September is always a big month for album releases, but frankly, the back-to-school class of 2010 is just ridiculous. The onslaught of great, new music began last week with Robyn and Interpol and will carry through the end of the month, when indie favorites (Deerhunter, No Age) and platinum-selling rappers (T.I., Young Jeezy) alike will put out much-anticipated records. And don’t even get us started on September 14 – when no fewer than 16 exciting new full-lengths and EPs will hit the street. Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry – we’ve compiled this handy week-by-week list of which releases deserve your attention and why, along with downloads, videos, and streams so you can try before you buy.
Interpol – s/t (Matador)
Why: We’ve adored this upbeat Philly rock trio since their 2008 debut and are glad to see them back for round two. After seeing them on Letterman earlier this month, we’re crossing our fingers that their ship has come in.StreamEverything Under the Sun in its entirety here.
Robyn – Body Talk Pt 2 (Konichiwa)
Why: The first installment of Robyn’s Body Talk series is one of our favorite albums of the year so far. At this point, we’d listen to anything with her name on it.Watch: “Hang With Me”
The Thermals – Personal Life (Kill Rock Stars)
Why: They may not be the biggest buzz band on the block, but Portland, OR’s Thermals have never made an album we didn’t enjoy. On recent records, they’ve dealt with religious dystopia (2006’s The Body, The Blood, The Machine ) and death Now We Can See). Their fifth full-length is all about love and its discontents.StreamPersonal Life in its entirety here.
Also of note: Sam Prekop – Old Punch Card
, Oval – O
Andrew Cedermark – Moon Deluxe (Underwater Peoples) Why: A former Titus Andronicus member strikes out on his own, with a pretty, layered guitar record released by one of our favorite newish labels — Underwater Peoples are also responsible for Ducktails, Tennis, and Mountain Man. Download: “Moon Deluxe” and “Hard Livin'”
Black Milk – Album of the Year (Fat Beats/Decon)Why:With Definitive Jux either dormant or dead, where can we find great, weird hip hop that doesn’t get much radio play? Look no further than Black Milk, an eclectic and massively talented producer whose rapid-fire delivery always manages to keep up with the beats.StreamAlbum of the Year in its entirety here.
Blonde Redhead – Penny Sparkle (4AD)Why: With every new album, Blonde Redhead sheds more of its rough edges. And while we miss their Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons-era weirdness, we’ve certainly missed their deep, dark melodies in the three years since their last release.StreamPenny Sparkle in its entirety here.
Fucked Up – Year of the Ox EP (Merge)
Why:Post-hardcore visionaries Fucked Up can’t miss, so while we wait for the full-length follow-up to 2008’s genre-exploding The Chemistry of Common Life, we’ll settle for this searing new EP, 2010’s entry in the band’s yearly Zodiac series.Watch:Fucked Up and Duchess Says’ Annie-Claude Deschenes perform “Year of the Ox”
Grinderman – Grinderman 2 (ANTI-)
Why:Nick Cave may be juggling his Bad Seeds and a writing career in addition to Grinderman, but the early material we’ve heard from the Aussie legend’s new album suggests he’s hardly spreading himself too thin. And the video stuff is just as weird and wonderful as you could hope for.Watch:“Heathen Child”
September 14 (continued)
Justin Townes Earle – Harlem River Blues (Bloodshot)
Why:Like his daddy, Steve, Justin Townes Earle owes more to classic roots music than to CMT’s mass-produced pop-country. We love his affable demeanor (he’s a great performer and one hell of a charmer) and couldn’t get enough of his last album, the lovely Midnight at the Movies.StreamHarlem River Blues in its entirety here.
Les Savy Fav – Root for Ruin (Frenchkiss)
Why:Veteran Brooklyn indie-rock barn burners are back in full force and, according to Tiny Mix Tapes, “slipping sex into the too often neutered indie rock conversation.” What’s not to like?Download:“Let’s Get Out of Here”
of Montreal – False Priest (Polyvinyl)
Why:We’ve been listening to False Priest for a few weeks already, and it may just be our favorite album of the year so far. Kevin Barnes and producer have worked out a style that fits of Montreal like a sequined glove. Although Prince and Bowie loom large over the record, Barnes’ esoteric, referential indie-pop keeps the mix fresh and original. Plus, Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles contribute some fantastic guest vocals.StreamFalse Priest in its entirety here. We recommend starting with “Enemy Gene” and “Sex Karma.”
