Prince, 'HitNRun,' Sept. 7
What could His Purple-ness possibly have left to prove, nearly four decades and 38 studio albums into a superstar career? Nothing, of course—aside from the fact that he can release HITNRUN any way he wants; the record, a Technicolor swirl of R&B, funk, and hard-grinding guitars (see: the already-released banger “HARDROCKLOVER”), will bow exclusively on Jay Z’s artist-friendly Tidal service. “It’s a roller-coaster ride,” co-producer Joshua Welton tells EW. “It’s experimental, it’s edgy, but because Prince is such a master writer, you’re just going to get great songs.”
For more on Prince, see our extended interview.
Lana Del Rey, Honeymoon, Sept. 18
The singer who once dubbed herself a “gangsta Nancy Sinatra” has wasted little time for her follow-up to 2014’s Ultraviolence. Don’t expect a radical departure: Among the songs she’s shared are the string-laden title track and the noirish “High by the Beach.” With “The Blackest Day”—and a cover of Nina Simone’s “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”—this Honeymoon could be far from idyllic.
Justin Bieber, Purpose, Nov. 13
Is his top 10 smash “Where R Ü Now,” a club-ready collab with EDM masters Diplo and Skrillex, a hint at his new direction? Now 21, the Biebs is looking to dig deep with some of his most confessional tracks ever, though Skrillex is also on the production roster here. “There’s some personal stuff and some ballads,” a source tells EW. “There’s some spoken-word moments with him literally talking about what he’s going through in his life. It’s all about the experience of being Justin Bieber.”
Learn more about Bieber’s new album here.
Adele, 25, Nov. 20
The Girl With the Golden Voice has teased a follow-up to 2011’s multiplatinum smash 21 since 2014. (Remember her cryptic tweet from May of that year? “Bye bye 25… See you again later in the year,” she wrote.) Still, collaborators have hinted about their possible involvement with the album, which is rumored for a November release. Pharrell revealed in June that the pair had collaborated, and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder told Billboard in 2014 he was bringing his “A game” to the studio with her. While the new mom hasn’t confirmed when she’ll return with new music, one thing’s for sure: It’s the one album the world is dying to hear.
Demi Lovato, Confident, Oct. 16
Demi Lovato has scored this year with her smash “Cool for the Summer,” one of the raciest tunes she’s released yet. But on her fifth studio album, the singer reveals she’s coming from a more emotional place. “There are definitely sexy songs,” she says. “But the ones that ended up making the album are very soulful.” Don’t expect a collection of ballads, though. Lovato drew on her admiration for her favorite female rock stars, Pat Benatar and Paramore’s Hayley Williams. “Pat was one of my big influences growing up,” she says. “There’s not a lot of powerful female vocalists in the rock industry. I really looked up to Hayley, too, because she’s totally like Pat Benatar. And I don’t want to see rock-influenced music fade.” Lovato adds that she’s mixing things up on a track featuring a gospel choir—”I really go there with my vocals”—and a song that Lovato has dedicated to her late father, Patrick, who died in 2013. “It’s extremely raw [but] I definitely had some closure [with that song],” she admits. Lovato, who has overcome struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction in the past, also admits that the record shows off a newfound confidence. “I feel very secure in who I am as an artist and as a person,” she says. “I never write songs that are about things I don’t relate to. I won’t be able to sing it if I don’t mean it.”
R. Kelly, The Buffet, Sept. 25
Nobody can ever call R. Kelly lazy. “I’m sitting at a mic in the studio right now,” he told EW during a recent interview. “My pillow is a piano.” Kelly says he recorded 462 songs for his 13th studio album, which he’s titling The Buffet because it incorporates a multitude of styles and genres, including country and blues. “I walk around every day with a radio playing in my head, and this radio station plays a lot of hits,” he explains. “But it’s all my songs.”
See more from R. Kelly in our extended interview.
Jess Glynne, I Cry When I Laugh, Sept. 4
The British siren made her official debut just last year, collaborating with Clean Bandit for “Rather Be” and “Real Love.” With plans to tour this fall, she made a name for herself stateside with catchy pop tracks like “Hold My Hand” and “Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself.” Glynne’s first studio album features feel-good ballads and dancey anthems.
Travis Scott, Rodeo, Sept. 4
Travis Scott recruited some very famous friends for his debut studio album, Rodeo. The rapper collaborated with his mentor Kanye West for one of the singles, also enlisting The Weeknd, Future, and 2 Chainz for additional tracks. Though the record leaked early, Rodeo will hit stores more than two years after the release of Scott’s first mixtape, Owl Pharaoh.
