good kid, m.A.A.d. city | October 22
West Coast rapper (and Black Hippy member) Kendrick Lamar had one of the top hip-hop debut albums last year with his independently released iTunes LP Section.80. After signing with Dr. Dre's Interscope-affiliated Aftermath Entertainment earlier this year, Lamar is now set to make his major-label debut with good kid, m.A.A.d. city, recently pushed back to late October. The album will include singles "Swimming Pools (Drank)" and "The Recipe" (which features Dre himself) as well as tracks featuring Lady Gaga, Schoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul.
Previous album: Section.80 80 (2011)
Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 | September 25
His most recent release a critical fiasco, rapper Lupe Fiasco hopes to return to critics' good graces with a sequel to his Grammy-nominated debut, 2006's Food & Liquor 83. The new Food & Liquor 2—which, as the "Part 1" in the title suggests, is the first half of a planned double album—includes recent singles "Around My Way (Freedom Ain"t Free)", "Bitch Bad", and "Battle Scars", the latter featuring Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian. (And, yes, that's really the album cover.)
Previous album: Lasers 57 (2011)
Dept. of Disappearance | October 16
While sorely missed California indie rockers Grandaddy did reunite this summer for a short tour, it doesn't look like a new album is coming anytime soon. So fans will have to make do with Dept. of Disappearance, the upcoming second solo album from Grandaddy frontman and new Montana resident Jason Lytle. Listen to the title track at Soundcloud, and you'll certainly think you're listening to a Grandaddy record, while the keyboard-heavy track "Your Final Setting Sun" ups the tempo a bit.
Previous album: Yours Truly, The Commuter 67 (2009)
Matangi | tbd December
After releasing two hugely acclaimed albums earlier in the decade, Maya Arulpragasam scored her biggest chart success two years ago with third album MAYA, though it was her first release to leave critics wanting something more. She'll look to rebound at the end of the year with her fourth album, Matangi (an alternate spelling of her given first name), which will arrive in December alongside her autobiography and possibly an art exhibition and documentary as well. Details are scarce—when she announced the album last month, she also indicated that it wasn't finished—but she did reveal that it would sound like "Paul Simon on acid" (helpful, we know). Single "Bad Girls", released early in 2012, is expected to make the final tracklist.
Previous album: MAYA 68 (2010)
Free the Universe | November 6
Uberproducer Diplo is the mastermind behind Major Lazer, the reggae- and dance-oriented project that will release its second full-length, Free the Universe, this November. While co-founder Switch is no longer a participant in Major Lazer—the producer has been replaced by the lesser-known Walshy Fire and Jillionaire—the new album will feature contributions from Amber Coffman (of Dirty Projectors, who guests on the single "Get Free"), Tyga, Bruno Mars, Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend), Shaggy, Wyclef Jean, Flux Pavilion, Wynter Gordon, Dev, and more. Major Lazer and Diplo will also be producing Snoop Dogg's upcoming reggae project (under the name Snoop Lion), Reincarnated, though it's not clear when that album will be released.
Previous album: Guns Don't Kill People...Lazers Do 77 (2009)
Charmer | September 18
A favorite in the worlds of indie music and comedy (you can see her in the previous season of Portlandia, among other places), singer-songwriter Aimee Mann returns next week after an atypically long four-year gap with her eighth solo album. The agreeably peppy and accessible Charmer—the former 'Til Tuesday frontwoman's most polished and pop output in many years—includes a duet with The Shins' James Mercer on "Living a Lie," while lead single "Charmer" is just that; watch the Laura Linney-starring video for it here, or stream the whole album (until its release date) at NPR.
Previous album: @#%&*! Smilers 79 (2008)
Mumford & Sons
Babel | September 25
The London folk outfit's 2009/2010 debut Sigh No More ultimately earned the young band six Grammy nominations and an Album of the Year win at the BRIT Awards, while selling over 2 million units in the U.S. alone. So the stakes are high for Mumford & Sons' sophomore set, Babel, which arrives at the end of the month. They seem to be taking a safe approach, working with the same producer (Markus Dravs) and retaining the same sound heard on their hit debut, with the new LP including many songs the band has been performing live for several years. Watch the video for lead single "I Will Wait".
