The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in August

Music Lists New Albums
The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in August

In the words of both Taylor Swift and Bananarama, it has been a cruel summer so far. As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, we’re all constantly adapting and, for many, giving up normal summertime activities has been an uncomfortable adjustment. But, now, fall is finally in sight (even if it’s still violently hot outside), and August brings a slew of new music to carry us through the last blaze of summer. This month we’re thrilled to hear the long-awaited new album from Bright Eyes, plus The Avett Brothers’ anticipated Third Gleam and No Joy’s first new album in five years. It’s gonna be a good month for new music. See all our picks for August below.

August 7

Jason Molina: Eight Gates
Secretly Canadian

It can be difficult to hear never-before-heard music by an artist who has since passed. But it can also offer a glimmer of beauty. This month Secretly Canadian will release the last known collection of Jason Molina songs recorded before his death due to alcoholism-related issues in 2013. Recorded in London, these nine songs don’t quite have the coherence of an album, but they all sound like Molina, featuring his signature humor and heartbreak. Featuring such interesting sounds as tropical bird chirps and Molina’s characteristically dry studio banter (“Alright, everybody shut up, this is my record,” he chimes on “The Crossroad + The Emptiness”), Eight Gates doesn’t necessarily feel fully complete, but that’s because it wasn’t. We never got to hear what Molina might have accomplished with these songs if he had survive. But we’re still damn lucky to have ‘em. —Ellen Johnson

Mary Chapin Carpenter: The Dirt And The Stars
Lambent Light Records via Thirty Tigers

Veteran folk singer/songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter strapped on her boots for a new album called The Dirt And The Stars, and so far the singles have been promising. That includes “American Stooge,” a classic Americana rocker about a jaded all-American guy who can’t quite find the right avenues for his cynicism. Or, as Carpenter puts it, “‘American Stooge’ is a song dedicated to those experts in sycophancy who roam the halls of Congress and government, attaching themselves to any powerful interest that suits their need to be relevant and feeds their appetite for power.” —Ellen Johnson

More notable August 7 releases: The Microphones: Microphones In 2020, Video Age: Pleasure Line, Washed Out: Purple Noon, Glass Animals: Dreamland, Tough Age: Which Way Am I?

August 14

Notable August 14 releases: Fantastic Negrito: Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?, Kathleen Edwards: Total Freedom, Eric Slick: Wiseacre, Whitney: Candid

August 21

Bright Eyes: Down In The Weeds Where The World Once Was
Dead Oceans

When Bright Eyes announced their first new album since 2011, the media excitedly reported on the band’s reconciliation. But, in reality, Bright Eyes never really broke up. They wandered in different directions, sure, but there were no hard feelings. Gathering to record Down In The Weeds Where The Worlds Once Was was a matter of good timing and schedules aligning. Frontman Conor Oberst suggested the idea for a new record at bandmate Nathaniel Walcott’s Christmas party in 2017, and the pair called the third member of their trio Mike Mogis from the bathroom to pitch the idea. “It was just something we wanted to do for ourselves, because we were all in this stage of our lives…” Oberst says. “Between kids being born and people dying and divorces and people falling in love and all of the crazy amount of life that’s transpired for the three of us, personally… It was just like, what are we going to do? Let’s do the thing we do best. Let’s make a record.” They certainly did some of their best work on Down In The Weeds… The album sounds undeniably like a Bright Eyes record, but it ebbs and flows with new anxieties and darknesses. Fans will delight in a true-to-style Bright Eyes record, but, at the same time, any music fan will be able to appreciate the gruesome grandeur of this folk-rock mastery. —Ellen Johnson

No Joy: Motherhood
Joyful Noise Recordings

Jasamine White-Gluz is back with No Joy’s first album in five years. The Canadian outfit arrived in 2010 with their debut Ghost Blonde, and have been releasing feedback-cloaked shoegaze with mystifying beats ever since. Their new LP Motherhood is the most ambitious thing they’ve ever done, but White-Gluz’s ear for immersive soundscapes remains. Here, No Joy expand into the realms of pummeling metal (“Dream Rats”), groovy trip-hop (“Four”), pulsing electro-pop (“Ageless”) and skying dance-rock (“Birthmark”), and it’s a heady, wispy ride. Sometimes throwing in everything but the kitchen sink works out. —Lizzie Manno

