has risen quickly since releasing her first song as Hatchie (“Try”) in 2017; her very next single, “Sure,” was remixed by none other than Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins, and last year she toured with like-minded indie acts Alvvays and Snail Mail after the release of EP Sugar & Spice. Keepsake will be the Queensland native’s proper full-length debut, pushing her immersive shoegaze-pop sound into more varied—but no less retro-influenced—territory like industrial, new wave, and dance-pop. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Hot Chip, A Bath Full Of Ecstasy

Hot Chip’s last LP, 2015’s Why Make Sense?, was an album-long seduction, delivering sultry grooves best suited to the witching hours of nightclubs and the lonely souls looking for a romantic connection. Seventh effort A Bath Full Of Ecstasy is the band’s first attempt working with outside producers in an effort to push the envelope of its electro-synth sounds. But this won’t necessarily be some radical reinvention; “Hungry Child” continues the soulful house beats concocted last time out, suggesting the seduction may not be over. [Alex McLevy]

Mannequin Pussy, Patience

If Philly-based punk act Mannequin Pussy has finally given in to its long flirtations with pop—as the sound of Marisa Dabice’s crooning vocals on “Drunk II” and “Who You Are” might suggest—it doesn’t appear to have dulled the feelings that powered albums like its 2016 success story, Romantic. Dabice and lead guitarist Athanasios Paul might sound sweeter this time around, but it’s still in service of lyrics like “I was so fucked up, I forgot we were broken up / I still love you, you stupid fuck,” which suggest the band’s punk soul remains intact. [William Hughes]

Georgia Anne Muldrow, VWETO II

Not nine months after releasing the excellent Overload, one of The A.V. Club’s favorite albums of 2018, Georgia Anne Muldrow returns with VWETO II, a sequel to her 2010 collection of “astral instrumentals” by the same name. This is eclectic, capital-O “fOnk” that only Muldrow could conjure, heavy with hip-hop beats and hypnotic bass lines. She is, as much as a soulful vocalist, an endlessly innovative producer and beatmaker, and these 16 tracks are a welcome opportunity to share in her perspective. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Titus Andronicus, An Obelisk

If last year’s A Productive Cough left you longing for the ramshackle, unbridled rock ’n’ roll of Titus Andronicus’ early records, you’ll be pleased to hear An Obelisk is fucking loud. That the legendary Bob Mould co-produced the album helps in that regard, as does frontman Patrick Stickles’ urgent exploration of punk ethics and “personal and intellectual development” in an imbalanced society. You can hear his rage in lead single “(I Blame) Society” and his hard-fought optimism in the album’s closer, “Tumult Around The World,” which Stickles told Stereogum is about the narrator trying to “be a kinder person.” [Randall Colburn]

The Raconteurs, Help Us Stranger

It’s been 11 years since alt-rock supergroup The Raconteurs—a.k.a. Brendan Benson, Patrick Keeler, and Jack Lawrence from The Greenhornes, and bona fide record mogul Jack White—last got together in the studio to knock out one of their bluesy, inviting albums. The initial tracks off of the upcoming Help Us Stranger suggest that the group’s all-important chemistry remains intact, whether giving itself fully over to the harmonica on Donovan cover “Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)” or simply grooving together on the hook-heavy “Help Me Stranger.” [William Hughes]

Mark Ronson, Late Night Feelings

Mark Ronson, famous as the force behind massive hits like “Uptown Funk,” travels past club territory into real emotionality on his fifth album. Following Ronson’s divorce, Late Night Feelings is Ronson’s first breakup record, adding welcome depth to tracks like “Nothing Breaks Like A Heart,” which both takes advantage of and expands Miley Cyrus’ country roots into an epic of devastation. Yebba’s “Don’t Leave Me Lonely” essentially functions as a dance torch song; Lykke Li’s take on the title track is a bit more frivolous, but no less effective, as it aims to drag your reluctant self out to the dance floor but gets it if you’re not really ready to rock just yet. [Gwen Ihnat]

Also due June 21: BEAK, Untitled; Holy Ghost!, Escape From Los Angeles; Sachiko Kanenobu, Misora reissue; Buddy & Julie Miller, Breakdown On 20th Ave South; Richard Reed Parry, Quiet River Of Dust Vol. 2; Aaron Watson, Red Bandana

June 28

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, Bandana

For years rumors have circulated about Bandana, the follow-up to Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s 2014 dream team-up, Piñata. And finally, in March, the excellent “Flat Tummy Tea” arrived to reignite hope. We finally got a release date for the full LP this week, along with a list of promising cameos—Pusha T, Killer Mike, Yasiin Bey, and Black Thought—and “Crime Pays,” another killer single with a highly entertaining video modeled after a ’70s blaxploitation Western. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Gabrielle Marlena, Manners

Singer-songwriter Gabrielle Marlena manages to take the downbeat grooves of coffeehouse-poet pop found in everyone from Jewel to Norah Jones to Sara Bareilles and make it sound fresh and compelling again. There’s no wheel-reinventing being done here, just a familiar style of music that nonetheless remembers what was vital about it in the first place. The six-song release sees Marlena tackling nakedly confessional material and fashioning it into universally relatable tales of heart and heartache—music that fits smoky nights and searching days alike. [Alex McLevy]

Summer Cannibals, Can’t Tell Me No

“It’s just so easy to hate them, the goddamn government,” singer-guitarist Jessica Boudreaux snarls on “False Anthem,” the opening song on Summer Cannibals’ new album, Can’t Tell Me No. Backed by furious guitar interplay, Boudreaux sounds ready to take on the world. And she should: The creation of Can’t Tell Me No was itself an act of creative defiance, a reclaiming of personal power from what Boudreaux characterizes as “abusive and manipulative” music-industry forces. After scrapping a full, completed album so that a toxic individual “couldn’t benefit from it,” the Cannibals got together and recorded the 11 songs that make up Can’t Tell Me No in intense, 14-hour bursts, a process that not only brought the band closer together, but also compressed and hewed its sound to a newly inspired, diamond-hard finish. [Katie Rife]

Also due June 28: The Black Keys, “Let’s Rock”; Daughter Of Swords, Dawnbreaker; Peggy Gou, DJ-Kicks; Jade Jackson, Wilderness; Mega Bog, Dolphine; Night Moves, Can You Really Find Me; Outer Spaces, Gazing Globe; Chris Staples, Holy Moly

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