This year is shaping up to be a pretty good one for music. I've already found two albums I absolutely adore--The National and Scissor Sisters--plus a whole bunch that I really enjoy (Broken Bells, Corinne Bailey Rae, Sade, Two Door Cinema Club, Janelle Monae, Gaslight Anthem, to name a few). While August has, in past years, but basically a dud month for new releases, I'm actually quite excited for this month. Particularly for bringing us the third album from Arcade Fire and the second major studio album for Katy Perry.
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Aug. 2/3). The album I'm most excited about in August is The Suburbs, the third album from Canadian rock collective Arcade Fire. I wasn't a big fan of their first album, Funeral, although I imagine if I spent more time with it, I'd come to enjoy it more. That's certainly been the case for their second album, Neon Bible, which I also wasn't thrilled with at first, but was drawn to it and after listening to it again and again grew to really love it. Several tracks have already appeared at iTunes, including the title track, which I really enjoy. First single "We Used to Wait" is at radio.
Katy Perry - Teenage Dream (Aug. 24). Katy Perry broke out big in 2008, scoring one of summer's biggest hits with "I Kissed a Girl" and its popular follow-up singles, "Hot N Cold" and "Waking Up in Vegas." Now she's back for round two and already hotter than ever. The album's infectious first single, "California Gurls," is probably the biggest global hit of the year, while the second single, "Teenage Dream," is already on its way up the charts as well. Despite all the hit singles, Perry's first album, One of the Boys, was not highly regarded. Perhaps hoping for some better reviews, Perry has employed more big name producers this time. Dr. Luke, who produced songs on her last album, she's got Max Martin, Stargate, Tricky Stewart and The-Dream.
Klaxons - Surfing the Void (Aug. 23). British band Klaxons won the Mercury Music Prize in 2007 for their debut, Myths of the Near Future, delivering hits like "Golden Skans" and "It's Not Over Yet," raising expectations for their follow-up. Getting this out hasn't been easy. A first set of recordings were scrapped and then a second set with James Ford, their first album's producer, were deemed too experimental by the band's label. Ultimately, they ended up recording with Ross Robinson, best known for his work with Limp Bizkit and Korn. First single "Echos" goes for an epic, piano-backed sound.
Usher - Versus (Aug. 24). At present, Usher is riding high with his new single "DJ Got Us Falling in Love" and recent #1 hit "OMG." At the start of the year though, it wasn't clear this would be the case. The promotion of his recent album, Raymond v. Raymond, wasn't exactly easy. First their was "Papers," which failed to catch on, then "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)," which got a lukewarm response, followed by tepid response for singles "Lil Freak" and "There Goes My Baby" (which months later became a hit, but not at first). In short, the album was really worked over before "OMG" finally became the album's first big hit, prompting the need for a follow-up. In comes Versus, an EP of new material to make up for the album's shortcomings. The Max Martin-produced first single "DJ Got US Falling in Love" follows in similar upbeat fashion to "OMG."
Lady Gaga - The Remix (US Version). This is a shortened 10-track version of the 17-track remix album that released in the spring. Seems like a bum deal, as it's missing the Pet Shop Boys remix of "Eh Eh," the Robots to Mars version of "LoveGame" and the piano version of "Poker Face" that the Glee rendition was based on. Skip this and get the international version.
The Saturdays - Headlines. Their last album, Wordshaker, produced only two singles, although both were top 10 hits, so it's a surprise they couldn't find a third single. "Missing You," the lead single from this third album by the British pop group, will be out next week.
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Hawk. Third collaboration from the Scottish and American singers, following the enchanting Ballad of the Broken Seas and the disappointing follow-up, Sunday at Dirt Devil.
The Hoosiers - Illusion of Safety. The Hoosiers, who scored big hits in 2007 with "Worried About Ray" and "Goodbye Mr. A" return with their second album. First single is synth-heavy "Choices," already big at British radio.
David Gray - The Foundling. His ninth album. I used to be a fan, but have moved on.
Shontelle - No Gravity. The Barbadian singer who recently scored a hit with "Impossible" releases her first album.
Game - The R.E.D. Album. American rapper's fourth album.
As great a month as this is, get ready for September, which promises new releases from Kanye West, Interpol, Linkin Park, Ne-Yo, Maroon5, Sara Bareilles, Nelly, and T.I.