The season with the biggest album releases of the year is upon us, an this year's fourth quarter has, as usual, quite a bit to offer. Rather than just cover September, I take a look at key releases for the rest of the year. Given the flexibility of release dates, these are subject to change, and it's quite likely that releases currently pegged for October or later could get pushed back--possibly to 2011 (or, yikes, maybe even never--it happens; ask Nicole Scherzinger).
The Fall 10
First up, here are the 10 essential releases this fall:
Coldplay - LP5 (December). It doesn't have a name yet, and it seems like it could easily get pushed to 2011, but if there's a chance we'll get a Coldplay album by 12/31/10, then it needs to be on my essential list. Coldplay's blog has said it is near completion, but now there are rumors it won't come out this year. Brian Eno is reportedly producing again.
Brandon Flowers - Flamingo (Sept. 6). The Killers lead single goes solo and already has a hit on his hands with the album's first single, "Crossfire," and its action-packed video starring Flowers and Charlize Theron. Flowers worked with rock producers Daniel Lanois and Brendan O'Brien, but also ensured consistency with the album's third producer, Stuart Price, who helmed the Killers' last album Day & Age (Price must be exhausted this year, after also producing the Kylie Minogue and Scissor Sisters albums). Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis sings with Flowers on "Hard Enough."
Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown (Oct. 19). Prior to 2008, Kings of Leon were a somewhat well-known although hardly mainstream rock band. Only By the Night changed all that, turning the group into a sensation as well as chart-toppers with its major hits "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody," the latter of which was awarded the Grammy for Record of the Year earlier this year. Following up such unexpected success is probably daunting, so the band looks to be playing it safe by employing the same production team on this fifth album as on their last.
Maroon 5 - Hands All Over (Sept. 20). Although they've brought Robert John "Mutt" Lange (i.e. the former Mr. Shania Twain) to produce their third album, Hands All Over, indicators point to business as usual for the L.A.-fivesome. A band's press release called the new set "a killer hybrid of rock, pop, funk and R&B"--in other words, just like what they've done before. And first single "Misery" is a welcome sibling to their previous major hits like "This Love" and "Makes Me Wonder."
Ne-Yo - Libra Scale (Oct. 5). For his fourth album, Ne-Yo talks like it will be his most ambitious yet. Despite the fact that its first singles sound like his previous work ("Beautiful Monster" is a lot like "Closer," and "Champagne Life" is similar to "Miss Independent"), Libra Scale is a concept album. High concept actually. The title refers to the astrological sign, Libra, which is represented by a scale. With that in mind, Ne-Yo has said the album explores the themes of morality and balance between money, love, power and fame while telling the story of three garbage men who are offered everything they could ever want for protecting their city, but they can never fall in love. Alrighty. "Beautiful Monster" was a UK #1 but a misfire in the US.
Radiohead - TBD (no date). There's really little details about this, other than that the band has been recording this year, and gave an interview to BBC in June saying they hoped to get a new album out by the end of the year. Coming off of 2007's In Rainbows, Radiohead is well-positioned to deliver something fantastic.
Robyn - Body Talk Part II (Sept. 6) & Body Talk Part III (November). Swedish pop singer Robyn dazzled with Body Talk Part I earlier this summer, a sensational 8-track EP that delivered an intriguing blend of electric and acoustic pop. At the time, Robyn revealed it was the first of three EPs to be released this year. So anticipation is high parts II and III, due in early September and November respectively. Already out is Part II's single, "Hang with Me," which appeared in an acoustic version on Part I but gets its proper electro sheen for Part II.
Taylor Swift - Speak Now (Oct. 25). Top-selling digital artist of all time. Winner of the 2010 Grammy Award for Album of the Year. These are some pretty big achievements for the 20 year-old country/crossover star to live up to. Swift's second album, Fearless, was the top-selling album of 2009 in the US, scoring major country and pop hits with its singles "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me." For her third album, Speak Now, Swift will surely try again to conquer both country and pop charts. She's off to a good start with the album's first single, "Mine," which hit #3 on the Hot 100 and is already a hit at country and pop radio.
