17 anticipated indie rock albums of fall 2017
If you’ve been following along closely with new music this year, you’ve probably noticed that 2017 has been a really good year for indie rock. A lot of the albums we had been anticipating for this year have since come out, and a lot of them are as great as we hoped (but not all of them). The rest of summer still has some big ones to come (like Grizzly Bear this week and then The War On Drugs, Liars, Iron & Wine, and LCD Soundsystem), and another slew of them will hit this fall. Since fall is coming up faster than we know it, we’ve decided to run down our 17 most anticipated indie rock albums for fall 2017.
Though fall technically starts on Friday, September 22 (a big day for new albums this year), we’re considering Labor Day weekend the unofficial end of summer, which means this list includes anything with a 9/8 release date through the start of winter. Not everything on our list has an exact release date, but we went with albums that we’re 100% certain or pretty confident are coming out this fall, meaning no Wrens or Chromatics. Almost every album on the list has at least some music released from it too, so we have some kind of idea of what to expect from them.
Check out our list of anticipated indie rock albums coming out this fall, below. What new music are you most looking forward to?
The National change things up from album to album, but the changes are usually subtle. That’s part of what makes them great — each album is the familiar band you know and love, but new enough that you fall in love with them all over again. Their seventh album, Sleep Well Beast, is their first in four years, the longest break they’ve taken between albums. Going by lead singles, it follows that familiar-yet-new formula as reliably as ever. All the sad, introspective storytelling is there, but listen to those guitars wail on “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” in a way The National’s guitars never really have before. Maybe they were influenced by that Grateful Dead tribute album they put together? Whatever the case, it already feels certain that Sleep Well Beast is gonna be racking up playcounts once the leaves change color. [Andrew Sacher]
The long-awaited followup to 2010’s The Brutalist Bricks is a truly DIY effort: crowdfunded via Kickstarter, self-released, and recorded in the studio Ted Leo set up in his Rhode Island home. Longtime Pharmacists drummer Chris Wilson plays on most of the songs, and there are contributions from Ted’s The Both partner Aimee Mann, as well as Jean Grae, Adrienne Berry, and Jonathan Coulton. Of the 27 songs he recorded, Ted describes the 14 that made the album as a mix between “slow dark weird stuff” and the punkier sounds “people would traditionally think I do.” It’s also going to have some of Ted’s most heartbreaking songs yet. He officially announced the album in a lengthy, revealing interview, and discussed that some of the new songs were born out of grief for his daughter, who failed to make it after Ted’s wife Jodi needed to force a premature birth. [Amanda Hatfield]
Tori’s fifteenth studio album announcement included talk of how the cycle of death and rebirth plays out in nature. Tori albums are rarely without some kind of overarching concept, and the first two tracks released, “Cloud Riders” (with thunder gods and chariots pulled by cats) and “Up the Creek” (with vocal contributions from Tori’s daughter Natashya) are as lyrically dense as you’d expect. They’re also incredibly listenable, with guitar and strings to round out Tori’s signature piano. No matter what direction she goes in, a new album from one of rock’s most interesting songwriters is always worth hearing. [A.H.]
Deer Tick haven’t released new music in four years. That’s two years longer than they ever went before, and that doesn’t even count the various EPs they released around their five albums. They’re making up for it though, with not one, but two full albums comprising of 20 new songs coming out on 9/15 (almost exactly 10 years since their excellent debut War Elephant). Deer Tick Vol. 1 “showcases the folk-driven, roots/rock style”, according to a press release, while Deer Tick Vol. 2 “turns it up and lets it fly.” In other words, something for every flavor of Deer Tick fan. Fans of early Deer Tick should instantly excited by first Vol 1. single “Sea of Clouds“. It already has me nostalgic for the War Elephant days and excited to hear the rest. Vol. 2 single “It’s A Whale” is a reminder that this band also sometimes plays as a very competent Nirvana cover band. Vol 2. feel good rocker “Jumpstarting” is sure to become a live staple during Deer Tick’s next ten years. [Dave]
The Clientele have an established style at this point; you know what you’re going to get — Delicately arpeggiated guitars, brushed drums, wistful strings, baroque melodies, and the airy vocals (and erudite lyrics) of Alasdair MacLean. With Clientele albums few and far between — this is the band’s first in seven years — you don’t really want anything else. Anthony Harmer, an old friend of MacLean’s, joins the band as a new member here, and he also did the gorgeous string and brass arrangements, as well as adding Santoor, an Iranian version of the dulcimer, which puts a new shine on The Clientele’s familiar, and welcome, sound. [Bill Pearis]
After a decade off, Luna reformed in 2015 but are just now getting around to recording new material. Making up for lost time, they’re releasing two new records on the same day, though neither may be exactly what fans are looking for. A Sentimental Education offers of up the band’s take on a variety of other people’s songs (The Cure, Dylan, Bowie, Yes); A Place of Greater Safety is a mini-LP of six instrumentals. As for Education, Luna seem to be approaching the cover versions as if they wrote them, deconstructing them into the band’s spare, strummy style with some understated guitar heroics from Dean Wareham and Sean Eden. Which is pretty much what you want with a Luna record. [B.P.]
