Sleater-Kinney, Modest Mouse, and 19 more albums we can’t wait to hear in June

·12 min read
Clockwise from bottom left: Sleater-Kinney (Photo: Gus Stewart/Getty Images), Japanese Breakfast (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images), Migos (Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images), Modest Mouse (Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images)
Clockwise from bottom left: Sleater-Kinney (Photo: Gus Stewart/Getty Images), Japanese Breakfast (Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images), Migos (Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images), Modest Mouse (Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

Summer is ramping up, vaccinations are in effect, and more and more live music is being announced—arguably to the degree that many of us are seeing our fall dance cards filling up rapidly. (If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, please do so ASAP, as the safety of many of these planned events depends on it.) So while we break out the grills and remember what it’s like to be near other humans again, a lot of artists are stepping up to bring us the new soundtracks to these celebrations. From beloved hip-hop acts like Migos to A.V. Club mainstays The Mountain Goats, there’s a host of great music coming out in June. So take a look at what we’re most excited to hear this month, and hopefully you can come away with a few new acts to check out. Plus, if there’s something you’re looking forward to that you don’t see here, let us know in the comments; as always, there’s way too much good stuff happening in the music world to possibly cover in a single list.

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Liz Phair, Soberish [June 4]

Liz Phair’s seventh album, Soberish (her first since 2010’s Funstyle), sees the Exile In Guyville legend reunited with Brad Wood—producer of her first three records in the ’90s—leaving behind The Matrix hitmakers of her 2003 self-titled release. The result hearkens back to the earlier years of Phair’s career: She’s still working out her feelings via confessional lyrics and jangly acoustic guitar, but in first single “Spanish Doors,” she’s moved past pondering the flighty Guyville guys and is more worried about the stability of post-divorce life: “What about the kids? / What about the house? / What about our friends? / What do I do now?” [Gwen Ihnat]

Red Fang, Arrows [June 4]

The deeply satisfying sludge metal conjured up by Portland’s Red Fang has remained remarkably consistent throughout the band’s work, and Arrows, the group’s fifth album (delayed over a year, thanks to COVID), is no exception. The band has proudly carried on the tradition of speaker-rattling riffs articulated by forbears like Karp, albeit with a more stoner-rock element that places a good-natured sense of humor at the forefront, which has always made Red Fang immensely appealing in comparison to many of their straight-faced compatriots. Six years since the last LP was too long a wait—long live amiable metal. [Alex McLevy]

Rostam, Changephobia [June 4]

Vampire Weekend fans recognize Rostam Batmanglij as the mastermind behind its greatest records, acting as a multi-instrumentalist, co-songwriter, and producer for the band. Since leaving Vampire Weekend after 2013’s critically acclaimed Modern Vampires Of The City, Batmanglij has thrived in his solo career, crafting stunning songs that show a new side to his work. For Changephobia, he takes it back to a sound more in tune with his Vampire Weekend days, while still adding touches that feel distinctly his. It’s more pop-inclined than his previous work, but it also takes influence from jazz—a perfect sound for summer. [Tatiana Tenreyro]

Smoke DZA, The Hustler’s Catalog 2 [June 4]

It’s been almost exactly a decade since the release of The Hustler’s Catalog, arguably the finest of New York rapper Smoke DZA’s many, many mixtapes (though a compilation of the best parts of his multi-numbered Ringside releases would be unstoppable). But his recent work, including the 2019 Pete Rock-produced Statue Of Limitations EP and 2020’s A Closed Mouth Don’t Get Fed, show the prolific artist has been on an upswing. Here’s hoping the latest will be more indelible than forgettable. The Harry Fraud-produced single “No Regrets,” featuring Dom Kennedy, is a promising sign. [Alex McLevy]

Wolf Alice, Blue Weekend [June 4]

Judging by the handful of songs that have already been released, Wolf Alice’s third album, Blue Weekend, looks like it will continue the London four-piece’s stellar streak. “No Hard Feelings” stays in the band’s acoustic lane, with Ellie Rowsell’s breathy vocals leading down a dreamy, winding path. “Smile” goes the opposite route, using searing guitar lines that evoke a ’90s Pumpkins/Rage-era anthem. But “The Last Man On Earth” may be the band’s biggest surprise yet, easing in with delicate piano lines then adding layer upon layers of vocals, building to an all-enveloping crescendo. There’s a palpable sense of loss when the song draws to a close, necessitating an immediate repeat listen. [Gwen Ihnat]

​Japanese Breakfast, Jubilee [June 4]