Take That - TBD (November). Take That 2.0 has been a massive success, with two albums under its belt and a number of hit singles, including "Patience," "Rule the World," and "Greatest Day." For their third comeback album, Take That welcomes back original member Robbie Williams for the group's first release as a fivesome since 1995. Little details about the album exist yet, other than that the first single will be "The Flood."
Kanye West - Dark Twisted Fantasy (Nov. 16). At one point, it was stated that this album would be called Good Ass Job, to coincide with the education-themed titles of West's first three albums. Apparently that was a red herring, and instead we'll be getting the ominously titled Dark Twisted Fantasy. The rapper took a detour to electro and singing on his fourth album, 808s and Heartbreak, but the assumption is that he'll turn back to hip-hop for this fifth release. First single "Power" is already out, but hasn't become a major hit.
Robbie Williams - In and Out of Consciousness: Robbie's Greatest Hits 1990 - 2010 (Oct. 12). Greatest hits collections aren't really albums, but I wanted to include this anyway in my highlights. Williams already had a greatest hits set in 2004, but this more comprehensive two-disc collection looks to be completely comprehensive, including songs missing from his last release (namely "Freedom," "Somethin' Stupid," "It's Only Us," and "Something Beautiful") along with hits he's had since then ("Tripping," "Lovelight," and "Bodies," among others). Perhaps most exciting is the collaboration with fellow Take That member and one time rival Gary Barlow, "Shame," which will be released before the reunited Take That work as a taste of what is to come.
Those marked with an asterisk are the ones I'm most interested, apart from the ones above.
*Interpol - Interpol. Late last year I fell in love with this band's first album, Turn Off the Lights. Although I haven't much listened to their second and third albums, I've heard they aren't as good. Nevertheless, I'm interested in this eponymous disc, their fourth, and last with their original bassist.
Sara Bareilles - Kaleidescope Heart. The singer, who scored a major hit in 2008 with "Love Song," returns with her second album featuring quirky first single "King of Anything."
Linkin Park - A Thousand Suns. Linkin Park returns with their fourth album, produced by the same guys who did their last one, Minutes to Midnight. First single "The Catalyst" is already a big hit at rock radio.
Weezer - Hurley. No joke: the cover of the album is a shot of Jorge Garcia, the actor who portrayed Hugo Reyes (a.k.a. "Hurley") on the popular, just concluded ABC drama Lost. According to the band, the only reason they named the album Hurley is because Garcia is on the cover. So I guess this isn't a Lost-themed concept album? I guess we'll find out.
*The Script - Science and Faith. The Irish pop/rock band scored big in the US this year with their singles "Breakeven" and "The Man Who Can't Be Moved," but Americans probably don't realize those songs are 2 years old and the band is moving on to their second album this fall.
Of Montreal - False Priest. The Athens, Georgia-based group (no, they're not Canadian) release their 10th album.
Royksopp - Senior. The Norwegian duo is releasing an instrumental album, which they've said is the darker, atmospheric counterpart to their last album, Junior.
Blonde Redhead - Penny Sparkle. I was impressed by the group's last album, 23, but I don't know much about this upcoming release, the group's eighth album.
Phil Collins - Going Back. For his first album in 8 years, Phil Collins does a set of '60s motown and soul covers.
Seal - Seal VI: Commitment. Mr. Heidi Klum puts out his sixth album of new material, following his last album of covers. First single "Secret" is already out.
Manic Street Preachers - Postcards from a Young Man. The British rock band releases their 10th album, which the band has said is targeted to mainstream audiences.
Diddy - Last Train to Paris. The once powerful rapper releases his fifth album.
Shontelle - No Gravity. The Barbadian singer, who scored a hit earlier this summer with "Impossible," releases her first album.
Selena Gomez & the Scene - A Year without Rain. The Disney darling puts out her second album featuring hit single "Round and Round."
