Below, we preview some of the most noteworthy albums scheduled for release between now and Labor Day. As always, check our ongoing Album Release Calendar for an even more thorough (and frequently updated) list of upcoming album release dates.
Body Music July 8 (Island) [UK only; US release tbd]
Here's a debut to watch. After releasing a series of increasingly strong singles over the past year—as well as a collaboration with Disclosure (who also have their debut album due this summer) on the hit song "White Noise"—the London-based electronic-pop duo of vocalist Aluna Francis and producer George Reid will drop their first full-length release in the UK this summer, with an American release expected to follow shortly thereafter. A final tracklist hasn't been confirmed, though all of the previously released singles are expected to appear on the LP.
BE June 10 (Columbia) [UK only]
Beady Eye—aka the remaining members of Oasis, minus Noel Gallagher—didn't exactly impress critics with their 2011 debut Different Gear, Still Speeding 65, though some longtime Oasis fans liked it. Still, changes are in store for the follow-up, most notably in the choice of producer: the in-demand Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio, whose ideas weren't always welcomed by the band. Also joining Liam Gallagher, Gem Archer, Andy Bell, and drummer Chris Sharrock again—on BE—is Gorillaz guitarist Jeff Wootton, though replacing him on Beady Eye's tour will be Kasabian guitarist Jay Mehler.
Silver Wilkinson May 14 (Warp)
England's Stephen Wilkinson has been releasing intriguing albums of pastoral electronica—incorporating his own guitar playing and vocals, among the samples and synthetic instrumentation—on Warp Records since 2009's acclaimed Ambivalence Avenue 79. This fourth Warp release shows off his folkier, more organic side, veering closer to his pre-Warp debut than his recent releases. Just how dedicated is Wilkinson (the artist)? The video for the terrific lead single "À tout à l'heure" is composed of footage he has been photographing for the last 13 years.
13 June 11 (Universal)
"God Is Dead?"
Jimmy Carter was in the White House the last time heavy metal legends Black Sabbath recorded an album with Ozzy Osbourne as their frontman (1978's now-not-ironically-titled Never Say Die!), but now, he and (most of) the group have reunited to record a new album with producer Rick Rubin. Though ill, guitarist Tony Iommi was part of 13's recording sessions, but original drummer Bill Ward was not; taking his place is Rage Against the Machine drummer Brad Wilk. The nearly 9-minute lead single "God Is Dead?" suggests that there just may be life in this old band yet. A deluxe edition of 13 (The title refers to the current year; it's actually the band's 19th album) includes a bonus disc with a few extra studio tracks.
Boards of Canada
Tomorrow's Harvest June 11 (Warp)
Here's how to build buzz for your upcoming album. First, hide a single copy of a nearly unlabeled 12-inch single in six indie record stores around the world, and make sure that it contains only a brief snippet of audio and a unique six-digit number. Then start changing your existing YouTube playlist to hide even more clues among your older videos. While you're at it, run a mysterious ad in the middle of the night on Adult Swim. The result? Every music blogger in the world is primed for the official album announcement (which came after fans who were able to put the various codes together were able to uncover another video). Of course, it helps that Boards of Canada is already one of the most beloved electronic acts of the past two decades, and that they haven't released a new album since 2005's The Campfire Headphase 79. Still, the 17-track, hour-long Tomorrow's Harvest is only the second-most-anticipated electronic album of the summer; perhaps the BoC brothers should try donning matching helmets.
Desire Lines June 4 (4AD)
"Do It Again"
Returning for the first time since 2009's strong My Maudlin Career 80, the Scottish indie-pop band enlisted contributors like Neko Case and My Morning Jacket's Jim James for their fifth album Desire Lines, recorded in Portland with producer Tucker Martine (Spoon). A North American tour kicks off next month.
Random Access Memories May 21 (Columbia)
Even more press-averse and even less prolific than Boards of Canada, the helmeted French electronic music duo Daft Punk are equally skilled at generating buzz for their releases. And there definitely has been no shortage of publicity for Random Access Memories, their first proper album since 2005's disappointing but accurately titled Human After All 57 (not counting their 2010 soundtrack for Tron: Legacy 71), with buzz building through a series of making-of videos called "The Collaborators" (which, naturally, have already been spoofed). The reason for the videos and much of the buzz is the unusual amount of live instrumentation and guest vocals on Random Access Memories, thanks to an all-star guest roster that includes The Strokes' Julian Casablancas, legendary producer Giorgio Moroder, singer-songwriter Paul Williams (yes, the man who wrote "Rainbow Connection"), Animal Collective's Panda Bear, house producer Todd Edwards, and Chilly Gonzales, plus a host of session musicians from some of the duo's favorite 1970s and '80s albums. Lead single "Get Lucky," featuring vocals from Pharrell and a straight-from-the-1970s guitar hook from disco legend Nile Rogers (Chic), set Spotify's single-day streaming record and became the band's highest-charting single to date while triggering at least one terrific cover version. Despite all of the excitement resulting from the build-up to the album's release, Daft Punk have denied that they will tour this year. Updated 5/9: Here are the first reviews for the new album.
