OK, so maybe this summer wasn’t the carefree party we all hoped it’d be thanks to the damned Delta variant, but the warm months gave us plenty of great music. And looking ahead to fall, fans of all genres have plenty to be excited about, the least of which is that, unlike last year, there will be concerts and festival performances to go along with the slew of new albums coming as the temperatures start to dip. Many artists will be getting back on the road for the first time in ages, and many more will finally bring us the LPs they’d been either working on or holding onto while everything was still shut down. So, start unpacking your Taylor Swift cardigans and get prepped for a Hot Inoculated Autumn with this list of confirmed albums, festivals, and rumored releases to get pumped about.
Drake, Certified Lover Boy
Every time Drake’s latest seems to be done, he posts some cryptic IG story showing him back in the studio, hard at work on it. But, for once, the man has kept his word and is his new, and sixth, album is out before the leaves start turning, having been rolled out painfully slow all year and then, rapidly, this week in the form of billboards in major cities across the U.S., Toronto, and Nigeria announcing all of its many many features — and, of course, after taunting Kanye West every step of the way. Pregnant yet?
Imagine Dragons, Mercury—Act 1
The Vegas pop-rockers are back with their fifth album, for which Rick Rubin produced most of the tracks. Expect an even more serious effort from the quartet — the latest single, “Wrecked,” is a tribute to front man Dan Reynolds’s sister-in-law, Alisha, who passed away from cancer in 2019.
Kacey Musgraves, star-crossed
The artist’s long-awaited fifth album is almost here. The 15-song record is inspired by Greek myths, tracing the arc of “a modern tragedy in three acts.”
Metallica, The Metallica Blacklist
For the 30th anniversary of their legendary Black Album, Metallica enlisted artists to cover the original LP’s tracks. Miley Cyrus, Jason Isbell, Phoebe Bridgers, St. Vincent, J Balvin, and Mickey Guyton are among the acts contributing to the charity effort’s 53 tracks.
Sleigh Bells, Texis
It’s been five years since Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller have put out an LP, but judging by their latest single, “Locust Laced,” they’re as chaotically hooky and noisy as ever.
Lil Nas X, Montero
Nas is the only artist on this list who literally dicked everyone around, courtesy of the “Industry Baby” video, leaving us hanging for months on a release date for his self-titled debut album. Now that we have it, we want more and the man has delivered: from an album cover of biblical proportions, to a pregnancy announcement complete with a fashion editorial, to teasing features from Elton John, Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, and Miley Cyrus, to resetting the standard for the album rollout while somehow doing so much more than Kanye and Drake combined in the same timeframe.
Charley Crockett, Music City USA
It’s a country-heavy fall, and Charley’s baritone, old-school vibe and modern edge feels like the past, present, and future of the genre, and then some.
Mickey Guyton, Remember Her Name
Guyton became the go-to case in discussions about country music’s lack of diversity. Hopefully her debut album will remind everyone of her pure talent as a vocalist and a songwriter.
Various Artists, I’ll Be Your Mirror
The Velvet Underground’s ’67 debut gets the cover-tribute treatment with a lineup of stars that just makes sense: Michael Stipe, Iggy Pop, Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, St. Vincent, Matt Berninger, Kurt Vile, and more. It was overseen by producer Hal Willner, a friend of Lou Reed’s who passed away from COVID in April 2020, and comes out weeks before the premiere of Todd Haynes’s Apple TV+ documentary on the band.
Nao, And Then Life Was Beautiful
After her second album, 2018’s Saturn, earned Grammy and Mercury Prize nominations, the English singer isback with her unique blend of lush soul and trippy R&B. The album will feature collaborations with serpentwithfeet, Lucky Daye, and Adekunle Gold.
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Love for Sale
Tony and Gaga’s second duets album marks the 95-year-old crooner’s last official release before he retires owing to Alzheimer’s. Here, the duo will tackle standards by the great Cole Porter, including “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “It’s De-Lovely,” and “Night and Day.”
Brandi Carlile, In These Silent Days
The Grammy winner and bestselling memoirist returns with an album she penned during quarantine that, she says, blends “resistance and gratitude, righteous anger and radical forgiveness.” You can hear all of that in the lead single “Right on Time,” featuring the sharp-yet-warm production by Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings.
Natalie Hemby, Pins and Needles
The country world knew about Natalie Hemby long before she joined the Highwomen; she penned No. 1 hits for the likes of Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, and Toby Keith. Pins and Needles,her second solo album, should give her the front-and-center shine she has long deserved.
Coldplay, Music of the Spheres
For their ninth album, Chris Martin and the boys are teaming up with Max Martin for a full-on concept record about space and music across the universe. They’ve already released the catchy “Higher Power” and album closer “Coloratura,” a ten-minute epic that sounds like something Pink Floyd would’ve done if they had been upbeat dudes.