FIDLAR, Too, Sept. 4
FIDLAR’s self-titled 2013 debut was the epitome of raw skate-punk, with visceral songs including “Cheap Beer,” “Stoked and Broke,” and “Wake Bake Skate.” The group keeps it’s lo-fi, distortion-tinged California odes intact on Too, due out Sept. 4, while aiming a little higher (pun intended) on cuts like the joyous “West Coast.”
Gary Clark Jr., The Story of Sonny Boy Slim, Sept. 7
The Texas native, 31, established his blues bona fides with the 2012 breakout Blak and Blu. But he’s got bigger ambitions for his follow-up, which he wrote, produced, and played nearly every instrument on over the past 18 months. “I wanted to create not just palettes for guitar solos but actually write songs and arrange,” Clark tells EW. “I do much more than just play guitar, and I want to let that all out.”
Beirut, No No No, Sept. 11
Beirut, the indie-folk project of Santa Fe’s Zach Condon, has a history of baroque instrumentation and gypsy melodies. Those tendencies are pared down on No No No, the band’s first album since 2011’s The Rip Tide. “The first record was very much an instance where I had taken some trips and I had run into a style of music that all of a sudden I couldn’t ignore,” Condon tells EW of Beirut’s evolution since its 2006 debut. “As I’ve kind of let that out of my system it’s like I’m slowly going back to what I was doing in the first place.” Expect tightly-constructed melodic gems of what the frontman calls “guitar-less folk music with horns” on No No No, out Sept. 11.
Jewel, Picking Up the Pieces, Sept. 11
Jewel wanted a bookend to her multiplatinum 1995 debut, Pieces of You. So she went back to basics, assembling much of the band that played on that album and recording many of the raw folk tunes live. “I wanted it to feel like you had an IV hooked up to my vein and I was bleeding into you,” she says. “I hope that doesn’t sound morbid, but I wanted it to be that visceral of a reaction for people, because that’s how singing live is for me.” The album isn’t the only place she’ll be expressing herself this fall: Her memoir Never Broken arrives Sept. 15.
See our extended interview with Jewel.
Chris Cornell, Higher Truth, Sept. 18
Soundgarden are still going strong, but the founder has stepped out on his own in recent years. “I felt like I couldn’t really call myself a musician without being able to walk into a room with an instrument and entertain people with it,” he says. “That was just me being afraid.” With his fears conquered, Cornell’s fourth studio album feels like an extension of those runs: Acoustic-based tunes that borrow from classic-rock ballads and British folk, with Cornell’s legendary pipes at the center.
Duran Duran, Paper Gods, Sept. 11
For their 14th studio album, the ’80s synth-pop icons have scored an ace lineup of collaborators, including Mark Ronson, Nile Rodgers, Janelle Monáe, Seal, Canadian pop singer Kiesza, and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante. (Oh, yeah: Lindsay Lohan also makes a spoken-word appearance on a track.) While Paper Gods is loaded with catchy synth melodies and danceable beats, singer Simon Le Bon promises more than a “Rio” retread. “As you continue with your career, you’re constantly battling with the fact that people think they know all about you,” Le Bon says. “They think they don’t need to hear anything new from you. We accept that. That’s why we have to make a great record to get any interest whatsoever. Mediocrity is just not an option at all.”
The Libertines, Anthems for Doomed Youth (Sept. 11)
The world hasn’t had new music from British garage-rockers The Libertines since their 2004 self-titled effort, but that doesn’t stop them from slipping back into the Oasis-meets-Strokes groove on their latest, Anthems For Doomed Youth, out Sept. 11. If the riffs on lead singles “Gunga Din” and “Glasgow Coma Scale Blues” are any indication, the Libertines are back to their old ways.
Hollywood Vampires, The Hollywood Vampires, Sept. 11
Decades after he played with John Lennon and Keith Moon, Alice Cooper is back with his Hollywood Vampires supergroup. Made up of Cooper, Johnny Depp, and Joe Perry this time around, the band is debuting a new album complete with guest appearances from Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, and Slash.
Leona Lewis, I Am, Sept. 11
Leona Lewis has stayed out of the spotlight since her last album came out in 2013, but as she gears up to release her next LP, I Am, the singer admits this is the first collection of music that really speaks to who she is. “It’s an empowerment record,” she tells EW. “I really just wanted to speak about the experiences I’ve been going through the past seven years.” That includes the end of a romantic relationship and her split from Syco and Simon Cowell, who is credited with discovering Lewis on The X-Factor. The record will also include, “You Knew Me When,” a track written for Lewis by famed songwriter Diane Warren.
For more on I Am, see our extended interview with Lewis.
