September's Best New Music

  • Publish Date: September 28, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 1 user comment

The best albums released this month...

Here are the best new studio albums released in September (minimum 7 reviews):

Bouger le Monde! 87 (Crammed Discs)
by Staff Benda Bilili

Not familiar with Staff Benda Bilili? Then you probably haven't been keeping up with Congolese street music. Fronted by four paraplegic vocalist/guitarists, the Kinshasa-based group made their international debut in 2009 with Très Très Fort, an album produced by Vincent Kenis, who has also worked with bands such as Konono Nº1. He returns as producer for this follow-up LP, the name of which translates as "Make The World Move." Critics are finding the new album to be just as good as the first (i.e., quite good indeed), and though the overall sound is similar, a more noticeable division of the vocal duties adds more variety, and a new drummer adds more of an emphasis on percussion. The result, writes All Music Guide, shows that Staff Benda Bilili are "the musical equals of any band on the planet." More reviews...

3 Pears 86 (Warner Bros.)
by Dwight Yoakam


The country music superstar returned this month with his first album of originals in seven years and his first major-label release in over a decade. 3 Pears includes a pair of tracks produced by Beck, and another co-written by Kid Rock. Country purists might be taken aback, but more adventurous listeners should embrace music that incorporates elements of "beat music, cowpunk, and power pop," according to Consequence of Sound. The album is "a smashing return to form," writes Entertainment Weekly, and AMG agrees, calling 3 Pears "as fresh as any music he's ever made, and one of his very best albums." More reviews...

Also by this artist:
Blame The Vain 2005 76
Tomorrow's Sounds Today 2000 75

Shields 86 (Warp)
by Grizzly Bear


How did Grizzly Bear follow their 2009 breakthrough hit Veckatimest? By taking a little time off from touring and recording. But the Brooklynites couldn't stay away forever, and they dropped Shields, their fourth album over all, a few weeks ago. Produced by the band's own Chris Taylor (who, during Grizzly Bear's hiatus, released a solo album under the name CANT), the new set once again showcases the band's sonic mastery, experimental leanings, and vocal harmonies, and reviews are once again stellar, as they were for Veckatimest. The word "beautiful" comes up in multiple reviews, while Pitchfork adds that not only is it gorgeous, it's their "most compositionally adventurous record" to date. Only a few reviewers weren't completely on board; Exclaim! feels that Grizzly Bear are merely "spinning their wheels," while Slant calls Shields "pretty but formless." More reviews...

Also by this artist:
Veckatimest 2009 85
Yellow House 2006 79

Theatre Is Evil 84 (8ft. Records)
by Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra


The former Dresden Dolls frontwoman raised over $1.1 million through a Kickstarter campaign to record and release her third solo album, which was produced by John Congleton and features her new backing band, The Grand Theft Orchestra. While a subsequent tour has attracted a great deal of negative publicity for Palmer's use of "volunteer" (i.e., unpaid) musicians to supplement the band, the album itself is a hit. The Boston Globe describes Theatre is Evil as a blend of "80s goth" and "oddball New Wave," while Q agrees but also hears "glam-rock and showtunes." Others describe the album as "theatrical," "emotional," and "eccentric," with only Under the Radar unmoved by what it deems rather quotidian subject matter. More reviews...

Also by this artist:
Who Killed Amanda Palmer 2008 78
Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under 2011 74
Yes, Virginia... by Dresden Dolls 2006 74
No, Virginia... by Dresden Dolls 2008 73

Tempest 83 (Columbia)
by Bob Dylan


It certainly isn't a surprise to see Bob Dylan's new album make our monthly "best of" list, given that his two previous studio albums this century, Love And Theft 93 and Modern Times 89 attracted enthusiastic support from reviewers. (Yes, we're conveniently ignoring his 2009 Christmas album.) While the new Tempest, his 35th album in a 50-year recording career, might not quite reach the same heights as its predecessors, it's still quite an achievement. Naturally, mortality is a major theme on Tempest, though the title track itself seems like it might go on forever; it's a 14-minute, chorus-free, epic retelling of the sinking of the Titanic. Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter provides the words for lead single "Duquesne Whistle", but the other nine tracks are written by Dylan and performed with his current band, with the addition of David Hidalgo (Los Lobos). Some critics consider it among his best, though a few find it indulgent, flawed, and hampered by some "lightweight fluff"; however, a few in the latter category still enjoy the album despite its imperfections. More reviews...

Also by this artist:
Love And Theft 2001 93
Modern Times 2006 89
The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 2010 88
Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 2008 86
Together Through Life 2009 76
Bob Dylan in Concert: Brandeis University 1963 2011 69
Christmas In The Heart 2009 62

Moms 83 (Barsuk)
by Menomena


Once a trio, the Portland, Ore. indie band is now down to the duo of Justin Harris and Danny Seim following last year's departure of Brent Knopf (who is now concentrating on his other project, Ramona Falls). Moms, their fourth full studio album and first as a two-piece, indeed focuses on the theme of motherhood, and each of the dozen critics who have reviewed the album so far are fans of the result. DIY calls the LP "personal" and "powerful," while NOW finds it "bold, intense and confrontational." Many reviewers find Moms more focused and direct than past Menomena albums, while Pitchfork and others note that the music is also more "aggressive" than before. More reviews...

