In a surprise to no one, July belonged to Beyoncé, whose career highlight Renaissance still has folks buzzing. But who’s going to make their mark on the month of August? We’ve rounded up the 10 impending releases we’re most excited about, from a pair of new super-duos (Danger Mouse & Black Thought and Panda Bear & Sonic Boom) to the latest efforts from seasoned veterans the Mountain Goats and exciting up-and-comer Rachika Nayar. Get a feel for August’s new release landscape below, and remember, our recs are just the beginning of this conversation, not the end of it—those “more notable releases” sections are there for a reason.
Notable August 5 releases: Bobby Shmurda: BodBoy EP, Brijean: Angelo EP, Calvin Harris: Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2, Dust Star: Open Up That Heart, Eminem: Curtain Call 2, The Flatliners: New Ruin, Healing Potpourri: Paradise, Kal Marks: My Name Is Hell, Kasabian: The Alchemist’s Euphoria, Lauv: All 4 Nothing, Lee Bains The Glory Fires: Old-Time Folks, Lifeguard: Crowd Can Talk EP, Marci: Marci, Neil Young Promise Of The Real: Noise & Flowers, Pussy Riot: Matriarchy Now, Shitty Boyz: Trifecta 2, T Bone Burnett: The Invisible Light, Tomato Flower: Construction EP, YoungBoy Never Broke Again: The Last Slimeto
Danger Mouse is a chameleon, assuming whatever identity and style are needed to allow his collaborators to shine. Philadelphia emcee Black Thought was the perfect choice. Together, the two created Cheat Codes, marrying sprawling jazz soundscapes with stream-of-consciousness raps. Whether working in seminal jazz-rap outfit The Roots or hopping on a project with Danger Mouse, Black Thought operates all the same, with a lyrical tunnel vision that challenges listeners to follow a winding trail to enlightenment. Danger Mouse adds a distinct analog-like feel, blurring the line between artificial and real as he layers drums, guitars and warm static into a playground for Black Thought to spit on. The sky is the limit on Cheat Codes, and the collaborators have only scratched the surface of their potential. —Jade Gomez
Domino Recording Co.
Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) and Sonic Boom (Peter Kember) have teamed up to release their first joint album, Reset. The duo met via MySpace nearly a decade ago when Panda Bear gave a shout out to Sonic Boom’s former band, Spacemen 3, in the liner notes of his solo album Person Pitch. Kember messaged Lennox to express his gratitude, and they became fast friends. Since then, Sonic Boom has co-mixed a few Panda Bear albums, but after Kember moved to Portugal to be closer to Lennox, the pair decided to take their collaboration to the next level on Reset. Their looping psych-pop demos began to take shape as lockdowns forced people into isolation, and the project provided them with an escape from the bleak reality in which the rest of the world was immersed. The result is an album rife with escapism, glittering synthesizers, and a Beach Boys influence obvious in the bells of “Go On” and the doo-wop vocals of “Edge of the Edge.” A record that provided a much-needed diversion from the dull day-to-day of life during a pandemic, it’s a nine-song cure for COVID seclusion. —Samantha Sullivan
Amid acclaim for his restrained 2018 album Kill The Lights, one particular notion stuck in Tony Molina’s craw. “I kept hearing: ‘Oh, he’s maturing, he’s getting into other shit, writing more mature stuff,” he recalls in press materials. “I thought, ‘Man, that’s kinda lame, no I’m not … ’” As if to prove that his older sounds weren’t “immature,” and that he owns every style he’s explored across his singular career, the micro-pop iconoclast made In The Fade. His longest record yet at 18 minutes, it encompasses the power-pop fuzz of Dissed and Dismissed and the swaggering guitar-monies of Ovens, as well as the ‘60s acoustic-folk flourishes of Confront the Truth and Kill the Lights, all tied together with the unerring ear for melody and wry humor that define Molina’s solo output. Simply put, it’s an album that only Tony Molina could make, made on no one’s terms but his. —Scott Russell
More notable August 12 releases: Alicia Keys: KEYS II, Amythyst Kiah: Pensive Pop EP, Boris: Heavy Rocks, Claude: a lot’s gotta change, Danny Elfman: Bigger. Messier., Doll Spirit Vessel: What Stays, Erasure: Day-Glo (Based on a True Story), Faye: You’re Better, The Game: Drillmatic, Goo Goo Dolls: Chaos in Bloom, Hollywood Undead: Hotel Kalifornia, Hudson Mohawke: Cry Sugar, Kiwi Jr.: Chopper, Lauren Balthrop: Things Will Be Different, Osees: A Foul Form, Pale Waves: Unwanted, Sylvan Esso: No Rules Sandy
The Mountain Goats are suckers for concept albums, but not in the way many people think. Sure, the band enjoys exploring the thrill of professional wrestling and the intensity of tabletop gaming. On Bleed Out, though, John Darnielle uses his eloquent, honest songwriting to pay homage to the action films of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Power chords and propulsive drums set the scene for fiery explosions and handsome action heroes without any flaws or so much as a scratch on them. As cheesy as this may sound, the Mountain Goats embrace the silliness while also staying true to the undeniable comfort and necessity of yet another film in which the hero saves the girl and the bad guy lands behind bars. Now that the world is open a bit more, why not go to the movies with the Mountain Goats? —Jade Gomez
Why Bonnie takes you on a nostalgic road trip through the Lone Star State on their debut album, 90 in November. The New York-by-way-of-Texas band, fronted by Blair Howerton, melds the intimacy of Townes Van Zandt’s lyricism with a full-band sound that blossoms into raw retrospectives. The majority of the album was written in Brooklyn, where bandleader Howerton moved in August 2019 from Austin. However, when it came time to record, the band decided to return to their roots and head to the small town of Silsbee, Texas (population: 6,634), to work with Tommy Read (Lomelda, alexalone). They spent days wandering around with cows and nights stargazing while they perfected their self-described “shoegazeicana.” An album that explores their past sans rose-tinted glasses, 90 in November’s soft strings and subtle twang embody the bittersweet blur of memory. Despite the occasional glance in the rearview mirror, Why Bonnie makes it clear that their eyes are on the future, even if that means leaving a little bit of their heart in the past. —Samantha Sullivan
More notable August 19 releases: Andrew Combs: Sundays, Cass McCombs: Heartmind, CLAMM: Care, Demi Lovato: HOLY FVCK, flipturn: Shadowglow, Hot Chip: Freakout/Release, Loudon Wainwright III: Lifetime Achievement, Marketa Irglova: LILA, Oneida: Success, Panic! At the Disco: Viva Las Vengeance, Röyksopp: Profound Mysteries II, SEB: IT’S OKAY, WE’RE DREAMING II: don’t worry, i’ll be fine EP, Silversun Pickups: Physical Thrills, Soft Pink Truth: Was It Ever Real? EP, Terence Etc.: V O R T E X, THICK: Happy Now
Polyvinyl Record Co.