IV Play May 28 (Def Jam)
Depending on how you count, it's either the fourth (hence the title) or the fifth album from R&B singer-songwriter Terius Nash. Originally set to be released in 2011 (when it was called Love IV, as it followed three "Love"-titled albums including 2010's Love King 79), the album was repeatedly delayed due to ongoing contract negotations, with Nash using the hiatus to quickly record and release a free album under his given name, titled 1977 66. Now renamed to IV Play, the new set looks likely to finally reach stores at the end of the month, though a final tracklist has not yet been confirmed ("Slow It Down," his collaboration with Fabolous, should make the cut—as should appearances by Jay Z and Mary J. Blige—but a Beyonce collaboration may be eliminated due to sampling issues).
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros July 23 (Community Records)
The Los Angeles-based folk-rock band led by Alex Ebert haven't always won over critics—while Rolling Stone named their 2012 album Here 62 among the year's 10 best records, other publications were divided on the album's merits—but their fanbase keeps growing. Their self-titled third album features a dozen tracks that rank among the Zeros' "rawest, most liberated, most rambunctious" work to date, according to Ebert. A lengthy summer tour kicks off later this month.
Lip Lock May 14 (From the Rib)
Grammy-winning recording artist Eve hasn't released an album since 2002's Eve-Olution 68, concentrating instead on her acting career over the past decade. That's not to say she hasn't been in the recording studio; Eve first began work on this fourth album back in 2007, and the result (then titled Here I Am) was close to release before being scuttled by problems at her then-label Interscope. In addition to being retitled, Lip Lock has also been reworked in the ensuing years, with the resulting tracklist alternating between pop and hip-hop. Guests include Missy Elliott, Snoop Dogg, Cobra Starship's Gabe Saporta, Miss Kitty, and Dawn Richard.
Personal Record June 4 (Merge)
"Stare at the Sun"
Half (along with her brother) of the duo Fiery Furnaces, Eleanor Friedberger has been concentrating on her solo career in recent years, with her main gig on hold. While her solo debut, 2011's Last Summer 79, received almost universal praise—and is certainly more accessible than most of FF's work—if everything on her follow-up is as good as the catchy pop perfection of lead single "Stare at the Sun," you won't be missing The Fiery Furnaces for long. Expect Friedberger to hit the road with a full band this summer.
Future Bible Heroes
Partygoing June 4 (Merge)
"Living, Loving, Partygoing"
One of the numerous ongoing recording projects for Magnetic Fields leader Stephin Merritt, Future Bible Heroes hasn't released an album since 2002's Eternal Youth 67. Partygoing, like its predecessors, is a more synth- and dance-oriented than recent Magnetic Fields output (with music written chiefly by Chris Ewen), and finds Merritt splitting vocal duties with Claudia Gonson (also of Magnetic Fields). The new album will also be released as part of a four-disc box set that includes Future Bible Heroes' entire catalog, including past albums, EPs, and rarities (all remastered). The band will tour in July.
Ultraviolet May 28 (Season of Mist)
Spiral Shadow 85, the last proper studio album from Savannah, Georgia sludge metal band, was one of 2010's best-reviewed releases and firmly established the group as one of the top psych-metal acts around. Now, three years later, Kylesa finally returns with a follow-up, their unusual time signatures and dual-drummer attack intact, though the band's Laura Pleasants has stated that Ultraviolet is "colder and darker" and more introspective than their previous album.
Love in the Future June 25 (Columbia/G.O.O.D.)
"Who Do We Think We Are"
Although, as of a few weeks ago, the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter was still mixing some of its tracks, it looks like John Legend's fourth studio album and first in five years (not counting his 2010 collboration with The Roots) will finally arrive this June after originally being targeted for a release last fall. Lead single "Who Do We Think We Are" features Rick Ross, and other likely guests and producers include frequent Legend collaborators Kanye West and Dave Tozer, as well as No ID, Hit-Boy, Da Internz, and Q-Tip.