Young Thug, Punk
The Atlanta star returns with the follow-up to his 2019 debut, So Much Fun, with this introspective collection. Thug gave us all a glimpse of the subtler, rock-influenced instrumentation and more of his crooning skills during an NPR Tiny Desk (Home) Concert. It’ll be one of the fall’s most intriguing hip-hop records.
Ed Sheeran, =
The British singer-songwriter and noted Friends fan is back with another album named after a math symbol. This one, pronounced “equals,” is the follow-up to 2017’s ÷ and covers all that’s happened in his life since, including becoming a husband and a dad, and losing some friends, including his mentor, Australian music exec Michael Gudinski. His passing inspired the ballad “Visiting Hours,” which follows the album’s bouncy lead single, “Bad Habits,” released back in June.
The War on Drugs, I Don’t Live Here Anymore
Adam Granduciel & Co.slowly put together this record in the time since 2017’s Grammy-winning A Deeper Understanding. Their latest single, “Living Proof,” is a bit more low-key than prior efforts, but their plans for a massive tour suggest this LP will have plenty of energy.
Damon Albarn, The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows
What began as an orchestral piece about Iceland turned into a more straightforward solo album from Albarn, thanks to his time in pandemic isolation. The somber title track suggests it doesn’t veer far from its intended vision.
Courtney Barnett, Things Take Time, Take Time
Barnett returns with another album of twangy bangers. Enjoy the hypnotic tones of “Rae Street” while you wait for the full-length record.
Taylor Swift, Red (Taylor’s Version)
Swift’s second rerecorded album is a response to the change in ownership of the masters to her first six albums. This version expands the 2012 original’s track list to all 30 songs that were written for the LP, including collaborations with Phoebe Bridgers and Chris Stapleton, singles that didn’t make the original LP or were recorded by other artists, and a ten-minute version of “All Too Well.”
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raise the Roof
In the wake of the massive success of their first folk-rock collaboration, 2007’s Raising Sand, Plant and Krauss started work on a follow-up that never materialized. But — surprise! — they found the spark, and studio time, to resurrect the project for this LP.
Also Coming Soon
Lady Gaga, Dawn of Chromatica: The Remix Album
Little Simz, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Amyl and the Sniffers, Comfort To Me
Andrew W.K., God Is Partying
Colleen Green, Cool
Diana Ross, Thank You
J Balvin, Jose
James Blake, Friends That Break Your Heart
Low, Hey What
Cynthia Erivo, Ch. 1 Vs. 1
José González, Local Valley
Lindsey Buckingham, Lindsey Buckingham
Melissa Etheridge, One Way Out
Angels & Airwaves, Lifeforms
Boys Noize, +/-
Brittany Howard, Jaime Reimagined
Caleb Landry Jones, Gadzooks Vol. 1
Kari Faux, Lowkey Superstar Deluxe
Natalie Imbruglia, Firebird
Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine, A Beginner’s Mind
Hovvdy, True Love
Billy Bragg, The Million Things That Never Happened
Lala Lala, I Want The Door To Open
Ladyhawke, Time Flies
Magdalena Bay, Mercurial World
Porches, All Day Gentle Hold!
Sam Fender, Seventeen Going Under
Johnny Marr, Fever Dreams Pt 1
Deerhoof, Actually, You Can
Duran Duran, FUTURE PAST
Elton John, The Lockdown Sessions
Helado Negro, Far In
My Morning Jacket, My Morning Jacket
Rumored Albums, TBD
As we suspected, it was fruitless to expect an Adele album in the summer — it’s just not her season for releasing. But we know she’s recorded new stuff, so maybe she’s got an album that’ll get us through Thanksgiving?
Frontman Win Butler said that he wrote for a year before the pandemic derailed the band’s recording plans, and then ended up with two or three albums’ worth of material during lockdown, so maybe a half or third of that will be out by year’s end.
A$AP Rocky, All Smiles
All frowns till you release it, man.
Camila Cabello, Familia
Perhaps, once she’s done living out her Cinderella fantasy, she’ll get in full album release mode in preparation for her third album, Familia, which she described as being “inspired by two things: family & food.” (Lead single, “Don’t Go Yet,” is a little taste of both.) Or, perhaps Shawn Mendes will keep the fantasy going and she’ll keep us guessing until next year….
Okay, so Cardi’s second child will probably arrive before this album, but you never know. We’re happy for her no matter what!
Well, we now know more about this album, the followup to 2017’s Pulitzer-winning DAMN, than we ever have before, thanks to a dispatch from the man himself from the studio. He recently revealed that he’s currently working on what will be his final album for the label that’s been his home from the start, Top Dawg Entertainment. Did he say when said album would come? Of course not. “There’s beauty in completion. And always faith in the unknown,” Lamar wrote. “See you soon enough.” Make of that what you will.