Over the last few years Michelle Zauner has shared her deepest grief with us. Her memoir, Crying In H Mart, which came out in April, explores the loss of her mother and her relationship with food. Her 2017 album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, is imbued with heartbreak and grief. Now she’s set out to share her joy: The first taste of her third album, the single “Be Sweet,” showed a Zauner surrounded by persimmons, with a groovy, pleading track that bursts into life just as the fruit would. [Gabrielle Sanchez]

Marina, Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land [June 11]

In the 2010 breakthrough hit “I’m Not A Robot,” Marina Diamandis asserted her humanity; it’s now over a decade later, and the idiosyncratic musician is singing about leaving the corporeal form behind. Such is the evolution of Marina (formerly “…And The Diamonds”), who continues to channel big ideas and big beats into maximalist pop with a message on her metaphysically minded fifth album. Early singles—like the B-52s-esque title track—suggest it’ll be another heady rush of pop euphoria. [Cameron Scheetz]

Migos, Culture III [June 11]

Culture III is technically Migos’ fourth studio album, which makes the pedant in us a little itchy. But you know what? If it means we finally get to hear the record, they can call it anything they like. The first two installments in the Culture trilogy came out like clockwork, but Culture III has been delayed multiple times, held back both by the COVID-19 pandemic and its members’ burgeoning solo careers. Much is still unknown about Culture III, including guest spots, a track list, or even its title. But if the latest Migos track, “Straightenin’,” is any indication, the trio’s chemistry—and its hunger for world domination—is as strong as ever. [Katie Rife]

Slayyyter, Troubled Paradise

Internet favorite Slayyyter is proof that the “bedroom pop” label isn’t strictly for sleepy, lo-fi tunes. Since 2018, the DIY queen has been lighting up SoundCloud with dynamic bops readymade for the club, and now she’s unleashing her first studio album while maintaining that raw, self-produced feel. The eclectic Troubled Paradise plays like a tour through Slayyyter’s early-2000s pop influences, with nods to Music-era Madonna (“Cowboys”), the pop-punk of Avril Lavigne (“Over This!”), and more. [Cameron Scheetz]

Sleater-Kinney, Path Of Wellness [June 11]

When Sleater-Kinney released The Center Won’t Hold in 2019, the album brought with it a lot of changes. Carrie Brownstein took the band into an experimental pop phase, and Janet Weiss left shortly after the record’s announcement. Some fans loved the LP; others didn’t know how to feel. While Path Of Wellness sees Brownstein and Corin Tucker as a duo, it feels more in line with what we’d expect from Sleater-Kinney, as we’ve heard in “Worry With You” and “High In The Grass.” We’ll always miss Weiss, but it’s exciting to hear what a pandemic-derived Sleater-Kinney album will sound like. [Tatiana Tenreyro]

Amythyst Kiah, Wary + Strange [June 18]

Wary + Strange, the new album from Grammy-nominated Our Native Daughters member and blues guitar maestro Amythyst Kiah, finds the singer and musician diving deep into her past. Traversing the spectrum of her styles, from electric roots-rock to spare, bluesy Americana, the album’s songs, as Kiah describes, “come from a moment in my 20s when I was grappling with trauma while also trying to navigate the experience of being a Black and LGBT woman in a white suburban area in a Bible Belt town.” The results are immersive and moving. [Alex McLevy]

Azure Ray, Remedy [June 18]

Given how timeless Azure Ray’s debut album has always felt, it’s surprising that Remedy will be the first full-length record from the duo in a decade. And while Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink’s signature near-whispered harmonies remain front and center, there’s an expansive sense of play at work, from the swaying electronic rhythms of “Phantom Lover” to the almost Enya-like haze of “Desert Waterfall.” This is the sound of a band growing without giving up its mastery of understated style. [Alex McLevy]

Mykki Blanco, Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep [June 18]

Mykki Blanco may describe their upcoming project as a “mini-album,” but the nine tracks contained therein are anything but small. The first official release since debut full-length Mykki, the record leaves behind the samples in favor of new, original sounds, and while the queer rap maverick’s signature flow is on full display in groove-heavy bops like “Free Ride,” the music expansion has grown to encompass soulful ballads and experimental torch songs. Throw in some guest appearances by Big Freedia, Jamila Woods, and more, and you’ve got one of the summer’s must-hear releases. [Alex McLevy]

Seventeen, Your Choice [June 18]

