Summer is over, and the best part of the year is upon us. 2014′s fall release schedule is already packed with tons of sonic goodness, which, at any moment, could be bolstered by the emergence of long-rumored new releases from the likes of Kanye, Kendrick, Frank Ocean, and many others. Here’s part one of our round-up of the best stuff with firm release dates.
We’ll kick off the list with the big one: electronic music demigod Richard D. James’ first LP in 13 years. One of the most influential, restless artists in modern music, James has made a career out of refusing to sit still and make the music others want him to. Syro looks set to be another fascinating chapter in his illustrious career.
Foxes in Fiction
(09.23, Orchid Tapes)
Penned in memory of his late brother, Brooklyn-based Warren Hildebrand’s gorgeous second LP was never going to be a walk in the (McCarren) park. Ontario Gothic‘s dreamy seven tracks stretch over 30 gauzy, reverb-soaked minutes, teeming with lithe melodies that belie their tragic subject matter. While these songs may not grab you at first listen, you may find that with each successive listen they get harder and harder to shake off.
Mr. Twin Sister
Mr Twin Sister
The Greenpoint-based crew has had a tough few years, but you’d never tell from their shimmering, smooth second LP. Drawing from influences as wide ranging as dream pop and disco, the quintet’s second album far surpasses anything they’ve previously produced. Whether it’s a lighthearted disco jam or a romantic, shuffling ballad, vocalist Andrea Estella is in total control, slinking her way through the versatile set with graceful aplomb.
(09.30, Glo Gang)
The Chinese Democracy of mixtapes, Bang 3 has been pushed back more times than an NFL lineman, but it finally looks set to see the light of day. While his buzz has faded considerably since his 2012 mega smash, “Don’t Like,” Keef has been quietly trickling out the most experimental music of his career and crafting a sound with the kind of depth that many never would have thought he’d have been capable of traversing.
Any time Dan Snaith makes a new album, people’s ears perk up. Any time he precedes an album with singles as masterful as “Can’t Do Without You” and “Our Love,” those ears start doing backflips. Judging by the two cuts we’ve heard, his seventh solo LP (and fourth under the Caribou moniker) will be a bit more dance floor ready than 2010′s Polaris Prize-winning Swim. That said, we’ve learned from Snaith’s career that making assumptions on albums based on pre-release singles is a dangerous proposition.
Late Nights: The Album
(10.07, Def Jam)
I can’t believe it’s been more than two years since the Chicago crooner released his still classic mixtape, Late Nights with Jeremih, and it feels like we’ve been waiting for this record ever since. While album details are still fairly scarce, the 27 year-old has stayed busy, keeping that buzz going with a string of monster singles, collaborations, and mixtape-only tracks over the past two years. For that reason, Late Nights: The Album feels like it could take him to the next level and be a real contender for album of the year.
(10.07, Weird World)
“Original” is a term that gets thrown around a lot in indie music, but very few groups have crafted as singular a sound as this LA-based psych-synth duo. Whether it is the gorgeously detached vocals of Indra Dunis or the unstable sea of guitars and synths she’s sings over, nobody sounds like Peaking Lights. Carving out their own niche somewhere between the earworms of indie pop and the relentless experimentation of psych, the group continues to crank out music that is as magnetic as it is beguiling.
(10.14, Female Energy)
Admittedly, sometimes I’m not sure whether I’m a fan of Adam Bainbridge’s music in practice or in theory. He’s certainly a talented musician, arranger, and songwriter, and while I liked things about 2012′s World, You Need a Change of Mind, it never really stuck in my own rotation. Otherness‘ two pre-release singles seem like steps forward (again, in theory), pairing air-tight disco/soul compositions with warm vocal harmonies. That said, Bainbridge’s ultra-earnest crooning, crowded arrangements, and hipp(st)er-than-thou aesthetic could become cloying across a full album. Like his BFF Dev Hynes said, “time will tell.”
(10.07, DiCristina/Fat Cat)
It’s been a fantastic year for folk music with artists like Julie Bryne, Myriam Gendron, Jess Williamson, and the great Linda Perhacs putting out fantastic LPs. So it’s only fitting that one of the genre’s truly special voices, Vashti Bunyan, is getting into the act. Nearing 70 years of age, the Newcastle native’s voice is still as alluring and haunting as ever, and it can still tiptoe over arpeggiated guitars with impossible elegance. It may be the final album of her career, but if its anything like the rest of her back catalogue, it is sure to stick with you for a very long time.
Well, this is awkward. I’ve been a steadfast member of #teamjessie since she was dueting with a young Sampha three years ago, and I’ve really enjoyed seeing her grow into the force of nature she’s become. However, I kind of hate her last two singles — the Sam Smith drudge of “Say You Love Me” and the Miguel-assisted “Kind Of…Sometimes…Maybe” — and I really don’t know how to feel about it. I’m refusing to give up hope, as I’m buoyed by the album’s sweltering title track (a top 10 song of the year, for me) and the slinky “Want Your Feeling.” BUT STILL. I don’t like not liking every Jessie Ware song. It makes me feel weird. Hopefully, the aforementioned clunkers are growers, and Tough Love will be the successor that the brilliant Devotion deserves. Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe.