Summer Music Preview: Over 40 Key Albums

  • Publish Date: May 9, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 7 user comments

Below, we preview some of the most noteworthy albums scheduled for release between now and Labor Day. As always, for an even more thorough (and frequently updated) list of upcoming release dates, you can also check our Album Release Calendar.

Aesop Rock
Skelethon July 10

The indie hip hop artist has had a relatively quiet five years—his last album was 2007's None Shall Pass 74—but 2012 is shaping up to be much busier. First up is Skelethon, the MC's first entirely self-produced release, which will be out July 10th on Rhymesayers; expect contributions from Kimya Dawson, Allyson Baker of Dirty Ghosts, Hanni El Khatib, Rob Sonic, DJ Big Wiz and the Grimace Federation. Rock will likely have a second album out later in 2012 as well: a collaboration with Dawson under the band name The Uncluded.

Fiona Apple
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw, And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do June 19

A new Fiona Apple album? It's true; this June, TIWIWTTDOTSAWCWSYMTRWED (okay, so maybe The Idler Wheel is a better nickname) will be the singer-songwriter's first release since 2005's Extraordinary Machine 84, though it's not her first album title to be too long to tweet. Little is known about the new album, including who produced it, though the mere fact that it exists should be enough for long-waiting fans, especially given the strength of the first single "Every Single Night." (We do know that the deluxe version of the release adds a bonus track and a DVD containing live footage from SXSW). Apple begins a North American on the album's release day.

The Beach Boys
That's Why God Made the Radio June 5

Now celebrating their 50th anniversary, legendary surf rockers The Beach Boys have reunited for their 29th studio album and first batch of new songs since 1992. Yes, Brian Wilson is back with the group—serving as the group's producer for the first time since 1977—and so is guitarist David Marks, making his first appearance on a Beach Boys record since 1963 (when he was a teenager). While it might be a bit much to expect another SMiLE out of musicians who are pushing 70, the just-released title track doesn't skimp on the band's trademark harmonies.

Beach House
Bloom May 15

Fans have had to wait a few years for a sequel to their breakthrough third album Teen Dream 82 in 2010, but next week Baltimore dream pop duo Beach House finally return with Bloom. Vocalist Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally recorded the new album in Tornillo, Texas, once again with Teen Dream producer Chris Coady, and if the lead singles “Myth” and “Lazuli” are any indication, the band are as comfortable as ever in their nearly trademarkable dreamscape sound. The BBC has already called Bloom their "best work so far."

>> July 3 (digital: June 13)


Geoff Barrow has been a busy man over the past few years, touring with his main band Portishead, starting his own label (Invada), releasing an album of songs inspired by Judge Dredd comics (Drokk), and, now, putting the finishing touches on the second album for his side project Beak>. That band's 2009 debut Beak> 72 played up the Krautrock/motorik beats heard to a lesser extent on Portishead's excellent Third 85, and the first track leaked from their upcoming sophomore set >> suggests more of the same (and that's not a complaint).

Best Coast
The Only Place May 15

Los Angeles duo Best Coast blew up in 2010 with their debut Crazy for You 76, and they’re back next week with their sophomore album The Only Place, which finds Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno attempting to take their sunshine pop to the next level. Like its predecessor, the new album is short and sweet, with 11 tracks running under 35 minutes long. Lead singles “The Only Place” and “Why I Cry” hint at the subtle audible changes that are provided by new producer Jon Brion. If you liked the first album, you’ll probably like this one too.

Big K.R.I.T.
Live from the Underground June 5


"I Got This"

"I Got This"

Originally scheduled to be released last September, Mississippi rapper/producer Justin Scott's official debut album has been delayed due to sample clearance issues until what now seems like a firm June 5th release date. Thanks to the critical success of his 2011 mixtape Return of 4Eva, (and this year's follow-up 4eva N A Day 77), Live from the Underground arrives as one of the year's most-anticipated hip-hop albums, assuming it finally drops. The tracklist hasn't been finalized, but expect blues legend B.B. King to feature on one track, while Big Sean, 2 Chainz, 8Ball & MJG, and Anthony Hamilton should also appear.

