The 8 Ball 09.21.13: Top 8 Anticipated Fall Albums
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 09.21.2013
From Eminem's The Marshal Mathers LP 2 and Pearl Jam's Lightning Bolt to Arcade Fire's Reflektor, Lady Gaga's Artpop and more, 411's Jeremy Thomas counts down the top 8 anticipated albums of fall 2013!
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Music Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, I will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!
Before you start reading, have you bookmarked 411Mania.com yet? It's the easiest thing in the world to do, and it'll get you your daily dose of entertainment news that much quicker! Typing the URL out in the address bar is such a pain, don'tcha think? Hell, make it your home page and it'll be that much easier for you!
Also, do you Twitter? If not, you should! And while you're at it, add these to your list of people that you follow so that you can get the latest updates!
Fall is here! The summer is no more and by the end of this weekend it will be autumn in a calendar sense as well as the already-present (at least in Oregon) weather sense. The fall season always brings a resurgence of new albums as music becomes the entertainment choice du jour leading into the holiday season. This week I thought we could look at the albums that are worth looking forward to the most for the next three months.
Caveat: Quite simply, if the album is releasing all the way up to December 21st (the first day of Winter), it was eligible. Can't get simpler than that!
Just Missing The Cut
• Alter Bridge - Fortress (October 15th)
• Joan Jett and the Blackhearts - Unvarnished (October 1st)
• Haim - Days Are Gone (September 27th)
• Iggy Azalea - The New Classic (October 8th)
• Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals (October 8th)
#8: M.I.A. - Matangi (November 5th)
First up on our list is an album that we've been waiting for for a year now. M.I.A.'s fourth studio album was originally set to be released late last year but it started getting hit with delay after delay, mostly in regard to conflicts with the artist's record label Interscope who the singer claimed considered the LP "too positive" and asked her to re-record portions; she countered with a threat to leak the album online unless it got a release date. That brings us to the current, when it has finally had a release date set for November 5th. The singer is coming off the back of a disappointing album in /\/\ /\ Y /\ (I hate writing that thing out) but found some redemption in her mixtape Vicki Leekx. And then of course there was the controversy of her flipping the bird at the 2012 Super Bowl. M.I.A. is someone who always has an interesting sound even if it doesn't work and while many people are down on her because of /\/\ /\ Y /\, they forget that she's still 2-1 in the win-loss column with the success of Arular and Kala. We've heard a few songs off of Matangi so far and "Bad Girls" is a fantastic piece of work, while "Come Walk With Me" and "Bring the Noize" are both solid if not quite brilliant. The singer seems motivated and has a fire behind her, which means I expect very good things from this album.
#7: Lady Gaga - Artpop (November 11th)
Lady Gaga is back with a vengeance after a bit of a reputational crash following Born This Way. Gaga has had a rough year, having cancelled her Born This Way Ball earlier in the year because of a serious hip injury that required surgery. She then kept things under the radar until the release of "Applause" last month when the Gaga hype went through the roof. Like M.I.A. Gaga appears to have motivation to prove her critics wrong after Born This Way was somewhat-less-warmly received than The Fame/The Fame Monster and the first single, "Applause," is frankly a tour de force of dance pop bravado. Love or hate Gaga, you have to say something for her and that is her commitment; she does nothing halfway and there is nothing about Artpop that suggests this will not be the same. Gaga has brought on some acclaimed producers of EDM for this project including Madeon and Zedd and some fascinating collaborators in T.I., Too Short and Twista. The album will be accompanied by a smartphone app for those interested in that, but for me it's all about the album and when she's got the fire in her, Gaga is the best in the dance-pop game. I would daresay the fire is there based on what we've seen thus far. Will it outsell Katy Perry's Prism? Perhaps not, but I almost guarantee it'll be the better album.
#6: Lorde - Pure Heroine (October 1st)
If you had asked most people who Lorde was two months ago, they would have no idea. The New Zealand-based singer/songwriter was a largely-unknown commodity who seemed on the verge of breaking out but hadn't yet done so. And then came "Royals," the first song off of both her EP The Love Club and her upcoming LP Royals. It was the perfect song for the summer, a release from the banality of that ridiculously catchy and yet terrible "Blurred Lines" or Miley's "We Can't Stop." Similar to how Australia's Gotye made "Somebody That I Used To Know" a surprise and welcome head last year, actually. But what's more is that for those who have been following her for a while, this is no surprise and her other work is just as good, if not better. This has set the stage for a potentially-huge LP in Pure Heroine, which releases on October 1st. Lorde has a Lana Del Rey vibe but without Del Rey's baggage and a somewhat more refreshing sound. I didn't expect this one to make my potential list of favorites for the year but at this point I could very easily see it.
