Below, we preview some of the most noteworthy albums scheduled for release between now and the end of the year. For a more complete listing of upcoming releases, check our frequently updated Album Release Calendar.
tbd (Reflektor) October 29 (Merge)
Alphabetical order dictates that we start here, but Arcade Fire's follow-up to 2010's The Suburbs 87 would likely top our list of fall albums even if ranked in order of anticipation. Fueling expectations are the inclusion of collaborations with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy—who has reported that the album "sounds awesome" and is "epic"—as well as a mysterious viral marketing campaign that has strewn "Reflektor" (the likely but unconfirmed album title) graffiti around the globe. The first single is expected to be unveiled online this Monday night at 9p ET (this seems to be a snippet from it).
True September 17 (Island)
He might be one of the music world's most financially successful artists, reportedly earning a quarter million dollars per gig, but Swedish DJ Tim Bergling—better known as Avicii—has never released a proper studio album. Serving, then, as his LP debut, this month's True follows on the heels of several hit singles, including the Grammy-nominated "Levels" (not included here). A live preview of several of the new tracks—which included bluegrass elements—didn't sit well with some EDM fans earlier this year, but give the man credit for diversifying. Speaking of which, True features collaborations with Nile Rodgers, Mike Einziger of Incubus, Adam Lambert, and Imagine Dragons.
Coming Apart September 10 (Matador)
Full album stream
Coming apart is exactly what rock legends Sonic Youth have been doing over the past year, with the band's constituents dispersing into their own solo endeavors after married members Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon announced their separation. Body/Head is Gordon's new project, which finds her joined by fellow guitarist Bill Nace. While the duo's early efforts were purely instrumental—and the new songs retain their noisy, improvisational origins—Coming Apart features vocals by Gordon.
Also out October 8th is Last Night on Earth by Lee Ranaldo & The Dust, a new group featuring Sonic Youth members Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley plus guitarist guitarist Alan Licht. Listen to one of their new songs.
Old October 1 (Fool's Gold)
Previously titled ODB, Old is either the first or the third proper album (depending on how you count) from Detroit rapper Danny Brown, following 2011's free XXX 83. There's no final tracklist yet—a recent release date delay reportedly due to sample clearance issues suggests it could still be in flux—but the album will include collaborations with A$AP Rocky, Charli XCX, Purity Ring, Schoolboy Q, and Freddie Gibbs. Brown will also tour with Action Bronson this month.
Elvis Costello & The Roots
Wise Up Ghost September 17 (Blue Note)
"Walk Us Uptown"
The 59-year-old singer-songwriter first performed with The Roots while guesting on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon; after several return visits, they were getting along so well that they decided to head to the studio together—despite not yet having a recording contract. Here, Costello serves as frontman for the band, which provides backing described by Questlove as "a moody, brooding affair, cathartic rhythms and dissonant lullabies." Expect a new album from The Roots as well in the not-to-distant future.
Event 2 October 1 (Bulk Recordings)
It is indeed an event anytime the trio of rapper Del the Funky Homosapien, turntable master Kid Koala, and producer Dan the Automator release an album together; their only previous LP, also called Deltron 3030, was released back in 2000. Years in the making, Event 2 has an encouragingly eclectic guest lineup that includes musicians Zach De La Rocha, Damon Albarn, Mike Patton, and Jamie Cullum, actors David Cross, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Amber Tamblyn, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, comedy music outfit The Lonely Island, and celebrity chef David Chang. The result is a post-apocalyptic concept album that Del describes as "like a rock opera, but using rap."
The Dismemberment Plan
Uncanney Valley October 15 (Partisan)
Last heard on record on 2001's Change 83, the once-defunct Washington D.C. indie rockers reunited for a triumphant 2011 reunion tour, and it was jam sessions during rehearsals for those shows that eventually led to an unexpected trip to the studio; the result is a new album, arriving next month. Rolling Stone describes Uncanney Valley (yes, that's how it's spelled) as a mature work that represents "the most vulnerable, least cerebral album [the] band has ever made."
Nothing Was the Same September 24 (Cash Money)
What's different about Same—compared to the Canadian artist's previous albums like 2011's Take Care 78—is a lack of slower tracks and an emphasis on rapping. (That's according to early reports, at least; Drake was still in the studio this week to finish some last-minute recording). Though Drake frequently pops up on other artists' records, there are just two features—from Jay-Z and Detail— credited on the just-released, 13-song final tracklist. Other collaborations, with J. Cole on the previously leaked "Jodeci Freestyle" and Sampha on "The Motion", did not make the final cut, while it is unclear whether previously reported contributors James Blake, 2 Chainz, and Lil Wayne will still appear on the LP.
