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25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2020

From BTS to Deftones, these are 25 artists we want records from before the year ends

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I know what you’re thinking … Can we skip the fall and just escape to 2021 already?

I’m with you in spirit, but if the last several months have taught us anything, it’s that we have no way of knowing when things will improve. And, if you have been taking some time in 2020 to discover new music, you’ve probably been thankful that you took those opportunities to be present in the moment, uncertain as the bigger picture may be. While release schedules have been flipped on their heads — and god only knows how many tours and festivals have been canceled or postponed into oblivion — artists have still managed to drop some remarkable music in 2020. No doubt some of it has actually been inspired by these uncertain times.

In just the first half of the year or so, we saw great pop records from Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, and Perfume Genius, triumphant returns from veteran favorites like Fiona Apple, Pearl Jam, and Run the Jewels, and even the re-emergence of legacy acts like The Pretenders and The Psychedelic Furs. There have also been no shortage of must-catch newer artists, such as Rina Sawayama, 070 Shake, and Beach Bunny, dropping dynamic records. Suffice it to say, if you’ve found nothing new worth listening to this year, you probably haven’t been looking hard enough.

So, yes, 2020 has been terrifying and unnerving on many levels. That goes without saying. But we offer you a small, good thing, and that’s the hope that things will get better soon, and even if they don’t, that there will be new music this fall to help us through. So, take a break, turn off the news, and sit down with one of these records about to drop this fall.

Here are 25 that we are looking forward to.

–Matt Melis
Editorial Director


Angel Olsen – Whole New Mess

angel olsen whole new mess album artwork

Release Date: August 28th via Jagjaguwar

Why We’re Excited: Angel Olsen has expanded her sound with each album, culminating in the bold orchestration of last year’s All Mirrors. That masterpiece of an effort came with the promise of a companion collection, Whole New Mess, which returns to the stark atmosphere of her earlier works. There’s no use comparing the two, though, because with Olsen, there is no “at her best when…” — her top form is whatever she’s doing at that very moment. To be receiving examples of her most elaborate and rawest abilities back to back like this is nothing short of a gift. –Ben Kaye

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Nasty C – Zulu Man with Some Power

Nasty C - Zulu Man

Release Date: August 28th via Universal Music

Why We’re Excited: Touted as the “coolest kid in Africa,” Nasty C was born in 1997 in the famed Soweto township of Johannesburg, South Africa. He started dropping professional-quality music as a teenager and officially announced himself as a rap prodigy with the 2015 hit “Juice Back”. Now, he’s both young and a veteran — a 23-year-old wiz kid with two albums and a slew of shorter projects under his belt. Zulu Man with Some Power is his Def Jam debut, highlighted by the bilingual tour-de-force “Zulu Man”. His lyrical skills make him universal, but this tribute to his home is very specific, rooted in the experience of growing up Black in the first years after the end of Apartheid. –Wren Graves

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Marilyn Manson – We Are Chaos

Marilyn Manson - We Are Chaos

Release Date: September 11th via Loma Vista

Why We’re Excited: Coming off two excellent albums in The Pale Emperor and Heaven Upside Down, Marilyn Manson enjoyed a creative resurgence in the 2010s. Now, with a new decade upon us, the Antichrist Superstar is back with his 11th studio album, We Are Chaos. This time around, Manson has tapped outlaw country artist Shooter Jennings as his producer, with an attention to melody clearly evident on the recently released title track. The song is a mid-tempo ode to ‘70s glam-rock, powered by Manson’s distinct vocal rasp, offering an infectious taste of what’s to come from the ever-evolving shock rocker. –Spencer Kaufman

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The Flaming Lips – American Head

The Flaming Lips - American Head

Release Date: September 11th via Warner Bros.

