The 30 most intriguing summer releases
The summer months may have a hard time topping the spring release calendar for the sheer quantity of acclaimed albums -- after all, early May alone includes discs from The National, LCD Soundsystem and Broken Social Scene, for starters -- but there is enough promising music ahead to soundtrack whatever you have planned for the season.
On the next page, we have a calendar with release dates for over 100 albums, broken down by genre. First, however, let's look more closely at some of the summer's most anticipated releases. (We have excluded major releases coming next week, May 18th, since those were already covered in our spring music preview.) Note that all download links go to the Hype Machine, where you can grab the named MP3s from a variety of music blogs.
(RCA, June 8)
Aguilera’s post-greatest-hits album has her collaborating with a host of left-field talent. Ladytron, Goldfrapp, Sia, and Le Tigre are all said to have taken part on Bionic, but it remains to be seen if their tracks will make the final cut. Frequent collaborator Linda Perry, who wrote Aguilera’s #1 single “Beautiful,” is also expected to return. The album is rumored to have a more upbeat and futuristic sound.
Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty
(Def Jam, July 6)
Billy Ocean fan, Cadillac enthusiast, and OutKast player Big Boi has been trying to release his next solo effort for the past two plus years. Behind-the-scenes label drama is supposedly to blame, with the album now coming out on Def Jam. Leaked tracks “Royal Flush,” featuring Andre 3000 and Raekwon, and “Shutterbugg” are expected to be on the long-awaited album along with collaborations with Cee-Lo, Danger Mouse, and the Neptunes.
Download this: Shutterbugg
The Way Out
(Temporary Residence, July 20)
It seems insufficient to call The Books collage artists; while their music is indeed based on found sounds, snippets of recorded music, and sampled dialogue, the results are carefully crafted (and frequently humorous) compositions that go beyond mere cut-and-paste. Five years in the making, their new album The Way Out, like its acclaimed predecessor Lost and Safe 84, adds some singing and live instrumentation into a stew of samples culled from over 4,000 discarded tapes found in thrift shops and similar places.
Download this: Beautiful People
The Chemical Brothers
(Astralwerks, June 22)
Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons return with their seventh studio album, with single “Swoon” referencing a return to their early psychedelic sound. All eight tracks from the album are being made into videos by longtime collaborators Adam Smith and Marcus Lyall and will be featured on the special edition DVD and iTunes LP versions of the purchased album.
Download this: Swoon
(Atlantic, August 17)
New York/Montreal electro retro-funk duo Chromeo return to the scene after their 2007 hit Fancy Footwork. Business Causal, their third album, sees Dave 1 and P-Thugg working with Solange Knowles on “When the Night Falls.” The previously released, Mountain Dew-sponsored track “Night by Night” will also appear on the album. Too bad their Bonnaroo-featured live guest Daryl Hall doesn’t show up. Maybe next time.
Download this: Night by Night
Crystal Castles [2nd Album]
(Fiction, May 25)
Well, they don't have the whole album-naming thing down yet. Just like their first album (Crystal Castles 73), this second LP from the Toronto-based glitchtronica duo is titled Crystal Castles; unlike the debut disc, however, it consists of tracks recorded specifically for the album, rather than compiling existing material. The album is already available electronically, thanks in part to an Internet leak, which served only to generate even more buzz for the band. It also helps that the early word on the new album is that it's even better than the last one.
Download this: Celestica
Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse
Dark Night of the Soul
(Capitol, July 13)
The collaboration between Danger Mouse, David Lynch, and Sparklehorse is finally getting an official release after last year’s aborted attempt to release the album to coincide with an accompanying book of photographs taken by Lynch. The official release, which features The Flaming Lips, Black Francis, Suzanne Vega, Julian Casablancas, and others, is bittersweet, as collaborators Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse and singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt have since passed away.
Something for Everybody
(Warner Bros., June 15)
The New Wave pioneers haven't released an album in two decades, but original members Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh and Gerald and Bob Casale (together with a new drummer, Josh Freese) have spent the past few years working on new material in their studio after performing together off and on for the past 15 years. The result is Something for Everybody, featuring a tracklist determined via an Internet poll.
Download this: Fresh
Thank Me Later
(Young Money, June 15)
Jimmy Brooks from Degrassi: The Next Generation continues his domination of the rap world as Drake. Finally releasing his first full-length after his tremendously successful third mixtape So Far Gone and “Forever” Sprite ad, Thank Me Later looks to continue his rapid rise. Previously released singe “Over” is to be included and collaborations featuring Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Kings of Leon are on deck.
Download this: Over
(Interscope, June 22)
Originally Eminem was planning to release a sequel to his last album, Relapse 59, but changed his mind in the studio while working on new material. Now, instead of Relapse 2, Recovery arrives with lead single “Not Afraid” (which debuted at #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 this week) actually referencing the lackluster quality of the previous release, with Eminem espousing, “Let’s be honest, that last Relapse CD was ehhhh.” Hopefully, the album will be closer in quality to his first two classic releases.
Download this: Not Afraid
Gang of Four
(Pledge Music, TBD)
The English post-punk legends -- best known for their late-1970s/early-'80s output like Entertainment! -- did issue two albums in the 1990s after a brief split, but Content will be their first new studio LP in 15 years when it arrives this summer. But new music is only part of what GO4 is offering; hardcore fans have an opportunity now to bid on a variety of extras, from an acknowledgement for sponsoring the recording to a helicopter ride with the band to vials of the band members' blood. (All proceeds go to charity.)
The Gaslight Anthem
(SideOneDummy, June 15)
The third album for the New Jersey-based band returns producer Ted Hutt from their well-liked 2008 effort The '59 Sound 77. The group's popularity grew last year after a fan by the name of Bruce Springsteen joined them onstage at Glastonbury, and the group is known for mixing punk aggression with well-crafted, Springsteen-esque lyrics. NME has a track-by-track preview of the new album.
Download this: American Slang
How to Destroy Angels
How to Destroy Angels [EP]
Just because Nine Inch Nails is on hiatus doesn't mean that Trent Reznor isn't recording music. Named after a Coil song, his latest project How to Destroy Angels features Reznor's electronic stylings fronted by wife Mariqueen Maandig's vocals. If the strong first single "A Drowning" (listen over at Pitchfork) is any indication, expect something a lot less aggressive than NIN; in fact, until the vocals kick in, the track could be mistaken for Depeche Mode (not surprising, considering that Alan Moulder handled the mixing). Their six-song debut is set to emerge sometime this summer.
(Glassnote, June 22)
The Boxer is the first solo release for Kele Okereke, lead singer of indie rockers Bloc Party, but where that band is guitar-driven art-rock, this new album (helmed by Spank Rock producer XXXChange) offers dancefloor-ready beats and synths. In other words, it's one side project that actually offers a major departure for the artist. Note that lead single "Tenderoni" is not a cover of the Chromeo song, though both would be welcome at most parties.
Download this: Tenderoni
Sure, the release date is still TBD -- and yet another delay is always possible -- but the Grammy-winning rapper's long-awaited third album is finally expected to arrive before the end of summer. Producers will include the Neptunes and Sound Trak, though the exact tracklisting has not yet been set.
Laws of Illusion
(Arista, June 15)
McLachlan’s latest release after her greatest-hits album is coming out to coincide with the relaunch of her famous Lilith Fair festival. New single “Loving You Is Easy” and Vancouver Winter Olympics single “One Dream” are to be featured on the album, which is produced by frequent collaborator Pierre Marchand.
(Barsuk, July 27)
The Portland, Oregon-based indie rockers with an experimental bent aren't exactly household names, but that could change with Mines, already the subject of positive Internet buzz several months before its release. Menomena's complex but catchy music earned the band raves on earlier releases like I Am The Fun Blame Monster 82 and Friend and Foe 78.
(N.E.E.T./Interscope, July 13)
We're not sure what Maya Arulpragasam has against copy editors (really, "///Y/"?), but we do know that her arty blend of electro/hip-hop/dance music is unlike anything else around, as evidenced by her first albums Arular 88 and Kala 87. Her third album's first music video (for the track "Born Free") has already caused a stir thanks to its graphic violence and nudity, but the first official single "XXXO" showcases M.I.A. at her most poppy and accessible.
Download this: XXXO
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
(Reprise, June 15)
Following the tour of Petty’s reunited first band Mudcrutch, the release of a four-hour Peter Bogdanovich-directed documentary about Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and a four-disc live box set, the band are back with their 11th studio album. Mojo is a more stripped-down effort, largely recorded live with all members in the same room, furthering the band’s reign of classic American rock music.
Body Talk Pt. 1
(Cherry Tree, June 15)
Her previous LP Robyn 86 a full five years behind her, Robyn returns after a couple of EPs with the first part of three albums of built-up material. Body Talk Pt. 1, her fifth album, features the already released “None of Dem” featuring fellow Scandinavians Röyksopp, “Fembot,” and Diplo collaboration “Dancehall Queen.”
Download this: Dancing on My Own
How I Got Over
(Def Jam, June 22)
Jimmy Fallon’s excellent house band The Roots have found time out of their busy schedule to make a ninth album. How I Got Over is said to be more upbeat, reflecting on a post-Bush era. Guests on the album include John Legend, Joanna Newsom, and My Morning Jacket leader Jim James, who helps the band remake his Monster of Folk-fronted track “Dear God.”
School of Seven Bells
Disconnect from Desire
(Vagrant, July 13)
Desire is the second album for the dream-pop/shoegaze band that features former members of Secret Machines and On!Air!Library!. While some critics were left cold by the band's 2008 debut Alpinisms 70, the new album takes a more personal approach, from the recording (in the group's home studio) to the more direct lyrics.
Download this: Babelonia
We Are Born
(Jive, June 22)
Sia Furler’s follow-up to Some People Have Real Problems 64 furthers her ongoing move to have her recorded output match her delirious on-stage persona. Largely absent are the somber tracks like “Breathe Me” that put her on the map and in their place are sophisticated pop songs produced by Lily Allen and The Bird and the Bee producer/co-member Greg Kurstin. The Bird and the Bee singer Inara George sings back-up on the album, and Sia’s stirring cover of Madonna’s “Oh Father,” which was previewed at Coachella, is included as well.
Download this: Clap Your Hands
The Five Ghosts
(Vagrant, June 22)
Montreal's Stars return with their fifth album in June. The five members of the indie pop outfit (who have each at one point performed in Broken Social Scene) share songwriting duties on the synth-heavy The Five Ghosts, which early reports peg as somewhat reminiscent of '80s outfits like New Order and Depeche Mode.
Download this: Fixed
Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots
(Atlantic, May 25)
The ’90s alternative rockers finally release a new album after reuniting in 2008. The band began recording their new self-titled album in mid-2009 in Los Angeles. Previously released single “Between the Lines” will be among the album’s 12 hard-rocking and melodic tracks, with popular street artist Shepard Fairey (featured in the new movie Exit Through the Gift Shop 84) designing the hippie-esque peace symbol found on the cover.
Download this: Between the Lines
(Merge, June 8)
The Scottish rockers return with their ninth studio album, their first since 2005’s Man-Made 79, and show no signs of slowing down. Songwriting/vocalist triple threat Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley, and Gerard Love all contribute to the album’s 12 songs, including first single “Baby Lee,” that were recorded at 17th-century Leeder’s Farm in Norfolk.
Download this: Baby Lee
(Grand Hustle, August 24)
The title, of course, is literal; after pleading guilty to federal weapons charges, the hugely successful Atlanta rapper was sentenced to house arrest and jail, and completed his time earlier this year. While that August release date might be a tad optimistic (the date has already shifted several times), T.I. will be starring in a movie (the bank heist film Takers) that same month, so it certainly is possible. Expect Trey Songz and The-Dream to make appearances, with production coming from the likes of Jim Jonsin, Drumma Boy, and DJ Toomp.
Download this: I'm Back
Tokyo Police Club
(Mom + Pop, June 8)
The Canadian indie-emo foursome hope to better their admittedly disappointing 2008 debut Elephant Shell 68 with their second album, Champ. Hoping to rekindle the magic heard on their 2006 EP A Lesson in Crime, the band are working with producer Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck) to make a more focused album, with single “Breakneck Speed” leading the charge.
Download this: Breakneck Speed
Good Ass Job
(Roc-A-Fella, TBD June)
It's not definite, but it seems likely. The more rap-oriented Good Ass Job, the conclusion to West's college series of albums after the Auto-Tune detour that was 808s and Heartbreak 75, should be out in June. Rumored contributors to the new album, which was recorded in the hip-hop hotbed of Hawaii, include Drake, DJ Premier, RZA, Q-Tip and Pete Rock.
(Sub Pop, June 29)
While some fans and critics were slightly disappointed by the indie band's sophomore set At Mount Zoomer 78 after the triumph of their 2005 debut Apologies to the Queen Mary 83, it was by no means a failure, and many are eagerly awaiting their third release this summer. Whittled down to 11 songs after the band recorded 15 tracks, Expo 86 was recorded mostly live in the studio in a much quicker process than what spawned Wolf Parade's previous releases.
Download these: Ghost Pressure and What Did My Lover Say?
Summer album release calendars
Continue to the next page for release dates for over 100 albums ...