Fall Music Preview 2016: 35 Must-Hear Albums - Rolling Stone
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Fall Music Preview 2016: 35 Must-Hear Albums

Read up on blockbuster LPs from Metallica, Lady Gaga, Pitbull and more

Fall Album Preview 2016 Gaga Beck Metallica New

Read our comprehensive rundown of all the hottest fall albums, including highly anticipated new releases from Metallica, Lady Gaga and Beck.

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This year has already seen a staggering amount of high-profile album releases, from Beyoncé's weighty Lemonade and Frank Ocean's ethereal Blonde to Kanye West's shapeshifting The Life of Pablo and Drake's chart-dominating Views. But the pace won't be slowing anytime soon. The fall schedule is packed with even more blockbusters, including the latest from Beck, Metallica, Alicia Keys, Kings of Leon and Green Day. Read on for the full rundown of everything you need to hear this season.

Tove Lo, ‘Lady Wood’

After writing alongside Max Martin as part of his Wolf Cousins songwriting team, Tove Lo broke through as the darkly mysterious voice behind 2014's moody pop banger "Habits (Stay High)." Now, the Swedish singer is looking to take her career over the top with her second album, some of which she wrote in Nicaragua while obsessed with "minimal techno." The result is a concept LP that tackles heartbreak and deals with deep identity issues: "There's me and my relationship to my self-destructive side," she says. "I've created a character who represents that side of me but who is also my worst nightmare."

Banks, ‘The Altar’

Following up her trippy, hypnotic debut Goddess, alternative R&B star Banks has prepared the bewitching, intoxicating new album The Altar. Led by singles "Fuck With Myself" and "Gemini Feed," the album documents themes in her own life ranging from self-empowerment to sisterhood. "The Altar is full of my heart," she reveals. 

James Minchin

Shawn Mendes, ‘Illuminate’

Eighteen-year-old Mendes became a teen idol by posting covers of Taylor Swift and One Direction on Vine. Now, after scoring a hit with 2015's strummy "Stitches," he's aiming to become a pop star as big as the acts he used to cover. Throughout recording his second album, Mendes bounced ideas off his hero John Mayer, who influenced the breakup ballad "Three Empty Words" and even gave Mendes the guitar he plays on the bluesy crooner "Ruin." "John inspired the album more than anybody," Mendes said. 

Randall Slavin

Pitbull, ‘Climate Change’

While 2015's Grammy-winning Dale was Pitbull's Spanish-language salute to the Caribbean, Climate Change is a rollicking thesis on anglophone pop, bolstered by a multi-generational cast of all-stars, from Joe Perry to J. Lo. Recorded "on the run, around the world, in hotels, boats, et cetera," Mr. Worldwide's latest samples the hottest sounds in contemporary radio with ample nods to the Eighties: Kiesza rocks her best Pat Benetar impression on the title track, while Enrique Iglesias coyly pays respects to REO Speedwagon in "Messin' Around."

Bob Weir, ‘Blue Mountain’

Weir hasn't released a true solo album since 1978, but jamming with the National (who recently released an extensive Grateful Dead tribute album) at Weir's TRI Studios made him want to give his solo career another shot. Members of the National back him on Blue Mountain, which revisits his obsession with cowboys (evident in classics like "Mexicali Blues"). Highlights on the album, co-written with Josh Ritter, include "Ki-Yi Bossie," a campfire singalong with Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Weir, 68, impressed the younger musicians with his energy, especially when he brought a sledgehammer to the studio to lift between takes. Says the National's Scott Devendorf, "He was showing us how to work out!" 

Ernesto Ruscio/Getty

Bruce Springsteen, ‘Chapter and Verse’

Before forming the E Street Band, Springsteen ruled Jersey bars with the Castiles, Steel Mill and the Bruce Springsteen Band. Five never-released songs by those bands will appear on the "audio companion" to Springsteen's upcoming memoir, Born to Run. The highlight: the Castiles' "Baby I," a jangly garage-rock kiss-off howled by a 16-year-old Springsteen, who was already showing he had wit to spare ("I got someone new/Someone better than you," he shouts). The set also includes 13 other songs, from a 1972 demo of "Growin' Up" to 2012's "Wrecking Ball." 

Frank Maddocks

Green Day, ‘Revolution Radio’

Four years after Green Day's wildly ambitious ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! album trilogy, the pop-punk superstars have scaled things back with a 12-song collection that spotlights a nation in turmoil. Lead single "Bang Bang" is written from the perspective of a mass shooter, while the title track was inspired by Black Lives Matters protest marches. The album wraps up with the gentle "Ordinary World." "After all of the chaos that's on the album, whether it's pop culture or whatever new apps we're using, everything gets so complicated and at some point you want something simple," says Armstrong. "That's sort of what 'Ordinary World' is about."

Graham Denholm/Getty

Leonard Cohen, ‘You Want It Darker’

Virtually nothing is known about Leonard Cohen's upcoming album beyond the fact that it's produced by his son Adam and has nine new songs, including "Traveling Light, "Steer Your Way," "Leaving the Table" and the title track (a portion of which debuted this year on British crime drama Peaky Blinders). The intriguingly titled set will be the third album by the 82-year-old singer-songwriter in the past four years. 

