Now that Labor Day has passed, it’s time to lay to rest the “best song of the summer” debate—“Blurred Lines” won, by the way—and start looking forward to the slate of new albums coming out this fall. It’s no exaggeration to say that many of the best albums of any given year are released in the period between Labor Day and Thanksgiving — and this year is shaping up to be no different.
This fall has a healthy mix of highly-anticipated debut efforts from newcomers like Icona Pop and The Weeknd, along with new releases from veteran acts, including Elton John, Sting and Paul McCartney. Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake are all unveiling new material over the next few months. And with Arcade Fire releasing the follow-up to 2010′s Grammy-winning Suburbs, Janelle Monae and 2 Chainz dropping their sophomore projects, there’s pretty much something for everyone this autumn.
Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks
After making music for close to two decades, Trent Reznor has mastered the art of making industrial electro-clash music filled with irresistible pop hooks and undeniably catchy choruses. His new album shows the newcomers how it’s done.
Neko Case, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You
The alt-country singer-songwriter writes some of the best darkest and most endearingly personal songs around. Her new album features 12 tracks of smart, catchy tunes. Case told Consequence of Sound, “This record was really autobiographical because my mind didn’t have room for anything else.”
Arctic Monkeys, AM
The Arctic Monkeys aren’t immune to the influence of hip-hop music —and their latest album lays testament to a band open to evolution. The new album, the band’s fifth, features a mash-up of hip hop and electronic beats and has new collaborations with old friends, including Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco) and Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello & The Attractions).
The Weeknd, Kiss Land
After releasing three well-received mix-tapes, which were released last year as a compilation called The Trilogy, The Weeknd is finally releasing his debut solo full-length. To commemorate the occasion, the Toronto native teamed up with fellow Canadian Drake for a track, but otherwise the album features no collaborators, letting The Weeknd shine. The full album is streaming over at NPR.
Keith Urban, Fuse
For his new release, Urban is taking a page out of Taylor Swift’s handbook and teaming up with Nathan Chapman. All the better to show off Urban’s undeniable pop hooks and crowd-pleasing barnstormer country-rock songs.
Janelle Monae, Electric Lady
While Janelle Monae’s collaboration with Fun., “We Are Young,” was running up the charts, she was busy working on the follow-up to her 2010 album, The ArchAndroid. The result is a sophomore album that spans 19 tracks and features collaborations with some of the biggest names in the music business, including Prince, Solange, Miguel, Erykah Badu, Big Boi and Cee-Lo Green.
Islands, Ski Mask
When you buy an Islands’ album it’s never clear whether you’re buying a record filled with sunshiney pop tunes paired with ascerbic lyrics, or the more somber fare of last year’s break-up album A Sleep & A Forgetting. It all depends on what is happening in frontman Nick Thorburn’s head. Regardless, the results are always worth a listen.
Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, better known as synth pop duo MGMT, are releasing their third album. As the band has matured so has their sound and the duo is moving past their Day-Glo party soundtrack tunes to create a more grown-up synth-heavy psychedelia.
The Roots and Elvis Costello, Wise Up Ghost
After working together on the set of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Elvis Costello and Fallon’s house band, The Roots, decided to team up for an album. Based on the forthcoming LP’s first single, “Walk Us Uptown,” the combination of Costello’s croon and the Roots’ funk instrumentation will be downright irresistible.
Elton John, The Diving Board
After a seven-year hiatus, Elton John is ready to unveil a new solo album. For the effort, he’s teamed up famed producer T Bone Burnett. The collection includes lead single “Home Again.”
Icona Pop, This is…Icona Pop
Icona Pop’s catchy hit single, “I Love It,” was everywhere last summer thanks to a feature in HBO’s Girls. Now the Swedish pop-duo is ready to unveil a complete album filled with their skittering dance tunes.
Sting, The Last Ship
Sting’s seventh studio album marks his first full-length LP in a decade. For the follow-up to 2003′s “Sacred Love,” the former Police frontman found inspiration in the music of his homeland. The album features guest appearances by Kathryn Tickell, Jimmy Nail, The Unthanks and the Wilson Brothers.
Chvrches, The Bones Of What You Believe
The Glasgow trio topped Best Of lists across the blogosphere for their dazzling electro-pop. After finding indie dancehall success with singles like “The Mother We Share,” the band is finally putting out a debut LP.
Kings of Leon, Mechanical Bull
Flying in the face of rumors that the band was disintegrating after a cancelled tour and a hiatus, Kings of Leon are marking a decade in the music industry with their sixth album. The new album is filled with foot-stomping tracks sure to be echoing off the rafter of a stadium near you when the band hits the road.
Mazzy Star, Seasons Of Your Day
Season of Your Day is Mazzy Star’s fourth studio album and their first in 17 years. The first single off the LP, “California,” reveals that the band that brought us the 1993 sleeper hit “Fade Into You” is still reveling in their darkly psychedelic sound.
Nirvana, In Utero [20th Anniversary Reissue]
To mark the 20th anniversary of Nirvana’s In Utero, the label is releasing a “super deluxe edition” packed with rarities. The new release collects 70 tracks, including 40 tracks of unreleased demos, rehearsals, live performances, B-sides, and a recently unearthed, never-before-heard Nirvana instrumental spread out over three CDs and a DVD. Also included with the set are reproductions of Cobain’s handwritten lyrics, producer Steve Albini’s four-page note to the band before the recording session, and liner notes by a frequent Nirvana opening act, comedian Bob Goldthwait.