Julia Jacklin has mastered the art of making you feel close, as shown by both the heart-tugging lyricism of 2019’s Crushing and the folk-inspired melancholy of her 2016 debut, Don’t Let the Kids Win. On her third album, PRE PLEASURE, the Melbourne-via-Blue Mountains singer/songwriter keeps listeners at a calculated distance. Not lacking personal detail or profound emotion, the singles from her forthcoming record hold you at an arm’s length. From the stirring rumination on religion that is “Lydia Wears a Cross” to the ebullient indie that lights up “I Was Neon,” she leaves room for things left unsaid. Instead of the hyper-specificity of some of her previous releases, Jacklin here gives herself space, speaking more in abstract concepts and crafting loose, expansive soundscapes that allow the listener to see a little bit of themselves in the flood of feelings Jacklin unleashes. —Samantha Sullivan
Loma Vista Recordings
As a member of Flatbush Zombies, Meechy Darko’s raspy growl was the group’s calling card. He’s expressive, abrasive and unafraid to channel a certain ugliness that makes each bar linger just a bit longer in your mind. His solo debut Gothic Luxury, written in the wake of his father’s murder at the hands of Miami police, is the rapper’s therapeutic reintroduction from part of a collective to a single entity. “Hi, my name is Meechy. Who are you exactly?” he sarcastically inquires on “Get Lit Or Die Tryin’,” stepping forward into the spotlight to put a face and name to one of New York’s underground rap cornerstones. Across the album, Meechy takes his time to fill each precious second with somber hooks, scathing societal criticisms and clever nods to his home of Brooklyn. When one door closes, Meechy Darko kicks down another. —Jade Gomez
Brooklyn experimental musician Rachika Nayar makes music that sends you into alternate dimensions, your body swelling and bursting into the atmosphere without any pain or worry. Heaven Come Crashing is heavily inspired by the emotive trance tracks of the ’90s, bubbling slowly over minutes into catharsis. Each breakbeat and wobbling guitar expands upon the never-ending backrooms of Nayar’s brilliant debut Our Hands Against The Dusk, aided by the ghostly croon of Maria BC and disjointed synth samples. Like an exploding star, Heaven Come Crashing shines a bright light and fizzles into the serenity of darkness, finding beauty in both presence and absence. —Jade Gomez
After making a name with her fierce 2019 debut Beware of the Dogs, Perth singer/songwriter Stella Donnelly turned inward. “I’m taken out to sea in the flood / Swimmer looking for the line,” she sings on Flood’s title track, a bittersweet beauty of a centerpiece about keeping one’s head above water while awash in the emotional tumult that tends to accompany such introspection. Where Beware of the Dogs paired Donnelly’s emotionally explosive songwriting with bright indie-pop sounds and only occasional solemnity, Flood flips that script, as if to bare Donnelly’s battered heart (“Is it a pipe dream to want my children / Never to wake up and hear a woman screaming?” she considers on “Morning Silence”) with a newfound sense of peace and acceptance. Donnelly wrote Flood on piano, rather than guitar, a major contributor to the record’s more stately approach—“You’re the bit that holds us all together,” she declares on “Move Me,” as if in tribute to the instrument. It’s a serious album from a serious songwriting talent. —Scott Russell
Run For Cover Records
Is there a “right” way to respond when you’re looking death in the eye? Faced with this and other existential questions, Sam Ray made his first new music as Teen Suicide in the better part of a decade, writing honeybee table at the butterfly feast over several years of struggling through a mysterious respiratory illness, and recording it around hospital stays. Ray’s condition not only brought on a near-death experience, but also made performing and recording difficult, forcing him to push through physical dysfunction to excel as a songwriter: “I had to be judicious, only choosing songs I felt were my best, and which best represented me as an artist, because by this point I was looking at it as my last album,” Ray recalls in press materials. Teen Suicide has never been an easy project to pigeonhole, and that’s truer than ever on the mercurial honeybee table, as Ray embraces his—and all of our—everyday battles to find fulfillment, as well as an expansive sonic palette, with wide-open arms. —Scott Russell
More notable August 26 releases: Blondie: Against The Odds 1974-1982, Bret McKenzie: Songs Without Jokes, Eyedress: FULL TIME LOVER, Ezra Furman: All of Us Flames, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith: Let’s Turn It Into Sound, Laufey: Everything I Know About Love, Marcus King: Young Blood, Muse: Will of the People, Pantha du Prince: Garden Gaia, Pianos Become the Teeth: Drift, Tedeschi Trucks Band: I Am The Moon: IV. Farewell, Valerie June: Under Cover