New Order, Music Complete, Sept. 25
La Roux and Iggy Pop guest on this comeback album from the synth-pop icons. Music Complete will be the band’s first album without founding bassist Peter Hook, but earlier this year vocalist Bernard Sumner told NME that the group would go back to its musical roots for the record. “It’s an electronic-sounding album, dance-based but not housey,” he said. “It’s being mixed by Craig Silvey [Arcade Fire, REM, Nine Inch Nails, Portishead], and we’ve worked with Tom Rowlands from The Chemical brothers on three tracks.”
Keith Richards, Crosseyed Heart, Sept. 18
The legendary Rolling Stones guitarist is back with his first solo album in 23 years — and a revealing documentary about his wild ride.
EW: What took so long to release a new solo album?
KR: Man, I only do it when the Stones go into hibernation. Unfortunately, as I finished it, the Stones came out of hibernation. [Laughs] I had it sitting for a couple of years because when the Stones work, that’s my numero uno!
How much material did you have ready when you started recording?
How about zero? But that’s the fun of recording. The way that we made this was with Steve Jordan on drums and me on guitar to start with. So you can just fly anything around the room, and every now and again we’d hit on something and say, “Oh, that’s what we’re looking for.” It was a barrel of fun, actually. I realized when I finished it that I was really tipping my hat to everybody I’d learned everything from: Robert Johnson, Gregory Isaacs, Lead Belly, and Otis Redding.
You teamed up with Norah Jones for the ballad “Illusion.”
What a beautiful lady. We called up Norah, and she loved the song and just beautifully slotted in.
A couple of tracks feature saxophonist Bobby Keys, the Stones sideman who passed away last year. What do you remember about recording with him?
Oh, man, Bob just comes and he’s ready to rock. The man was larger than Texas. Of course, we had no idea that these would be his last recordings. God, I miss that man. He was a damn good friend and a brilliant sax player. I’m still pretending he’s alive. But I know he ain’t. I miss him sorely.
You’re also the subject of a Netflix documentary, Keith Richards: Under the Influence, out Sept. 18. Did you enjoy making it?
Morgan Neville [Twenty Feet From Stardom] directed it, and he had a great way of not interfering. I wasn’t really aware of it being shot. But it’s pretty damn good: Buddy Guy and some [other] cats, and a few things are explained. And I’m great!
Any update on the Stones doing a new record?
I’m trying to get them in the studio. But I don’t quite honestly see it happening this year. After we [tour] South America in February and March, I’d love to get in the studio in April. But I know what those guys are like: When they finish a tour, they don’t want to do nothing. [Laughs] But at the same time, that’s when the band is at its peak. So I’m goading and prodding and pleading.
For more from Richards, see our full extended interview.
Katharine McPhee, Hysteria, Sept. 18
For her first album in four years, the American Idol alum enlisted Sia and Florence + the Machine’s Isabella Summers for a straight-up pop venture featuring a mature vibe and old influences. “I feel like it’s the most artist centric,” McPhee told EW of Hysteria earlier this summer. “I felt inspired for the first time. The songs I wrote about were things either people around me were going through or I was going through, and I turned them into pop songs.”
For more on Hysteria and McPhee, head here.
Mac Miller, GO:OD AM, Sept. 18
Mac Miller is gearing up for a busy fall with the release of his first studio album under his new Warner Bros. record deal. The Pittsburgh rapper will drop GO:OD AM, his third album and first outside of an independent label, in September, kicking off a North American tour just days later. Miller, who gained traction with his 2013 album Watching Movies with the Sound Off, hyped his latest effort in July, tweeting, “I put 2.5 years of my life into making this album. I made 9 different albums until I finally arrived at this one. I am now listening to the finished album for the first time and it was worth every step that was this journey. I worked very hard And thought very long about the statement I wanted to make with my major label debut… I’ve never felt this good about a project before.”
Chvrches, Every Open Eye, Sept. 18
The Glasgow synth-pop trio became an indie It Band with their excellent 2013 debut, The Bones of What You Believe, which propelled the group onto a grueling world tour that wrapped up last winter. There’s no sign of fatigue on their follow-up. In fact, the hooks are bigger and bolder, with dancey anthems that wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack to an ’80s John Hughes movie. “No one knows what we’re trying to do better than ourselves,” says guitarist Iain Cook. “Plus, if it isn’t a success, we’ll be the ones standing behind it saying, ‘Well, we f—ed up!'” Not a chance.
Don Henley, Cass Country, Sept. 25
Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert, Dolly Parton, LeeAnn Womack, and Ashley Monroe are just a few of the big names who showed up for Henley’s first solo album since 2000. But the Eagles founder didn’t limit appearances to county’s A-list, bringing in Mick Jagger to Nashville to record the album, named after the Texas county in which Henley grew up. “I was born and raised in Texas,” he said in a statement. “I’m a Southerner and a Texan. This is a natural progression for me. It’s who I am and where I come from.”
Run the Jewels, Meow the Jewels, Sept. 25
When hip-hop’s hottest rap duo announced last year’s Run the Jewels 2, they provided a host of deluxe preorders for the album, including “The Meow the Jewels Package,” which promised a rerecording with “nothing but cat sounds.” “It was a joke that I thought was pretty funny,” says El-P, who quickly caught wind of a Kickstarter by a fan to bring the project to life. Instead of shutting the effort down, El-P and his cohort Killer Mike are making good on the online campaign. And they’ve recruited a slew of high-profile producers—Prince Paul, Zola Jesus, and Beyoncé collaborator Boots—to make cat-centric remixes. (They’re also hoping to donate the proceeds to victims of police brutality.) “We figured, hey, f—it,” El-P says. “Let’s fight injustice with pure, annoying stupidity.”
For more on Meow The Jewels, see our extended interview with Killer Mike and El-P.
The Dead Weather, Dodge and Burn, Sept. 25
Jack White’s gothic-blues supergroup (featuring the Kills’ Alison Mosshart, Queens of the Stone Age’s Dean Fertita, and the Raconteurs’ Jack Lawrence) began work on its third album in Nashville in late 2013. But the sessions were interrupted by “everyone having 900 other jobs,” Mosshart says. Despite scheduling headaches, the band delivers another set of heavy guitar riffs, heavier grooves, and vivid tales of ne’er-do-wells. And while the members still have other musical projects, their bond is tighter than ever. “It’s a magical thing, finding people you can play music with effortlessly like that,” Mosshart says of her side gig. “I look at all these songs as a gift and I think, ‘How in the hell have I wandered upon this twice in my life?'”
5 Seconds of Summer, Sounds Good Feels Good, Oct. 23
They’re the Rolling Stones to One Direction’s Beatles — and the Aussie pop-punkers promise plenty of badass, guitar-heavy anthems on a more mature follow-up to 2014’s 5 Seconds of Summer. “The album’s a lot more personal,” says bassist-vocalist Calum Hood. That means tales about falling in love, late-night parties, and one crazy trip to Big Sur. Produced by Good Charlotte’s Joel and Benji Madden and John Feldmann (Panic! at the Disco), Sounds Good was also inspired by their favorite bands, Third Eye Blind and Queen. “We just really tried to experiment,” says Hood. “And we did lots of different sounds like banging on a slide outside of John’s house, which added a different bass-drum feel. Our sound has evolved naturally since we’re growing up, but it’s got the same roots.”
Kurt Vile, 'b'lieve i'm goin down, Sept. 25
The Philly songwriter’s sixth album isn’t just packed with jammed-out psychedelic grooves like the ones that made 2013’s Wakin on a Pretty Daze one of the decade’s best stoner-rock albums. “This is definitely more of a loner record,” Vile says of b’lieve, which he cut partly at the famed Joshua Tree studio Rancho de la Luna last year. “When I go to the West Coast I can tap into the more ethereal drifter thing.” Though Vile hasn’t forsaken his hypnotic Mobiüs-strip-like riffs, he’s placed a higher premium on lyrical introspection: “It’s not completely down in the dumps,” he says. “But it’s realistic.”
For more on Vile, see our extended interview.
Disclosure, Caracal, Sept. 25
With their hotly anticipated Caracal out Sept. 25, British producers (and brothers) Guy and Howard Lawrence share stories of working with Lorde, Miguel, and Sam Smith—and reveal secrets to making booty-shaking beats.
“Omen” (feat. Sam Smith)
GUY: Sam arrives with security guards now, but as soon as the door [to the studio] shuts it’s exactly the same as it was before, like on “Latch.” He’s got no ego. There was no awkwardness because we already knew each other. We had three days with him, and “Omen” was the first song we wrote. The best thing about “Omen” is it really cemented that “Latch” wasn’t just a onetime thing. I think the partnership between us and Sam is going to continue for a long time.
“Magnets” (feat. Lorde)
GUY: We like to work with singers who are great writers as well. We never want to tell someone what to sing. We want to help them come up with lyrics, so that they believe what they’re singing.
HOWARD: It’s very organic. When Lorde came in, I had this idea about writing about the phrase “the point of no return,” but we didn’t know how we were going to use that. She came up with the idea of it being, like, when you’re attracted to someone you shouldn’t be, and if you tell them that, then you’ve gone past the point of no return.