Van Morrison, ‘Keep Me Singing’

At 71, Morrison says he makes records to please one person: himself. "If it's not interesting, then I don't do it," he says. His first LP of new songs in four years includes a swing instrumental, a tribute to hero Bobby "Blue" Bland, who died in 2013, and "Too Late," a doo-wop tune about making the most of one's limited time ("It's too late to start over again/Can't complain," Morrison howls). It's the perfect mission statement of a rock star in twilight, though the song was written years ago. "I came across it in a notebook and thought, 'What happened to this one?'" he says. 

Henry Diltz

David Crosby, ‘Lighthouse’

Now that Crosby, Stills and Nash is a thing of the past, David Crosby has time to focus on his solo career. Lighthouse is his second disc in just a little over two years. The mellow, reflective tunes were written in collaboration with bassist Michael League of the jazz collective Snarky Puppy. "Your abilities as a songwriter are like a palette of colors to a painter," says Crosby. "When you work with somebody else, you get twice as many colors."

Eliot Lee Hazel

Capital Cities, Title TBD

L.A. synth-pop duo Capital Cities – whose "Safe and Sound" was a Top 10 hit in 2013 – are currently developing a "full repertoire" of new songs. "'Do we want an uptempo dance song or a ballad?'" says vocalist/keyboardist Sebu Simonian. "You can go in a million directions. That's the focus over the next few months." This month, funky breakup jam "Vowels" arrives before an October EP and their second full-length, pegged for early 2017.

Pixies, ‘Head Carrier’

The Pixies' first album with new bassist Paz Lenchantin has songs about everything from the ancient Mesopotamian god Baal to a an old cowboy that looks like Jack Palance, but the one guaranteed to interest fans the most is "All I Think About Now," a frank apology from frontman Black Francis to estranged bassist Kim Deal. "If I could go to the beginning," he wrote. "Then for sure I would be another way." The song was actually Lenchantin's idea, and she sings lead on it. "It's a song about regret," says Francis. "But it's also about good memories." For a group that has devoted so many years to playing their classics on the nostalgia circuit, they know that a new album is a tough sell for some fans. But the 12 songs on Head Carrier are classic Pixies, full of neck-bulging Black Francis screams and bizarre imagery. "If you're a fan of anything you're going to be closed off to change," says Francis. "I don't take it personally. Everybody's gotta make their own decisions about what they're going to play out of their stereo."

Johnny Louis/Getty

Barry Gibb, ‘In the Now’

Thirty-two years after his last solo album, Barry Gibb, the last surviving members of the Bee Gees, is back with In the Now. His two sons Stephen and Ashley were deeply involved in all aspects of the recording. "It was not unlike working with my brothers," says Gibb. "They instill that touch of youth in me."

Fall Album Preview 2016 Gaga Beck Metallica New

Brantley Gutierrez

Phish, ‘Big Boat’

At the end of sessions for 2014's Fuego, Phish's producer Bob Ezrin left them with a final thought: "He said, 'I'd love to know more about you guys,' " says singer-guitarist Trey Anastasio. "'Who are you? What breaks your heart?'" Big Boat tries to answer those questions; "Miss You" is a ballad Anastasio says he wrote about a personal loss, and other members wrote about "the twists and turns of life." "There's definitely a point of view to this one," says Anastasio. "We're old enough to have a healthy respect for mortality." 

Mike Lewis/Getty

The Weeknd, Title TBD

Earlier this year, the singer pulled out of a summer European tour with Rihanna so he could focus on new music. "Creatively, some magic is happening," he said. "I don't want to lose it." Rumored guests for his third album include Daft Punk and Justin Timberlake ("[We're] talking about doing a collab soon – I don't know if I was supposed to say that," Timberlake said recently). The Weeknd also reunited with the producers behind his fan-favorite 2011 mixtape House of Balloons. "But it's a new thing," he said. "Always a new thing." 

Eric Ryan Anderson

Sting, ’57th and 9th’

"You should always pick up a Sting record and never be sure what it's going to be," says the singer. On 57th and 9th (named after the Manhattan intersection he crossed to reach the studio), he returns to rock music for the first time in more than a decade, with a new perspective. "50,000" reflects on the deaths of David Bowie and Prince, and "One Fine Day" takes climate-change deniers to task. He recorded with members of San Antonio Tex-Mex group the Last Bandoleros, who, Sting says, "brought energy, freshness and a beautiful blend of backing vocals."

C Flanigan/Getty

Miranda Lambert, Title TBD

After her divorce from Blake Shelton, Lambert ducked the public eye and told her record label to give her some space. "The last year has been one of heartache and healing," she said recently. "I got to know my guitars." The first single, "Vice," is a ballad about being stuck in a tailspin of drinking and pain, which proves the usually fiery Lambert is even better when she turns down and opens up. 

Kai Z Feng

Bruno Mars, Title TBD

Mars is aware he's overdue for the follow-up to 2012's Unorthodox Jukebox. "I'm on a mission … to make an album I'm genuinely proud of," he wrote on Twitter recently. "Stick with me." Mark Ronson – who teamed up with Mars for their 2014 Number One hit "Uptown Funk" – has reportedly joined him in the studio, and Missy Elliott and Skrillex have also dropped by. "What we're doing is next-level, like nothing that's happened before," Skrillex said.

Amanda de Cadene

CRX, ‘New Skin’

Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi was the last remaining member of the group not to form a solo band – until now. With producer Josh Homme, he recorded a catchy power-pop set full of Strokes-y twin-guitar breakdowns. "That's my bread and butter," Valensi says.

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