Get ready for Beyoncé, who leads June's list of new releases, which also features the latest from Bon Iver, Arctic Monkeys and (finally) Sophie Ellis-Bextor (as well as a new album from her husband's band).
Beyoncé - 4 (June 24). This is the biggest album slated for summer so far, the fourth release from one of the world's biggest female pop stars. Last time out, she gave us a concept album of sorts, a two-disc set divided into calmer pop ballads and livelier upbeat songs. I Am...Sasha Fierce was another tremendous success for the former Destiny's Child frontwoman, nabbing her many Grammy nominations and three monster-sized global hits ("If I Were a Boy," "Single Ladies" and "Halo"). For this album, there's just one disc, but based on what I'm reading, it will be much more musically varied than Sasha, with Beyoncé naming influences like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Lauryn Hill--signaling perhaps more retro and hip-hop sounds--as well as Nigerian musician Fela Kuti. So far I've heard three songs from the album and they're all quite different. First up was "Run the World (Girls)," which had an explosive rhythm but failed to connect well with the public. Second single "Best Thing I Never Had," which I've only heard once but liked. And then there's "1+1," the album's first track, a guitar-backed ballad in the vein of "If I Were a Boy" available from iTunes as a preview track.
Bon Iver - Bon Iver, Bon Iver (June 21). Bon Iver's 2008 debut For Emma, Forever Ago, isn't the sort of thing I'd usually be attracted to. It's woodsy folk/rock recorded in rural Wisconsin doesn't seem like music for pop fans. Yet Bon Iver's gorgeous melodies are quite compelling and, although I didn't get this album until late last year, I've definitely fallen under its spell. And I'm not the only one. Bon Iver attracted the attention of Kanye West, who featured the band on several songs from last year's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, most notably on "Lost in the World," which heavily samples Bon Iver's "The Woods." This albums first single, "Calgary," includes synthesizers, which is a big departure from the sound of For Emma. Definitely interested in hearing what they do this time.
Arctic Monkeys - Suck It and See (June 6). Based on what was being written in the British press, Arctic Monkeys arrived in late 2005 as the saviors of alternative rock music. Of course, nobody can live up to that kind of hype, but their 2006 debut and its 2007 follow-up were both satisfying sets of short, explosive songs. By the time they released their third album in 2009 though, they'd lost much of their luster. With this fourth album, it sounds like they may be taking a new direction. At least that's my impression from its first single, "Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair," which sounds totally different, with louder, deeper guitars and a more measured approach. The album is produced by James Ford, who produced their last two albums.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Make a Scene (June 5). It's been 4 years since Ellis-Bextor's last album, Trip the Light Fantastic. Since then there's been much uncertainty about what we'd get from her next. At one point there was going to be a greatest hits set, then a new album, which got pushed back, and changed its name, etc. Finally it looks like we're going to get this album, Make a Scene, which has already been released in Russia. It features new single "Starlight" plus the several tracks Ellis-Bextor has put out the last few years, "Bittersweet," "Not Giving Up on Love" and "Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer)." The production lineup features big names like Calvin Harris, Freemasons and Richard X, and Cathy Dennis co-wrote two of the album's tracks.
My Morning Jacket - Circuital (May 31). American rock band releases its sixth album, the follow-up to the acclaimed 2008 disc, Evil Urges.
All Time Low - Dirty Work (June 6). American punk-rock group releases its fourth album.
Nerina Pallot - Year of the Wolf (June 12). British singer-songwriter releases her fourth album.
Owl City - All Things Bright and Beautiful (June 14). After breaking through big with the single "Fireflies" from their last album, Owl City returns with his third album of electropop.
The Feeling - Together We Are Made (June 19). British band releases its third album.
Lil Wayne - Tha Carter IV (June 21). Lil Wayne's 2008 album Tha Carter III was a massive hit, scoring the #1 single "Lollipop" and earning a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year. Since then, he's put out the comparatively underwhelming "rock" album, Rebirth, and last year's I Am Not a Human Being. So this could be a return to form, although it's yet to generate a hit single.
Vanessa Carlton - Rabbits on the Run (June 21). Remember "A Thousand Miles" from 2002? That was from Carlton's first album--this is her fourth.
Weird Al Yankovic - Alpocalypse (June 21). The king of pop music parody releases his 13th album, his first in 5 years. This time he takes on Lady Gaga ("Perform This Way," "Polka Face"), T.I., White Stripes and Taylor Swift, among others.
Limp Bizkit - Gold Cobra (June 28). Sixth album.