GUY: It’s a nautical term, I’ve heard our dad say it—he sails yachts and uses it a lot.
“Nocturnal” (feat. the Weeknd)
GUY: We wrote that in New York in Alicia Keys’ studio, which has the most amazing panoramic view of Manhattan ever. It’s the only tune we wrote outside of London. I don’t know if it sounds New York-y, but it definitely has a different feel. The sun was going down and it was such a lovely vibe—that definitely informed the lyrics a little bit, driving around late at night, and it’s getting dark, and the beat’s pretty slow. Abel [Tesfaye, a.k.a. the Weeknd] was loving it. We were all feeling that vibe and just let it flow. And it’s f—ing long, isn’t it? It’s like nothing we’ve made before.
“Good Intentions” (feat. Miguel)
GUY: He’s quite a sexual man, isn’t he? But you can never go too sexy. I feel like if we ever brought him out at a show, it would probably melt the first three rows of the crowd. It was a pleasure working with him. He’s an absolute dude. He’s probably one of the coolest people we’ve met. When he walks in the room, you’re like, “Yeah, you were born to be a pop star.” Even after we had written the song, he was like, “Cool, I’m going to record myself singing.” We were like, “Oh really? We’ve got an engineer, or we could just do it.” But he set the mic up at the computer and wanted to do take after take himself. He was like, “You guys just go and chill for a half hour.”
“Hourglass” (feat. Lion Babe)
HOWARD: Lion Babe is actually two people: Jillian, who is the singer and the Lion Babe, and a producer named Astro Raw.
GUY: Jillian is Vanessa Williams’ daughter, too. But she doesn’t talk about it. She’s trying to do it herself.
HOWARD: She’s going to be pissed we’re telling everyone about it! We heard about them a long time ago because they brought this song out called “Treat Me Like Fire,” which was an awesome track. We found out recently that it was the first song she ever sung, and she sounds amazing on it. Like, how did she not know she was good at singing before then?
Janet Jackson, Unbreakable, Oct. 2
It’s been a while since we’ve had a new Janet Jackson album (her last, Discipline, came out in 2008). And it’s been even longer since she’s teamed up with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the hitmaking duo behind 1986’s Control, 1989’s Rhythm Nation 1814, 1993’s janet., and 2001’s All for You. But according to Lewis, they didn’t miss a beat when they convened for her latest. “This process was like the past,” he says. “It’s always different, but we just melt into a unit of creativity.”
The trio began building around the idea of Unbreakable, which is also the title of Jackson’s forthcoming world tour. In fact, the two projects were conceived concurrently, with Jackson working all day at rehearsals and then reporting to the studio to record at night. “With Janet, it’s always about feel,” says Jam. To wit: The single “No Sleeep” was a track that Jam had forgotten about until Lewis ran across it while combing through his computer. “Janet said, ‘Ooh, what’s that? You didn’t play that for me!’ Janet loved it. The feeling that she got when she heard it is the feeling she wanted the fans to have.” Other songs include “The Great Forever” and “Night,” and according to her closest professional confidants, the mix of styles on the album is unprecedented in Jackson’s career. “I think it’s totally different from any of the albums,” says Jam. “But it feels like her.”
For more on Unbreakable, here are six more things we learned about the album from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Pentatonix, Pentatonix, Oct. 2
The Texan quintet made waves with a cappella versions of hits by artists from Lorde to Daft Punk, but on Pentatonix they’ll show off their first set of original material. “We’ve proved we can sing and we can arrange, now we want to prove we can write,” singer Scott Hoying says. Just like the tunes they cover, Pentatonix’s new songs will range “from chill, soulful stuff to upbeat, poppy craziness,” Hoying says. And how does the group see its role on airwaves dominated by EDM and hip-hop bangers? “[A cappella] is something entirely different, and entirely driven by raw vocals,” the band’s Mitch Grassi says. “To have a group that solely relies on their voices to create their music is quite a deviation from the monotony of pop music.”
Wavves, V, Oct. 2
Nathan Williams has released multiple projects in 2015—including collaborations with MNDR and Cloud Nothings—but on Oct. 2 he returns with his primary project, lo-fi SoCal pop rock band Wavves. The group made a splash with 2013’s often-grandiose Afraid of Heights, but takes things back-to-punk-basics on their aptly-titled fifth album V.