Why We’re Excited: It’s only fitting that Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips would have a recorded say in a year as strange as 2020. Actually — and you may have missed it — the band joined forces with the ladies of Deap Vally to put out an album as, you may have guessed it, Deap Lips earlier this year. That project, though quickly overshadowed for many by the COVID-19 pandemic, found the Lips, as Coyne says, stumbling upon “some very lucky kind of magic,” not to mention some of the experimental band’s most accessible songs in ages. It’s a magic that seems to have continued as the Lips tease us with tastes of American Head. While we love our Flaming Lips weird, there’s nothing wrong with something we can tap and bob along to as they transport us to far-off places. Beam us up, boys! –Matt Melis

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Deftones – Ohms

Deftones Ohms - album artwork

Release Date: September 25th via Reprise

Why We’re Excited: Deftones are that rare veteran band who have yet to release a weak album, despite a recording career spanning a quarter century. While their last LP, Gore, may have been met with more criticism than their previous LPs, it was by no means a poor effort. However, the band have returned to their roots with the new album, Ohms. Producer Terry Date, who helmed Deftones’ first four LPs, including White Pony and Around the Fur, is back for the band’s ninth full-length effort, and if the recently released title track is any indication, Deftones are in fine form on the most highly anticipated rock album of the fall. –Spencer Kaufman

Preview:

Click ahead for more anticipated albums…


IDLES – Ultra Mono

idles ultra mono album cover artwork 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2020

Release Date: September 25th via Partisan

Why We’re Excited: It’s really a bummer that live music isn’t happening right now, because IDLES shows are some of the most fun and most entertaining out there. The Ultra Mono Tour would have been (and hopefully will be) spectacular. Jumping around in a packed, dark venue surrounded by strangers who love IDLES as much as you do sounds like a far-away dream in our current state of Hell, so, for now, you’ll have to play pretend in your living rooms with your eyes closed, imagining Joe Talbot and the rest of the IDLES boys are playing their brand-new LP just a few feet away. –Annie Black

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Sufjan Stevens – The Ascension

sufjan stevens ascension album artwork cover 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2020

Release Date: September 25th via Asthmatic Kitty

Why We’re Excited: Sufjan Stevens’ last proper solo album was released five years ago, which seems about five years too long. In the last half-decade, he’s composed music for New York City Ballet, done a collaborative album with his step-father, Lowell Brams, offered two of maybe the best songs of his career (and a devastatingly beautiful version of “Futile Devices”) to Luca Guadagnino’s iconic Call Me by Your Name, and much more. However, the heart wants what it wants, and that’s a full LP. Stevens’ last album, 2015’s Carrie & Lowell, was a brilliant, thoughtful, genuine collection of songs, and with what we’ve heard from the two new singles so far, The Ascension will be well worth waiting for. –Annie Black

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Sylvan Esso – Free Love

Free Love by Sylvan Esso album artwork cover art

Release Date: September 25th via Loma Vista

Why We’re Excited: Fear, hate, and division may dominate the news cycle these days, but there’s plenty more to humanity than suffering. Sylvan Esso’s new album, Free Love, reminds us of that, which is why we need it now more than ever. Their third record overall asks us to reflect upon ourselves in order to find personal strength, knowing that this will in turn help us “remember all the times when loving other people seemed so easy,” explained the band. The world isn’t instantly cured when the heart knows no bounds, but living sure does become a whole lot less taxing and problematic. –Lake Schatz

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BLACKPINK – The Album

BLACKPINK_Album Art (1)

Release Date: October 2nd via YG

Why We’re Excited: Never mind that low-key rumbling in the distance — that’s just a gathering army of Blinks ready to overrun the world’s Internet servers on October 2nd. BLACKPINK shattered world streaming records with the release of “How You Like That”, tying their own collaboration with Lady Gaga (“Sour Candy”) as the highest-peaking single by a female Korean act on the Billboard Hot 100. These fans are devoted, and it’s easy to see why; with an audacious visual style and some of the most vibrant pop music in the world, BLACKPINK are poised for domination. –Wren Graves

