2016 has been a landmark year for music. Just about every seminal artist of the last decade seems to be releasing music: Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Death Grips and Radiohead included. It’s also been filled with even greater icons from pop music history: David Bowie, Paul Simon, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan have all released new material, some of it great. As the release bill for September began to emerge however, it became apparent that the train wasn’t slowing down for Autumn: here are twelve releases that may make September a memorable month for music in a year bursting at the seams with it:
1. MY WOMAN (Angel Olsen)
Awful, immoral people who listen to early leaks of albums (no names mentioned) will be aware of what a stunner this third LP from St. Louis singer-songwriter Angel Olsen is. Her deeply overlooked 2014 release Burn Your Fire For No Witnesses transpired to be just the opening of proceeding’s for Olsen, who unleashed a headstrong new direction on lead single ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’, whilst maturing and mastering haunting melodies on extended cuts like ‘Sister’ and ‘Woman’: a fine record indeed.
You can pre-order the vinyl of MY WOMAN here
2. The Sun’s Tirade (Isaiah Rashad)
Top Dawg Entertainment
For fans of California’s Top Dog Entertainment label, it’s been a long two years since Tennessee rapper Isiah Rashad’s 2014 debut mixtape Cilvia Demo. That slow burning release was packed with hard rhymes and the jazz-rap instrumentals familiar to Top Dog alumni Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and Jay Rock. After two stellar years of releases from the label, he has a hard history to live up to, but if lead singles ‘Free Lunch’ and ‘Park’ are anything to go by, we’re looking at a harder hitting release that has strong hopes of living up to the high benchmark set by Blank Face earlier this year.
3. A.I.M. (M.I.A)
It’s been a hard year for M.I.A., recently removed from an AFROPUNK headline set in London after pitting Black Lives Matter against justice for Middle Eastern Muslims – and it’s been a nearly a decade since the two stellar LP’s which made her name. However, she’s framed A.I.M. as something of a course-corrector and mission statement, and if lead singles ‘Go Off’ and the excellent ‘Borders’ are anything to go by, we may be in for strong return to form. If, on the other hand, the standard is being set by the Diplo-produced ‘Bird Song’, with lyrics including “staying rich like an ostrich” … We may not.
You can pre-order A.I.M and get 4 songs immediately here.
4. Skeleton Tree (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds)
Bad Seed Ltd
There are few figures in rock music today who quite a chord quite as strongly as Nick Cave, perhaps he, Scott Walker and Leonard Cohen are the only ones left. Many of his influences (Johnny Cash, David Bowie) are now passed or, like Bob Dylan, are now figures of as much derision as praise. Cave stands almost alone then, changing style constantly but hardly falling below sublime quality, which makes his 16th album Skeleton Key one of my most anticipated of 2016. I also didn’t expect to hear from him so soon. Far from prolific in the 21st Century to start with, it is also the first music he has released since the tragic death of his son around this time last year. How such a remarkable musician will remark upon such unimaginable grief remains to be heard, and we’ll have to wait until the 8th to find out, for the first time any music from the album will be released is in the soundtrack to the One More Time With Feeling, a film documenting the creation of the album. Sonically it may hark back to the slow dirge of The Boatman’s Call, or even the misanthropic chaos of his early post-punk records, although it’s hard to imagine Cave holding the desire to muster the same camp theatricality of those records this time round, given the awful circumstances of the album’s creation.
You can pre-order the vinyl of Skeleton Tree here.
5. Preoccupations (Preoccupations)
Unlike the outspoken M.I.A, weird indie band Vietcong weren’t obvious candidates for controversy, but indeed that’s what they got: several venues last year refusing to let them play in lieu of their politically-charged band name. Preoccupations then are the same band (with a disappointing dull new title) who can now get back to the business of making music: excellent news considering they’re so good at it. Vietcong (they only had chance to release their self-titled album before that was no longer their title…) was a dark and heavy post-punk record, switching between lumbering rockers and frenzied walls of sound. The first release under their new name sounds, if anything, even more sluggish; haunting even, and lead singles ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Degraded’ promise something epic, in the Joy Division mould.
You can order the deluxe vinyl of Preoccupations here.