Eagles of Death Metal, Zipper Down, Oct. 2
Eagles of Death Metal may be a side project for Queens of the Stone Age leader Josh Homme, but it’s primarily an outlet for the remarkable stylings of frontman Jesse Hughes. EODM’s fourth LP is the tightest and grooviest yet, full of killer solos, snarls, and a Duran Duran cover. “I think of this album as a semester final,” says Hughes. “This album has gotten me as close to my goal of making Little Richard proud as I’ve ever been.”
Selena Gomez, Revival, Oct. 9
Selena Gomez’s latest hit, “Good for You,” is one of this summer’s most scintillating songs, and the pop star, 23, promises more blush-inducing jams on Revival, her first album since leaving Disney for Interscope. “I’ve lived such a public life, but [I’ve learned] it’s okay to let down my walls with my music, to feel sexy and good,” she says.
For the recording sessions, Gomez teamed up with her go-to collaborators Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter from Semi Precious Weapons, Hitboy, and Rock Mafia (Miley Cyrus, Ellie Goulding) and retreated to Mexico for a week in April. “We stayed in a house together like one big family,” she says. “We’d wake up in our bathing suits, go to the beach and then the studio for hours. I wanted to feel the songs and be weird and have a change of environment.” (She also worked separately with Britney Spears and Katy Perry hitmakers Stargate and Benny Blanco and British pop star Charli XCX.)
The result is perhaps her most confident collection yet. “I was always insecure with my speaking voice because it’s so low,” she says. “I never felt like it was feminine-sounding. I didn’t know it would be such an asset to who I am now, though. It adds a cool, personal quality. It’s exciting.”
City and Colour, If I Should Go Before You, Oct. 9
City and Colour, aka Canada-based recording artist Dallas Green, will drop his fifth studio album in October. The acoustic singer, who recently worked with Pink on the collaboration project You+Me, teamed up with his touring band for his latest venture. “Over the last two years I’ve had the great pleasure of touring with an unbelievable group of musicians, who I can now safely call some of my best friends. If I Should Go Before You is the record I made with those friends,” Green wrote of the11-track project on his personal website. “It’s not ‘exclusive’ to anyone – Not to Tidal or Apple Music or Spotify or Rdio or anywhere in particular – but you can find it in all those places. It’s a collection of 11 songs – the thoughts I had on my mind: a last ditch effort to find something better and leave well enough alone. You can steal it, stream it or even buy it! Just try to enjoy it. I know I do.”
Vanessa Carlton, Liberman, Oct. 16
She’s best known as the songstress behind “A Thousand Miles,” the 2002 piano anthem that cracked the top 10 and scored Carlton three Grammy nominations. You won’t find saccharine ditties on Liberman: Her fifth full-length is full of gorgeously melancholic ballads and reverb-soaked vocals. (Think less Lisa Loeb and more Kate Bush.) She’s also digging deep with stories about growing older and settling down. “I know I’m not old, but there are times when I feel so ancient, in such a relieving way,” says Carlton, 35, who welcomed her first child in January with her husband, Deer Tick frontman John McCauley. “It wasn’t a planned change of topic; I’ve just finally gone through a long enough time to begin reflection on my life.”
For more on Carlton, see our extended interview.
Neon Indian, VEGA INTL. Night School (Oct. 16)
Alan Paloma, the Texan multi-instrumentalist between electro-psych project Neon Indian, hasn’t put out new music since 2011’s Era Extraña, but VEGA INTL. Night School, out Oct. 16, largely ignores EDM’s recent boom, with Paloma shoring up his commitment to old-school acid-soaked funk.
Deerhunter, Fading Frontier, Oct. 16
Madcap genius Bradford Cox returns with awesomely twisted indie rock. Deerhunter’s seventh album, Fading Frontier, includes trippy new single “Snakeskin,” collabs with members of Broadcast and Stereolab, and the first duet between Cox and Lockett Pundt.
Charlie Puth, Nine Track Mind, Oct. 16
Puth went from a YouTube sensation to a bona fide pop star with his Wiz Khalifa collaboration, “See You Again.” The Furious 7 track brought the 23-year-old singer to a new audience and helped him earn his first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 with the Meghan Trainor-assisted “Marvin Gaye.” Puth’s 12-track debut LP includes the pop hit, as well as emotional ballads and a collaboration with Shy Carter.
Joanna Newsom, Divers, Oct. 23
It’s been half a decade since the avant-garde harpist released her critically acclaimed triple LP, Have One on Me, and the songwriter says she spent most of that time crafting the tunes on her anticipated follow-up. “I was always writing,” says Newsom, whose downtime included her 2013 wedding to SNL vet Andy Samberg. “Some took me years to write, others formed in a day or two.” Newsom used an arsenal of nearly a dozen keyboards and synths (Clavichords! Mellotrons! Marxophones?) and her trusted harp for the process, which she says was “probably the most fun I’ve had making a record….The result has kind of a tonal variegation that’s different from anything I did in the past.”
