Fall 2021 guide: 27 albums you need to hear

With live music gradually making a return, artists everywhere are finally ready to release new music.

With live music gradually making a return, artists everywhere are finally ready to release new music

Marie Nadeau-Tremblay, Kallitechnis and Beverly Glenn-Copeland all have new releases scheduled to come out this fall. (Lucas Moreau St-Germain, Lian Benoit, Paul Atwood; graphic by CBC)

While the COVID-19 pandemic didn't stop artists from releasing new music, many decided to hold on to their work until it was safe to tour again. After all, the music industry is built around the idea of releasing an album first then touring behind that record, and without the option of hitting the road last year, putting out new music felt impractical.

But now that certain countries are gradually reopening and allowing for in-person concerts to take place once again, it's about to be a busy second half of the year, evidenced by recent comebacks from musical giants Drake, Kanye West, Lorde and Billie Eilish. 

Below is just a selection of some of the Canadian albums that we're excited to check out this fall. What are you most looking forward to? Share with us @CBCMusic

Artist: Ada Lea
Album: One hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden
Release date: Sept. 24

In 2019, CBC Music named Montreal singer-songwriter Ada Lea one of the year's breakout artists, praising her debut album What we say in Private as "a compelling first of likely many self-portraits she will paint." This fall, she'll deliver her sophomore album, one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden. Lea, whose real name is Alexandra Levy, first penned these songs at an artist residency in Banff, and later completed the album in Los Angeles with producer/engineer Marshall Vore (Phoebe Bridgers) as well as drummer Tasy Hudson, guitarist Harrison Whitford (Phoebe Bridgers) and mixing engineer Burke Reid (Courtney Barnett). It's clear from this roster of names that Levy herself belongs in the current pantheon of dynamic women singer-songwriters (such as Bridgers, Barnett, Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker and more), and this album ought to solidify her place there. Early singles such as "hurt" and "damn" definitely help make the case, showcasing her vivid storytelling and heartful attempts at capturing reality in her songs. If her debut was a spark, Levy's upcoming release threatens to be a full-on inferno. — Melody Lau 

Artist: Afternoon Bike Ride
Album: Afternoon Bike Ride
Release date: Sept. 24

Montreal trio Afternoon Bike Ride will release its debut self-titled album this week, after four years of honing its experimental, lo-fi sound into something that doesn't exist heavily within the Canadian landscape. The group's music sounds about as tranquil and soothing as the band name — every song is a collection of dreamy, bedroom elements woven together, blending dusty drum tracks and samples with plucked guitar and other layered quirks. The result is either mesmerizing instrumentals ("I can Only Imagine") or tracks carried by Lia Kurihara's standout vocals ("It's OK, I'm Here"), with cameos from the likes of Ryan Hemsworth, Eli Bishop and Naji. Whether deliberate or not, the early 2000s dream-pop influence is potent within the instrumental tracks, which tick and sway meditatively à la greats like múm, Beth Orton and Air, while fans of Big Thief will enjoy the offbeat folk sound of the vocal storytelling. — Jess Huddleston

Artist: Bria
Album: C-ntry Covers Vol. 1 EP
Release date: Sept. 24

When survival is the best outcome we can hope for, and even that feels too hopeful by half, writing new songs isn't always possible. At least it wasn't for Bria Salmena, not in the throes of 2020. So the singer-songwriter turned to the existing country canon for some answers. "I wanted to listen for what might reflect my life back to me," Salmena said via press release, "six tracks that could be my mirror." 