Lana Del Rey, Blue Banisters
We thought this would come out on Independence Day but nope. Instead, that day, we got a single preview, following the releases of three singles in the Spring. So, whatever she and Jack Antonoff have cooked up might’ve needed a little more time in the kettle and we’ll hear it soon?
We’re really hoping that her Cardi B team-up, “Rumors,” is a sign of an album to come before the end of the year. In July, she said she was in the studio with Mark Ronson, so that might mean nothing is too imminent just yet. Or, the opposite.
Noname, Factory Baby
Still Noword on when exactly this might show up, unfortunately.
We can keep marveling at the steamy “Wild Side” video but we’d much prefer a whole album.
Phife Dawg, Forever
All respect to a legend — we want to hear to the late, great MC’s solo output whenever those close to him honor his one-of-a-kind stature and feel it’s ready for us to hear.
On Pop Smoke’s posthumous track “Tell the Vision,” Push rapped, “Look, Tyler got the album of the year, for now / But Pop about to drop, I see the platinum in the clouds / Now Push about to drop, so real trappers stick around / The crown is only for the king, they tryna place it on a clown.” Well, now with Kanye and Drake out of the way too, prove it.
Well, to be fair, billionaires don’t have to run on anyone else’s schedule.
The pandemic apparently put a hold on Rosalia’s third album, so we’ll just have to go back to her collab with Bad Bunny, “La Noche de Anoche,” as we wait.
Saweetie, Pretty Bitch Music
It seems Saweetie is still putting the perfect finishing touches on this long-awaited LP. As she told Vulture in July, Cher made her rethink some aspects of her artistry and she retreated to Paris to “finish” it, so we’ll have to see how that manifests itself.
After gifting us with her Life on Mars EP in 2020 and the “Body” video earlier this year, Walker’s spent 2021 giving birth and repeatedly teasing her upcoming follow-up to her smash debut Over It. Lil Durk, Diddy, Pharrell, and Omarion are among the collaborators her social media hints have suggested, so we’ll see when the new mom brings us the whole project.
We’ve heard some new tracks via a livestreamed concert, plus her Space Jam “Just for Me” collab with SAINt JHN, and a recent three-pack of exquisite loosies uploaded to SoundCloud on a Sunday (a new tradition she said she wants to keep up), so it seems this still-untitled follow-up to Ctrl is almost here.
Travis Scott, Utopia
Trav debuted “Escape Plan” at Rolling Loud and teased a script of Utopia when he inked a deal with film studio A24, so something must be imminent. It’s just a matter of which of his apparent buns in the oven is ready first.
Vince Staples, Ramona Park Broke My Heart
After the confounding 22-minute blast of his self-titled, July-released LP, Staples says he has another album in the works that seems like it could be released at any minute.
He keeps saying “the dawn is coming” but never specifies the dawn of which day. Breathtaking, indeed.
Summerfest — September 2–18, Milwaukee, WI
Electric Daisy Carnival Mexico — September 3–5, Mexico City, Mexico
Made in America — September 3–5, Philadelphia, PA
Electric Zoo — September 3–5, New York, NY
Bottlerock — September 3–5, Napa, CA
Hopscotch — September 9–11, Raleigh, NC
Pitchfork — September 10–12, Chicago, IL
Riot Fest — September 16–19, Chicago, IL
Isle of Wight — September 16–19, Isle of Wight, UK
iHeart Music Festival — September 17-18, Las Vegas, NV
Life Is Beautiful — September 17–19, Las Vegas, NV
Sea.Hear.Now — September 18-19, Asbury Park, NJ
Treefort Music Fest — September 22-26, Boise, ID
Firefly — September 23-26, Dover, DE
Louder Than Life — September 23-26, Louisville, KY
Governors Ball — September 24–26, New York, NY
Ohana — September 24–26, Dana Point, CA
Austin City Limits — October 1-3 and 8-10, Austin, TX
Aftershock — October 7-10, Sacramento, CA
One Musicfest — October 8-9, Atlanta, GA
All Things Go — October 16, Columbia, MD
III Points — October 22-23, Miami, FL
EDC Las Vegas — October 22-24, Las Vegas, NV
Shaky Knees — October 22-24, Atlanta, GA
Rolling Loud NYC — October 28-30, New York, NY
Outside Lands — October 29-31, San Francisco, CA
Voodoo Music + Arts Experience — October 29-31, New Orleans, LA
Welcome to Rockville — November 11-14, Daytona Beach, FL
Day N Vegas — November 12-14, Las Vegas, NV
Tortuga — November 12-14, Fort Lauderdale, FL
EDC Miami — November 12-14, Miami, FL
Rolling Loud LA — December 10-12, Los Angeles, CA