Seriously though, September and October are shaping up to be a big time for returning artists and sophomore efforts with a debut in there for good measure. To say I'm excited is an understatement. So enough with the small talk - let's get right to the albums I'm really looking forward to, and writing about so that you can get excited for them as well, in this month and the next.
Two Door Cinema Club - "Beacon"
Yes, I realize that the timing of the post means that this album is already out. But it still needed to be included on here because, well, honestly I've been meaning to write this post for a while. Two Door Cinema Club uses soaring vocals atop light guitar resulting in relax mode at some times and jam session at others. In a former blog of mine, I listed their debut, Tourist History, in my top 5 albums of 2010 so the sophomore effort is one I have been looking forward to for a while. My first tastes of it this week have not been disappointing with lead single "Sleep Alone" keeping the chill / jam vibe going strong.
Listen to: Sleep Alone
The xx - "Coexist"
I have to admit that I had a love / hate relationship with the self-titled debut album from The xx. I wasn't a big fan of "Crystalized" but was a an admirer of "Islands." With that, I never really gave the rest of the album a shot. But on the suggestion of a friend of mine, I checked out the sophomore release, Coexist (now streaming on NPR), and was blown away. The xx is a band I had been sleeping on and, ironically given the oozing melodic tone on the records, I have now woken up.
Listen to: Angels
The Avett Brothers - "The Carpenter"
I can't say I've been a fan of The Avett Brothers for their entire career, but I can say I really liked I And Love And You. I'm still slow to the folk game, but it's artists like these guys that are making me embrace it. Thanks to NPR again, I've already listened to The Carpenter and I am already in love.
Listen to: Live and Die
G.O.O.D. Music - "Cruel Summer"
In 2010, Kanye West brought us My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. In 2011, he teamed with Jay Z for Watch the Throne. Now, 2012 will bring Cruel Summer, a compilation of artists from his G.O.O.D. music label. Four songs have already been released, including "Cold (Theraflu)" and "Mercy." While I'm not a fan of every artist on that particular label, any new music from Yeezy is good enough for me.
Listen to: Cold (Theraflu)
Lupe Fiasco - "Food & Liquor Part 2: The Great American Rap Album Part 1"
Lupe Fiasco isn't your average rap artist, which is sad. If the genre had more Lupe's it would be better off. Unfortunately, labels don't want to go with what isn't selling and an attempt to market Fiasco's style into something more radio-friendly with L.A.S.E.R.S. was an experiment with negative results. Enter tracks like "Around My Way (Freedom Ain't Free)" and "Bad Bitch" and Lupe seems to be back to form on his upcoming release. Hopefully this long-titled album will be the shot in the arm that hip hop needs.
Listen to: Bad Bitch
Green Day - "¡Uno!"
At this point you shouldn't really need the history lesson on Green Day. Just know this: the first in a planned trilogy of releases over the next few months is off to a fun start. Not everyone is a fan, but I for one love "Kill the DJ" and the live version of "Let Yourself Go" keeps my anticipations for this album high. After two concept albums, I'm ready to just press play and rock out again.
Listen to: Kill the DJ
Mumford and Sons - "Babel"
I'm not sure how I feel about "I Will Wait," the first single released off Babel, the follow-up to Sigh No More - another release I put in my top 5 for 2010. On one hand, it has the signature sound of the band but at the same time it sounds like something they made for radio. Not much else has been released, save for a possible studio recording of "Ghosts." It still sounds like it's going to be at least half as good as Sigh, and that is all I can ask for.
Listen to: I Will Wait
No Doubt - "Push and Shove"
An album that I've had on previous year's "Most Anticipated" lists, the comeback album for No Doubt is finally seeing the light of day. The first two songs to be released - "Settle Down" and the title track - sound less Tragic Kingdom and more Rock Steady, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. What both albums had in common is that they were both fun and that's what Push and Shove is shaping up to be.
Listen to: Push and Shove
Muse - "The 2nd Law"
At this point, I think the only thing we can expect from Muse's sixth studio album is that we don't know what to expect. There have been hints of dubstep, hints of opera-style flare and lead-single "Madness" combines multiple genres. Admittedly, I hated that song the first time I heard it. Three or four listens later and I'm in love. I should never doubt Muse and will probably be pleased when The 2nd Law rings in October.
Listen to: Madness
Matt and Kim - "Lightning"
The duo of Matt and Kim have always been an act where I like a few of their songs, but can never get into the full albums. Maybe the third time will be a charm with Lightning. So far, that's the case with "Let's Go" and "Now." Both are glitzy, catchy and fun - the elements that have defined Matt and Kim for the past few years. Here's to expecting more of the same.
Listen to: Let's Go
Bad Books - "II"
Going back to my top 5 list from 2010 once again, the self-titled effort from Bad Books finished in my top 3. The collaboration from members of Manchester Orchestra and singer-songwriter Kevin Devine was much better than what could have been expected. At times using elements of folk, others straight acoustic, the side project uses the best of both worlds. If the branching out of "Forest Whitaker" is any indication, we are in for a nice follow up.
Listen to: Forest Whitaker
Anberlin - "Vital"
Let's just say that 2010's Light is the Way, Dark is the Place wasn't Anberlin's best work. So the announcement of a new album, the sixth album from the band, was met with some hesitation. However, two songs in and I can officially say I am more than excited. Anberlin is one band where I will pull my hipster card and say that I have been a fan for a number of years and have watched them grow, albeit with some pains. Here's hoping they pull it all together and Vital shows what the band is truly capable of.
Listen to: Self-Starter
Ben Gibbard - "Former Lives"
"Death Cab for Cutie frontman releases solo album" - that's pretty much all you have to say and the album will sell itself. And that's all I can really say about this release. Last year's Codes and Keys was much better in my opinion that people gave it credit for, but that was the whole band. It will be interesting to see how Gibbard does by himself.
Listen to: Teardrop Windows
Kendrick Lamar - "good kid m.A.A.d city"
Kendrick Lamar is an artist I'm looking to break out in the fall of 2012. He has a kind of rap that I first want to dismiss as radio filler, but I'm finding myself hooked on his tracks. The fact that he had Dr. Dre on one of his first radio singles probably helped a little bit. In a year that hasn't really been a strong one for hip hop, a strong debut could be just what the game needs.
Listen to: Swimming Pools (Drank)
Gary Clark Jr. - "Cary Clark Jr."
Earlier this year a friend and I were having a conversation about The Black Keys and The Alabama Shakes when the name Gary Clark Jr. popped up. After a few listens, his style - retro soul mixed with modern rock - became an instant favorite. After a couple EPs, his proper self-titled will be out this fall and hopefully everyone else will get a chance to see why Clark was a favorite among music festivals over the summer.
Listen to: Don't Owe You A Thang
Taylor Swift - "Red"
I'm kind of glad Taylor Swift's new album comes out at the end of October. That way, I could put it at the end of this list. Otherwise, people may have stopped reading as I would have lost all credibility if she were mentioned earlier. Everyone has a guilty pleasure - Taylor Swift is mine.
Listen to: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together