2018 fall music preview: The albums we're most excited to hear

Lyndsey Parker

Hey guys, remember albums? Music consumption habits have certainly changed dramatically in recent years due to the advent of streaming services. But when what is known in the biz as the “fourth quarter” comes around and the holiday shopping season approaches, record labels still attempt to entice music fans to give their full attention (and money) to a slew of exciting new releases — like the ones listed here, ranging from indie darlings (the 1975, Christine and the Queens, Brockhampton) to classic rock heroes (Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, Ann Wilson) to posthumous retrospectives (Prince, Tom Petty).

Keep in mind that in an era of surprise album drops, our seemingly exhaustive guide to this fall’s most anticipated LPs could easily expand. And many artists (Madonna, Rihanna, Lil’ Wayne, Janet Jackson, Frank Ocean, Jennifer Lopez, ScHoolboy Q, Anderson.Paak, the Struts, My Bloody Valentine, Greta Van Fleet, Liam Payne, Robyn, and Vampire Weekend, to name but a few) have rumored albums in works — with no confirmed release dates. But these suggestions are surely enough to help get your shopping started.

Sept. 7

Paul McCartney, Egypt Station
Though parts of it were recorded at the famed Abbey Road studio, the 76-year-old Beatle’s 17th solo album will boast a contemporary pop/rock sound, judging from the singles “I Don’t Know,” “Come on to Me,” and the amusing titled (and surprisingly raunchy!) “Fuh You.” Macca teamed with superstar pop producers Greg Kurstin (Adele, Beck, Sia, Foo Fighters) and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic for the “concept album,” and he’s been promoting it in a thoroughly modern manner, playing secret shows and indulging in a bit of delightful “Carpool Karaoke” with James Corden.

MNEK, Language
He’s only 23, but the British pop prodigy has been in the business for a decade — and, incredibly, he has already collaborated with Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Stormzy, Dua Lipa, and many others. Now it’s time for him to make a name for himself on both sides of the pond with his effervescent solo debut.

Paul Simon, In the Blue Light
As the legendary troubadour, also age 76, retires from touring, he’s in a nostalgic mood, revisiting some of his old favorites here. But this is no slapped-together greatest-hits collection. “This album consists of songs that I thought were almost right, or were odd enough to be overlooked,” Simon recently told Rolling Stone. “Re-doing arrangements, harmonic structures, and lyrics that didn’t make their meaning clear gave me time to clarify in my own head what I wanted to say, or realize what I was thinking and make it more easily understood.” We’ll soon find out if songs like “Can’t Run But” and “René and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War” are better the second time around.

Spiritualized, And Nothing Hurt
The heady head music of Jason Pierce’s venerable shoegaze band’s first album in six years — and possibly their last — is sure to have all you ladies and gentlemen floating in space once again. Swirling soundscapes like “I’m Your Man” and “A Perfect Miracle” are, well, just about perfect.

Lenny Kravitz, Raise Vibration
The rocker returns with his 11th album — his first since 2014, after a struggle with writer’s block. Playing most of the instruments himself, Kravitz seems to have gotten his mojo back, and Raise Vibration may be his most eclectic effort yet. One single, “It’s Enough,” tackles hot topics like corporate greed, political corruption, and racism, while another, “Low,” explores his past sexual relationships. Let love rule, indeed.

Everlast, Whitey Ford’s House of Pain
The veteran SoCal rapper is back with his first full-length studio album of since 2011, and he seems to have a lot on his mind. Lead single “The Culling” is a protest anthem (sample lyric: “When politicians talk/Assume they’re lying/Living on your knees/Much worse than dying”); “The Climb” and “One of Us” reference his 9-year-old child’s battle with cystic fibrosis; and “Don’t Complain” blasts materialism and and fame-worship within the hip-hop scene. Aloe Blacc also features on the bluesy “Slow Your Roll.”

Sept. 14

Carrie Underwood, Cry Pretty
The country Idol has been in the headlines all year due to the media’s obsession with her facial scar, her triumphant post-injury comeback at the Academy of Country Music Awards, and her recently announced second pregnancy. Now her sixth studio album, which is being hyped as her darkest and grittiest work to date, will keep her in the spotlight. Cry Pretty marks the first co-producing effort by Underwood, who teamed with Grammy-winning Florida Georgia Line producer David Garcia for the record.

Ann Wilson, Immortal
The Heart frontwoman, one of the greatest rock singers of all time, pays homage to dearly departed music legends like George Michael (“A Different Corner”), Leonard Cohen (“A Thousand Kisses Deep”), Amy Winehouse (“Back to Black”), David Bowie (“I’m Afraid of Americans”), Tom Petty (“Luna”), and her friend Chris Cornell (Audioslave’s “I Am the Highway”). Her rendition of Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” is especially revelatory in this #MeToo era.