6. The Healing Component (Mick Jenkins)
Cinematic Music Group
Like Isaiah Rashad, Alabama MC Mick Jenkins is another promising face of the socially conscious new-school dropping this September. Following in the wake of projects this year from Vince Staples, Kemba, Noname and of course the ever-expanding ripples of To Pimp A Butterfly, his debut 2014 mixtape The Waters was a hazy and impactful debut, which positioned Jenkins at the centre of rap-head’s attentions. There has been a handful of slightly disappointing releases since then, but after The Healing Component was announced with the stunning single ‘Drowning’, one of the best rap songs of the year so far, expectations were sent sky high once more.
You can pre-order The Healing Component on iTunes.
7. Shine a Light: Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad (Billy Bragg and Joe Henry)
Cooking Vinyl Limited
Billy Bragg, known for his stringent leftist songs about unions and public ownership, or some of the most beautiful love songs of the 80’s (depending on your approach), toured 2728 miles of American Railroad earlier this year, and this record was recorded in waiting rooms and on platforms along the way. Given Bragg’s political affiliations and the selection of covers chosen for the LP, this may well be the most authentic folk-covers-record since Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions. Expect to hear it on an episode of True Detective any day now.
You can pre-order the vinyl of Shine A Light here.
8. Care (How To Dress Well)
While the near-fanaticism with which music-blogs adored neo-soul singer-songwriter Tom Krell (aka How To Dress Well) after the releases of his acclaimed LPs Total Loss and “What Is The Heart” seems to have worn off a little now, it doesn’t mean he is any-less one of the most interesting figures in the genre out right now. Given the global adoration for lovesick wallowers Drake and Frank Ocean that has emerged since Krell’s 2014 release, it would make sense that public ears and hearts are his for the taking.
You can pre-order the deluxe vinyl of Care here.
9. 22, A Million (Bon Iver)
People are finding it hard to describe the three exciting singles that have been released so far off indie icon Bon Iver’s first album in five years, and rightly so. They would probably be surmised anecdotally; as what would happen if a quiet singer-songwriter for some reason started hanging round with a bunch of rappers… which is handy considering that’s essentially a summary of Justin Vernon’s career so far. His project’s self-titled sophomore release if anything was even more introverted than their debut, but no more: 22, A Million looks weird – filled with electronics and sub bass alongside picked acoustic guitar. It could be one of the year’s best records, or a gigantic failure – either way, it seems like they’re going all out on this one.
You can pre-order the vinyl of 22, A Million here.
10. Atrocity Exhibition (Danny Brown)
Unlike Isiah Rashad or Mick Jenkins, Danny Brown was born out the wave of fresh talent that emerged at the start of the decade, but has yet to capitalise on that momentum. His excellent breakout project XXX was too weird to truly capture the mainstream, while his major label debut Old tried too hard to; resulting in an odd mix of eccentric boom bap and dubstep-flavoured bangers. Borrowing its name from a Joy Division song, Atrocity Exhibition excites through its promise of potential fulfilled. Lead single ‘Pneumonia’ is suitably schizophrenic and sees Brown at the top of his game, while ‘When It Rains’ could finally be the mainstream crossover he was looking for, with a Schoolboy Q aping flow. At the very least, the LP boasts a song featuring both Earl Sweatshirt and Kendrick Lamar, which has the potential to make any sour record sweet.
You can pre-order the deluxe vinyl of Atrocity Exhibition here.
11. EUSA (Yann Tiersen)
Yann Tiersen is a French composer’s whose collection of piano pieces recorded at Abbey Road will be released this month. He’s best known for his score of the 2001 film Amelie, and Eusa‘s achingly beautiful lead single ‘Porz Goret’ surely makes it one of the most anticipated classical releases of 2016.
You can pre-order the vinyl of Eusa here.
12. Head Carrier (Pixies)
Indie Cindy, 2014’s comeback album from scuzzy indie icons Pixies, was terrible. For all the band’s looseness and grit, the tossed together collection of comeback EPs was one thing they were never accused of being: bland. So hopes were desperately low for their ‘proper’ comeback album, Head Carrier. Then came lead single ‘Um Chagga Lagga’ and, what do you know, it was awesome. Sloshing like their Doolittle magnum opus, with a chorus The Pogues would be proud of… Even the album art was back on form. Then came ‘Talent’, which was even better. Could Pixies actually be back…? I’ll wait patiently for the 30th, and dare to dream.
You can pre-order the vinyl of Head Carrier here.
Theodore J. Inscoe