The resulting EP, C-ntry Covers Vol. 1, is an incredible self-portrait in keeping with the western myths of reinvention and raw solitude, with a decidedly feminist punk edge. Recorded with musician Duncan Hay Jennings, Salmena's bandmate in punk four-piece FRIGS (both are also regular players in Orville Peck's backing band), the record is a showcase for Salmena's marvel of a voice as she embodies myriad narrators — bracing and bent, dusty and dreamy, wry and rueful — across six wildly different songs, including psychedelic stunner "The sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" and "Fruits of my Labour," a sultry, spiky breakup epic. But the undeniable standout is "Dreaming my Dreams With You," which aches and ambles, a bittersweet eulogy for the fractured relationships that shape and unmake us. — Andrea Warner

Artist: ARC Ensemble
Album: Klebanov: Chamber Works
Release date: Sept. 24

For the next instalment in its Grammy-nominated Music in Exile series for Chandos, ARC Ensemble (Artists of the Royal Conservatory) will focus on Ukrainian composer Dmitri Klebanov, who fell out of favour with Soviet authorities upon the publication of his "subversive" first symphony in 1945, and was only "rehabilitated" in 1960 with a university appointment during the Nikita Khrushchev era. This new release comprises the world premiere recording of three of Klebanov's chamber works — String Quartet No. 4 (1946), Piano Trio No. 2 (1958) and String Quartet No. 5 (1965) — performed by Erika Raum and Marie Bérard (violins), Steven Dann (viola), Thomas Wiebe (cello) and Kevin Ahfat (piano). Sadly, Klebanov's son Yuri, who advised ARC Ensemble during the preparations for this album, died of COVID-19 in March. — Robert Rowat 

Artist: Alessia Cara
Album: In the Meantime
Release date: Sept. 24

"So excited to finally start this new era," wrote Alessia Cara on Twitter when she announced her upcoming third studio album, In the Meantime. Three years since her last release, The Pains of Growing, it appears that the Canadian pop star has truly come into her own and is now establishing a more confident and varied sound. That is best represented in the pair of lead singles she put out in July: the more pop-driven "Sweet Dream" and the downtempo, Amy Winehouse-inspired "Shapeshifter." This duality of sounds and themes plays a big role on In the Meantime, likely fusing the more sugary melodies with some sophisticated, slinky numbers to create a fuller picture of the young woman Cara is now. For someone who first found success in her teenage years, we can't wait to see what else Cara brings to this brand new era.  — ML 

Artist: Anthony OKS
Album: In the Garden
Release date: Sept. 24

In order to grow, you have to tend your own garden, and Winnipeg rapper Anthony OKS has been diligently clearing space and setting down roots during the time leading up to his new EP. "I feel like I'm starting to find answers to things," he said in a press release, "I haven't been able to answer before." The rapper, also a member of established Winnipeg group the Lytics, immediately hooks listeners with a brooding saxophone off the top of "Boy from Freetown," telling the story of his father's journey from Sierra Leone, travelling through Italy to America to Canada, facing racism, poverty and jail. The rapper flips between hushed singing and sharp rapping, gently laying a chorus that speaks to his father's love and sacrifice: "I'll see you when morning come/ I'll see you when night shine bright/ I'll find you when I come back/ he said, 'I'm leaving to find my path.'" Over beats from producer paalsh, Anthony OKS raps of his deepening family ties and history over In the Garden's six tracks, including a moving collaboration with fellow Winnipegger Begonia ("Fortified Love"). It's a powerful followup to his debut album, 2019's Take Time — and combining the two album titles adds a gentle suggestion that we could all do some self-reflective gardening. — Holly Gordon

Artist: Mas Aya
Album: Máscaras
Release date: Sept. 24

Over 15 years, Toronto-based composer, percussionist and producer Brandon Valdivia has cemented himself as a fixture in the city's music scenes. He's been a member of groups such as Not the Wind, Not the Flag and Picastro, and has collaborated with artists ranging from U.S. Girls to Laraaji, Sook Yin-Lee to Lido Pimienta (whose buoyant vocals appear on the stunning "Tiempo Ahara"). His new album, Máscaras, is his first release as Mas Aya since 2017's Nikan and his first release on vinyl. Throughout the sprawling soundscapes of Máscaras's six tracks, woodwinds carry a through line of contemplative rumination. There's an emphasis on Latin American sounds: he plays the quena (an Andean flute), the bansuri (a bamboo flute), the tin whistle, and the tambor llamador (popular drum used in Cumbia music from Colombia's Caribbean coast). The title is Spanish for masks, referencing those used in Indigenous ceremonies and Nicaraguan resistance movements. But, it also refers to the layers in his composition; he borrows from footwork, electronica, trap and dancehall productions styles and things reveal themselves to the listener slowly, as if taking off a mask only to reveal another underneath. — Kelsey Adams