Semicolon, released at the end of last year, cemented what we already knew: The dozen-plus members of Seventeen are experts at genre-bending pop. The jaunty single “Home;Run” was a far different but enjoyable beast than some of its past Hip-Hop Unit-heavy tracks like “Trauma” or even 2019’s electropop-esque “Fear.” The group hops in and out of genres effortlessly—which is why it’s so hard to predict what mini-album Your Choice will sound like. If the animated teaser for the video is anything to go by, we’re getting at least one finger-snapping ballad. [Shanicka Anderson]

Cautious Clay, Deadpan Love [June 25]

The advance singles from Cautious Clay’s debut album Deadpan Love promise an intriguing and genre-hopping collection of songs that incorporate elements of R&B, bedroom pop, rootsy blues, hip-hop, and more, all united by the Brooklyn-based musician’s knack for slightly left-of-center arrangements and idiosyncratic vocal melodies that nonetheless deliver hummable hooks with their unexpected harmonic detours. Clay’s day job may involve helping to craft hits for everyone from John Legend to John Mayer, but this solo material is unmistakably his own. [Alex McLevy]

Flight Mode, TX ’98 [June 25]

The late ’90s heyday of guitar-based indie rock of the Polyvinyl variety rarely gets as direct a workout as Flight Mode’s new EP, TX ’98, a deliberate attempt to penetrate to the heart of songwriter Sjur Lyseid’s time as a 16-year-old in the title time and location—“That specific year, that specific place, that specific guitar tuning,” as he describes it. The four tracks here all look to evoke the memory and sense of such nostalgia, which makes it fitting that the recording itself is now a bit in the past, having been put to tape back in 2017. [Alex McLevy]

Lightning Bug, A Color Of The Sky [June 25]

The comparisons to shoegaze acts or folk-inflected Americana like Big Thief don’t quite do justice to the sound of Lightning Bug, whose new album, A Color Of The Sky, manages to transcend such distinctions and carve out a place wholly its own among current practitioners of the restrained-beauty strategy of organic, retro rock sounds. Sometimes elegant, sometimes messy, but always capturing a sense of lush, anthemic space jams (albeit of the extremely gentle kind), the band’s ethereal music remains anchored to the hushed urgency of Audrey Kang’s fragile vocals. [Alex McLevy]

Lucy Dacus, Home Video [June 25]

Given the dubious gift of time to reflect, Lucy Dacus spent 2020 writing songs inspired by her formative years. The result is Home Video, a record that looks back on confusing feelings, forbidden relationships, and innocent faith—“In the summer of ’07 I was sure I’d go to heaven, but I was hedging my bets at VBS,” she sings with tenderness and compassion. Compared to her previous releases, the songwriting on Home Video is modest, but Dacus makes up for it with the devastating vulnerability and purity of emotion on display. [Katie Rife]

Modest Mouse, The Golden Casket [June 25]

The Golden Casket is Modest Mouse’s first album in six years, and while the band has kept a consistent sound throughout the past two decades, the singles released so far hint at this work being far different from anything we’ve heard from the band. (We never expected a Modest Mouse song to sound like Foals!) The second single, “Leave A Light On,” takes on a more experimental tone. Modest Mouse is a wild card among legacy acts that are releasing albums this summer, and we can’t wait to find out what the rest of the record sounds like. [Tatiana Tenreyro]

The Mountain Goats, Dark In Here [June 25]

There are brief hints of a country breakout on The Mountain Goat’s third pandemic-era album (after last year’s throwback Songs For Pierre Chuvin and the more familiar Getting Into Knives), embodied by the sheer acoustic energy of opening track “Parisian Enclave.” But John Darnielle et al. quickly slip back into a more recognizable groove, presenting one of the gentlest Mountain Goats albums in recent memory—jazzy, heavy on the piano and organ, and a little laconic even when it’s hitting ominous notes. It’s a paradox perfectly embodied by early single, “The Slow Parts On Death Metal Albums.” [William Hughes]

Faye Webster, I Know I’m Funny haha [June 25]

Faye Webster tends to have each foot in a different genre, balancing them perfectly. Her last album, Atlanta Millionaires Club, blended her folk roots with the hip-hop stylings of her home state of Georgia. Over the last few months she’s released four singles—“Good Way,” “Better Distractions,” “Cheers,” and the title track to her upcoming album—all of which lean into a moody, tender version of herself. She’s made it clear that she’s deeply in love, via simple and gentle lyrics, a very different Webster than the forlorn and yearning young woan of Atlanta Millionaires Club. Life has begun to unfold in new ways for her, and judging by the music, the taste of orange blossom honey might be in the mix. [Gabrielle Sanchez]