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Dolly Parton – A Holly Dolly Christmas

dolly parton a holly dolly christamas album cover artwork

Release Date: October 2nd via Butterfly

Why We’re Excited: A Christmas album — even one by Ms. 9 to 5 herself, Dolly Parton — usually wouldn’t be the type of release we’d be anticipating, but after Parton put her mouth where her heart is regarding Black Lives Matter a couple weeks ago, we’ve found an even higher level of respect for the pioneering country singer who has spent her entire career fighting the good fight in good faith. So, this year, we’ll be ringing in the holidays with Dolly and a slew of guests like Miley Cyrus, Willie Nelson, and Jimmy Fallon for a mix of traditional Christmas songs and five Parton-penned originals. It’s all shaping up that “Dumb Blonds” will have more fun this holiday season. –Matt Melis

Preview:

Click ahead for more anticipated albums…


Jónsi – Shiver

jonsi new album shiver artwork cover 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2020

Release Date: October 2nd via Krunk

Why We’re Excited: Shiver marks the first solo album in 10 years from Jónsi, and it comes at a time when the Sigur Rós frontman has been especially experimental in the studio. He previously worked with pop singer Troye Sivan on the Golden Globe-nominated Boy Erased song “Revelation” and, under the moniker Dark Morph, has been creating albums out of marine field recordings. If there’s anything that the Shiver credits tell us — Robyn, Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser, and A. G. Cook all appear — it’s that Jónsi is happily continuing to evolve and push his sound to different places. –Lake Schatz

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Matt Berninger – Serpentine Prison

Serpentine Prison Matt Berninger

Release Date: October 2nd via Concord

Why We’re Excited: The National is one of those bands that truly is the sum of its parts. It is Aaron and Bryce Dessner’s arrangements as much as it is Matt Berninger and Carin Besser’s melodies and lyrics. That makes any individual going solo an intriguing proposition, particularly when it’s the somber-toned frontman who doesn’t play an instrument. Berninger has rallied quite the creative team to fill in the gaps, including producer Booker T. Jones and contributors like The Walkmen’s Walter Martin and Matt Barrick, Andrew Bird, Menomena/EL VY’s Brent Knopf, and even The National’s own Scott Devendorf. With no doubts about his songwriting abilities, it’s just going to be exciting to see how he fares with a different cast of collaborators around him. –Ben Kaye

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Shamir – Shamir

Shamir - Shamir Album cover

Release Date: October 2nd via Self-Release

Why We’re Excited: Despite the pandemic, Shamir is gearing up to release his second album of 2020. Following March’s Cataclysm, the indie artist is readying a self-titled record for October 2nd. According to a statement, Shamir finds the Philly-based musician swapping his R&B and pop palette for something with a little more grit. Shamir specifically looked “toward the post-hardcore ’90s for further inspiration — from Olympia, Washington, cult heroes Unwound to bands of the Kill Rock Stars orbit.” The shift in musical direction may be a bit surprising to fans. But for Shamir, it’s a natural evolution and one that places him at his most centered. “I felt like it didn’t need a name [for the album], cuz it’s the record that’s most me,” Shamir says of the LP, which he also considers his most accessible since 2015’s Ratchet. –Lake Schatz

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Sun Ra Arkestra – “Swirling”

Swirling by Sun Ra Arkestra album artwork cover art

Release Date: October 9th 2020 via Strut

Why We’re Excited: The pioneering jazz collective Sun Ra Arkestra are set to release their first new studio album in 20 years. The forthcoming LP was recorded at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia and will be released on Strut Records. To preview the album, Sun Ra Arkestra have unveiled “Seductive Fantasy”, a fresh take on a track that originally appeared on the 1979 album On Jupiter. The new version features an animated video created by Canadian musician Chad Van Gaalen. Since the passing of the group’s leader, Sun Ra, in 1993, Sun Ra Arkestra have been led by Marshall Allen. Though this marks their first new studio album since 1999, the collective have kept a prolific touring schedule, including performances at Big Ears Festival and Pitchfork Festival in recent years. –Alex Young