Also by this artist:
I Am The Fun Blame Monster 2003 82
Friend And Foe 2007 78
Mines 2010 74

Sebenza 82 (Hyperdub)
by LV


The South London production trio LV enlisted various South African rappers—including Spoek Mathambo, Okmalumkoolkat, and the duo Ruffest—for an album of multicultural hip-hop and club jams. Pitchfork and Spin feel that Sebenza sounds like a true collaboration between this diverse group of artists, while Resident Advisor admires its unique sound, calling it "both timeless and completely of its time, crossing musical and political borders with confident finesse." Slant notes the disc's "carnival atmosphere," while BPM calls it "fun as hell" and the BBC even finds much of substance throughout the album. More reviews...

Silver Age 82 (Merge)
by Bob Mould


Former Hüsker Dü and Sugar frontman Bob Mould may have his best solo album to date in this month's Silver Age, which finds him backed by Mountain Goats drummer/comedian Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy. Mercifully free of the electronic beats that plagued 2002's Modulate, and more forceful than recent efforts like Life and Times, the new album "just rocks," according to the AV Club. Many reviewers are happy to compare it to Mould's work in Sugar, but AMG notes that it "isn't a complacent trip down memory lane: this is a king rightfully reclaiming his dominion." More reviews...

Also by this artist:
Copper Blue [Deluxe reissue] by Sugar 1992/2012 95
District Line 2008 76
Life And Times 2009 70
Body Of Song 2005 68
Modulate 2002 61

Breakup Song 82 (Polyvinyl)
by Deerhoof


The short (30-minute) 11th album from Bay Area oddballs Deerhoof finds the band on the receiving end of some of the best reviews in their 15-year recording history. Skewed time signatures, short attention spans, alternating discord and pretty melodies—everything you'd expect to find in a Deerhoof album is once again present, though many publications find the results more cohesive than normal. It's also, at least in parts, among the band's most accessible releases. Even with such a brief running time, Pitchfork notes "patches of tedium" and The Quietus bemoans too great a reliance on formula, but many critics seem to be having fun with this Breakup Song. More reviews...

Also by this artist:
Offend Maggie 2008 80
Friend Opportunity 2007 78
Deerhoof Vs. Evil 2011 77
The Runners Four 2005 76
Milk Man 2004 74

Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color 81 (Rhymesayers)
by Brother Ali


A veteran of the Minneapolis hip-hop scene, Brother Ali returns with his politically charged fifth album (all on Rhymesayers), produced exclusively by Seattle's Jake One (White Van Music) and featuring an appearance by Cornell West. All Music Guide praises the album as "articulate" and "approachable," while Consequence of Sound adds "intelligent." HipHop DX finds that the switch in producers from Ant to Jake One helps to update Ali's sound while allowing him once again to express his "introspective and progressive vision," while XXL is also a fan of this new producer-MC pairing. More reviews...

Also by this artist:
The Truth Is Here [EP] 2009 86
Us 2009 83
The Undisputed Truth 2007 74

Field Report 81 (Partisan)
by Field Report


A former bandmate of Justin Vernon in the pre-Bon Iver group DeYarmond Edison, singer-songwriter Chris Porterfield has now launched his own outfit, Field Report. After first generating buzz with some of their very first live shows at this year's SXSW, Field Report have now released their folky, self-titled debut album, which was recorded at Vernon's Wisconsin studio. Billboard hears "sincere songs, gentle without any lazy lullaby ambience" while Prefix praises Porterfield's "lyrical brilliance." In fact, AMG suggests that he might be a better songwriter than Vernon, and notes similarities to Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, and Blood on the Tracks-era Bob Dylan. Pitchfork, however, cites a different influence: "Mostly, Field Report sounds a lot like his old band." More reviews...

More Well-Reviewed September Albums
Album Label Metascore
Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon by Murder by DeathBloodshot80
Bend Beyond by WoodsWoodsist79
Coexist by The xxXL79
Love This Giant by David Byrne & St. Vincent4AD79
Gallows by GallowsBridge Nine79
Sun by Cat PowerMatador78
Kill My Blues by Corin Tucker BandKill Rock Stars78
Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance by Patterson HoodATO78
TOY by ToyCooperative Music / Heavenly78
Away from the World by Dave Matthews BandRCA77
Algiers by CalexicoAnti77
Mala in Cuba by MalaBrownswood77
12 Bit Blues by Kid KoalaNinja Tune77
Runner by The Sea and CakeThrill Jockey77
The Truth About Love by P!nkRCA77
For My Parents by MonoTemporary Residence76
Centipede Hz by Animal CollectiveDomino75
I Bet on Sky by Dinosaur Jr.Jagjaguwar75
I Know What Love Isn't by Jens LekmanSecretly Canadian75
The North by StarsATO75
The Carpenter by The Avett Brothers Republic 75
Worst of the month:
>Album Title Goes Here< by Deadmau5 Ultra 60

The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). All scores are from the morning of September 28, 2012.

What do you think?

What new albums or songs are in heavy rotation on your MP3 player? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (1)

  • sadpanda  

    Good to see Menomena here, sadly under appreciated band. Moms is one of my favorite albums of the year so far.

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