Dreams, No One Defeats Us
Australian rock royalty, Empire of the Sun’s Luke Steele and Silverchair’s Daniel Johns, comprise this electro-rock super-duo. The slinky vocoder workouts “Movies” and “Silence” and the rallying cry of the death-disco title track sound nothing like either band member’s other projects, but sound thrilling nonetheless. The twosome recently made their worldwide live debut at Coachella.

Willie Nelson, My Way
The Red Headed Stranger honors Ol’ Blue Eyes on this lovely collection of Frank Sinatra covers. It’s not the first time that the country outlaw has dipped into the Great American Songbook: His 1978 album, Stardust, featured interpretations of standards like “Summer Wind” (revisited here). Sinatra reportedly called Nelson his favorite singer after hearing Stardust, and he’d surely approve of this record as well.

Good Charlotte, Generation Rx
Punk-pop’s favorite twins are back, still young and hopeless after all these years. The album is said to be a return to their emo roots, as evidenced by the dark and heavy first single, “Actual Pain,” inspired by the opioid crisis and their experience performing at the memorial service last year for rapper/Good Charlotte fan Lil Peep, who died from a fentanyl/Xanax overdose.

Tony Bennett & Diana Krall, Love Is Here to Stay
The 92-years-young crooner celebrates George Gershwin’s 120th birthday by teaming with his onetime tour-mate and his friend of two decades, jazz chanteuse Krall, for this collection of Gershwin interpretations. Krall has previously appeared on two Bennett albums, Duets and Playin’ With My Friends, but this is their first full joint album. The Grammy-winning Bill Charlap Trio provides backing.

Paul Weller, True Meanings
The Modfather says his seminal proto-Britpop band the Jam will never reunite, but he’s releasing enough solo work at a steady clip to keep his fans happy. His 14th solo album, the follow-up to last year’s A Kind Revolution, will include special guests such as the Zombies’ Rod Argent and Oasis’s Noel Gallagher.

Jungle, For Ever
The “Busy Earnin’” London soul collective and festival favorites follow up their 2014 Mercury Music Prize-nominated debut with an ambitious effort, recorded in Hollywood, that they liken to a “post-apocalyptic radio station playing breakup songs.”

Sept. 21

Prince, Piano and a Microphone 1983
From the seemingly bottomless purple vaults comes this previously unheard cassette artifact recorded at Prince’s Kiowa Trail home studio in Chanhassen, Minn. Raw, intimate recordings of “17 Days,” “Purple Rain,” “Strange Relationship,” Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” and the spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep” should provide a fascinating glimpse of the late genius at work.

Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Living the Dream
Somehow, while embarking on the fourth-highest-grossing concert tour of all time for the past two years with the reunited Guns N’ Roses, the legendary GNR guitarist found time to record a new album, fronted by also-quite-busy Alter Bridge singer Kennedy. The anthemic instant classic “Driving Rain” is already the most successful single to ever be released under Slash’s name.

The London Suede, The Blue Hour
The lavish eighth studio album by the criminally underrated ’90s Britpop dandies traffics in the same grandiose glam that made them NME darlings 25 years ago. This one gets an extra symphonic/sonic boost from legendary producer Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails, the Killers, Arctic Monkeys, Interpol, Smashing Pumpkins, My Bloody Valentine).

Macy Gray, Ruby
The cheeky lead single off the funky diva’s 10th album, “Sugar Daddy,” was co-written by Meghan Trainor; it signals a return to Gray’s upbeat signature groove after her 2016 release, the more low-key jazz covers collection Stripped. Other A-list collaborators include producers Johan Carlsson (Ariana Grande, Maroon 5), Tommy Brown (Jennifer Lopez, Fifth Harmony, Travis Scott), and Tommy Parker Lumpkins (Janet Jackson, Justin Bieber).

Josh Groban, Bridges
The popera superstar teams with Andrea Bocelli, Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, and Sarah McLachlan for his eighth studio album. Grab the deluxe version for a bonus track of Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman,” a song that seems tailor-made for Groban’s silky vocals.

Christine and the Queens, Chris
The gender-bending French art-pop provocateur (real name: Héloïse Letissier) unveils her macho “Chris” persona on the much-anticipated follow-up to her 2016 debut, which landed on best-of lists at The Guardian, Mojo, and NME. The latter magazine reports that Chris will sport a “sweaty” and tougher, harder, sexier sound.