Rod Stewart, Another Country, Oct. 23
The legendary rocker returns with Another Country this October. Stewart, 70, introduced his latest studio album this past June with the debut of the lead single “Love Is,” treating listeners to an innovative spin on his classic sound. “I’ve found that the only way to write songs is to be as personal and honest as possible,” Stewart said in a statement at the time. “And when my last album was so well-received it gave me the confidence to keep on writing, and to examine and write about different things. It also gave me the freedom to experiment with different sounds like reggae, ska and Celtic melodies.”
Carrie Underwood, Storyteller, Oct. 23
Ten years after winning American Idol, the country queen returns with a “laid back” set of character studies.
EW: On your last record, Blown Away, you delivered massive country anthems like “Good Girl.” How does your upcoming set Storyteller compare?
CU: Blown Away was very dramatic. And fierce. It was in-your-face and aggressive. This album’s a little more laid-back. And the stories are relatable—fans will relate to the characters in these songs. I also feel like it’s also more twangy, if that’s a word I can use to describe it. Twangy, yeah!
Did becoming a mom to your son, Isaiah (now 6 months), change your approach to writing music?
I feel like people expect me to lose my edge in a way and write “mommy” songs. The sound is different, but not because of him, although I definitely pay homage to him with a track. Having a baby also allowed me extra time to write because when I was giant and pregnant, I couldn’t do much else. I could sit in a room and write. It was a good time!
It’s been 10 years since you won American Idol. How have you evolved as an artist?
I’ve learned the more you do things, the better you get at them. That’s where I’m at. I think I’m at the top of my game as a performer and a singer and a songwriter—and I’m having a lot of fun with it!
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, So Familiar, Oct. 30
Steve Martin — yes, the comedian and writer — doubles as an acclaimed banjo player. (He will receive a Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association later this fall.) He’s released a couple bluegrass efforts solo and some with the Steep Canyon Ranchers, but it’s his partnership with singer-songwriter Edie Brickell — yes, the lady behind 1988’s Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars — that we really can’t get enough of. The stars debuted as a duo in 2013 and this October will see the release of their follow-up album. The collection’s lead single, “Won’t Go Back” leans further into proper folk-rock, and is whimsical, plucky, charming and the sum of its two very, very awesome parts.
Natalie Merchant, Paradise Is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings, Nov. 6
The former 10,000 Maniacs lead vocalist reexamines her solo debut with 11 new recordings on her forthcoming album. Merchant’s sixth solo effort will be paired with a documentary DVD encompassing live performances, archival footage and interviews from the past 20 years. “I decided to make the Paradise Is There album and film for them [the audience], to honor the journey that we, and these songs, have all taken,” Merchant said on her label’s site. She spent a year working on the album, and says a tour will follow shortly after its release.
Seal, 7, Nov. 6
The soul vet has said his LP with longtime producer Trevor Horn is their best yet. Seal revealed few details about the collection but tweeted, “I couldn’t be more proud. Trevor and my best work to date.”
Little Mix, Get Weird, Nov. 6
Get Weird, set to drop Nov. 6, will be the third studio album from British girl group Little Mix. The record was teased with lead single “Black Magic” back in May, hyping a more upbeat, ’80s pop-influenced sound than the group’s second release, Salute, which featured elements of R&B. Having spent four years together as a group, Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Jade Thirlwall are no longer under the shadow of their 2011 X Factor win.
Boots, AQUΛRIA, Nov. 13
You may not know the name Jordy Asher (a.k.a. Boots), but you definitely know his work. The record producer contributed to a number of tracks from Beyoncé’s surprise self-titled album in 2013 and FKA twigs’ latest EP, M3LL155X. He’s busting out on his own this fall with a heady brew of electronic grooves and dark melodies with co-production from Run the Jewels’ El-P and Carla Azar of the avant-garde rock group Autolux.
One Direction, Made in the A.M., Nov. 13
Zayn Malik has hightailed it out of the 1D-verse, and the boy band is shaking up its sound before taking a break next year. “We’re stretching out beyond the perimeters of what a traditional pop boy band would do,” says the group’s producer Julian Bunetta, who cut the album with Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, and Harry Styles in Los Angeles, Chicago, and the U.K. this year. “We’re experimenting with different instrumentation.” Bunetta says it’s some of the boys’ best material yet: “There are six songs that could be singles.” As for how they’re doing without Malik, Bunetta says, “There’s a personality missing, but they’re still the same guys.”