Prince Rama – Shadow Temple (Paw Tracks)
Why:For those who seek out indie rock’s spiritual side, this Animal Collective-approved psych-rock sister act has more buzz than a triple espresso.Download:“Lightning Fossil”
The Vaselines – Sex with an X (Sub Pop)
Why:When Kurt Cobain’s favorite band – and all-around Scottish indie-pop royalty – release their first album in two decades, we drop everything and listen. Although we worried this would be another disappointing reunion record, our early impression is a favorable one.Watch:“Sex with an X”
Weezer – Hurley (Epitaph)
Why:Because we keep holding out hope that we’ll get the Weezer of Pinkerton back from the clutches of the Raditude Weezer. Also, we’re Lost fans. If someone names an album after one of our favorite characters, we’ll at least give it a listen.Stream Hurley in its entirety here.
See also: Superchunk – Majesty Shredding
Flying Lotus – Pattern + Grid World EP (Warp) Why: Galvanizing a sizable fan base around experimental electronic music isn’t easy in 2010, but Flying Lotus managed to do it on this year’s spacey Cosmogramma. His newest EP brings everything back down to Earth, taking things down a peg from the album’s grand scale without losing the power of his beats. Stream: “Camera Day”
Frankie Rose & the Outs – s/t (Slumberland)
Why: Frankie Rose is a serious indie It Girl, boasting stints in Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and Crystal Stilts. What she’s doing is a little lusher and less rough around the edges than the various bands whose name end in “Girls,” and judging by the delicate harmonies we’ve heard so far, we wouldn’t be surprised if she were the most talented of the bunch.Download:“Little Brown Haired Girls”
Future Islands – Undressed EP (Thrill Jockey)
Why: In a year that has already brought us Future Islands’ dark, synthy, cathartic breakthrough In Evening Air, this more intimate, relaxed acoustic EP spanning some of the band’s favorite tracks feels like a gift.StreamUndressed in its entirety here.
How to Dress Well – Love Remains (Lefse)
Why: Deconstructed ’90s R&B from a freakily prolific German/Brooklynite? It sounds like a horrible gimmick, but somehow, it actually works. Well before putting out a debut release, How to Dress Well has garnered breathless coverage from not only your Pitchforks and your Stereogums but also The New York Times.Watch: “Lover’s Start”
John Legend & the Roots – Wake Up! (Columbia)
Why: Legend and The Roots are versatile musicians that bridge multiple genres, and the latter in particular just never seems to miss. What we’ve heard so far confirms that they’ve got a fun and varied collaborating going.Stream: “Shine”
“Hard Times” (feat. Black Thought)
See also: Abe Vigoda – Crush
Ben Folds and Nick Hornby – Lonely Avenue (Nonesuch)Why:Now that he’s no longer topping the charts, piano man Ben Folds has become a hell of a lot more interesting. (Remember his Chatroulette song?) We’re excited to see him team up with Nick Hornby, the High Fidelity author who has been contributing the lyrics for Lonely Avenue. Judging by what we’ve heard so far, it looks like it’s going to be funny.Watch:Ben Folds, Nick Hornby, and Pomplamoose – “Things You Think”
Why: If the string of awesome videos leading up to the album’s release hasn’t sold you yet, how about the list of collaborators? Can you name another album this year that boasts contributions from Q-Tip, Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon, Ghostface Killah, Spankrock, Boy George, D’Angelo, and the London Gay Men’s Chorus?Watch: “Bang Bang Bang”
No Age – Everything in Between (Sub Pop)
Why: Dean Spunt and Randy Randall are back, to remind 2010’s chillwave bros that good lo-fi music doesn’t have to be dead inside. From Weirdo Rippers to Nouns, No Age has shown a knack for innovating without scrapping the scruffy aesthetics that make them great. So far, Everything in Between seems like another gorgeously messy step in the band’s evolution.Download: “Glitter”
T.I. – King Uncaged (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
Why: Because it’s his first album since getting out of the slammer. Because he (along with his wife) was recently arrested again , so who knows how long it’ll take before we hear anything new from him. Because the damn thing keeps getting delayed and we’re hoping it will finally come out this time. Because he’s sitting next to a freaking lion on the album cover.Download:“Ya Hear Me”
Young Jeezy – TM 103 (Corporate Thugz/Def Jam)
Why: Like King Uncaged, Young Jeezy’s TM 103 has been delayed forever. Like, since 2009. We appreciate the mixtapes, but come on – let’s get to the main event, which features guest spots by just about every major rapper, from Gucci Mane and Drake to Lil Wayne, Andre 3000, and Jay-Z.Download: Young Jeezy’s 1000 Grams mixtape