Artist: Shad
Album: Tao
Release date: Oct. 1

Shad's single "Work" featuring Skratch Bastid, from his upcoming album Tao, is a criticism of hustle culture, the daily grind and late stage capitalism delivered with hard-hitting irreverence. It's a formidable introduction to the subject matter the prolific rapper is broaching with his new album. A departure from 2018's A Short Story About War, which followed a distinct storyline, Tao is less concerned with narrative continuity and more with melding nebulous ideologies. Shad's songwriting for the new album started with the idea of a circle, and the endless possibilities it can contain and how that relates to the human experience. In this way, he explores themes as seemingly disparate as technological addiction, racism, existentialism, spirituality and colonialism, always with levity and humour to balance the weight of such topics. The title, Tao, was inspired by the Chinese philosophy of naturalism and British author C.S. Lewis's 1943 book, The Abolition of Man, a treatise on the moral superiority existent within the natural world. Shad wants us to take a step back and really look at the bigger picture. — KA

Artist: Valley
Album: Last Birthday EP
Release date: Oct. 1

Toronto band Valley has been gradually teasing the release of its upcoming EP, Last Birthday, for months. By now, almost half of the tracklist has been revealed, including the infectious singles "Like 1999" and "Tempo" (the former emerged from a viral TikTok post). But one of the pop quartet's greatest strengths is its ability to leave you wanting more, like a sugar high you don't ever want to come down from. Sure to pack in more catchy melodies, Last Birthday is another step forward for Valley, which has gained a lot of momentum lately thanks to a spotlight feature on Apple Music's Up Next series, festival appearances in the U.S. and teaming up with Justin Bieber collaborator Jorgen Odegard on the group's latest single, "Oh Shit… Are we in Love?" With so much going on, it'll only be a matter of time before Valley's star goes from a creeping incline to rocketing sky-high. Jump on now before it's too late. — ML 

Artist: BadBadNotGood
Album: Talk Memory
Release date: Oct. 8

It's been five years since Toronto's BadBadNotGood has put out a full-length album. In the interim, the jazz/pop band had its ups and downs: in 2019, founding member Matthew Tavares left the group; members Leland Whitty and Alex Sowinski composed their first film score for 2020's Disappearance at Clifton Hill; and most recently, a reworked version of their 2016 track, "Time Moves Slow," became a viral hit on TikTok. Still, the band admits that it took "a year or two of just living life to get to the place where the creative process was exciting again." That creative spark has led to Talk Memory, the group's fifth studio album, a psychedelic jazz record that, according to a press release, "explores balance and harmony through musical improvisation." The album will feature contributions from Arthur Verocai, Karriem Riggins, Terrace Martin, Laraaji and Brandee Younger. — ML 

Artist: Kallitechnis 
Album: Because it Feels Good
Release date: Oct. 8

Because it Feels Good is dripping with Kallitechnis's personality and attitude. The Montreal-based singer-songwriter, producer, and dancer's soulful vocals get the spotlight they deserve on her upcoming EP. That's in large part thanks to the slew of producers she collaborated with on this project, such as Grammy-winning LOXE, Grammy-nominated Maths Time Joy, and frequent Soulection affiliate Jarreau Vandal. Almost every track has a different producer but there's a jazzy, bouncy and groovy thread that holds the EP together. Things started popping off for Kallitechnis back in 2016 when brothers Kaytranada and Lou Phelps nabbed her for a featured verse on their track, "Average." Since then, she has released a number of singles and an EP, wet paint, but has really come into her own on Because it Feels Good. As she asserts throughout the EP's six tracks, nowadays she's doing things because they feel good, chasing pleasure, joy and thrills. "Dinner with a Gemini," her favourite song on the EP, is the most defiant example of this new ethos. — KA