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Future Islands – As Long As You Are

Future Islands As Long As You Are 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2020

Release Date: October 9th via 4AD

Why We’re Excited: Too much of the last few years has been filled with the wrong sort of passion. We need the counterweight, someone who can wrangle, embrace, and expel our most indescribable emotions with cathartic vigor. We need Samuel T. Herring. Future Islands, now a quartet with drummer Mike Lowry officially inducted, have a habit of pairing entrancing arrangements with heart-grabbing lyrical themes. Theirs is the heaviest form of bliss, an intoxicating force that frees you to feel good even when overwhelmed by the bad. If that doesn’t scream “relief” in 2020, not much will. –Ben Kaye

Preview:

Click ahead for more anticipated albums…


beabadoobee – Fake It Flowers

beabadoobee fake it flowers artwork cover 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2020

Release Date: October 16th via Dirty Hit

Why We’re Excited: Last year, singer-songwriter beabadoobee (aka Beatrice Laus) released her Space Cadet EP, a fantastic 20-minute reimagining of grunge with pop undertones, featuring “I Wish I Was Stephen Malkmus”, a song dedicated to the Pavement frontman. Now, with a viral TikTok song under her belt and three pre-album singles that showcase something a little more in-depth and sophisticated, beabadoobee is finally ready to release her debut, Fake It Flowers, on Dirty Hit in October, and boy are we ready. –Jennifer Irving

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FUZZ – FUZZ III

II by FUZZ album artwork cover art

Fuzz, Courtesy of Fuzz

Release Date: October 23rd via In the Red

Why We’re Excited: FUZZ are back, and they’re ready to blow out your speakers. Ty Segall’s beloved garage rock trio will release a new album, III, on October 23rd. This is the first new album FUZZ have released in five years and serves as the follow-up to their 2015 full-length, II. As such, this eight-track album sees Segall on drums, Charles Moothart on guitar, and Chad Ubovich on bass performing raw, headbang-worthy songs. Best of all, they’ve linked up with Steve Albini, who serves as the album’s producer and mixer. FUZZ celebrated the news with lead single “Returning”, a song that meditates on the power of solitude, individuality, and perspective while simultaneously ripping apart at the seams with straight-up rock. It’s the exact type of return you would hope for when it comes to FUZZ. –Nina Corcoran

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Elvis Costello – Hey Clockface

Elvis Costello hey clockface album cover artwork hi res

Release Date: October 30th via Concord

Why We’re Excited: Even 40 years into his career, few artists are more reliable than Elvis Costello, OBE. With his 31st album, Hey Clockface, on the way, we both know what to expect and are excited for the unexpected. Early singles have hinted at some of his most unrestrained arrangements in years alongside some sly and polemical lyrics, a Costello unleashed. What’s more, the album was recorded in three cities — Helsinki, Paris, and New York — and so far we’ve only heard the Helsinki Sound. That means we haven’t even been introduced to two-thirds of the songwriting suites of the LP, leaving the prospects of where Costello will take us wide open. –Ben Kaye

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Mr. Bungle – The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo

Mr. Bungle Easter Bunny

Release Date: October 30th via Ipecac

Why We’re Excited: Mr. Bungle have announced a newly re-recorded version of their 1986 demo The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny, which will be released on October 30th via Ipecac Recordings. The band have also unveiled a music video for the lead single, “Raping Your Mind”. The highly anticipated album is the first full-length LP from the band since 1999 and features an all-star lineup. Classic members Mike Patton (vocals), Trevor Dunn (bass), and Trey Spruance (guitar) are joined by Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian and longtime Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, just as they were for their successful reunion tour earlier this year. This isn’t the left-field art rock of California, but full-on classic hardcore taken to thrash metal extremes. With the new LP, the band revisited its origins and gave the songs the proper recordings they deserved. For good measure, Ian and Lombardo add significant thrash credentials to the supergroup. –Jon Hadusek