Once I Was An Eagle May 28 (Ribbon)
Though she's just 23, British singer-songwriter Laura Marling (a former member of the band Noah and the Whale) has already been nominated for two Mercury Music Prizes, with three acclaimed albums under her belt (including 2011's A Creature I Don't Know 82). Critics are fond of calling her mature beyond her years, but she's prolific too, with her fourth album set for release in a few weeks. Eagle features 16 tracks, though the first four blend into a seamless, 15-minute whole. Working again with producer Ethan Johns, Marling again seems to have a winner on her hands, with NME taking an early listen to the album and declaring, "In 20 years she'll be celebrated as one of the greats – just be glad you could be here now."
Cold Spring Fault Less Youth May 28 (Warp)
Sometimes lumped in with the dubstep (or post-dubstep) movement, London-based electronic music duo Mount Kimbie don't fall cleanly into any label, other than "talented"; their debut album, Crooks & Lovers, was a staple on best-of-2010 lists. Last year, the pair signed to Warp Records, and that label will release Mount Kimbie's second full-length at the end of the month. The three-year gap seems to have brought some changes to the group's sound, most notably in the increased reliance on original vocals, as heard in the first two tracks released so far. Two additional tracks will feature vocals from singer-songwriter King Krule.
Trouble Will Find Me May 21 (4AD)
You don't need any more information than "a new album by The National is coming out" to circle May 21st on your calendar—after all, this is the band whose last three albums were the nearly flawless High Violet 85, Boxer 86, and Alligator 82—though it doesn't hurt that their self-produced sixth album features guests ranging from St. Vincent to Sufjan Stevens to Sharon Van Etten, or that the material released so far is up to the same quality level as past releases. The indie rockers have certainly managed to stay busy in the months leading up to the album's release; their documentary Mistaken for Strangers premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and a few days ago, they became an art exhibit, repeatedly performing their song "Sorrow" at MoMA for six straight hours.
Slow Summits May 28 (Domino)
"Check My Heart"
Not necessarily a household name in the United States—and once dismissed as twee along with many of the other artists appearing on NME's famed C86 compilation—the Glasgow, Scotland-based Pastels nevertheless influenced countless bands on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1980s and '90s with their 1960s-referencing "anorak pop" DIY indie-rock sound. (Artists ranging from Jesus and Mary Chain to Kurt Cobain have cited the band as a major influence.) Never an act to frequent the recording studio, The Pastels released just four studio albums, with their last being 1997's Illumination, though they did collaborate with Japanese act Tenniscoats in 2009 and release a soundtrack album in 2003. The group never disbanded, though, and will finally return with a proper fifth studio album this month. Recorded with producer John McEntire, Slow Summits features contributions from Craig Armstrong and members of Teenage Fanclub and To Rococo Rot.
Pet Shop Boys
Electric July 16 (X2)
Produced by Stuart Price, the veteran duo's 12th studio album is their most dance-oriented outing in years, pulsing and clubby where previous outing Elysium 67 was reflective and subdued. Lead single "Axis," reportedly like much of the album, sounds not far removed from the band's 1980s output. (One thing that has changed: Electric is the first Pet Shop Boys album not to be released on Parlophone; instead, the band's own X2 label gets the honors.) Also included: a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Last To Die."
More Light May 13 (Ignition) [UK only; US release expected in June]
The band's first album since 2008's Beautiful Future 64, More Light is already earning Primal Scream their best reviews in over a decade. Anyone hoping for an album to match their 2000 classic XTRMNTR 90 will have to wait a bit longer, but this is the closest they've come yet in both sound and quality. One of their more guitar-driven, rock-oriented outings, Primal Scream's latest reunites the band with XTRMNTR collaborators David Holmes (who produces throughout, and supplies many of the backing musicians) and Kevin Shields (of My Bloody Valentine, here contributing guitar to "2013"), and the result adds a number of strong, high-energy songs to the band's canon, even if not every track's a winner.
Queens of the Stone Age
... Like Clockwork June 4 (Matador)
Queens of the Stone Age albums are definitely not like clockwork; the last one, Era Vulgaris 75, emerged six years ago. But a lengthy hiatus for the Josh Homme-led project finally ends—after a rough two-year recording process that saw the depature of drummer Joey Castillo—with the band's sixth studio album next month. The band's Matador debut, Clockwork features an impressive (and impressively eclectic) roster of guests, including Elton John, Trent Reznor, Brody Dalle, Jake Shears (of Scissor Sisters), Alex Turner (of Arctic Monkeys), and James Lavelle (of UNKLE), while Dave Grohl handles most of the drumming duties, and frequent QOTSA collaborators Mark Lanegan and Nick Oliveri also return.