#5: Pearl Jam - Lightning Bolt (October 15th)
Pearl Jam hasn't given us a new album in almost four years. The group's last one, Backspacer, made it out in 2009 and was the best-reviewed album the group has released since the turn of the century. That gives them a high bar to reach with Lightning Bolt. In the time between then and now, they have celebrated their twentieth anniversary as a group and released a documentary; which appears to have brought them a revitalized energy if their first couple of singles are any indication. "Mind Your Manners" is a punky number while "Sirens" is a very different sort of number, a more somber piece of music. Both of them are equally good and they add up to what looks to be an extremely diverse and thus interesting piece of work. The band has teamed up with Brendan O'Brien, who produced Backspacer and Vs, Vitology and No Code (i.e. most of their best albums) is back as a producer on this and frankly, there is nothing that seems even remotely like this won't be a top album in the venerable rock act's discography. I have zero doubt that this will be a serious winner and I can't wait.
#4: Wu-Tang Clan - A Better Tomorrow (November)
I really don't see how you can't be excited for this one if you're a rap/hip-hop fan at all. This is Wu-Tang Clan's sixth studio album and while a specific release date hasn't been set, it has been promised for November so I'm counting it for the list. A Better Tomorrow is the album that will mark and commemorate the legendary hip-hop group's twentieth anniversary. The group has had their ups and downs in personal relations over the years, but they appear to all be on the same page for this occasion and for an added bonus the LP will include tracks which feature vocal work from the late Ol' Dirty Bastard. While it's been a long time since we've heard a lot from them and the few tracks from this one that we've heard so far have all been top notch, making this a potential contender for hip-hop album of the year. Honestly, it would be an automatic potential contender just based on the talent inherent in Wu-Tang; the good stuff heard to date is just icing on the cake.
#3: Arcade Fire - Reflektor (October 29th)
Arcade Fire exploded into the music mainstream a couple of years back when The Suburbs became their breakout album, but as many indy rock fans know, they had been putting out great music for quite a while. Funeral and Neon Bible had been building their credibility with music fans well before August of 2010 brought the LP that would win them a Gramnmy for Album of the year. And since that album they've gone quiet, taking their time to craft their album to be exactly what they wanted it to be. And the first part of what they wanted that to be was unleashed on September 9th when the first single, "Reflektor," was unveiled. As if we didn't get to be excited enough, LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy has collaborated with the group for some tracks off what has been revealed as a double LP. The album has been described by Win Butler as a mix of "Studio 54 and Haitian voodoo music" and I'll be honest; I'd have this on this list strictly based on that description because I want to know what that is. But in the hands of Arcade Fire, that's something I am distinctly interested in hearing and actually have a lot of hope for.
#2: Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (November 5th)
Aw, c'mon. This has to be perhaps the most obvious choice for this list, even if it's not my #1. What do you really need to know here? Eminem is one of my favorite mainstream rappers and the reason for that is obvious. Eminem started a career resurgence with Recovery and while we learned last week during my Top 8 Eminem Music Videos column that there was a wide divergence of opinion on Relapse vs. Recovery, I think we can all agree that he's been on an upswing since the Encore days when he was feuding with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. His high mark is indisputably The Marshall Mathers LP and so when he announced that his upcoming LP was going to be a sequel, a lot of people stood up and took notice. I had already been paying close attention because of "Survival," which was announced as an album track and is one of my favorite Eminem tracks in a long time. And "Berzerk," while not "Survival" good, is a track that takes his usual potshots at celebrities without sounding like the rap equivalent of a practical joke. I don't mean that in a bad way, but "Without Me," "We Made You," even "Real Slim Shady" and "My Name Is" sounded very similar. This seems to be an Eminem on a level of inspiration that we've not seen from him in ages and MMLP 2 could, against all odds, manage to live up to that lofty title.
#1: Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 (September 30th)
Thus far, there is one album that has scored a higher rating from me this year than Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience. And with all due respect, that one's just not fair because David Bowie is on an entirely different level than anyone musically. The 20/20 Experience was Timberlake completely invigorating pop R&B after an army of artists like Usher, Chris Brown, R. Kelly and more had driven it to a more boring state than listening to Coldplay's latest work while OD's on Nyquil. (And that's coming from a Coldplay fan.) And then, as much as I (and many others) loved Timberlake's first album in seven years, we found out that it was just half an effort. Now, to be fair, it would not be completely without reason to wonder if Timberlake loaded all of his best work (such as "Mirrors," one of my favorite songs of the year) on the first one so as not to shoot the second one's chances in the foot. However, the first single from The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2, "Take Back the Night" is a wondrous Michael Jackson-esque club-banger and if that's any indication we're in for as much quality this time around. Timberlake has called this the "evil, hotter sister" to Part 1 and I'm not gonna lie, that's just what I wanna hear. If Timberlake's played his cards right, he could have two of the best albums of the year.
MUSIC VIDEO A-GO-GO
There is no reason that I'm putting up Flobot's "White Flag Warrior" up this week as the Music Video A-Go-Go, except that I found myself watching it for the umpteenth time this week and it's been stuck in my head. So now it can be stuck in yours too. You're welcome!
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.