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Summer Music Preview: The Season’s Must-Hear Albums

Yeezy returns, Ozzy reunites with Sabbath, QOTSA recruits Dave Grohl, and more

It's almost summer. And that means it's nearing the time of back-porch blowouts, blockbusters and – of course – plenty of must-hear new albums. There's a slew of crucial music dropping in the coming months, from Kanye West's hyped Yeezus to Black Sabbath's first album with Ozzy since the Seventies. Not to mention a solid collection of buzzed-about debuts and can't-miss collaborations. Rolling Stone has you covered.

By Jon Blistein and Dan Hyman

Wu-Tang Clan

Coutresy Sony

Wu-Tang Clan, ‘A Better Tomorrow’ (July TBD)

If Wu-Tang Clan was going to reunite, RZA told Rolling Stone last fall, he needed to be in full control. With the the legendary New York City hip-hop collective's new album A Better Tomorrow set for release this July and a handful of tour dates featuring every surviving member scheduled for this summer, it looks like the Wu-Tang head honcho may have gotten his way. A Better Tomorrow is the first full length from the killer bees since 2007's 8 Diagrams, and this year also marks the 20th anniversary of Wu-Tang's groundbreaking debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).

Courtesy Sub Pop

Daughn Gibson, ‘Me Moan’ (7/9)

On his debut solo LP All Hell, Daughn Gibson crafted the kind of tortured, lonesome numbers any cowboy could love – but while Gibson's heavy baritone and the LP's melodies cried out country, he put his own spin on the genre, using samples and looping software to build songs that echoed across landscapes, both digital and pastoral. On Me Moan, his second LP and first for Sub Pop (out July 9th), Gibson shows he's toying with and expanding his formula: Opener "The Sound of Law" sets to swing before barreling forward, propelled by snares that pump like pistons and Gibson's cavernous croon.

speedy ortiz

Courtesy Carpark Records

Speedy Ortiz, ‘Major Arcana’ (7/9)

Western Massachusetts, in all its wide-open, woodsy, college-town glory, has always been a pristine environment for young punk, hardcore and indie rock bands. Following in the grand, sludgy and big-riff tradition of Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh are Northampton's Speedy Ortiz. After a series of EPs and singles, the band will release its debut LP Major Arcana on July 9th via Carpark. Started by frontwoman Sadie Dupuis as a solo project at summer camp, Speedy Ortiz has grown into a full band capable of basement-burning anthems like "Ka-Prow!" (off a recent 7-inch) and clever, meditative, but never meek alt-rock cuts as exhibited by Major Arcana's first single "Tiger Tank."

skylar grey

Courtesy Interscope Records

Skylar Grey, ‘Don’t Look Down’ (7/9)

Skylar Grey's second album Don't Look Down, out July 9th via KidinaKorner and Interscope, has been a long time coming. In the years since her 2006 debut Like Blood Like Honey, Grey has honed her own material while also co-penning a handful of hit tunes for other artists, like Eminem's "Love The Way You Lie." So impressed with Grey, Em took the singer under his belt, acting as executive producer on Don't Look Down and spitting on album cut "C'mon Let Me Ride," a bumping, grin-inducing pop number that that cops Queen's "Bicycle Race." But it's not all bubblegum fun for Grey: She showcases her continued knack for constructing gorgeous but grave tunes on her latest single "Final Warning."

pusha t

Courtesy Def Jam

Pusha T, ‘My Name Is My Name’ (7/16)

Since signing to Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music in 2010, Pusha T has become a prominent presence on the label's output: in addition to his own mixtape and EP, the Clipse MC stole the spotlight on the Cruel Summer compilation. His forthcoming official debut, anchored by the bass-blinding single "Numbers on the Board," promises to be no-nonsense, aggro-hip-hop. "I wasn't signed to G.O.O.D. Music to expand my horizons as a rapper . . . and make pop records and shit like that," Pusha told Rolling Stone last year. "Not at all. I'm not here to do anything else. I'm only here to be myself."

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Courtesy Vagrant Records

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, ‘Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ (7/23)

Less than a year after releasing their group-hug of a second album, Here (which ranked at number seven on Rolling Stone's Best Albums of 2012), Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes return with a brand-new third LP. Few details have yet to emerge on the kumbaya-singing collective's new project, but bearded frontman Alex Ebert recently stated that the eponymous release is the most "liberated, rambunctious material" the band has recorded to date. The 13-piece outfit's upcoming festival sets at Sasquatch, Governor’s Ball and Bonnaroo will give itching fans a chance to hear the new tracks.

ty segall

Courtesy Drag City Records

Ty Segall, ‘Sleeper’ (8/20)

After taking on the Herculean task of releasing three albums in 12 months, a lot of musicians might take some significant time off before their next release – but San Francisco garage-rock wunderkind Ty Segall doesn't work like that. After releasing Twins just last October (a solo LP that followed two collaborative records, one with his touring band, the other with White Fence), Drag City will put out Sleeper on August 20th. The album trailer, which features what could be the title track, finds Segall returning to the more lo-fi acoustic side he exhibited on 2011's Goodbye Bread, but we wouldn't be surprised if there's a healthy dose of face-melting riffage as well.

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