The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in July

We always love looking back on the best albums and songs of each month, but there’s something particularly special about looking ahead to the next, in eager anticipation of the must-hear releases to come. There’s plenty to get amped about in July, including (but not limited to) Vince Staples’ self-titled FM! follow-up, Nick Murphy’s first Chet Faker record in seven years, and what may very well be Nandi Rose’s breakthrough album as Half Waif. Let the Paste Music team’s picks serve as your road map to the month’s most exciting new releases below.

July 2

Notable July 2 releases: Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth: Utopian Ashes, Chinatown Slalom: Meet The Parents EP, Desperate Journalist: Maximum Sorrow!, The Go! Team: Get Up Sequences Part One, Laura Mvula: Pink Noise

July 4

Notable July 4 releases: Lana Del Rey: Blue Banisters

July 9

The Goon Sax: Mirror II

Matador Records

Brisbane, Australia, trio The Goon Sax make their Matador debut with their third album Mirror II, the John Parish-produced (PJ Harvey, Dry Cleaning) follow-up to 2018’s acclaimed We’re Not Talking. The two singles they’ve released so far are an apt microcosm of the ride listeners will be taking on the album itself: While lead single “In the Stone” found Riley Jones and Louis Forster swapping verses over what we praised as “a particularly deft display of [the band’s] seamlessly dynamic jangle-pop,” second single “Psychic” went a different way, setting Jones’ and Forster’s thoughtful vocal interplay to a punchy synth and drum machine combo. That juxtaposition between laid-back guitar rock and more hard-edged electronic instrumentation is how Mirror II operates, with The Goon Sax’s sound expanding in dynamic new directions as a result. —Scott Russell

Half Waif: Mythopoetics

ANTI- Records

The evocative and existential project of Nandi Rose, aka New York-based artist Half Waif, has never shied away from deep emotional territory, often exploring anguish and catharsis through intricate synth-pop compositions. Mythopoetics, featuring spellbinding single “Orange Blossoms,” and composed in part with multi-instrumentalist and frequent collaborator Zubin Hensler, explores the beauty of self-transformation while on the path towards healing. Creating a diverse sonic universe, Rose describes Mythopoetics as “the album I’ve been trying to make for 10 years.” —Jason Friedman

Vince Staples: Vince Staples

Blacksmith Recordings / Motown Records

In June, California rapper Vince Staples announced his first new album since 2018’s FM!, produced by Kenny Beats and simply titled Vince Staples, and shared lead single “Law of Averages,” our only preview of the album thus far. Both the track itself and its unnerving visual (directed by Kid. Studio and shot in Staples’ native Long Beach, California) find Staples surrounded by people, yet apart from them—many in his circle aren’t trustworthy (“Everyone that I’ve ever known asked me for a loan,” he raps over a sparse beat that sounds vaguely like a conversation happening in your next-door neighbor’s place), as evidenced by their creepy fake smiles in the video. “You will never catch me slippin’ out in traffic,” Staples insists, able to rely on no one but himself. Staples explained in a statement that he opted to self-title his new album because it’s his most personal yet: “It really gives much more information about me that wasn’t out there before. That’s why I went with that title. I feel like I’ve been trying to tell the same story. As you go on in life, your point of view changes. This is another take on myself that I might not have had before.” —Scott Russell

More notable July 9 releases: Babehoven: Nastavi, Calliope EP, Charlotte Day WIlson: Alpha, The Goon Sax: Mirror II, IDK: USEE4YOURSELF, Junaco: Blue Room EP, Koreless: Agor, Museum of Love: Life Of Mammals, Tim Atlas: QUOTA EP, Tkay Maidza: Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3 EP, Twin Shadow: Twin Shadow, The Wallflowers: Exit Wounds