The Lost Tapes (Box set) June 19

If members of one of the most influential bands in history dig through their studio and discover hours of never-before-released material from their prime, it's certainly cause to celebrate. The Lost Tapes—all three discs of it—is the result of just such a find, containing dozens of studio recordings (and some live cuts, including a 16-minute version of their classic "Spoon") from the trailblazing German rockers dating from 1968-77. The songs were originally discarded for various reasons (some were for soundtracks for films that were never released; others were omitted from albums for space reasons), and they include material with main vocalist Damo Suzuki as well as original singer Malcolm Mooney.

The Stoned Immaculate June 5

The New Orleans rapper—one of the more prolific hip hop artists going—returns with his eighth studio album in three years, and second for major Warner Bros. The Stoned Immaculate finds Curren$y joined by the likes of Wale, Wiz Khalifa, Big K.R.I.T., and 2 Chainz.. As if the album title weren't enough of a giveaway, anyone who pre-orders the album will find it "packaged with an exclusive 'Up In Smoke' rolling tray."

The dB's
Falling Off The Sky June 12

Fans of power pop rejoice! Falling Off The Sky marks the first studio album from cult faves The dB's in 25 years, and the first record featuring the band's original lineup of Peter Holsapple, Chris Stamey, Will Rigby, and Gene Holder in three decades. Fans of the band—as well as those of early R.E.M. or other jangly Southern alt-rock—should find much to like on the new record, which sounds like it could have been recorded in their early 1980s heyday.

Dirty Projectors
Swing Lo Magellan July 10

After releasing a collaborative EP (Mount Wittenberg Orca 79) with Bjork last year, the arty indie group will finally release a successor to their 2009 breakthrough Bitte Orca 85 in July. Leader David Longstreth crafted the album alone in a rural upstate New York house, and that "creepy," wintry vibe would seem to be a good fit for the band's music. Lead single "Gun Has No Trigger," though, is anything but chilly, coming off as a smooth slice of pop. A North American tour follows the album's release in July and August.

Aimlessness June 5

One of several projects for electronic musician Jimmy Tamborello, Dntel is still best known for 2001's Life Is Full of Possibilities 77 and its track "(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan," which gave birth to The Postal Service, Tamborello's later collaboration with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie. While later Dntel albums, including 2007's Dumb Luck 60, didn't achieve the same level of acclaim, Tamborello hopes to recapture the magic with Aimlessness, which contains a dozen new tracks including collaborations with Nite Jewel and Baths.

Missy Elliott

It’s been a hot minute since Missy Elliott radically altered the pop landscape with her freaky kaleidoscopic sound, and it looks like a follow-up to her so-so 2005 album The Cookbook 74 is imminent. Tentatively titled Block Party, the album will find Elliott reuniting with frequent collaborator Timbaland, and has at one point or another been rumored to feature Lil Wayne, T-Pain, former Spice Girl Mel B, and even Amy Winehouse. While Timbaland has been talking about a summer release, M.E.’s album could be delayed yet again, so don’t get your hopes up too much.

Cancer for Cure May 22

After spending much of his time running the label Definitive Jux, alt-rap pioneer El-P has finally made the transition from executive back to recording artist, returning this month with Cancer for Cure, his first LP since 2007's I'll Sleep When You're Dead 80. Released on his new label Fat Possum, C4C features appearances by Killer Mike, Danny Brown, Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire, and Interpol's Paul Banks. El-P also is the producer for Killer Mike's own R.A.P. Music, out next week.

Manifest! June 5

Dance-friendly Brooklyn indie rockers Friends (who are named after an album by The Bolshoi, not the NBC sitcom or the acquaintances who "like" your status updates) gained instant attention last year with their insanely catchy debut single "I'm His Girl," which was enough to place the band on NME's list of 2011's top 50 artists. Next month, they make their full-length debut with the self-produced Manifest!, which includes another great new single, "Mind Control," mixed by Paul Epworth (Adele, Bloc Party).

Not Your Kind of People May 22

’90s nostalgia is currently all the rage, and Garbage have returned seven years after their last original album, Bleed Like Me 56, to bask in the retro spotlight. The band’s new fifth album, Not Your Kind of People, finds singer Shirley Manson and band members Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker firmly embracing their alt-rock roots and their pop/industrial/electro sound as heard in lead single “Blood for Poppies.”