The Marshall Mathers LP 2 November 5 (Interscope)
2000's The Marshall Mathers LP 78 stands as Eminem's commercial and critical high water mark. Now, 13 years later—hoping to continue his mid-career recovery that began with, well, Recovery 63—the rapper is deliberately provoking comparisons to his classic album by making his latest release a sequel. Rick Rubin and Dr. Dre serve as executive producers, but other collaborators haven't been disclosed; nor has a tracklist, save for the two new tracks released over the past month.
Cupid's Head October 1 (Kompakt)
The Field consists solely of Swedish musician/producer Axel Willner, who has released three albums of looping, sample-driven minimal techno under that name to great critical acclaim (such as on 2007's From Here We Go Sublime 90 and his most recent release, 2011's Looping State of Mind 83). The atypically colorless album cover signals that his fourth LP, Cupid's Head, is different from past releases, with Willner suggesting that fans will find his new music is darker and slower than they are accustomed to, though fans of his Loops of Your Heart side project may hear some similarities.
Beautiful Rewind tbd (Text)
Four Tet's prolific Kieran Hebden has been relatively quiet since releasing his terrific 2010 album There Is Love In You 82, though he has issued a series of singles (compiled on 2012's Pink 79) as well as a free compilation of early non-album tracks called 0181 (available here). This fall, however, should bring a proper Four Tet album titled Beautiful Rewind, though he has yet to release any music from the new 11-song set.
Also out on October 22nd is Wenu Wenu, the Four Tet-produced studio LP debut (following literally hundreds of live albums) for acclaimed Syrian artist Omar Souleyman. Watch the album trailer.
Days Are Gone September 30 (Columbia)
With five years of performing but just a single EP release to speak of, the young Los Angeles-based sister trio Haim managed to score a major-label contract, open for Rihanna, perform at Glastonbury, land on the cover of NME, and top the BBC's Sound of 2013 poll within the span of the last year. That makes Days Are Gone, their first album, one of the year's most-anticipated debuts. Guided by producers James Ford (of Simian Mobile Disco) and Ariel Rechtshaid (who has worked with Usher and Vampire Weekend), the LP showcases the group's harmony-drenched, radio-friendly pop—think Fleetwood Mac meets '90s R&B—on 11 tracks, including previously released singles like "Don't Save Me" and "Falling."
Kings of Leon
Mechanical Bull September 24 (RCA)
Over the past decade, the Grammy-winning Southern rockers have released five albums to increasing sales but decreasing critical accolades, with their most recent release, Come Around Sundown 64, dismissed by some critics as "safe" and "boring". The title of the Followills' upcoming sixth album suggests that their new release could shake things up a bit, and Mechanical Bull does represent a chance for a fresh start for the band, coming after an abruptly canceled tour and a six-month hiatus. The "youthful" sounding album reportedly splits the difference between their early- and late-period sound, and once again finds Kings of Leon working with producer Angelo Petraglia, who has been with the band since their best-reviewed album, Because Of The Times 79.
Artpop November 11 (Interscope)
We're not quite sure how to number Lady Gaga albums, since every release seems to come with subsequent extended and/or remixed versions, but let's call Artpop (or ARTPOP, as it seems to be stylized) her third-ish LP, following more than two years after Born This Way 71. Recorded while Ms. Gaga was recuperating from a broken hip (which prompted her to cancel her tour earlier this year), the new set includes the just-released single "Applause," while other confirmed tracks—many of which were performed live in London recently—include a collaboration with Twista, Too $hort, and T.I. The album will be accompanied by a
musical and visual engineering system that combines music, art, fashion and technology smartphone app.
Seasons of Your Day September 24 (Rhymes of an Hour)
After 17 years without a new album, fans of the Hope Sandoval-fronted alt-rockers—known for gauzy, atmospheric 1990s hits like "Fade Into You"—probably assumed that Mazzy Star was no longer a going concern. But the band's core duo of Sandoval and David Roback apparently never stopped writing and recording new music in the years following 1996's Among My Swan, and they have finally opted to share some of it with the public in the form of the 10-track Seasons of Your Day. My Bloody Valentine's Colm Ó Cíosóig (who also performs with Sandoval in the Warm Inventions) and the late Bert Jansch guest on the album, and Mazzy Star will tour at the end of the year.
New October 15 (Hear Music)
The just-released title track and lead single from the former Beatle's first rock album since 2007's Memory Almost Full 69 finds the 71-year-old McCartney in, well Beatles-esque form. Couple that with an interesting lineup of producers—including Mark Ronson, Ethan Johns, and Paul Epworth—and New could give The Next Day some competition for best album by a senior citizen this year.