July 16

Chet Faker: Hotel Surrender

Detail Records / BMG

Australian electronic musician Nick Murphy announced the revival of his Chet Faker moniker in October 2020 after five years of working under his birth name. Now, Murphy returns with a new Chet Faker album, Hotel Surrender. His third single since his return to the beloved alias, “Whatever Tomorrow,” debuted April 16 alongside a self-directed music video. The single is a return to form, bringing back his brighter, more atmospheric lo-fi production with his soulful vocals. Chet Faker’s approach is different, focusing more on atmosphere compared to his work as Nick Murphy that blends live instrumentation and darker, more experimental themes. Together, the two sides show Murphy’s versatility as an artist that expands with each endeavor. In a statement, Murphy explains: “There were a lot of heavy perspective shifters for me. I really just thought of the music in a different light. I look at it as a mass therapy now. I think I used to see it as this plight, like I was on a crusade or this creative odyssey. Now I see that it’s more Shamanistic. You’ve got to find some light—or sometimes dark, whatever’s right—and share it. I realized that was the heart of the Chet Faker project. And I felt like the world was hurting, so I thought, ‘I can do a small something to give people some joy.’” —Jade Gomez

Midwife: Luminol

The Flenser

“Heaven metal” multi-instrumentalist Madeline Johnston announced her third album as Midwife and released its opener, “God Is a Cop,” in June, after sharing the album’s closer “Christina’s World” back in April. If “heaven metal” doesn’t compute for you on paper, it will soon after you push play on “God Is a Cop,” a hauntingly minimal experimental-pop track that revolves around “the evil thought” Johnston can’t shake, no matter how hard she tries: “Am I the villain, am I the cop?” Her gentle keys—so soft, it’s as if she’s barely touched them—and thrumming guitars echo over and over again, a dreamlike, yet subtly disturbing reflection of her fixation. The follow-up to Midwife’s acclaimed 2020 album Forever, Luminol has an origin story common among COVID-era albums: Robbed of touring by the pandemic, the New Mexico-via-Colorado artist shifted her focus back to writing and recording her new six-song set. The album takes its title from “a chemical used by forensic investigators to reveal trace amounts of blood left at a crime scene. When it reacts with blood, luminol emits a chemiluminescent blue glow that can be seen in a darkened room. In the same way this chemical reveals evidence at a scene, Midwife is interested in profound truth—turning trial and tribulation into sources of light,” a press release explains. “Luminol navigates themes of incarceration, locus of control, clarity, self harm, confinement, agency and truth-seeking, all erupting in a bioluminescent Rothko color-field of blue.” —Scott Russell

Rodrigo Amarante: Drama

Polyvinyl

A Brazilian, Amarante is typically best-known for “Tuyo,” the theme song to the show Narcos, and as one third of the band Little Joy, with fellow Brazilian Fabrizio Moretti of The Strokes. But his band Los Hermanos is one of the biggest cult rock bands in Brazil and his solo work is an always-stunning offering that’s readily accessible to more than just Brazilian ears. Now on Drama, his first solo record in seven years, the Rio-born and L.A.-based Amarante brings a collection of breezy, tropicalia-soaked songs sung in both Portuguese and English. “Mare” (“Tide” in Portuguese) is a lively track about the circularity of the world and how, like the tides, fortunes always come and go. But it’s “Sky Beneath” that’ll surely leave the deepest impression on a listener, channeling indigenous drums, gorgeous strings and Amarante’s incredibly poetic (and undeniably Brazilian) songwriting. —Adrian Spinelli

More notable July 16 releases: A Place to Bury Strangers: Hologram EP, Barenaked Ladies: Detour de Force, Clairo: Sling, Ida Mae: Click Click Domino, John Mayer: Sob Rock, K.D.A.P.: Influences, Lawrence Rothman: Good Morning, America, Pizzagirl: softcore mourn, Runnner: Always Repeating, Wavves: Hideaway, Willow: lately I feel EVERYTHING

July 23

DARKSIDE: Spiral

Matador Records

Back in 2014, DARKSIDE seemed to be on top of their game. Selling out shows and touring at festivals on the heels of 2013’s Psychic, an incredible exploration of electronic-meets-musical theory psychedelia. My mind was totally blown by their performance inside the shadowy bones of the L.A. Sports Arena as part of FYF Festival 2014, only to be totally crushed when they announced they were going on an indefinite hiatus weeks later. So here we are seven years later, and the duo of Nicolás Jaar and Dave Harrington have risen from the ashes and are back with a new full-length. Tracks like “Liberty Bell” and “The Limit” show us once again what the gold standard in the electronic jam band is and it’s just as sublime as it was before; like they never left. —Adrian Spinelli

