Duran Duran, Danse Macabre
The boys from Birmingham are back, and this time they’re delivering a Halloween album of sorts. That’s not to say that you won’t be able to spin it after October 31 has come and gone, but you can tell by the track listing that there was a very concerted effort made to stick to a theme. This time Duran Duran are delivering a mixture of originals and cover tunes, and before you ask, no, this definitely isn’t a sequel to Thank You. (Were that the case, we’d like to think that they’d have titled it Thank You Again.) It does, however, find the guys getting their Billie Eilish on (“Bury a Friend”) while also tackling tracks by Siouxsie and the Banshees (“Spellbound”), the Specials (“Ghost Town”), the Rolling Stones (“Paint It Black”), and Talking Heads (“Psycho Killer”), among others. The album also features reunions with former Duran Duran guitarists Andy Taylor and Warren Cuccurullo as well as producer Nile Rodgers, which should successfully bring many old-school Durannies running to the record store again. -- Will Harris
The Mountain Goats, Jenny From Thebes
A sequel, of sorts, to the group's now-legendary 2002 album All Hail West Texas, the Mountain Goats' 22nd full-length beefs up the original's bare-bones arrangements with horns, strings and all manner of sonic accoutrements, but the wit, clarity, and sometimes heartbreaking relatability of John Darnielle's character sketches remains as vivid and focused as ever. Picking up with its titular character (previously glimpsed atop a new Kawasaki motorcycle near her "Southwestern ranch-style house"), Darnielle narrates a twisting album-length yarn involving the murder of a mayor, an eviction, and some mysterious Texan oracles. Even if the overarching narrative may take a few spins to fully sort out, the details cut deep, and often leave a mark. -- Andrew Barker
Black Pumas, Chronicles of a Diamond
Austin-based band Black Pumas return with sophomore effort Chronicles of a Diamond, four years since their eponymous debut. The duo – Eric Burton and Adrian Quesada – have crafted elements of psychedelic cool funk combined with the classic Philly soul sound of the ‘70s. The six-time Grammy-nominated pair released the lead single “More Than A Love Song” in August, which topped the Billboard Adult Alternative Airplay chart: that song's sweet blend of gritty Austin blues and heartfelt messages of community can be found all throughout this self-described “second debut.” -- Amy Hughes
James Blunt, Who We Used to Be
Although he exploded onto the airwaves in 2004 with his debut single, “You’re Beautiful,” and went triple platinum with his debut album, Back to Bedlam, James Blunt quickly settled into a series of albums, each of which sold a bit less than its predecessor but all of which sold enough to show that his fans would keep coming back for more. As such, Blunt has returned with what casual listeners may be surprised to learn is actually his seventh studio LP, one which was preceded by the release of three singles (“Beside You,” “All the Love That I Ever Needed,” and “The Girl That Never Was”). The word on the street is that this is Blunt’s best collection of songs in some time, which would seem to make it the perfect time to tune in again and remember exactly what it was that you used to like about him. -- W.H.
Kirsty MacColl, See That Girl (1979-2000)
Her death in 2000 while saving her son from being struck by a motorboat was one of the most tragic in music history, not least because she was only 41 when it happened. But during her all-too-brief time with us, Kirsty MacColl delivered some truly wonderful pop music, and with this eight-disc collection, listeners can hear precisely how she evolved over the course of her career, both as a songwriter and as a performer. The set contains 161 tracks recorded between 1979 and 2000, including 47 previously-unreleased live and studio recordings, among them the entirety of her second album, Real, which was recorded in 1983 but never released. No, it’s not necessarily the best starting place when investigating the career of Kirsty MacColl, but if you’re a fan, this is a treasure trove that’s an absolute must-own.