The Gaslight Anthem
Handwritten July 24


After three increasingly successful indie releases, including 2010's American Slang 80, The Gaslight Anthem make the jump to the big leagues this summer with their major-label debut Handwritten. The New Jersey rockers—yes, they've been endorsed by Bruce Springsteen, who has joined them on stage in the past—recorded the new album in Nashville with producer Brendan O'Brien (who is also no stranger to The Boss), and they'll be supporting it with stops on the festival circuit this summer.

A Joyful Noise May 22

While their subsequent albums have failed to capture the critical acclaim of their 2003 sophomore set Movement 81, Gossip have achieved some mainstream success with their recent recordings (especially in the UK), earning a major-label contract in the process. Later this month, Beth Ditto and company return with their first album in three years, recorded under the guidance of noted British pop producer Brian Higgins (Xenomania) after sessions with Mark Ronson didn't pan out.

Glen Hansard
Rhythm and Repose June 19

The frontman of Irish rock band The Frames, Glen Hansard has achieved greater fame in recent years by starring in the film Once 88 (which earned him an Oscar for best original song and is now a Broadway musical) and forming the folk-rock group The Swell Season with his co-star Markéta Irglová. About the only thing Hansard hasn't done is release a solo album, but that changes next month with the arrival of Rhythm and Repose. Irglova guests on the new 11-song album, which was produced by Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) and features members of Bruce Springsteen's new horn section.

Hot Chip
In Our Heads June 12


"Night and Day"


British dance outfit Hot Chip are back with their fifth album In Our Heads only eight years after their debut album Coming on Strong 67 dropped in 2004. (And those five albums don't even include releases from the various side projects for the band's members, like The 2 Bears and About Group.) Hot Chip has switched labels from DFA/Astralwerks to the even more indie-minded Domino, and leaked tracks “Flutes” and “Night and Day” are influenced by extended vinyl dance mixes of the ’80s. The band are hitting the road in June to promote the album, and will even be headlining the world-famous Hollywood Bowl in September.

Celebration Rock June 5

Already being called "one of the year's most thrilling rock records" by Rolling Stone, Celebration Rock is the second studio album from the Canadian guitar-drums duo of Brian King and David Prowse, following 2009's Post-Nothing 82. The concise, eight-song set is produced by the band themselves and includes a cover of The Gun Club's "For The Love Of Ivy."

WIXIW June 5

The ever-mysterious Liars are set to follow 2010's Sisterworld 78 with ... well, what, exactly WIXIW will sound like is hard to predict, as the band is notorious for changing directions on each album. (Even the pronunciation of the album title is an open question, according to the somewhat menacing album trailer.) We do know that the album was co-produced by Mute head Daniel Miller, and his influence may be responsible for the reported emphasis on electronic elements found throughout the new album's tracks (many of which incorporate real-world samples), such as the moody but winning lead single "No. 1 Against the Rush."

Synthetica June 12

The Emily Haines-fronted indie rockers (who share two members, including Haines, with fellow Canadians Broken Social Scene) return in June with a successor to 2009's Fantasies 77. Synthetica is produced by the band's own Jimmy Shaw, and Lou Reed guests on penultimate track "The Wanderlust."

On the next page ...

Continue reading for 20+ additional albums expected this summer, from artists including Neil Young, Sigur Ros, The Walkmen, and more.

Comments (7)

  • laurencesmb  

    What about Twin Shadow?

  • IsaacHale  

    Great feature! One correction: "Delicacies" was the last Simian Mobile Disco album, not Temporary Pleasure.

    Albums I'm excited for:

    Hot Chip - In Our Heads
    Simian Mobile Disco - Unpatterns
    Metric - Synthetica
    Sam Sparro - Happiness
    Scissor Sisters - Magic Hour
    Van She - Idea of Happiness
    Gossip - A Joyful Noise

  • Perspicacious  

    Jason Deitz says about Fiona Apple's upcoming The Idler Wheel, Little is known about the new album, including who produced it.

    Well, Every Single Night has Van Dyke Parks written all over it. That's my guess. And my hope.

  • HazimHaemoglob  

    Nelly Furtado?

  • Dingo  

    Nice feature. Going to be a good summer.

  • jasher  

    Excited about the possibility of new Missy/Timbaland work, but not getting my hopes up too high.

  • LamontRaymond  

    I'm curious about the new Rush, and I'm sure I'll pick up Tenacious D for a few laughs, but I'm more truly excited about the new Heavy Cream (Super Treatment) and the upcoming Bella Novela.

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