Kveikur June 18 (XL Recordings)
Few bands sound as wintry as Iceland's Sigur Rós, but we'll take a new album from them any time of year. An usually quick follow-up to last summer's Valtari 74, Kveikur finds the band reinventing their sound, moving away from the sleepy, ethereal atmospherics of past releases in favor of a slightly heavier (or in the case of lead single "Brennisteinn," significantly heavier), more aggressive sound, though one that is still unmistakably Sigur Rós.
Pythons June 11 (Warner Bros.)
The West Palm Beach alt-rock band made quite a splash with their 2010 debut Astro Coast 79, but have released only a short EP in the ensuing years despite signing a major label deal. Now, they finally return with their Warner Bros. debut, Pythons, which was recorded in Hollywood with producer Gil Norton (Pixies), despite early reports of teaming up with producer Phil Ek.
These New Puritans
Field of Reeds June 10 (Infectious) [UK only]
Returning to the studio for the first time since 2010's acclaimed and expansive Hidden 83, British art rockers These New Puritans are set to release their third album next month. Produced again by the band's own Jack Barnett with Graham Sutton of Bark Psychosis, Field of Reeds will feature vocals on many of its tracks by Portugese jazz singer Elisa Rodrigues.
Where You Stand August 19 [UK only]
Veteran Glasgow alt-rockers Travis have just announced an August release date for Where You Stand, the band's seventh studio album and first since 2008's Ode To J. Smith 66. Michael Ilbert (The Hives) produced the new set, which features 11 tracks, including the previously leaked "Another Guy" and official first single "Where You Stand."
False Idols May 28 (!K7/False Idols)
The now 45-year-old trip-hop artist and former Massive Attack member hasn't received quite the same level of acclaim for his 21st century output as he did for standout 1990s albums like Maxinquaye, though he is using that classic album as a reference for the new False Idols, which he describes as "being about me finding myself again," and indeed sounds destined to draw a lot of Maxinquaye comparisons. The new album, which includes a cover of Van Morrison's "Somebody's Sins," features collaborations with Peter Silberman of The Antlers, Nigerian artist Nneka, and several performers signed to Tricky's own label (also called False Idols), including Francesca Belmonte, who fills the void left by one-time Tricky collaborator Martina Topley-Bird.
Modern Vampires of the City May 14 (XL Recordings)
Full album stream (iTunes)
What sounds like a great idea for a new CW series is actually the highly anticipated third album from New York indie rockers Vampire Weekend, who previously released 2008's Vampire Weekend 82 and 2010's Contra 81 to widespread acclaim. Don't worry; despite one naysayer, the first batch of reviews suggest similar praise is in store for Modern Vampires, which was co-produced by Ariel Rechtshaid—the first time the band has worked with an outside producer.
tbd June 18 [tentative] (Def Jam)
When Kanye West cryptically tweets a specific date to his 9 million followers, people pay attention. And while Def Jam immediately confirmed—and then just as immediately unconfirmed—June 18 as the release date for West's long-gestating sixth studio album, it looks likely that a West album is coming soon, even if that's not the actual date. If it does hit this summer as expected, the still-untitled LP immediately jumps to the top of the list of the season's most anticipated albums. Kanye's last solo release, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 94, was 2010's best-reviewed album, and while the ensuing years have seen a collaboration with Jay-Z as well as a label sampler, fans are hungry for MBDTF's true follow-up. The early word on the new material, which was partially recorded in Paris earlier this year, is that it is "dark" and "gritty," though it is unclear if the final tracklist will include either or both of the reported two collaborations he recorded with Daft Punk. Other collaborators may include Odd Future, Skrillex, and John Legend. Look for West to possibly perform some of his new material on the May 18 episode of Saturday Night Live.
A Better Tomorrow tbd July
We'll see if the tentative July release date holds, but the 20-year-old hip-hop group is finally nearing the release of A Better Tomorrow, which they have been recording in fits and starts since 2011. When it does drop, it'll be their first proper album together since 2007's 8 Diagrams 73.
With Love [2xCD] June 18 (4AD)
Mysterious London producer Zomby (real name unknown) has released three albums in the past—most recently, 2011's Dedication 79—but With Love is set to be his biggest release yet ... literally. Clocking in at 33 tracks across 2 discs, the new set may include some material familiar to longtime fans.
What do you think?
Which albums are you looking forward to this summer? Let us know in the comments section below.