Metric, Art of Doubt
The venerable Canadian electro-rockers, currently on tour with Smashing Pumpkins, return with their seventh full-length. The singles “Dark Saturday” and “Dressed to Suppress” have already garnered acclaim from NPR, The New York Times, and Rolling Stone.

Sept. 28

Tom Petty, An American Treasure boxed set
Coming up on the one-year anniversary of the singer-songwriter’s shocking death, this 60-track, four-disc collection of previously unreleased material — curated by Petty’s daughter Adria, wife Dana, Heartbreakers bandmates Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell, and longtime collaborator Ryan Ulyate — is sure to be a bittersweet but exhilarating listen.

Cher, Dancing Queen
Mamma mia! The diva, inspired by her recent role in the Mamma Mia movie sequel, is turning back time by dipping into ABBA’s classic catalog. She tackles camp favorites like “Waterloo” and “Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight),” of course, but we can’t wait to hear her version of the heartstring-tugging breakup ballad “The Winner Takes It All.”

Nile Rodgers & Chic, It’s About Time
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Rodgers is one of the greatest producers and songwriters in pop history, having worked with Diana Ross, Madonna, David Bowie, Daft Punk, Duran Duran, Kylie Minogue, Keith Urban, and many other superstars. Finally he’s back with his own aptly titled album — Chic’s first in 26 years! — kicking off with the single “Till the World Falls,” featuring Mura Masa, Cosha, and Vic Mensa. Other album guests will reportedly include Lady Gaga, Elton John, Miguel, Janelle Monae, Disclosure, and Anderson.Paak. Freak out!

Cypress Hill, Elephants on Acid
The rap/rock pioneers’ first album in eight years is an ambitious, psychedelic, 21-track affair. Group member Muggs, who produced the acid-rockin’ LP, told Rolling Stone that it will give the listener a “feeling like you’re high on hallucinogenic drugs — but you’re not on no drugs.” So, say nope to dope and ugh to rugs, and say yes to this dope album instead, kids!

Rod Stewart, Blood Red Roses
Rod the Mod find himself in a reflective mood on his intimate, personal 30th studio album, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of now 73-year-old rock crooner signing his first solo record deal. For instance, the lead single “Didn’t I” addresses drug abuse from the point of view of a parent — an interesting and unexpected perspective from a man well known for crazy party antics back in his rock ’n’ roll heyday.

Brockhampton, Iridescence (exact September date TBD)
The Pharrell-championed alternative hip-hop collective builds on the buzz of their 2016 mixtape All-American Trash and 2017 Saturation trilogy with their first full-length release for RCA. The group was supposed to drop records titled either Team Effort or Puppy earlier this year, but following allegations of sexual assault against former member Ameer Van, Puppy was delayed. With Van now ousted from the lineup, Iridescence marks a new beginning for Brockhampton.

Loretta Lynn, Wouldn’t It Be Great
For her 41st studio album, the Coal Miner’s Daughter enlists her own daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell, who co-produces with John Carter Cash (the son of Johnny and June). The album, which contains new material plus remakes of previously recorded Lynn tunes, is the third in a series of five albums recorded at Cash Cabin Studio in Tennessee.

Oct. 5

Eric Church, Desperate Man
The country star recently made headlines, and possibly alienated many conservative fans, when he controversially spoke out against the NRA in the wake of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting in Las Vegas. Now, as he releases his eighth album almost exactly one year after that tragedy, we will find out if the country community sticks with him, or if he gets the Dixie Chicks treatment.

twenty one pilots, Trench
Three years after their massive commercial breakthrough Blurryface, the masked men are back with 14 new hard-charging, alt-rock/hip-hop anthems. They nearly broke the internet in July when they broke their yearlong silence by posting the album announcement along with an updated band logo, so suffice to say, the anticipation is high for this one.

Steve Perry, Traces
Following a two-decade hiatus from recording, the reclusive ex-Journey singer is suddenly, surprisingly back with a 10-song album inspired by his girlfriend Kellie Nash, the love of his life, who died in 2012. On a happier note, judging from the strident, arena-ready power ballad “No Erasin’,” it also sounds as if he’s been inspired by Journey’s classic Escape/Frontiers era.

Cat Power, Wanderer
The exquisite Chan Marshall returns with her self-produced 10th album (her first in six years), this time aided by another mysterious chanteuse, Lana Del Rey, on the single “Woman.” The singer-songwriter, who recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of her classic album Moon Pix with a special show at the Sydney Opera House, explained the inspiration for the long-delayed album to Pitchfork: “The course my life has taken in this journey — going from town to town, with my guitar, telling my tale, with reverence to the people who did this generations before me. Folk singers, blues singers, and everything in between. They were all wanderers, and I am lucky to be among them.”