Stranger in the Alps is 22-year-old singer/songwriter Phoebe Bridgers’ debut album, but she’s been an active musician since childhood and she’s been associated with impressive artists for a few years now. She toured and collaborated with Ryan Adams, who recorded her 2015 7″ Killer (home of “Killer” and “Georgia,” which were both re-recorded for Stranger in the Alps), she toured and collaborated with Conor Oberst (who sings with her on Stranger track “Would You Rather”), she sang harmonies on Joyce Manor’s 2016 LP, and she toured with Julien Baker. Fans of both Conor Oberst and Julien Baker should instantly fall in love with Phoebe’s music too. Going by the handful of songs released from this album (in one form or another), Phoebe has a knack for quiet, melancholic music and lyrics that punch you in the gut on first listen. She’s a songwriting natural and sounds wise beyond her years. [A.S.]
Never the lightest band, Protomartyr’s fourth — and first for Domino — dives headfirst into the abyss. While not a concept album, the Detroit four-piece explore “the unknowable nature of truth, and the existential dread that often accompanies that unknowing.” If you’re wondering if this was inspired by the last 12 months’ socio-political climate, you’d be right. (Somewhat ironically, they decamped to sunny Los Angeles to make this one, the first they’ve done outside of Michigan.) Count on Joe Casey’s dark sense of humor to allow a little grey light into the proceedings. “I wish there was a better ending to this joke,” he sighs on “The Chuckler.” “I guess I’ll keep on chuckling until there’s no more breath in my lungs.” [B.P.]
We’ve heard two tracks from Torres’ followup to 2015’s Sprinter, “Skim” and the title track, “Three Futures.” Mackenzie Scott’s smoldering, yearning voice is the centerpiece of both, underscored by rumbling guitars and buzzing synths. The songs are linked by a pair of striking, sensual videos that share an aesthetic universe haunted by Mackenzie’s direct stare. They also mark an expanded sonic pallet for Torres, who signed to 4AD for this album. [A.H.]
With a many-membered lineup featuring strings, horns, synths, and multiple vocalists, TWIABP’s great 2015 album Harmlessness felt like a genuine update on the early-Broken Social Scene/Arcade Fire era of indie rock. Two years later, and a lot of the key bands from that era are back with albums that hearken back to their classic era (well, except Arcade Fire), which makes it a pretty good time to get a new TWIABP album too. If you dig the new BSS, New Pornographers, and Los Campesinos albums, there’s a good chance you’ll dig Always Foreign as well. Lead single “Dillon And Her Son” is one of the more bright, upbeat songs TWIABP have ever released, but they’re no one-trick pony and Always Foreign is bound to explore various sounds. [A.S.]
We named Melbourne indie rocker Alex Lahey one of the best new indie rock artists of 2016 off the strength of her rock-solid B-Grade University EP. Every song on that EP was an instant hit, and lead I Love You Like A Brother single “Every Day’s The Weekend” proves she’s got more undeniable hooks in her arsenal. Alex’s music is too clean to be called “punk,” but it’s fast and driving enough that you’ll wanna rock out to it. It’s some of the most easily enjoyable music of its kind to come out in recent memory, and the simplicity of the music is balanced out by lyrics that are both witty and relatable. It’s not everyday that an artist this talented comes out of nowhere like Alex did. [A.S.]