Previous album: Sigh No More 68 (2010)
The 2nd Law | October 2
The bombastic English stadium rockers return with their sixth studio album next month, a follow-up to their major 2009 hit The Resistance. Like that previous album, The 2nd Law is produced by the band itself, and it finds the band diving a bit deeper into electronica (though it's not quite the full-on "dubstep album" originally feared), while retaining elements of symphonic rock (with arrangements by Beck's dad, David Campbell), prog, and classic rock. Included is the London Olympics theme "Survival" as well as recent single "Madness"; you can also watch a trailer for the full album.
Previous album: The Resistance 72 (2009)
R.E.D. | tbd
The title of Ne-Yo's fifth album stands for "Realizing Every Dream," though the R&B singer-songwriter's #1 dream at the moment is probably to rebound from the first commercial disappointment of his career so far (that would be 2010's Libra Scale). R.E.D. includes early singles "Lazy Love" and "Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself)"; the latter, which veers into synthpop territory, was co-written with Sia. Originally set for a September 18 release, the new album has been delayed until later in the year (likely November).
Previous album: Libra Scale 73 (2010)
Push and Shove | September 25
After a decade-long recording hiatus and over a year of new recording sessions, the Southern California ska-punk band fronted by Gwen Stefani are finally ready to release their sixth studio album. As he did for much of Rock Steady, Mark "Spike" Stent serves as producer for most of the tracks on Push and Shove, including lead single "Settle Down", though at least one Diplo-produced track ("Push and Shove") will be included in the final tracklist.
Previous album: Rock Steady 69 (2001)
Sugaring Season | October 2
The English singer-songwriter, who first garnered attention by collaborating with the Chemical Brothers and William Orbit, developed a devoted following through a series of solo albums in the late 1990s and early 2000s, before falling off the radar after the release of 2006's Comfort of Strangers. Now, six years later, she finally returns with a new set (Sugaring Season) for a new label (ANTI-), recorded in Portland, Ore. with producer Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Laura Veirs) and collaborators like Sam Amidon and Marc Ribot. The new album includes the tracks "Magpie" and "Something More Beautiful".
Previous album: Comfort Of Strangers 78 (2006)
The Truth About Love | September 18
The pop singer's first studio album in four years includes collaborations with Eminem, fun., and Lily Allen (who now calls herself Lily Rose Cooper, of course), with production coming from the likes of Max Martin, Greg Kurstin, and Butch Walker. The album includes the hit single "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" and the just-released "Try".
Previous album: Funhouse 69 (2008)
Observator | September 11
The Danish duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo have been consistently churning out albums of JAMC-esque, reverb- and distortion-heavy garage rock for a decade now, with the only slight blip on their record being their prior album, Raven in the Grave. Observator, their sixth studio LP, was recorded in Los Angeles with Wagner and Richard Gottehrer (who also worked on the band's second album) splitting production duties. The results don't stray far from the Raveonettes' well-established formula, but fans should consider that a plus.
Previous album: Raven in the Grave 66 (2011)
The Greatest Story Never Told 2: Bread & Circuses | November 6
Last year, Brooklyn-based rapper and one-time Entourage star Saigon topped our rankings of the best debut albums of 2011 with his long-delayed set The Greatest Story Never Told. This year, he is set to return with a quick sequel to that disc, to be released on Election Day. Though the tracklisting can change between now and then, Bread & Circuses will likely feature Killer Mike, Styles P, Chamillionaire, and even Saigon's three-year-old daughter. Get a quick taste with the just-released trailer.