MGMT September 17 (Columbia)
The one-time darlings of music bloggers everywhere have moved past their acclaimed debut and sophomore slump (which, though it lacked the instant hits of their first album, wasn't really much of a slump) and are ready to move into their difficult third album phase. Actually, the early word on the electronic and experimental MGMT—recorded, like their debut, as a duo with producer Dave Fridmann—is that "weird" is a better descriptor than "difficult," and is so different that the band's own Andrew VanWyngarden recently told Rolling Stone that "I don't even know if it's music we would want to listen to." That said, you'll want to listen to catchy lead single "Your Life Is a Lie," especially when accompanied by its weird-in-a-good-way video.
Matangi November 5 (Interscope)
Originally set for release at the end of last year, M.I.A.'s fourth studio album has been beset by numerous delays, many caused by conflicts with her record label (at one point, Interscope asked her to re-record part of the album to make it less positive, while M.I.A., in turn, threatened to leak the album online unless Interscope agreed to give it a release date). The nearly two-year-old single "Bad Girls" is expected to make the final tracklist, as are newer songs like "Come Walk With Me" and "Bring the Noize," and production is handled by M.I.A. herself, along with Surkin, Switch, and Danja. The tracks released so far suggest an improvement over her previous album, 2010's MAYA 68.
The Electric Lady September 10 (Bad Boy/Wondaland)
An artist in every sense of the word, Janelle Monáe wowed critics with her 2010 debut The ArchAndroid 91, and she returns next week with a "prequel" to that concept album. Technically, The Electric Lady represents the fourth and fifth volumes in her ongoing "Metropolis" cyborg story, but the real question here is whether there's anything as catchy as the first album's hits like "Tightrope" and "Cold War." Early reviews suggest that Electric is especially eclectic, even as it occasionally embraces more mainstream R&B, and critics have begun comparing the 27-year-old to David Bowie. Guests on the album include Prince, Miguel, Erykah Badu, Solange, and Esperanza Spalding.
Oneohtrix Point Never
R Plus Seven October 1 (Warp)
One of several recording projects for Brooklyn-based electronic artist Daniel Lopatin (who is also a member of Ford & Lopatin), Oneohtrix Point Never impressed critics on 2011's Replica 80, which ended the year on numerous top 10 lists. Lopatin has since signed to Warp Records, and his debut for the label, R Plus Seven, arrives next month. It is also said to be a "major departure" from past Oneohtrix Point Never recordings.
Lightning Bolt October 15 (Monkeywrench/Republic)
After taking a bit of a recording break to celebrate their 20th anniversary as a band, Pearl Jam return next month with their 10th studio album and first since 2009's Backspacer 79. Brendan O'Brien, who produced that previous album as well as much of their 1990s output, returns as producer.
Defend Yourself September 17 (Joyful Noise)
Probably the most personal of Lou Barlow's numerous projects is Sebadoh, the low-fi college-rock band he founded after first departing Dinosaur Jr. But, after releasing nine albums (with varying lineups), Barlow put Sebadoh on the shelf in 1999 to concentrate on other projects (Folk Implosion, some solo records, an eventual return to Dinosaur Jr.), and the group, like their contemporaries Pavement, seemed likely never to record again. But Sebadoh was revived last year, and the group released a new EP as a preview to their first full album since 1999's The Sebadoh. Like their early albums, the low-fi Defend Yourself was recorded on the cheap in the band's own practice space. Can they re-kindle their old magic?
Bitter Rivals October 8 (Mom + Pop)
Many critics felt that the indie duo's second album Reign of Terror 77 was a slight step down from their 2010 debut Treats 84, so Sleigh Bells have something to prove on third album Bitter Rivals. While the pair have suggested that the new LP is cleaner and more melodic than past efforts, the just-released title track features their usual loud, crunchy, aggressive sound.
The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 September 30 (RCA)
"Take Back the Night"
A follow-up to the first 20/20 Experience 75 disc released earlier this year, this second part (also available in a combined "Complete Experience" set) features 11 new tracks recorded during and after the sessions for the first album. Jay-Z and Drake guest, while Timbaland and Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon return as co-producers. This fall, Timberlake can also be seen in Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest potential Oscar contender from the Coen brothers.
Kiss Land September 10 (Universal/Republic)
He's wowed critics, and he's released his major-label debut. But 23-year-old Toronto native Abel Tesfaye still hasn't released a proper studio album (Trilogy, that debut, was a compilation of previously-released free mixtapes). Tuesday, he does in the form of the heavily hyped Kiss Land, which features Drake on one track. Will his brand of insular, brooding, melancholic R&B continue to find a mainstream audience? We'll know in a few weeks.
What do you think?
Which albums are you looking forward to this fall? Let us know in the comments section below.