Though co-frontmen Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner have been busy with Moonface, Operators, Divine Fits, and the final Handsome Furs album in the time since Wolf Parade went on hiatus, there’s nothing quite like when they play together, and lead Cry Cry Cry single “Valley Boy” has Wolf Parade saying “we’re back” in a huge way. Their last album before hiatus was the quickly banged-out, harder-edged rock album Expo 86, which is home to some of their finest songs, but “Valley Boy” is way closer to classic Wolf Parade than anything on Expo. As the definition of “indie rock” has gone in some head-scratching directions, some of us indie nerds have been yearning for another album like Apologies to the Queen Mary for years. Right now, it’s looking very possible like we’re gonna get one from Wolf Parade themselves. [A.S.]
It was a little disappointing that The New Pornographers’ otherwise excellent Whiteout Conditions was the group’s first album not to feature Dan Bejar. He had a good excuse for being absent though: he was busy working on his own new album. Bejar made the record with Josh Wells of Black Mountain (who has been Destroyer’s drummer since 2012) and if first single “Sky’s Grey” is any indication, it picks up where 2015’s Poison Season left off. As for the album title, here is a very Bejar explanation: “Sometime last year, I discovered that the original name for “The Wild Ones” (one of the great English-language ballads of the last 100 years or so) was “Ken.” I had an epiphany, I was physically struck by this information. In an attempt to hold on to this feeling, I decided to lift the original title of that song and use it for my own purposes. It’s unclear to me what that purpose is, or what the connection is.” [B.P.]
We’ve been looking forward to a new album from Julien Baker ever since falling in love with her 2015 debut, Sprained Ankle. Since its release, Julien signed to Matador, played shows with everyone from The Decemberists to Belle and Sebastian to Paramore, and worked in the studio with Sorority Noise’s Cam Boucher. She also released a single with a pair of new songs, ”Funeral Pyre” and “Distant Solar Systems,“ which is keeping us excited for more new music. A release date is still TBA, but Matador says the album is coming “soon” and Julien promised to play more new songs on her upcoming tour with Half Waif, so hopefully more details emerge by then. [A.H.]
UPDATE: The day after this post went up, Julien announced that the new album is called Turn Out the Lights and will be out on October 27. Listen to lead single “Appointments” here.
UPDATE: Lotta Sea Lice is due out October 13, and you can listen to “Over Everything” now.
We haven’t heard a note of this album, but of course we’re anticipating a collaborative album from Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile. Courtney has had one of the fastest rises in traditional-style indie rock of the past few years, and it wouldn’t have happened if she wasn’t such a naturally great songwriter. Kurt’s rise has been more gradual, having gone from a staple of late ’00s lo-fi to one of today’s top indie stars. This collaboration makes a lot of sense on paper too. Kurt and Courtney both have elements of ’60s folk rock and ’90s slacker rock. Both can write long, slow, lazy-Sunday jams and both can write bangers too (see “Pedestrian At Best” and “Pretty Pimpin” for said bangers). They’re touring together in October and November (with members of Sleater-Kinney and Warpaint in their backing band!), so hopefully we’ll hear some of the music by then. [A.S.]
On her last few albums, St. Vincent emerged as one of the most inventive guitarists around. She’s been known to put her own spin on covers by underground heroes like The Pop Group and Big Black, and she even formed a band with David Byrne of the Talking Heads, but she never tried to emulate those artists. She set out to make new sounds and became a hero of her own for a younger generation. Having mastered her truly unique style, she threw it all away on this year’s truly devastating single “New York.” Her crazy guitar playing is nowhere to be found. Instead, the music is simple and minimal and her lyrics are in the forefront in a way that’s not typical for a St. Vincent song. We’re still awaiting album details, but if “New York” is anything to go by, the Tiffany model is about to drop a gem on us. [A.S.]
A lot has happened for Brand New in the long eight years since 2009’s Daisy (except a new album, that is). They underwent serious critical evaluation — The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me is now regularly and rightly referred to as a classic outside of the emo scene — and they toured with bands like Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, and Conor Oberst, positioning themselves with the bands they’re actually similar to, not the ones Buzzfeed groups them with. They’ve also proven to be a better live act than ever, and the few new songs they released (“I Am A Nightmare,” “Mene,” and “Out of Range”) showed that they haven’t run out of ideas. As they’ve been this whole time, Brand New are remaining very vague about a new album, but for the first time ever they set a release time (October) and actually launched pre-orders of the album. Hopefully that means it’s really coming this time. [A.S.]
UPDATE: The day after this post went up, Brand New surprise-released their new album! More info HERE.