News Column

Fall music preview: Big names and big expectations

September 12, 2013


Sept. 12--This fall, music fans won't lack for new albums from beloved acts.

Between now and Christmas, the music industry is cranking out fresh music at what seems to be an accelerated pace: Nov. 5 alone, for example, features a half-dozen heavy-hitters releasing albums, any one of whom could anchor a release date on their own.

Nevertheless, buzz is swirling (moreso for some bands than others -- whodathunk Lady Gaga would have a tough time getting traction on radio?), and regardless of your preferred genre, there's a lot to look forward to in the last quarter of 2013. Here are 10 albums near the top of my wish list.

(Titles and release dates are correct as of press time.)

Chvrches, 'The Bones of What You Believe' (Sept. 24)

A South by Southwest standout, this Scottish synth-pop trio is poised to become one of the year's breakout indie acts on the strength of this, its debut LP. Produced by the band and repurposing a track from its razor-sharp EP Recover (released this year), The Bones of What You Believe glides along on vocalist Lauren Mayberry's gritty yet gossamer vocals and stylish, sinister club thump.

Drake, 'Nothing Was the Same' (Sept. 24)

If you, like so many others this summer, have been held captive by the sizzling drums and ferocious flow of Drake's single Started From the Bottom, you'll be glad to know it pops up here, on the Toronto native's third full-length effort. The man they call Drizzy has been working on Same for more than a year, enlisting help from big names (Jay-Z, 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, among others) to fashion the follow-up to his 2011 Grammy winner, Take Care.

He'll bring songs from all phases of his career to Dallas' American Airlines Center on Nov. 10.

Elton John, 'The Diving Board' (Sept. 24)

Having rejuvenated his sound by collaborating with Leon Russell and Fort Worth-raised producer T Bone Burnett on 2010's The Union, the iconic singer-songwriter reteamed with Burnett for his 30th (!) solo record. It's a vibrant return to form for the piano man, whose '10s output has been, put charitably, a tad erratic. Board, which again features Bernie Taupin's songwriting, is John's strongest collection since 2001's Songs From the West Coast and evokes the glory days of Tumbleweed Connection and his self-titled debut.

Haim, 'Days Are Gone' (Sept. 30)

Another buzz band on the verge of big things, this Los Angeles quartet -- three sisters and a drummer -- made a splash with its 2012 EP Forever. Haim fuses unlikely genres -- richly melodic, lo-fi garage pop with a sort-of gloss on new jack swing -- but the results are irresistible. Lead single The Wire could've just as easily come out in 1993 as 2013; if radio gets hold of this, look out.

Haim plays Trees on Oct. 8, in between weekends at this year's Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Randy Travis, 'Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am' (Oct. 1)

The past 12 months have been bumpy for Randy Travis. He survived a series of legal scrapes in 2012 only to find himself battling for his life this summer, after being diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy and suffering a stroke. Thankfully, the North Texas resident is out of the hospital and on the mend, with his 21st studio album ready for release. It's a backward glance of sorts, with Travis paying tribute to those who inspired him, like Merle Haggard, Ernest Tubb and Lefty Frizzell.

Pearl Jam, 'Lightning Bolt' (Oct. 15)

Hard to believe this band of Seattle rockers has been around for more than two decades, particularly when confronted with a sneering single such as Mind Your Manners. Time hasn't dulled Eddie Vedder and company's edge, and Lightning Bolt, Pearl Jam's first full-length in four years and its 10th studio LP overall, sounds suitably sharp.

Pearl Jam will play its first North Texas show in a decade Nov. 15 at American Airlines Center.

Katy Perry, 'Prism' (Oct. 22)

Following a monster smash like 2010's Teenage Dream is daunting, but if superstar Katy Perry is sweating, it doesn't show. Prism marks Perry's fourth studio album, and she enlisted some heavy-hitters (Diplo, Sia Furler, Greg Kurstin, Dr. Luke and Max Martin, to name a few) to help her realize tracks like the soaring first single, Roar. Reportedly, this time around, Perry is tackling "darker" material, which given her turbulent love life over the past couple years and her nonstop schedule, could make for more pop gold.

Arcade Fire, 'Reflektor' (Oct. 29)

Details are scarce about this Grammy-winning Canadian art-rock collective's hotly anticipated fourth LP, apart from it being produced in New York and Montreal with help from ex-LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy. Reportedly, the album features a cameo from avowed AF fan David Bowie, but what else Win Butler and his collaborators have up their collective sleeve will be unveiled only when he's good and ready.

Eminem, 'The Marshall Mathers LP 2' (Nov. 5)

For Slim Shady's first full-length since 2010's Grammy-winning Recovery, the peroxided rapper has gone back to the future. This sequel to his controversial, multiplatinum 2000 effort The Marshall Mathers LP (which gave the world sinister hits like Stan, The Way I Am and The Real Slim Shady) roared out of the gate with the Billy Squier-sampling Berzerk, produced by none other than Rick Rubin. If nothing else, the track's pretzel-like flow suggests that one of rap's greatest talents is ready to push himself again.

Lady Gaga, 'Artpop' (Nov. 11)

Has Mother Monster taken her eye off the ball? Judging from the lukewarm response to her third album's first single, Applause, it's possible that Lady Gaga has lost her grip on the zeitgeist. But perhaps she's just holding back the good stuff. She is taking a page from Bjork's book: In conjunction with the record's release, an interactive app will be released, inviting fans to dive into Gaga's meticulously art-directed world.

Preston Jones, 817-390-7713 Twitter: @prestonjones


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