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Adele – TBA

adele-happy-birthday-32-instagram-photo-update-essential-workers

Adele, Photo from Adele’s Instagram

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Adele has experienced heartbreak and loss before, but her split from husband Simon Konecki seems to have led to a transformation none of us could have ever foreseen. After spending the last year refocusing on herself — and very privately so, save for that one Instagram shout-out to essential workers — it feels as though the pop phenomenon is ready for something drastically different. Her physical appearance conveys that, sure, but it’s the confident glow she’s been radiating all along that is most promising: Adele has begun writing a new chapter in this book called life, and boy, is she having fun. Soon, we’ll get to know why. –Lake Schatz

Click ahead for more anticipated albums…


BTS – TBA

stream bts dynamite single new music release 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2020

BTS, photo via Big Hit

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Pandemic be damned, BTS are not slowing down in 2020. With two globally successful albums already under their belts this year — Map of the Soul: 7 and its Japanese-language companion, Map of the Soul : 7 ~ The Journey ~ — an upcoming MTV VMA appearance, and a new concert film called Break the Silence due out in late September (depending on theaters), the group have done more in one year than most do in several. Still, BTS insist that they’re far from done in 2020, promising — and their ARMY fanbase will hold them to it — another new album before the year is out. If their word isn’t good enough for you, they’ve already teased some of the “positive energy” that record will include with first single “Dynamite”. Check it out below! –Matt Melis

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The Cure – TBA

the cure robert smith goth

Robert Smith, photo by Debi Del Grande

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: The Cure were expected to hit the ground running in 2020. After taking the past decade off from new releases, frontman Robert Smith had announced that they now have three new albums in development — with one due for imminent release. The best part? Fans likely wouldn’t have to go through another 12-year waiting period for its follow-up, as Smith also disclosed that the second of the three albums is nearly set to go as well. Good things truly do come to those who wait. Hopefully, the wait won’t be much longer. –Lindsay Teske


Drake – Certified Lover Boy

Drake and Lil Durk in video for "Laugh Now Cry Later"

Drake and Lil Durk in video for “Laugh Now Cry Later”

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Say what you will about Drake, but few superstars put in as much time at the studio. Earlier in August, he contributed two songs to Popcaan’s FIXTAPEwhile July saw him pop off on “Only You Freestyle” with Headie One and team with DJ Khaled on “Popstar” and “Greece”. At the end of April, Drizzy released his Dark Lane Demo Tapes, although you have to go back to 2018’s Scorpion to locate his last studio album. Now, though, he appears set to finally release a follow-up to Scorpion. According to an Instagram post a couple weeks ago, “Laugh Now Cry Later” is from his next project, Certified Lover Boy. And if there’s one thing we know about Drake, it won’t be long before we hear more. –Wren Graves

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J. Cole – The Fall Off

J Cole - The Fall Off

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: When J. Cole announced a pair of singles, “The Climb Back” and “Lion King on Ice”, back in late July, fans of the North Carolina rapper finally had reason to believe that The Fall Off, his long-promised follow-up to 2018’s KOD, might finally be on its way. Sadly, Cole put any hopes of getting the album in our hands anytime soon quickly to rest. “Taking my time, still finishing,” he wrote on Instagram. A month later, and we’re still waiting on an official release date, but with the rapper’s Dreamville Festival postponed, maybe he’s had time to finally finish. We can dream, right? –Matt Melis

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Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 3

Raekwon Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 3 new album wu-tang clan

Raekwon, photo by Erick Sasso

Release Date: TBA

Why We’re Excited: Cinema has The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, but rap’s greatest gangster franchise is Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…. The first installment dropped like a bomb in 1995, one of the best of a very good run of Wu-Tang Clan solo records. Then, the 2009 sequel somehow lived up to the expectations, delivering one of the great rap statements of the first Obama presidency. Now’s not the time to think about the mess of The Godfather Part III; now’s the time for optimism. Raekwon already told us what these songs are built for, and our job is to put them on. –Wren Graves

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