Paula Cole - Ithaca. Although she's best known for singing the theme to Dawson's Creek, there was once a time when Paula Cole was a big star (her second album, This Fire, was a Grammy nominee for Album of the Year and contained two major hits). This is her fifth album.
*Mark Ronson & the Business Intl - Record Collection. Producer Ronson's last album, Version, scored some big hits, particularly with British singers Amy Winehouse ("Valerie") and Lily Allen ("Oh My God"). This new album features a more eclectic list of collaborators, from Q-Tip to the Duran Duran to the London Gay Men's Chorus. First single "Bang Bang Bang" wasn't a smash, but it grew on me.
*Estelle - All of Me. This one isn't fully confirmed, but I hope it happens. Her second album, Shine, was a real treat, especially its big hit "American Boy." Estelle misfired with the first advanced single from this, "Freak," but second single "Fall in Love" aims for the same kind of bubbly joy "American Boy" Delivered.
KT Tunstall - Tiger Suit. The British pop singer returns with her third album, featuring different first singles in the UK ("(Still a) Weirdo") and the US ("Fade Like a Shadow").
T.I. - King Uncaged. T.I.'s last album scored some huge hits, including #1 collaboration with Rihanna "Live Your Life." This is his 7th album.
Athlete - The Singles 01:10. The British rock band puts out their greatest hits. Apart from their 2005 album Tourist and its big hit "Wires," I don't really know their catalog.
David Archuleta - The Other Side of Down. The former American Idol runner-up releases his second album.
Ciara - Basic Instinct. Fourth album from her with production from The-Dream and Tricky Stewart.
Antony & the Johnsons - Swanlights. The Mercury Prize-winning group puts out a fourth album.
Lee Ryan - Confessions. The former member of Blue is set to release his second album, although response to early release single, the double A-side "I Am Who I Am" and "Secret Love" was so tepid that I wouldn't be surprised if this doesn't come to fruition.
Good Charlotte - Cardiology. Yes it's true that I know somebody who knows somebody who knows Good Charlotte (quite well in fact, since it's the Maddens' mother). That little tidbit aside, I'm really not a big fan, but they have put out some fun songs. This is their fifth album.
Kid Cudi - Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. "Day N Nite" was a hit, but can Kid Cudi do it again? This is his second, reportedly darker, album.
Roll Deep - Winner Stays On. On the back of recent #1 hits "Good Times" and "Green Light," the British hip-hop collective releases its fourth album.
Joe McElderry - Last year's winner of The X Factor, the first since Steve Brookstein not to have landed the Christmas #1, releases his debut.
*Kelly Rowland - Kelly Rowland. Ms. Kelly, her second album, wasn't a big hit. But it did produce some great singles. I actually really liked all them--the go-go flavored "Like This," the Travie McCoy collaboration "Daylight," and the Freemasons remix of "Work." After having a global smash with David Guetta last summer, "When Love Takes Over," it's no surprise this album will feature more dance music, including the recent single "Commander," another Guetta collaboration. Yet the other early releases, "Rose Colored Glasses" and "Grown Woman," have a more R&B feel.
Jay Sean - Freeze Time. "Down" and "Do You Remember," hits from Jay Sean's last album, All or Nothing, made him a star in the US, although the singles stopped coming sooner than they should have. First single from this fourth album, "2012," is already out, but I'm not feeling it.
Tinchy Stryder - Third Strike. British hip-hop artist returns with his third album. "In My System" was the recent first single.
Nelly - Nelly 5.0. Nelly's sixth album is due for release in November. But given how many times his last album was pushed back, I'll wager this is tentative.
Kid Rock - Born Free. Kid rock's eighth album features a string of collaborators from both the worlds of rock (Sheryl Crow, Uncle Kracker), country (Taylor Swift, Zac Brown, Martina McBride), and rap (Eminem, Jay-Z, T.I. and Lil Wayne). Sounds like an interesting mix.