Sub Pop

Bully are one of the most exciting punk bands of the past decade. 2015’s Feels Like and 2017’s Losing didn’t necessarily reinvent anything, but its fuzzy, melodic rock songs were consistently invigorating, with Alicia Bognanno’s raspy voice packing a major punch. Bognanno is behind the boards again for her new record SUGAREGG, but this time she’s joined by a producer for the first time, John Congleton—not the worst choice for your first co-producer! Even after just one spin, it’s clear that Bognanno hasn’t taken her foot off the punk gas pedal. Her third album and second for Sub Pop is empowering, unrelenting and utterly gripping, with a chance of raw explosiveness at any moment. Even the more subtle numbers like “What I Wanted” and “Prism” will leave a cloud of exhaust smoke and tread marks. —Lizzie Manno

More notable August 21 releases: Dolly Valentine: How To Be Good, The Waterboys: Good Luck, Seeker, Old 97’s: Twelfth, H.C. McEntire: Eno Axis, The Killers: Imploding The Mirage, Girl Friday: Androgynous Mary

August 28

The Avett Brothers: The Third Gleam
Loma Vista Recordings

The Avett Brothers recently announced that the third album in their Gleam series is on its way. The Third Gleam is out Aug. 28, and early last month, the band shared the first single, titled “Victory,” and an accompanying video. Scott and Seth join forces for this stripped-down folk song, whose harmonies and gentle guitar certainly harken back to The Avett Brothers’ early material, which includes The Gleam and The Second Gleam. If “Victory” is any indication of what’s to come, The Third Gleam could be some of their best work in years. —Ellen Johnson

Jyoti: Mama, You Can Bet!
eOne and SomeOthaship Connect

Jyoti, the solo jazz project of multi-talented singer and creator Georgia Anne Muldrow, is named after an Indian word that roughly translates as “divine light.” Muldrow is a modern-day Alice Coltrane of sorts—who herself released a 1987 album called Divine Songs—constantly morphing and creating in a quest for transformational liberation through song. On the third Jyoti album, Mama, You Can Bet!, the Grammy-nominated Muldrow is a one-woman band, playing percussion, piano, guitar and more. Throughout the release, she delivers subdued but stunning vocals over politically charged music that speaks to the pressing times we’re living in. “The Walk” is an exquisite groove, while “Orgone” is an operatic and sinewy piano number with layered vocals. Muldrow even re-works a couple tracks by Charles Mingus, further flashing her multifaceted approach to jazz music as Jyoti. —Adrian Spinelli

Ricky Reed: The Room
Nice Life Recording Company

Ricky Reed has been behind the boards for some of the biggest contemporary pop hits. Prolific as a producer and songwriter for artists like Leon Bridges, Kesha and Meghan Trainor, Reed cemented himself as one of the best in the business as a co-writer and producer on much of Lizzo’s decorated Cuz I Love You. Now, on The Room, Reed builds on music that came out of “NICE LIVE!” livestream sessions with a community of collaborators who he sought to stay creatively connected with as the pandemic’s quarantine lifestyle unfolded. The debut album from Reed is out on his own Nice Life Recording label, and it has already yielded singles like the pensive and punchy “Us” featuring Jim James and duendita and the bouncy and uplifting “Real Magic” with insanely talented producer Terrace Martin and vocalist St. Panther. Also on The Room, collaborations with Lido Pimienta, Dirty Projectors and Alessia Cara hint at an ambitious release from a true industry game-changer in Reed. —Adrian Spinelli

Ruston Kelly: Shape & Destroy
Rounder Records

Ruston Kelly has released a few great singles so far this year, including “Radio Cloud” ahead of his forthcoming album Shape & Destroy, out later this month via Rounder Records. “Radio Cloud” was the Nashville singer/songwriter’s third single from the album. It’s a cathartic country-folk ballad, following the release of the very Elliott Smith influenced “Rubber” and “Brave.” The album is sure to be an enchanting, emotional masterpiece. Preorder Shape & Destroy here, and listen to “Radio Cloud” below. —Danielle Chelosky

Samia: The Baby
Grand Jury Music

After a string of hushed ballads and spirited pop/rock tunes, Samia Finnerty (aka Samia) began drawing ears and eyes. The New York-based singer/songwriter’s debut album The Baby centers on her low, rather soulful voice, and it finds her at her most self-assured. Operating in a ’90s and ’00s pop/rock lane, Samia thrives on soaring hooks, which carry even more power thanks to her impressive vocal range. Upbeat rock songs like “Fit N Full” and “Big Wheel” possess yearning and the type of humor that everyone’s craving these days, and they bring instantaneous choruses, too. Her downtempo side is just as moving, if not more so—“Pool” and “Stellate” are packed with desire, with the former embracing a more ethereal pop airiness and the latter leaning into stripped-down, contemplative rock. —Lizzie Manno

More notable August 28 releases: NEEDTOBREATHE: Out Of Body, Molly Tuttle: ….but I’d rather be with you, Elliott Smith: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition, Angel Olsen: Whole New Mess, Toots and the Maytals: Got To Be Tough

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