With Yeezus season behind us, we can now focus on autumn’s real raison d’être: fuzzy cardigans and new albums. Fall (or “Q3” if you’re wearing wing tips right now) is always fertile ground for what ends up being the best albums of the year. These are the last minute entries for the 56th Annual GRAMMY awards, who close their doors to nominations on September 30. These are the albums artists want fresh on magazines’ minds when sorting out their end-of-year lists. These are the big name releases that will get sales through the holiday season. There’s are final-chance efforts from legacy pop stars, and long-awaited debuts from rappers. There’s an already-famous Swedish duo finally getting their party anthems to the states, a Beatle coming back new, and, of course, #BANGERZ.
These are the 30 albums Radio.com can’t wait to hear:
Drake – Nothing Was The Same (9/24, OVO Sound)
It’s the revenge of Wheelchair Jimmy as Drake stands head and shoulders above the entire hip hop game right now. The anticipation for his third full-length is so high that it leaked more than a week early, with fans and critics alike already lauding it as the sensitive thug’s best work yet. From the controversy-generating “Wu-Tang Forever” to hit single “Started from the Bottom,” Nothing Was The Same could very well have hip hop’s best opening week sales numbers of the 2013.
Krewella – Get Wet (9/24, Columbia)
Krewella is quickly putting to rest any rumors that they’re just eye candy choreographed to an EDM beat. With their major label signing and laundry list of sold out shows this fall, their first full-length album is already turning out bangers like “Alive” and “Living For The Night.” It doesn’t hurt that Travis Barker and Fall Out Boy‘s Patrick Stump assisted on the track “Dancing With The Devil.”
Icona Pop – This is…Icona Pop (9/24, Atlantic)
Icona Pop is here to fill that gaping Robyn-sized hole in your heart. The Swedish pop duo’s debut, which yes, does feature their Charli XCX-assisted monster hit “I Love It,” is filled with dance ready beats (the love drunk “We Got the World”), wacky synths (“Then We Kiss”) and sing along choruses (the Tupac-appropriating “Girlfriend.”) It’s enough to release the ‘90s b**** in all of us.
Cher – Closer to the Truth (9/24, Warner Brothers)
There’s no reinventing Cher. But with her new platinum hair and her first album in 12 years, making this her — wait for it — twenty-sixth studio album, she’s got one good last shot at it. At 67, and with a three times the career of Katy Perry or Lady Gaga and six decades worth of chart hits, she said it herself in a recent interview: “This is as good as I’m ever going to do.” With age comes wisdom, beauty, and hopefully truth.
Sting – The Last Ship (9/24, Cherry Tree/Interscope)
If the following sentence doesn’t make you roll your eyes and hope for another Police album, this new record might be your pick for the fall: “The album is inspired by Sting‘s forthcoming play [which] explores the central themes of homecoming and self-discovery, drawing upon his memories of growing up in the shadow of the Swan Hunters Shipyard in Wallsend.” Oh yeah, Brian Johnson from AC/DC guests on it. For reals. What do those guys have in common? Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame class of ’03, ya’ll!
Jason Derulo – Tattoos (9/24, Beluga Heights/Warner Brothers)
Jason Derulo had a monster comeback this year. His debut single “The Other Side,” was the No. 1 added song at Top 40 radio this year. His UK single “Talk Dirty,” which features 2 Chainz, (also on the album) turns up the heat with a hypnotizing Balkan beat and sultry horn interludes. Derulo promises Tattoos will be a roller coaster ride, just don’t expect him to be singing his name as he has retired doing that.
Kings of Leon – Mechanical Bull (9/24, RCA)
What do you get when four drunk southern millionaires record rock music in a barn? Mechanical Bull. Will the disc have big crowd pleasers? If “Supersoaker” is any indication, you can bet the farm on it.
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2 (9/30, RCA)
Fans have waited seven years for new music from Justin Timberlake and he’s giving them something very special: two albums in one year. The king of lengthy tracks, JT’s The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2 promises much more from the singer. His sexy lead single “Take Back the Night,” which showcases his familiar falsetto and club-ready beats, clocks in at nearly six minutes and that’s not even the longest track — album closer “Not a Bad Thing” is nearly eleven-and-a-half minutes. But, we trust producer Timbaland’s word: “You would not see this coming. It will come like a thief in the night. Surprise!”
Danny Brown – Old (9/30 Fool’s Gold)
Detroit’s current king of oral-sex-centric-rap is ready to terrify parents and delight his fan base with the long-awaited release of his third studio album, preceded by such tracks as “ODB” and “Side A (Old).” Generating a new wave of followers with a slew of high-energy festival performances this year, Danny Brown’s multivalent mic skills and in-your-face persona has made him indie rap’s favorite anti-hero of the moment.