More notable July 23 releases: Anika: Change, Chiiild: Hope For Sale, David Crosby: For Free, Descendents: 9th & Walnut, Jackson Browne: Downhill From Everywhere, Leon Bridges: Gold-Diggers Sound, Mega Bog: Life, and Another, Molly Burch: Romantic Images, Rodney Crowell: Triage, Samia: Scout EP, Woods: More Strange

July 30

Durand Jones & The Indications: Private Space

Dead Oceans / Colemine Records

Throwback soul outfit Durand Jones & The Indications announced their new album Private Space in mid-May, sharing the video for lead single “Witchoo” and announcing a fall U.S. tour. “Witchoo” is a light-as-a-feather funk number powered by Mike Montgomery’s wiggly bassline, and Aaron Frazer and Durand Jones’ engaging high/low vocal harmonies, all imbued with a quiet, but unmistakable confidence. Jazzy keys and ambient conversation lend the song a smoothly celebratory vibe, as do its group-chant choruses: “Come through, bring the crew / I just wanna be witchoo!” Driven by effortlessly tight musicianship, “Witchoo” is an irresistible ode to getting together and having a good time—with a cathartic summer right around the corner in the States, the band’s timing couldn’t be better. Seeing Frazer, Jones and The Indications moving from isolation to joyous togetherness in the accompanying visual (dir. Weird Life) just hammers the excitement home. Private Space follows 2019’s American Love Call and, per a press release, promises to introduce “a wider range of sounds,” including synths and disco beats, into the band’s classic soul revival sound. “At the end of the day, I just want people to close their eyes and forget where they are. Just the way a Stevie Wonder album does for me,” said Jones in a statement. —Scott Russell

TORRES: Thirstier

Merge Records

Indie singer/songwriter TORRES (moniker of Mackenzie Scott) is gearing up to release Thirstier, a follow-up to 2019’s Silver Tongue, and Scott’s second album with Merge Records. In addition to the album announcement came its first single, “Don’t Go Puttin Wishes In My Head.” The track is a heartbreaking explosion of emotions as Scott reflects on a relationship built on empty promises, yearning for a sign she should keep going. Scott’s bright guitars and vocals that sneak into blissful high notes feel like being on the brink of tears. The new album marks a stylistic change for Scott, who was inspired by the dynamic sounds of Butch Vig’s work with Nirvana and Garbage. Of this new direction, Scott said in a statement: “I wanted to channel my intensity into something that felt positive and constructive, as opposed to being intense in a destructive or eviscerating way. I love the idea that intensity can actually be something life-saving or something joyous.” —Jade Gomez

Yola: Stand For Myself

Easy Eye Sound

Bristol’s Yola has a busy rest of 2021 ahead of her. The soul singer announced in April that her sophomore album is on its way, and that she’ll be joining Chris Stapleton on his rescheduled tour this summer. Yola’s new record was produced by Dan Auerbach. The singer was originally supposed to tour with Auerbach and the rest of The Black Keys, along with Stapleton, before the pandemic began. The new album came from the free time allotted by the cancellation of both the stadium tour and the filming of Baz Luhrmann’s forthcoming Elvis biopic, in which Yola will play Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Lead single “Diamond Studded Shoes” is proof enough that her newly found free time wasn’t wasted—deceptively joyous, Yola smiles through disaster after disaster in the song’s music video as the feel-good vintage Americana-pop masks the exhaustion of constantly fighting to make the world better. —Carli Scolforo

More notable July 30 releases: Billie Eilish: Happier Than Ever, Bleachers: Take The Sadness Out Of Saturday Night, kole?anka: Place Is, LUMP: LUMP, Prince: Welcome 2 America, Son Volt: Electro Melodier, The Tubs: Names EP, VIAL: Loudmouth

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this list included Bomba Estéreo’s forthcoming Deja, but a rep for the band tells Paste the album’s release has been pushed to Sept. 10, so we’ve removed it.

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