With fall 2012 right around the corner, new albums are needed to give the season a soundtrack. Here is the top 20 to look for, arranged by release date:
1. Two Door Cinema Club – Beacon: Though it's just been released (09/03/12), reviews have been mixed. New Musical Express gave the album 8/10, while reviews from Allmusic and The Guardian were less favorable, at 3/5 stars. Overall, a good sophomore effort, though a bit weird. TDCC hasn't settled on a core sound with this album, but they're doing quite well nonetheless.
2. Animal Collective – Centipede Hz: Going away from the poppy sound of Merriweather Post Pavillion, Animal Collective is back to its roots. Influences as varied as Pink Floyd and chicha music have been cited by the band. However, this new vibe mixed with a return to the original AC style is a bit difficult to get used to. Released on 09/04/12.
3. Cat Power – Sun: I will admit, I was never a fan of Cat Power until listening to Sun. Tracks like “Cherokee” and “Manhattan” nicely combine a smooth, chill sound with emotional appeal to keep you listening. The beat can get a little repetitive, but overall, a solid sound for a fall evening walks. Out on 09/04/12.
4. Deerhoof – Breakup Song: Breakup Song has already gotten some traction on NPR, which generally gave it favorable reviews. A good album, certainly, but one with a more summery/pop feeling in Deerhoof's tradition. Great to listen to on a rainy day. Released on 09/04/12.
5. Stars – The North: Stars is the band for intellectual listeners with indie leanings. They've been making quality music for more than ten years now, yet too many give a few songs a listen and soon forget. The North looks to change this. With tracks like “Theory of Relativity,” the lyrics are weird enough to catch your attention, and the music is what sustains it. A great album from a great band. Out 09/04/12.
6. Two Gallants – The Bloom and the Blight: With a literary name (The Two Gallants is a story in James Joyce's Dubliners), the band's lyrics are certainly very literary. Similar to Bright Eyes, Two Gallants strive to tell a story through their album. Tracks like “Broken Eyes” and “Cradle Pyre” are short bursts of storytelling that could be elongated. Then again, maybe too much of a good thing wouldn't be so great, so perhaps the Two Gallants are on to something. An excellent album. Out on 09/04/12.
7. David Byrne and St. Vincent – Love This Giant: I'm normally not a fan of St. Vincent, but it seems like this album will have more of a poppier sound to it, as based on the “Who” single. Byrne and St. Vincent go well together, but some critics have criticized the album for its lack of musical experimentation. Look for it on 09/10/12.
8. The Avett Brothers – The Carpenter: Based on a few reviews and an NPR's First Listen, it's quite likely The Avett Brothers will return to their sound from I and Love and You. Not necessarily a bad thing, and while I am excited for the album, it is rumored to be on the heavier side. Bassist Bob Crawford's daughter is battling a brain tumor, and there are several death-themed songs. To be released on 09/10/12.
9. A$AP Rocky – LongLiveA$AP: Rumors have been flying about the album's release date for months now. It was scheduled to be dropped on September 11th, but may no be released at the end of October. Fans have been waiting for a while, especially as this is A$AP's first album. According to the A$AP Rocky fan site, the single “Goldie” “serves as the first single off his debut album LongLiveA$AP.” To be released... at some point.
10. The xx – Coexist: After a long wait, The xx fans will be treated to whispery, ambient beats. Following the heed of Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Ros, Coexist promises long melodies leading to slightly more dynamic explosions in sound. After giving the album a listen on NPR, I can confirm that it will be a continuation of The xx's prior style, but with more vocals. Definitely worth a listen. Out on 09/11/12.
11. Thee Oh Sees – Purifiers II: Thee Oh Sees don't really have a set sound – some songs are fast, others are slow, and the band is pretty adept at keeping its listeners guessing by this point. Having listened to a few rough cuts, Thee Oh Sees seem to be on the same wavelength as last time; the album doesn't seem like anything too out of the ordinary. Released on 09/11/12.
12. Mika – The Origin of Love: The Origin of Love has had a long time coming – the first single, “Elle me Dit,” was released n 2011 (and will be available on the bonus track version of Origin). Since gaining some traction The Good Wife with “Any Other World” in season 2, Mika's fan base may have grown a bit. Mika has always surprised me, so I'm excited to see what he does this time. To be released on 09/16/2012.
13. Brother Ali – Mourning America and Dreaming in Color: Brother Ali's fifth album hits home a few weeks before the election. Having faced some controversy with the song “Uncle Sam Goddamn” in 2007, Brother Ali will continue to feature politics in his songs – the track “Letter to my Countrymen” will feature Dr. Cornel West. Brother Ali has been promoting his album since July, and it doesn't seem like it will disappoint. Look for it on 09/18/12.
14. Grizzly Bear – Shields: It's been quite the break between now and Grizzly Bear's last album – so long, in fact, that several members went off to do solo work and still had time to work on Shields. I'm not complaining, though. If the singles “Yet Again” and “Sleeping Ute” are any indication, this sounds like a top-notch album. Released on 09/18/12.
15. P.O.S. - We Don't Even Live Here: While P.O.S.'s album title evokes Mean Girls quotes, his fourth album is anything but a laughing matter. The recent single, “Bumper,” is like a mix of Skrillex, hard rock, and solid rap at the start. Bon Iver's Justin Vernon is said to have collaborated on the album as well, making for a unique mix of music styles. To be released on 09/18/12.
16. Michael Jackson – Bad 25: The 25th anniversary reissue of 1987's Bad should make the most ardent MJ fans happy. The album contains DVD footage of an MJ concert at Wembley that counted Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana as attendees, a performance that has been considered stunning, even by MJ's amazing standards. Even though Bad didn't sell as many albums as Thriller the first time around, this release will definitely boost numbers. To be released on 09/18/12.
17. Dinosaur Jr. - I Bet on Sky: Dinosaur Jr. has come a long way from its 2005, remade line-up. However, they've been doing well for a band with some new blood. The three Dinosaur Jr. men did a good job on this album in terms of diversity, as they use experience from their other projects to work on I Bet on Sky. It sounds like an exciting new addition to their already solid lineup. To be released on 09/18/12.
18. Dum Dum Girls – End of Daze: Perhaps not as upbeat as some aforementioned albums, End of Daze takes a look at vocalist/guitarist Dee-Dee's newest inspiration: her ever-growing knowledge of the world. While the album isn't all doom and gloom, it does end on a positive note. There have been a number of references to Dee-Dee's personal life, and End of Daze certainly isn't an exception. Out on 09/25/12.
19. Mumford and Sons – Babel: Finally, something to get everyone's mind off of “Little Lion Man,” the most popular of Mumford and Sons's prior releases. At least, among the people I know. On Babel, Mumford and Sons partner with the celebrated Paul Simon, a clear sign that the band is taking big steps forward. The Billboard website says the album shows “maturation,” which is an exciting step for the band's sophomore album. Out on 09/25/12.
20. Muse – The 2nd Law: Muse had the world going crazy with its last album, The Resistance. The 2nd Law doesn't seem like it will do any less – music from dub step to Queen is said to make a debut, according to NME. The one drawback is the 2nd Law tour – it's stopping exclusively in Europe. Until Muse comes to America, get pumped for their newest album, out on 10/02/12.