Miley Cyrus – #BANGERZ (10/4, RCA)
Girl, you better twerk. Cyrus’s set up (VMA performance & record breaking music videos) for this album has captivated the attention of the world. We can’t wait to see her come of age all over this full length album.
Haim – Days Are Gone (10/1, Columbia)
They’re not out to prove girls rock, they’re just out to rock. This sister trio have been one of the most hotly followed acts of 2013 and their full length is sure not to disappoint. Plus, they’re the first female rock act signed to Jay Z’s Roc Nation. Now that’s an endorsement.
Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals (10/8, Mom & Pop)
Bailing on a Rhodes Scholarship to jump into the tumultuous music business with someone she’d met at a restaurant, singer Alexis Krauss has proven she’s in it to win it. For their third full-length, Krauss and band founder Derek Miller have said they’re pulling back on the noise and are aiming straight for big hooks and hummable melodies. Do we want this duo’s tunes to be more accessible to the masses? Sure, but let’s hope they stop short of an American Idol appearance.
Pusha T – My Name Is My Name (10/8, Def Jam)
Seven years after Clipse’s tectonic Hell Hath No Fury, and a year or so after some also-ran mixtapes, Pusha T finally steps up with a proper LP. Featuring production mostly by G.O.O.D. Music associate Kanye West (along with a quiver of A-list producers) and featuring Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Pharrell and like literally eight or nine more, it’s one of the most anticipated rap releases of 2013. Does Pusha still got the keys that can unlock ya?
Joe Nichols – Crickets (10/12, Broken Bow Records)
With Crickets, his eighth studio album, country star Joe Nichols is making a fresh start. Working with a new label, the “Brokenheartsville” singer isn’t abandoning the traditionally minded sound on which he built his reputation–it’s too deeply ingrained in his soul. But alongside tracks like “Old School Country Song” and Haggard cover “Footlights,” Nichols proves open to exploring fresh new turf this time around, coupled with a bright, positive attitude, one that practically bursts from the chorus of his current hit “Sunny and 75.”
Tyler Farr – Redneck Crazy (10/15, Columbia)
Tyler Farr got his start writing songs for other artists, most notably “She’s Just Like That” for Joe Nicols and “Hey Y’all” for Colt Ford. Farr’s current single “Redneck Crazy” became his first Top 10 hit and if the constant radio spins are any indication, his debut album promises to do the same.
The Head and The Heart – Let’s Be Still (10/15, Sub Pop)
One look at the cover (and the title) to The Head and The Heart‘s sophomore album and you can guess that this will be tailor-made for empty autumn days. The folk rock duo duo (with plenty of friends backing them up) were pulled up from open mic nights by Sub Pop for their 2011 debut, which sported several great lolling tunes, especially “Down In The Valley”. Their next one could really carpe the diem, especially with Lumineers and Mumford & Sons in between album cycles.
Paul McCartney – New (10/15, Concord)
It should come as no surprise that Paul McCartney‘s musical talents don’t recognize genre barriers. Electronic music? Check: he did it with his Fireman project and his collab with Bloody Beetroots. Classical: see his Ocean’s Kingdom score. Pop standards? Check: 2012’s Kisses On The Bottom. Blues-metal? “Cut Me Some Slack,” from bro Dave Grohl’s Sound City project. Now, with the help of producers Mark Ronson, Ethan Johns, Giles Martin (son of Sir George) and Paul Epworth, he returns to his solo career.
Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt (10/15, Republic)
In the years since Pearl Jam last released an album, Eddie Vedder did an album on a ukulele, Jeff Ament dressed up in orange and made and album with Joseph Arthur under the name RNDM, and Matt Cameron reunited with Soundgarden (he is a member of both bands). Lightning Bolt‘s first single and video, “Mind Your Manners,” recalls “Do The Evolution” and shows their punk rock roots more than their last album or two did.
The Avett Brothers – Magpie and the Dandelion (10/15, Republic)
After a long string of acclaimed albums, recording with Rick Rubin, and even performing alongside Bob Dylan on the GRAMMYs, where will North Carolina folk/rock/country group The Avett Brothers turn for their next release? As they explained to Radio.com earlier this summer, 2012’s Rubin-helmed The Carpenter was “the first installment” and new album Magpie and the Dandelion is “the other part.” This time, they said, the songs were less “distracted” and “jumbled,” though any changes from their previous sound will be “subtle,” “honest” and “natural.”
AFI – Burials (10/22, Republic)
Nope, they’re not dead. Not even close. The boys from the Bay Area are back in the saddle after a four year detour that took members on various solo efforts. The legion of AFI-tattoo adorned devotees are poised to put down the razor and head back to Hot Topic for another dose Prozac-like pain reduction in the form the 13 track Burials.