Artist: Levi Dover Sextet
Album: Imaginary Structures
Release date: Oct. 8

Montreal bassist Levi Dover has established himself as a go-to side musician in his city's leading jazz ensembles, and now he's stepping out with Imaginary Structures, the debut album of his own sextet featuring eight original compositions. "Working on this project has been especially rewarding, as it represents the first time that I've been able to really explore my voice as a composer, and follow my own musical vision to see where it leads," he told CBC Music. Citing Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Bobby Hutcherson and Andrew Hill as influences, Dover says his music fuses elements of prog rock and 20th-century classical music in a post-bop setting. In addition to himself on bass, his group comprises Lex French (trumpet), Erik Hove (alto saxophone), Olivier Salazar (vibraphone), Andrew Boudreau (piano) and Kyle Hutchins (drums). "I'm happy to say that they brought the music to life in a way that I could never have done on my own." — RR

Artist: Gayance 
Album: No Toning Down
Release date: Oct. 15 

Gayance (a.k.a. Aïsha Vertus) is a Montreal-based Haitian DJ who has recently entered the world of music production. After touring internationally for years, from the Netherlands to Brazil, she has amassed a collection of influences that materialize in her own music. "All my Friends are Triggered" is one of the first songs Vertus produced herself, in the fall of 2020 when she was dealing with depression. "In isolation, I saw many of my friends triggered by many things: media, call-outs, systemic racism, transphobia. As I am an extrovert and live by myself, it was hard to see my friends and myself suffer alone," she wrote over email. The resulting track is a dizzying, breakbeat ode to feeling at a loss with no recourse. Living in isolation, Vertus was dreaming of the club and watching movies from the late '90s and early 2000's like cult British film Human Traffic. She wanted to party like it was 1999 in London and "Kinda Strange," a U.K. garage-inflected track made from sampling Canadian-Chilean-Slovenian artist Kayta's song "Crush It," was born. From Brazilian funk to U.K. garage to breakbeat, as No Toning Down unfolds, the listener comes to expect the unexpected. — KA

Artist: Marie Nadeau-Tremblay
Album: Préludes et Solitudes
Release date: Oct. 15

"This new album is the result of hours of solitary practice during the long confinement of 2020," says baroque violinist Marie Nadeau-Tremblay, a riveting performer who has transformed COVID-19 lemons into the refreshing lemonade of Préludes et Solitudes, her debut album as a solo artist. The album comprises not only works for solo violin by Telemann, Purcell, Torelli, Baltzar and Biber, but also a booklet containing Nadeau-Tremblay's own poetry, inspired by the music. She even made the album art. Is it any wonder we nabbed her for our classical "30 under 30" list this year? The following video, from 2018, gives a foretaste of how she casts a spell with solo violin repertoire. — RR

Artist: Le Ren
Album: Leftovers
Release date: Oct. 15

In 2019, some were introduced to Montreal-based musician Le Ren (real name Lauren Spear) when she opened for Orville Peck on his national tour. This year, Spear released a four-song EP called Morning & Melancholia, 13 minutes of heart-wrenching folksongs that feel intrinsically tied to the styles of songwriting icons like Joni Mitchell, John Prine and Neil Young. With a voice that feels intimate and familiar, Spear creates music that may sound comforting but upon further inspection is filled with devastation. With the past two years serving as the buildup, 2021 is primed to be Le Ren's breakthrough year with the release of her debut album. — ML

Artist: Cœur de pirate
Album: Impossible à aimer
Release date: Oct. 15

Cœur de pirate's 2021 has already been a full one, starting with the purchasing of her longtime home label, Dare to Care Records, in January in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct and a toxic environment. ("My priority remains to provide a healthy and inclusive environment for our employees to thrive as well as for our artists to develop," Cœur de pirate, a.k.a. Béatrice Martin, told the Montreal Gazette at the time.) She also underwent vocal cord surgery, and during her voiceless recovery released a piano instrumental album, Perséides.

