Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto (Oct. 24).
No doubt this is the biggest fall release, if not for me personally than for the industry generally. Anticipation began building in earnest in June with the release of the album's advance single, "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall." Reminiscent of their recent #1 hit, "Viva la Vida," the upbeat track whetted appetites for more of the band's signature swirl of bright, tuneful melodies. A couple of other tracks released later that month signaled perhaps a different direction: the markedly darker "Major Minus" and the markedly melancholy "Moving to Mars." The band has hinted that these tracks may or may not make the cut to the album, but have confirmed that the album's first "official" single will be "Paradise," out in September. Once again the band worked with longtime U2 producer Brian Eno.
Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (Oct. 25).
Like Coldplay, Kelly Clarkson is putting out her fifth studio album this year. I'm expecting it to sound a lot like her last album, 2009's All I Ever Wanted, which was a winning mix of upbeat and ballad pop that helped Clarkson recover from the commercial stumble of her gutsy 2007 album, My December. First single, "Mr Know It All" is already out at radio. As produced by Brian Kennedy, Ester Dean and Brett James--a group that has been involved with a diverse list of hits from Katy Perry's "Firework" to Rihanna's "Rude Boy" to Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel"--it's a pleasingly assertive melody for Clarkson.
Lady Antebellum - Own the Night (Sept 13).
Although Taylor Swift is the biggest country-crossover star at the moment, Lady Antebellum made a strong case for second fiddle with their second album, last year's Need You Now, which nabbed a Grammy Album of the Year nomination and scored a monster hit with "Need You Now," which went on to win both the Record and Song of the Year Grammys. So, no pressure to get it right again on this third album. So far, they seem up to the task: it's first single, "Just a Kiss," became their fifth country #1, although it did not crossover to the pop chart.
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (Oct. 17).
The question of who was the real creative force behind Oasis--if you don't think it hasn't been answered yet--may become even clearer this year as former member Noel Gallagher follows his former bandmates' new group, Beady Eye, by releasing his solo effort. Beady Eye's album Different Gear, Still Speeding, although generally well-reviewed, wasn't exactly a major hit, and Noel's absence was definitely noticed by many. So how will Noel sound on his own? Pretty good on first single, "The Death of You and Me," which finds Gallagher in his typically Beatles-esque songwriting mode. The album will include "Stop the Clocks," an unreleased Oasis track for which their 2006 hits compilation was named.
Estelle - All of Me (TBD).
British R&B/hip-hop performer Estelle has really taken her time with her third album, All of Me, the follow-up to her breakthrough second album, Shine (2008), which spawned the international hit "American Boy" with Kanye West. Singles that may appear on the album have been coming out since early 2010, such as the David Guetta-produced "Freak" with Kardinal Offishall, which interpolated Soul II Soul's '80s classic "Back to Life," and the upbeat, soulful "Fall in Love," which sounded an awful lot like "American Boy." I haven't seen a firm date for this yet, but it is rumored to be coming sometime before the end of the year.
Black Keys - TBD (TBD).
Also without firm information is the seventh studio album from blues rockers The Black Keys, the follow-up to their grand Brothers of last year. All I've heard about this is that the songs are going to be really fast, so much so that the band's worried about playing them live. Sounds cool.
Kasabian - Velociraptor (Sept. 19).
British rock band Kasabian has continued to ride an upward trajectory. Their third and most recent album, 2009's West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, was a Mercury Prize nominee, Q Magazine's best album of 2009 and double-platinum in Britain. It also delivered the #3 hit "Fire," the band highest-charting single. For this fourth album, the band has once again worked with American producer Dan the Automator. I haven't heard anything from this yet, although a few tracks have apparently surfaced. The first single, "Days Are Forgotten," will be released a week before the album.
Wilco - The Whole Love (Sept. 26).
Alternative band Wilco has been on my radar screen the last few years, ever since I became particularly taken by their sixth album, Sky Blue Sky (2007). It's self-titled follow-up from 2009 was less satisfying, but still worthwhile. For this eighth album, the band departed longtime label Nonesuch to release their first recording on their own label, dBpm. First single, "I Might," is fairly upbeat and tastefully retro with doses of '60s-styled guitar effects.
Nirvana - Nevermind 20th Anniversary Edition (Sept. 26).
A re-release makes my list of fall's most essential albums? When it's a remastered version of the most significant rock album released in my lifetime, then yes, it's a must. Nevermind has been remastered and greatly expanded with B-sides and live tracks, plus a second disc of additional studio and live material. A "super deluxe" version includes two more discs: one of the producer's rough cuts of the song and a second disc of live cuts.
Example - Playing in the Shadows (Sept. 5). British rapper-singer, hip-hop/dance artist Example releases his third album, featuring recent #1 hit "Changed the Way You Kiss Me" and new Nero-produced single, "Stay Awake."
Melanie C - The Sea (Sept. 5) - Although it may sound like it if you just hear its name, this is not a self-titled album. The former Spice Girl is up to album #5. Even if she's not a major chart name anymore, she's still enjoying the most enduring solo career of any of her former bandmates. First single, "Think About It" is a charged, upbeat affair that I imagine will sound quite nice on British radio.
Ladytron - Gravity the Seducer (Sept. 9). British synthpop group releases its fifth album, the follow-up to 2008's Velocifero.
The Kooks - Junk of the Heart (Sept. 12). English indie band, best known for their first albums' hits "Naive" and "She Moves in Her Own Way," return with their third album, the follow-up to 2008's Konk.
Ed Sheeran - + (Sept. 12). British singer-songwriter releases his debut featuring recent surprise hit "The A Team" and new single "You Need Me."
Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know (Sept. 12). English folk singer Laura Marling achieved a fair level of mainstream success with her second album, last year's winning I Speak Because I Can. Now she returns with her third album.
Demi Lovato - Unbroken (Sept. 20). The Disney star had her first major mainstream hit this summer with "Skyscraper." Expect Unbroken, her third solo album, to follow suit with a more mature although clearly pop-oriented sound, with production assists from the likes of Timbaland and Ryan Tedder.
Tori Amos - Night of Hunters (Sept. 20). Amos goes totally acoustic on her 12th album, a release coming from a German label.
James Morrison - The Awakening (Sept. 26). The British troubadour had his biggest hit yet about 2 years ago with his last album's second single, "Broken Strings," a collaboration with Nelly Furtado. This is his third album. Don't know much about it yet.
Blink-182 - Neighborhoods (Sept. 27). The pop-punk band has been missing for the last 5 or so years, but returns to release this sixth studio album, featuring current single "Up All Night."
Feist - Metals (Oct. 3). Canadian Feist broke out big in 2007 with her third album, The Reminder. Even though I wasn't bowled over by it, it had quite a few decent songs, like "1,2,3,4," which Feist remade into a kiddie version for her appearance on Sesame Street, and "Limit to Your Love," beautifully remade by James Blake earlier this year. Feist even appeared on the last Wilco album. The first single, "How Come You Never Go There," will be released in late September.
Erasure - Tomorrow's World (Oct. 3). Incredibly, Erasure are still making music. This is their 14th album! I actually rather like the first single, "When I Start to (Break It All Down)," which is already out. Frankmusik, whose own second album, Do It in the AM, is out September 26, is the producer.
You Me at Six - Sinners Never Sleep (Oct. 3). English rock band releases its third album.
Mary J. Blige - My Life II...The Journey Continues (Oct. 4). For her tenth studio album, Blige is billing this as a sequel to her 1994 album, My Life. According to the album's Wikipedia entry, she's collaborated with just about everybody to deliver it.
Radiohead - TKOL RMX 1234567 (Oct. 10). Radiohead gather up remixes from their latest album, The King of Limbs.
Bjork - Biophilia (Oct. 10). With Steve Jobs leaving Apple, the technology super-giant will need new starpower to sell its brand. Bjork will attempt to do so with her seventh album, which was recorded, in part, using an iPad and will reportedly be billed as an "app album."
Steps - The Ultimate Collection (Oct. 10). If you already own Gold, their pretty comprehensive 2001 greatest hits set, then there's little point in this, which is pretty much the same lineup except it offers "You'll Be Sorry," "I Know Him So Well" and "Dancing Queen" instead of "Baby Don't Dance," "Words Are Not Enough" and "Only in My Dreams."
Evanescence (Oct. 11). There was a time this band was huge, back in 2003-2004 when they had massive hits with "Bring Me to Life" and "My Immortal." Seven years later, they aren't exactly a household name anymore, and it's been 5 years since they've put out anything. First single "What You Want" is already out. It's on the harder end of what we've heard from the band. Reminds me a lot of Linkin Park.
Patrick Stump - Soul Punk (Oct. 17). Fall Out Boy's lead singer goes solo, turning more towards pop for this debut. First single, "This City," featuring rapper Lupe Fiasco, is already out and it sounds great. Looking forward to this.
Taio Cruz - Troublemaker (Oct. 17). The man behind recent super-hits "Break Your Heart" and "Dynamite" puts out his third album. I'm a little surprised nothing has appeared on radio from this yet though, which signals to me that it might be pushed back.
Matt Cardle - Letters (Oct. 17). Like clockwork, last year's X Factor winner will release his debut album this fall. First single, the Gary Barlow-penned "Run for Your Life" will accompany it.
Drake - Take Care (Oct. 24). Canadian R&B singer Drake releases his second album, featuring first single "Headlines," already a top 40 hit in the US.
Justice - Audio, Video, Disco (Oct. 25) French electronic group who scored the hit "D.A.N.C.E." off their first album, Cross, returns with a second.
Florence + the Machine (Nov. 7). Second album from the one-time indie singer who scored quite a few hits from her first album, Lungs (most notably"Dog Days Are Over," "Rabbit Heart" and "You've Got the Love"). First single, "What the Water Gave Me," is already out.
Olly Murs (TBD). All I know about this second album from Murs will feature recent #1 hit "Heart Skips a Beat," but otherwise no details yet.
Pixie Lott (Nov. 7). Also putting out a second album, featuring new single "All About Tonight."
The Wanted (Nov. 7). Also putting out a second album, featuring recent #1 hit "Glad You Came" and Comic Relief single "Gold Forever."
Maverick Sabre (Nov. 7). Debut album for the British singer/rapper and parent album of his recent hit single "Let Me Go."
JLS (TBD). Third album, featuring recent #1 hit "She Makes Me Wanna."
Leona Lewis - Glassheart (Nov. 28). After a somewhat disappointing reception for her second album, Echo (2009), Lewis tries again with this third album, featuring Avicii-
Loick Essien - Identity (TBD). His debut, featuring recent British #2 hit "How We Roll."
Westlife - Greatest Hits II (TBD). Their first hits compilation, 2002's Unbreakable, spanned the group's first 3 years and featured 11 UK #1s. By comparison, during the last 9 years for which this set will span, they've only had 3 #1s ("Mandy," "You Raise Me Up" and "The Rose"), but nevertheless those plus their 8 other top 10 hits during that time and a sprinkling of new tracks should be enough to make this worthwhile for fans.