Alesha Dixon - The Entertainer. The first single is called "Drummer Boy," and Gary Barlow is going to write for it. Dixon is apparently a reality TV star now, so she may not have much time for this.
Susan Boyle - The Gift. For that bit of market that Taylor Swift isn't able to corner this Christmas season, there's Susan Boyle, ready with her second album. Go SuBo!
While there isn't a specific release date yet for these, it seems pretty safe to assume they will be out this fall.
Natasha Bedingfield - Strip Me. The British singer's third album is apparently done, but no release date yet. "Touch" was released as a single in the US over the summer, but didn't become a hit.
*Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Straight to the Heart. After some delay, Sophie Ellis-Bextor is set to release her fourth album sometime in October or November. It will include recent hits "Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer)" and "Bittersweet," as well as the new single with Armin Van Buuren, "Not Giving Up on Love."
Flo Rida - The Only One. His third album, reportedly a double. First single "Club Can't Handle Me" was a recent UK #1 and a current US hit.
Limp Bizkit - Gold Cobra. This is the fifth album for the band, their first since 2003's Results May Vary. While some tracks have been released, I haven't seen a release date for the album yet.
McFly - Fifth album. The first single, "Party Girl," is already at British radio, so it's a pretty safe bet this will be released. While no specific date is set, it's rumored for November, and the band says it will reveal the name soon.
These appear on less solid footing to get a release this fall, but it is possible.
Adele - Second album. Late last year it was rumored that Adele would follow-up her successful 2008 debut by the end of the year, but at present, there's no solid information about it. I expect to see it in early 2011.
Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part 1. This reportedly sample-heavy set had been scheduled for release in September...until band member Adam Yauch came down with cancer.
Cheryl Cole - Second album. Ms. Cole has been hard at work on her second album, including collaboration with Ryan Tedder, RedOne and Starsmith. Although this was once pegged for an October release, Cole contracted Malaria over the summer, and it's unclear whether her illness and recovery time could create a delay in getting this done and out.
Evanescence - Third album. Once scheduled for a late summer release, this has been delayed for creative reasons and may also be affected by label problems.
Fleet Foxes - Second album. The band has been working on this for some time, as they apparently once said it would be out in 2009. Rumored title is Deepwater Horizon.
Michael Jackson - First posthumous album. Sony has a contract with the Jackson estate to put out seven posthumous releases, based on his extensive recordings vault. This first one is tentatively due in November.
Avril Lavigne - Fourth album. Here's another one that's been worked on for some time. Lavigne's last album was 3 years ago and since then she's been recording on her home studio.
Jennifer Lopez - Love? Here's one we may never see. Originally planned for a release early this year, the album got pushed back after neither of its first singles ("Fresh Out of the Oven" and "Louboutins") found a mainstream audience, although both were dance #1s. Subsequently, Lopez and her label parted ways. Although she has a new label, work on the album continues, and I wouldn't be surprised if the delay leads to a new direction for her next release.
My Chemical Romance - Fourth album. First album since the departure of Bob Bryar. The band announced earlier this summer that the album was finished, but I haven't seen a title or release date yet.
Plan B - The Ballad of Belmarsh. Supposedly this will continue the story of The Defamation of Strickland Banks but be more hip-hop. Plan B's record label took a pass though, so he intends to release it himself. No date is set.
Pussycat Dolls - Third album. Their lineup has changed, and I can't be troubled to figure out how exactly, but it seems to have something to do with Nicole Scherzinger possibly leaving at one point (she's apparently not though).
Britney Spears - Seventh album. It's in the works, but I don't know anything more.
The Streets - Computers and Blues. Mike Skinner is said he's tired of "The Streets" and that this will be the final album under the monicker. Two years ago he said he expected to release this 2 years later (i.e. sometime this year).
Shayne Ward - Third album. This has apparently been a struggle, leading to the departure of Ward's manager, X Factor judge Louis Walsh. Current word is that it will be out in December.
Westlife - Eighth album. Reportedly in the works, but not much is known yet.