Previous album: The Greatest Story Never Told 89 (2011)
King Animal | November 13
If you want further proof that the 1990s really are back in style, look no further than King Animal, the first release from grungemasters Soundgarden in 16 years. Coming after last year's reunion tour, the new album looks likely to perpetuate the band's arena-ready sludge, if the first mini taste of album track "Worse Dreams" is any indication.
Previous album: Down on the Upside (1996)
Lonerism | October 9
Tame Impala's debut Innerspeaker was one of 2010's most pleasant surprises, its swirling, reimagined '60s psychedelia filled with sticky hooks. Now, the Perth, Australia band returns with a second LP, Lonerism. Early leaked tracks "Elephant" and "Apocalypse Dreams" suggest that while Tame Impala hasn't quite left 1969 behind, a poppier, more synth-based approach is in store. As on the debut, Dave Fridmann (Mercury Rev) handles the mixing, which is usually a good thing.
Previous album: Innerspeaker (2010)
Corin Tucker Band
Kill My Blues | September 18
While her former Sleater-Kinney bandmate Carrie Brownstein has been busy lampooning Portland and starting terrific new supergroups since the hiatus of their earlier band, Corin Tucker has been working on a solo career of her own, releasing one album two years ago, with a second arriving next week. If previous outing 1,000 Years was indeed a "middle-aged mom record," as Tucker herself described it, the new Kill My Blues finds her reverting back to riot grrrl form, delivering a much more forceful and focused attack that should please longtime followers. Written collaboratively by Tucker with her full band (including Mike Clark of The Jicks and Sara Lund of Unwound), the album is streaming in full at Pitchfork prior to its release.
Previous album: 1,000 Years 76 (2010)
Ultraísta | October 2
Long considered Radiohead's unofficial sixth member (officially, he's the producer of almost every one of their albums), Nigel Godrich is also a member of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke's new group, Atoms for Peace, which will release its first album in 2013. Now Godrich has launched his own band, Ultraísta, along with singer Laura Bettinson and multi-instrumentalist Joey Waronker (another Atoms for Peace member and Beck collaborator). Their self-titled debut album showcases complex rhythms that wouldn't sound out of place on a Radiohead record, and an edgy, synth-driven, shoegaze-meets-dance-pop sound that is reminiscent of Mark Van Hoen-produced bands like Scala. Get a taste on terrific early tracks "Static Light" and "Smalltalk".
Previous album: n/a
Kanye West/G.O.O.D. Music
Cruel Summer | September 18
The cruelest thing about Kanye West's long-anticipated GOOD Music compilation is that, thanks to numerous delays, it is no longer even a summer release. But that most recent September 18 date now looks firm, which means that Cruel Summer should finally drop next week, and while another year goes by without a proper Kanye West album, this could be the next best thing. Kanye shows up on many of the album's tracks, including singles "Mercy" (with Big Sean, Pusha T and 2 Chainz), "New God Flow" (with Pusha T again), and "Clique" (with Jay-Z and Big Sean), all of which are streaming now at Kanye's official site. The roster of talent appearing on the 12-song Cruel Summer also includes John Legend, Kid Cudi, Raekwon, Common, R. Kelly, The-Dream, and Ghostface Killah.
Previous album: Watch the Throne 76 (2011) by Kanye West and Jay-Z
Coexist | September 11
The young London-based indie band released one of the most memorable debut albums of the young century three years ago, with xx winning the Mercury Music Prize in addition to topping various year-end critic lists. This week, they finally return with a follow-up, and if you liked the first album, you should like Coexist too. The new album continues to emphasize haunting, meticulous, stripped-down pop that blends reverby guitars with dubstep-influenced electronics and guy/girl vocals, with the band continuing to sound a bit like a modern-day take on Young Marble Giants or a more electronic Mazzy Star. In fact, Coexist is likely too similar to the first album to inspire the same sort of acclaim that xx did—the house beat of "Swept Away" being one notable exception—but with new songs as good as "Angels" and "Fiction," it might not matter.
Previous album: xx 87 (2009)
What do you think?
Which albums are you looking forward to this fall? Let us know in the comments section below.