Coheed and Cambria, Vaxis — Act 1: The Unheavenly Creatures
The much-worshipped prog-rockers continue their Amory Wars comic book concept on their ninth album. A deluxe boxed-set version will include a novella written by lead singer and guitarist Claudio Sanchez and his wife, Chondra Echert, with artwork by Chase Stone and a demo CD, The Crown Heights Demos — the perfect holiday gift for the C&C fan who has everything.

KT Tunstall, WAX
The Scottish singer-songwriter’s sixth studio album (and second in her spiritual KIN trilogy) sees her joining forces with former Franz Ferdinand member Nick McCarthy, who produces. The album will explore complex themes of physicality. One track that’s sure to be intense: “The Night That Bowie Died.”

Oct. 12

Elvis Costello & The Imposters, Look Now
It’s been five years since his last album release, but a recent cancer scare doesn’t seem to be slowing down Elvis the C, one of the greatest and most prolific singer-songwriters of all time. The 12-song record sees him pairing up with two other songwriting legends: his Painted From Memory collaborator, Burt Bacharach, and Carole King. “I knew if we could make an album with the scope of Imperial Bedroom and some of the beauty and emotion of Painted From Memory, we would really have something,” Costello says in a press release. Sounds like quite an understatement!

Oct. 19

Yoko Ono, Warzone
The multimedia artist/singer-songwriter/peace activist is still fearless at age 85. On her latest work, issued by her son Sean Ono Lennon’s label Chimera Music, the Beatle wife is just as polarizing as ever as she reworks her late husband’s beloved classic, “Imagine.” The rest of the album comprises 12 reimagined tracks from her catalog. “I like to create things in a new way,” she said in a statement. “Every day things change.”

Oct. 26

Boy George & Culture Club, Life
After an aborted attempt at recording the comeback album Tribes in 2015 (a BBC documentary, Boy George and Culture Club: Karma to Calamity, detailed that disastrous experience, and the band even refunded PledgeMusic fans who had ordered the album), the gender-bending, genre-blending new wave pioneers are finally ready to release this reworked, retitled version. It remains to be seen if the new music will succeed, but fans will surely snatch up tickets to see Culture Club tour with the B-52’s this fall.

Andrea Bocelli,
The Italian tenor, widely considered to be one of the greatest singers of all time, celebrates his 60th birthday by teaming up with legendary rock producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, KISS, Lou Reed). And it’s likely that his recent collaboration with Ed Sheeran will draw in new rock fans who may have not even been alive when his last album of all-new material came out 14 long years ago.

Rosanne Cash, She Remembers Everything
The esteemed daughter of the first family of country (the oldest daughter of Johnny Cash and stepdaughter of June Carter Cash), follows up 2014’s The River and The Thread, which won Grammys for Best Americana Album, Best American Roots Song, and Best American Roots Performance. She carries on the family tradition by once again working with her husband and collaborator, John Leventhal.

Tom Odell, Jubilee Road
The BRITs Critics’ Choice Award-winning troubadour returns with his most personal album to date, written in his home “on a quiet terraced street in East London.” Along with all of Odell’s critical acclaim, it seems Cher is a fan!

Nov. 2

The Prodigy, No Tourists
The seventh studio album by the electronica firestarters finds them in fierce, fine form, still making music that speaks to the jilted generation. Lead single “Need Some1” is a classic jittery ’90s rave banger with a serrated metal edge.

Nov. 9

Muse, Simulation Theory
The proggy, stadium-packing Britrockers finally return with their eighth studio album, their first since 2015’s Drones. In their typically over-the-top style, all 11 tracks on the LP will be accompanied by a music video, Lemonade-style, plus a who’s-who team of superstar producers — including Rich Costey (Sigur Rós, Foo Fighters), Mike Elizondo (Dr. Dre, P!nk, Fiona Apple), Shellback (Taylor Swift, Adam Lambert, Maroon 5), and Timbaland — are on board.

Nov. 30

The 1975, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships
Following their Mercury Prize-nominated, nearly million-selling 2016 sophomore album, the Mancunian indie-poppers are pleasing their devoted and patient fans with two upcoming albums: first this one, led by the hyperactive singles “Give Yourself a Try” and “TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME,” followed by Notes on a Conditional Form, which will likely end up on our “most anticipated albums of spring 2019” list.

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