Six months later, we're getting a voice-full French album from Cœur de pirate: Impossible à aimer. The title has a fatalistic ring to it, but the singer is able to stretch its meaning, not necessarily directing the sentiment at herself. "Tu ne me mérites pas" ("you don't deserve me"), she sings atop a chugging synth groove on "Tu peux crever là-bas," which pointedly translates to "you can die over there." The francophone songwriter's trademark piano and pop ballads (including a new collaboration with neo-classical pianist and fellow Quebecer Alexandra Stréliski) find a space on Impossible à aimer alongside whirling, disco-inflected tracks like "On s'aimera toujours" and "Crépuscule." On Impossible à aimer, Cœur de pirate is processing and letting go, giving in to her deepest feelings and dancefloor abandon simultaneously. It's the perfect 2021 mood. — HG

Artist: Ouri
Album: Frame of a Fauna
Release date: Oct. 22

It's been a busy year for Ourielle Auvé. The Montreal-based artist, who goes by Ouri, has already released one album this year, a captivating collaborative effort with fellow Montrealer Helena Deland called Hildegard. Now, Auvé will follow that up with a new solo release, her first full-length since 2017's Superficial. Over the years, Auvé has become a master at crafting synth soundscapes that flow with ease and unexpectedly morph and shapeshift over the course of the track while grounding it all with her own airy vocals. Single "Felicity" is a great example of such, a harp-accented number that feels like the final moments of summer evaporating into thin air. As with anything Auvé does, we expect Frame of a Fauna to be a gorgeous, spiritual journey; perhaps an ideal fall record to soundtrack the incoming autumn foliage. — ML 

Artists: Frank Horvat, Edwin Huizinga, TorQ Percussion Quartet, Kathryn Ladano, Elixir Baroque Ensemble, Elizabeth Reid
Album: Project Dovetail
Release date: Oct. 22

Frank Horvat has carved a niche for himself among today's composers, wearing his fragile heart on his sleeve and writing music that emphasizes the emotional over the intellectual. He has also been prolific: Project Dovetail is his third album of 2021, one he describes as "playlist-style" for the variety contained across its seven pieces. These include The Sad Life of Laure Beauséjour, a four-movement suite for baroque instruments; Parents' Expectations, a 10-minute futuristic work for viola and electronics; A Secret Streamlet, a haunting duo for violin and piano; and Lorna's Metamorphosis, a brilliant fusion of spoken word and percussion. Each piece on the album was inspired by art, including Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, Václav Havel's activist writing, director John Waters' Pecker and print-maker Lorna Lively's art. "I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce others to these inspirations by dovetailing our art forms together," Horvat says. — RR 

Artist: Kintaro
Album: To Death, With Love
Release date: Oct. 29

As the bassist in the Toronto band Birds of Bellwoods, Kintaro Akiyama is accustomed to playing a background role. To Death, With Love is his first foray into releasing solo music and letting his own voice take centre stage. The EP was mostly written in the year following his father's death, while he worked through the grief and confusion that comes with losing a parent. In the songs, death becomes a character that Kintaro is conversing with, moving through the process of healing. His father, Denis Akiyama, was an actor and musician, and the centrepiece of the EP, "The River," is a cover of a song he performed with his band the Pukka Orchestra in the '80s. Kintaro enlisted the help of his sister Miya on vocals, and his father's friend and bandmate Neil Chapman for a guitar solo. Paying even more homage to his father, he used Denis's horns, guitars, drum machines and tape decks while recording the EP.  Kintaro wrote, recorded and produced the tracks almost entirely alone, an experience that created this vulnerable and insular record full of contemplative tunes. — KA