Katy Perry – PRISM (10/22, Capital Music Group )
Katy Perry ditched her goth premise in favor of making a Swedish dance album inspired by Robyn and nights out with her bestie DJ Mia Moretti. Falling for John Mayer may have hit Katy harder than divorcing Russell Brand and the signs are all over her rainbows and love drenched third album.
Kelly Clarkson – Wrapped In Red (10/25, RCA)
Don’t you wish that Kelly Clarkson would sing “Please Come Home For Christmas” for you? Well, unless your name is Brandon Blackstock, it probably ain’t gonna happen. So get her new Christmas album, and fantasize to your heart’s delight. It features a bunch of Christmas classics, and Kells wrote a few new holiday songs as well. Guests include Reba and Trisha (no last names necessary there).
Thomas Rhett – It Goes Like This (10/25, Big Machine Records)
Thomas Rhett is the man behind many of the hit singles you’ve heard on the radio: Jason Aldean‘s “1994,” Lee Brice‘s “Parking Lot Party” and Florida Georgia Line‘s recent No. 1 “Round Here.” It’s hard to believe he has yet to release his debut album. Having had success with previous singles of his own, “Something to Do with My Hands,” “Beer with Jesus,” and current Top 10 hit “It Goes Like This,” Rhett’s It Goes Like This promises 12 radio friendly tracks that are bound to make us all sing along.
Arcade Fire- Reflektor (10/29, Merge)
According to Win Butler, Arcade Fire’s new double LP is a mash-up of “Studio 54 and Haitian voodoo music.” We have no idea what that actually means. But if the rest of the songs on the James Murphy-produced Reflektor are even half as good as the album’s already released title track, we’ll let those Canadians define their fourth record any weird way they want.
Sky Ferreira – Night Time, My Time (10/29, Capitol)
With her manic pixie dream girl looks and deep throaty voice, Sky Ferreira won us over with her 2012 EP, Ghost. Now she’s finally putting out her debut, which from the looks of the song titles—“Heavy Metal Heart,” “I Blame Myself,” “Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)”—might be on the darker side. Here’s to hoping this is the goth pop album that Katy Perry wished she could have made.
Lady Gaga – ARTPOP (11/1, Interscope)
Nothing Lady Gaga does is subtle. Case in point, her Warholian new release that isn’t only an album but an interactive app too. But will she get that applause she’s been singing about for her fine arts influenced new style? We’ll have to wait and see.
Eminem – Marshall Mathers LP 2 (11/5, Interscope)
The real Slim Shady is back, as Eminem takes it back to the year 2000 with the sequel to his legendary third album, The Marshall Mathers LP. Early indications point towards MMLP2 coming with less uplifting anthems like 2010 hit, “Not Afraid,” and more of the caustic and controversial rhymes that made him famous. Already garnering accolades for the Rick Rubin-produced first single, “Berzerk,” and cracking up fans with a spaced-out interview during Saturday Night Football, Eminem “Stans” are sure to make MMLP2 the biggest rap album since, well, Drake’s new record.
M.I.A. – Matangi (11/5, Mercury Records)
The agitprop provocateur might have overshadowed the afterglow of her sleeper 2008 hit, “Paper Planes,” with truffle fries and the middle-finger-heard-around-the-world while performing with Madonna during XLVI, but she’s is ready to make a musical comeback with her fourth studio album. Early singles “Bring the Noize” and “Only 1 U” finds her back to the multi-national beat bombast of fan favorites like Kala, while “Come Walk with Me” reveals a kinder, gentler M.I.A. among the chaos.
R. Kelly – Black Panties Album (11/11, RCA)
Will it be “Genius”? Our minds are telling us no. But our bodies, our bodies — well you get it. Black Panties will bring the count to 12 sexualized LPs for Kells, and what with R&B having a new renaissance lately, he’s not going to dip too far back in the Steppin days of his previous albums Love Letter and Write Me Back. He says it’s “the new 12 Play” referring to his debut album. He originally said he named 12 Play that because he wanted it to be better than just regular foreplay? Talk about anticipation for this one…
One Direction – Midnight Memories (11/11, Columbia)
Their boy band dominance won’t be stopped. On the heels of their documentary film, One Direction will release their third album in less than two years because you’ve gotta feed the beast. No collaborations have been announced, but we’ll be surprised if Ed Sheeran doesn’t sneak another track onto this one. Don’t count on any Taylor Swift diss tracks, though.
By Courtney Smith, Shannon Carlin, Annie Reuter, Jeremy D. Larson, Jay Tilles, Kurt Wolff, Brian Ives, Scott T Sterling