Justin Timberlake, 20/20 Experience 2 of 2
After ruling the VMAs and briefly reuniting with his ‘NSYNC bandmates, Justin Timberlake has finally released more details for the upcoming second volume of The 20/20 Experience. The album will feature collaborations with both Drake and Jay Z (who earlier teamed up on Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie”) — and, according to Timberlake, will appeal to fans of his smash 2006 FutureSex/LoveSounds.
The Blind Boys of Alabama, I’ll Find A Way
Justin Vernon of Bon Iver produced the album by the Blind Boys of Alabama, the gospel group that has been making music since the late 1930s. Guest stars on the album include Merrill Garbus from Tuneyards and Patty Griffin, along with Vernon and the Boys singing a memorable cover of Bob Dylan’s “Every Grain of Sand.”
Quasi, Mole City
The duo of Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney/Wild Flag) and Sam Coomes celebrate 20 years of making music together with a double album and a slew of new fast-paced rock songs. The first single is called “You Can Stay But You Got To Go” and it shows the band to be as sharp-edged as ever.
Haim, Days Are Gone
The three Haim sisters made a splash this year with a handful of guitar-driven hook-filled pop singles and memorable live shows played around the globe. They’re debut full-length album finds the band translating the success of songs like “Forever” and “The Wire” into a collection of head-bobbing winners.
Alex Chilton, Electricity By Candlelight
A new 18-song live LP from late Big Star frontman Alex Chilton captures a rare recording of the musician’s 1997 set at New York’s The Knitting Factory. The album features Chilton’s acoustic take on iconic songs such as Johnny Cash‘s ‘I Walk The Line’ and The Beach Boys‘ ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’.
Pusha T, My Name Is My Name
The rapper teamed up with Kanye West for a full-length release on West’s G.O.O.D. Music label. Pusha T’s debut album features collaborations with A-list luminaries like West, Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross and Pharrell — plus a beat from actor Joaquin Phoenix.
Miley Cyrus, Bangerz
After her jaw-dropping and/or eye-rolling performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, there’s little doubt that people will be buzzing about Miley Cyrus’ new album. The Disney star turned pop singer will undoubtedly make more headlines on the strength of the “We Can’t Stop”-driven album.
Pearl Jam, Lightning Bolt
It’s been four years since Pearl Jam fans had new music to revel in. Come October 15th, the band’s tenth studio album Lightning Bolt will be ready for public consumption. The 12 tracks on the album include the already released single “Mind Your Manners,” as well as the two tunes the group debuted live at Chicago’s Wrigley Field last month: the title track, and a ballad called “Future Days.” The band will be heading out on a nationwide tour to support their new album.
Cass McCombs, Big Wheel and Others
Cass McCombs doesn’t do small. After releasing two albums in 2011, WIT’S END and Humor Risk, it was just announced that the singer-songwriter’s seventh studio album will be a 22-song double LP. Among the lyrical and mesmerizing tracks lies “Brighter!,” which features the late actress/singer Karen Black.
Paul McCartney, New
Two weeks ago, the 71-year-old Beatle announced that he would release New, his second album in as many years. While McCartney released Kisses on the Bottom last year, that record was primarily covers, meaning the 12 tracks on New will be his first new music since 2007. Based on the first single, which was produced by Mark Ronson, Revolver-era Beatles fans will be very happy with the new album.
Katy Perry, Prism
“There’s not really any darkness on the record,” Katy Perry told MTV News of her upcoming third album, Prism, in case fans were worried that her divorce from actor Russell Brand had affected the pop star’s lightness. “Roar,” the first single off of Perry’s follow-up to her wildly successful 2010 album Teenage Dream, has raced up the charts since its release, boding well for the forthcoming full-length.
Arcade Fire, Reflektor
The band has been keeping a low profile since their 2011 album The Suburbs unexpectedly won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. Now they are finally releasing their highly-anticipated follow-up record, which they produced with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. Few details are known about the album so far, but that’s to be expected from a band who announced the new album by replying to a fan’s tweet with “Thanks. Our new album will be out October 29.”
Eminem, Marshall Mathers LP 2
Last week the MC announced that he will finally release a follow-up to his landmark 2000 album, The Marshall Mathers LP. The forthcoming The Marshall Mathers LP 2 pairs the rapper with Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin, who executive produced the new album. Eminem set an ambitious goal by revisiting the album that most consider to be his best, but the debut single “Berzerk” shows that the album may live up to expectations.
In June, MIA tweeted that she would leak her forthcoming fourth studio album, Matangi, if her record label didn’t set a release date for it, Interscope quickly added the release to the calendar ensuring that fans will be able to hear the rapper’s full-length, which features the rapid-fire singles “Bring the Noize” and “Come Walk With Me.”
Lady Gaga, Art Pop
A new promo for Lady Gaga’s forthcoming third studio album encourages fans not to buy her new album. “DO NOT buy ‘ARTPOP’ on November 11. She’s over,” the video declares. There’s little doubt that the tongue-in-cheek reverse psychology will pay off as the album’s first single “Applause” is already topping the charts.