Artist: Louise Bessette
Album: Escale à Curaçao
Release date: Oct. 29

For her next album, the always surprising Louise Bessette delves into the music of Wim Statius Muller, known as the Chopin of Curaçao (one of the Caribbean islands comprising the Dutch Antilles.) A graduate of Juilliard and, briefly, a piano teacher at Ohio State University, Muller left the music profession to become a spy (!) and from then on only pursued composition as an amateur. His 22 Danses antillaises are graceful piano pieces, clearly influenced by the mazurkas and waltzes by Chopin that were so beloved in Muller's home country. But within these European forms, you can also hear elements of Trinidadian calypso and Cuban rumba. Nobody has ever released the entire set — that is, until Bessette set her sights on them. They could not have a better champion.  — RR 

Artist: Safia Nolin
Album: SEUM
Release date: Oct. 29

Safia Nolin brings her beautiful melancholy back this October, and this time she's releasing four songs in two ways: the "sunset" version and the "sunrise" version, the former being a full-band recording, the latter a stripped-down, acoustic take. The sunset versions will feature bandmates Jean-Philippe Levac (drums), Agathe Dupéré (bass) and Marc-André Labelle (guitar), and on first single "PLS" Nolin's haunting voice is joined by those elements for something that reaches toward upbeat but still feels fittingly moody. "It seems that I'm able to say sad things over not-so-sad music, after all," said the Quebec songwriter, who also made a video for the song by combining short videos of sunsets and time spent with friends. Co-produced by Nolin and Félix Petit (Les Louanges, Hubert Lenoir), SEUM is a deeper dive into Nolin's art, which is both cathartic and comforting. — HG

Artists: Ensemble Caprice, Ensemble Vocal Arts-Québec, Karina Gauvin, Matthias Maute 
Album: George Frideric Handel: Messiah (excerpts)
Release date: Nov. 5

Christmas comes early thanks to Halifax-based Leaf Music and this ambitious album of highlights from Handel's Messiah, performed by some of Quebec's best baroque music specialists. "It will be our first album released in Dolby Atmos, which means a 5.1 surround version of the album can be streamed on supported platforms like Apple Music and Amazon Music Unlimited," explains Leaf Music's Jeremy VanSlyke, who produced the recording sessions in February at Montreal's Maison symphonique. Having only one of the usual four vocal soloists on deck focuses the highlights on the soprano's arias and the choruses from all three parts of the oratorio. Rounding out the album are "Hope and Belief" by Jaap Nico Hamburger and a setting of "O magnum mysterium" by the conductor, Matthias Maute. — RR 

Artist: Munya
Album: Voyage to Mars
Release date: Nov. 11

Josie Boivin, known more widely as bilingual dream-pop princess, singer-songwriter and producer Munya, is releasing her debut album in November. After releasing a trilogy of EPs between 2018 and 2019, the Montreal-based artist is back with her first full-length effort. Munya often sounds otherworldly and that inclination is ever-present on Voyage to Mars. It's an album that whisks you away on a journey, outside the confines of everyday reality. The album was recorded in her apartment during the pandemic, as she longed to be anywhere else. Munya takes the space theme seriously, her body and mind no longer tethered to Earth by gravity. "Cocoa Beach," her recent single, is named after the small town 24 kilometres away from the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On "Life is a Dream," she sings "Take me to the moon," as if it's not a wish but a real possibility. The cover illustration is her imagining of Mars, including the aliens, flora, fauna, and landscape of the red planet. In a press release she said, "I love thinking that we're not alone in this big strange universe," and with the help of collaborators Kainalu, P.O. Rioux and Gabriel Lambert, she succeeds at convincing us. — KA

Artist: David Jalbert
Album: Prokofiev: Piano Sonatas Vol. 1
Release date: Nov. 19