For more on One Direction’s new album, see our full interview with Bunetta.
Ellie Goulding, Delirium, Nov. 6
Ellie Goulding has had a steady rise the past few years, from her breakout single “Lights” to her shimmering Fifty Shades of Grey smash, “Love Me Like You Do.” So when the 28-year-old began work on her third LP, she had plans to make an even bigger-sounding album, writing songs with hitmaker Max Martin and his protégée, Swedish singer-songwriter Laleh. “I’ve never worked with him before, but we really connected,” Goulding says of Martin. “And I wrote this song with Laleh that’s probably the most empowering song I’ve done as a woman. When I listen to it, I feel invincible.” You’ll hear that come through in Goulding’s voice: “Laleh was like, ‘I don’t want you to be the ethereal, female voice. I want people to see your strength.'” Lyrically, though, Goulding isn’t moving away from matters of the heart. “I swore I wouldn’t write more love and heartbreak songs,” she says. “I thought, ‘Do one, get it out of your system.’ So the first song is, like, ‘Hold me! Don’t let me go! Stay with me!’ But it wasn’t out of my system. I’m obsessed with writing love songs.” While Goulding is still putting the final touches on the album, she’s psyched to bring new material to the stage. “I’ve probably done a thousand shows since my first album, and I realized that with that one I never thought, ‘I wonder how this will sound live?'” she says. “Now I can’t help but think of the live aspect, and I understand the translation of music from a studio to a performance.”
Austin Mahone, TBD
The 19-year-old YouTube sensation says idols like Bruno Mars inspired his debut album. So what can his so-called “Mahomies” expect? “There will definitely be way more mature stuff,” Mahone says, adding that there will be collaborations with Pia Mia and his ex-girlfriend Becky G. “I’m coming out strong. I want [fans] to be like, ‘This kid’s dope. We’ve heard of him before, but now we can appreciate him.'”
Fans of the experimental pop artist flipped when she copped to scrapping material that would have been a follow-up to 2012’s breakout LP Visions. They’ll be thrilled to know a new album is coming this year—and it’s seemingly epic in scope. “This album is two halves,” says the 27-year-old born Claire Boucher, adding that some tracks lean toward the pop spectrum, while others skew more experimental. “If you’re going to complain about one half, then you have the other half.” Grimes is also teaming with still-secret collaborators, but she does reveal a guest appearance from female Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes. Jokes Grimes: “This is the first record that I’ve made that I can listen to and not cringe and feel horrified.”
See our full interview with Grimes.
M.I.A., Matahdatah, TBD
For the follow-up to 2013’s genre-busting Matangi, the Grammy-nominated renegade is scouring the globe for inspiration—and breaking away from the traditional album format. M.I.A. will be releasing avant-pop, hip-hop, and dance tracks and short films as “scrolls” throughout the fall, before a proper full-length release. “It’s like a journal,” she says. “And the journal happens to be a really wide journey.” So far, the British-Sri Lankan rapper has traveled to India and plans to touch down in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. As for her message, she’s inspired by the ideas of borders and “testing the human idea of that, whether it’s geographical or philosophical ones.”
The Band Perry, Heart + Beat, TBD
As the boundary between Nashville and pop is blurring more than ever, the Band Perry are another country trio pushing the genre beyond strum and twang. For their third LP, the Grammy-winning brothers-and-sister act (singer Kimberly, bassist Reid, and mandolinist Neil) decamped to Los Angeles’ Record Plant to cut tracks with Lady Gaga producer RedOne. “One night, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga were hanging out and everyone was in the hallways,” the band tells EW. “It was such a fun atmosphere to create in.” The trio also wrote a song titled “Keep Calm” with Diplo. But don’t expect the Band Perry to stray too far from their roots. “It was important [for] us to maintain what we bring to modern country—three-part family harmony, mandolins, banjos, and a narrative lyric—and combine them with some really great-sounding, modern stylings from pop.”
Ryan Adams, 1989, Sept. 21
The prolific singer-songwriter has been working on a Smiths-style version of Taylor Swift’s 1989 this summer, posting snippets from the studio to social media. Though there’s no confirmed release plan for the final product, Swift is an adamant supporter. “Ryan Adams is one of the artists who shaped my songwriting,” she tells EW in a statement. “My favorite part of his style of creating music is his ability to bleed aching vulnerability into it, and that’s what he’s done with his cover project of my album 1989. When I first heard that Ryan was going to be covering my entire album, I couldn’t believe it. It’s such an honor that he would want to take my stories and lyrics and give them a new life. He’s gotten some of the best musicians together to record this album, and if the clips he’s released are any indication, this is going to be something really special.”