Here's some good news for everyone who was blown away by David Jalbert's 2017 album, Stravinsky & Prokofiev, on which he played highlights from the latter composer's Roméo et Juliette and got a Juno nomination for his efforts. By his own admission, Jalbert is Prokofiev-obsessed and he's now ready to release the Russian composer's complete sonatas over three volumes on ATMA Classique. Volume 1 contains sonatas 1 to 4 plus the famous Suggestion Diabolique and three pieces from Op. 12. "I feel like a fish in water with Prokofiev's music," Jalbert told CBC Music. "His early sonatas and short pieces demonstrate why he was such a rockstar in his youth: the savage moto perpetuos of Suggestion Diabolique and the second and third sonatas, his limitless melodic imagination and the surprising tenderness that he sprinkles in when you least expect it, especially in the dark and moving fourth sonata, which he wrote for a friend who had committed suicide." Below, a movement from Roméo et Juliette that captures the Prokofiev–Jalbert magic.  — RR

Artist: Julie Doiron
Album: I Thought of You
Release date: Nov. 26

"There was never a plan/ no need to explain/ and here I am/ starting over again." Julie Doiron kicks off her 12th studio record with "You Gave me the Key," slightly resigned but not bitter, landing where many of us are right now: back at the beginning, hopeful to restart. Written over the last nine years since her last solo album, 2012's So Many Days, the upcoming I Thought of You wasn't fully formed in the pandemic but it's perfectly timed, an album that both brings the New Brunswick singer-songwriter back to the fore and feels like a coming together of friends after a long time away. While not focusing on her solo work, Doiron hasn't been idle: she released music with Cancer Bats and Eamon McGrath under the moniker Julie and the Wrong Guys, and released a critically acclaimed followup to her collaboration with Mount Eerie (a.k.a. Phil Elverum), titled Lost Wisdom, Pt. 2. To get back to herself, Doiron gathered the ever prolific Daniel Romano, drummer Ian Romano and songwriter Dany Placard and headed to a cabin in the woods to record I Thought of You, digging into the many ways a heart can be broken ("Ran," "How can We?"), the fear of being better off alone ("The Letters we Sent") and, for levity, the need for sleep ("Cancel the Party"). Nine years is a long time, and it's good to have Julie Doiron back. — HG 

Artist: Beverly Glenn-Copeland and various artists
Album: Keyboard Fantasies Reimagined 
Release date: Dec. 10 

Beverly Glenn-Copeland's seminal album, Keyboard Fantasies, remains the gift that keeps on giving, and this year, the holiday season and the record's 35th anniversary will be marked by a creative expansion of the original collection. Discovered by vinyl enthusiast Ryota Masuko decades after its overlooked 1986 release, the now-celebrated masterpiece is embodying the critical fanfare it deserves — with the ethereal songs receiving "reworks" from equally celebrated contemporary artists on Keyboard Fantasies Reimagined. So far, Kelsey Lu's string-filled take on the classic "Ever New," Canadian Jeremy Dutcher's cover of "Ghost House" and Blood Orange's embellished remix of "Sunset Village" have been released, with additions from Bon Iver, Julia Holter, and Joseph Shabason and Thom Gill to come. — JH

Artist: The Weeknd
Album: TBA
Release date: TBA

The Dawn is Coming. We think? In August, a video teaser titled as such, along with a newly updated bio that says simply "the dawn is upon us…" made their way on to the Weeknd's Twitter profile right before he dropped his now-smash hit "Take my Breath," a Daft Punk-esque disco anthem that sounds right in step with the pop megastar's recent retro moves. Talking to GQ shortly thereafter, The Weeknd alluded to his latest collection as "the album I've always wanted to make," and in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter later in August, he said: "It should be done by the end of this month." Unsurprisingly, the famed Torontonian's 2019 smash hit "Blinding Lights'' just broke the record for most weeks ever spent on the Hot 100, and if we know anything about the Weeknd — real name Abel Tesfaye — it's that he doesn't slow down when the going gets very, very good. Which is all to say: yes, we really do think the dawn of the Weeknd, in some shape or form, is coming very soon — and we're here for it. — Jess Huddleston