Warm Up With These Hot Fall Albums


Joan Jett / Unvarnished / Blackheart Records

A perpetually underrated guitarist and one of the few touring acts of the classic rock era who’s managed to stay relevant, Joan Jett has undergone an impressive creative renaissance in the 2000s and 2010s. Released October 1, her first album in more than five years marks a full-fledged return to her most successful period, glammed up and pushing hard at the boundaries of rock and pop. She’s once again backed by her faithful Blackhearts band, and releasing the album on her own successful Blackheart Records label. At this point, even if it breaks no new ground, it’s likely to be another winner from the most reliable woman in rock. —Leonard Pierce


Paul McCartney / New / Hear Music

A year after Kisses on the Bottom, a standards collection, Macca releases his first album of originals in six years. “[The album] is very varied … the songs weren’t written but improvised,” McCartney told BBC News. “I worked with four producers [Mark Ronson, Ethan Johns, Paul Epworth and Giles Martin, the son of Beatles producer George Martin] and each of them brought something different.” The eponymous first single, “is a love song but it’s saying, ‘Don’t look at me, I haven’t got any answers.’ It says, ‘I don’t know what’s happening, I don’t know how it’s all happening, but it’s good and I love you.’” No, it’s not another silly love song by Paul—it is his most Beatlesque track in years. And yes, I mean that as a compliment. —Enrique Lopetegui


Arcade Fire / Reflektor / Arcade Fire Music

Described by frontman Win Butler as a “mash up of Studio 54 and Haitian Voodoo,” Arcade Fire returns from their Grammy-winning The Suburbs with an enigmatic guerilla marketing campaign and an intoxicating vision of a single in “Reflektor” (the song). With this first cut, the presence of LCD Soundman James Murphy becomes righteously clear—who else but Murphy could lay down those strings and no-pastiche disco beats, giving new meaning to those old modes of dance music? If this single proves the capability of the Canadian septet’s fourth album, Reflektor should be a gorgeous collaboration, with Murphy and Butler sounding like Talking Heads on molly-in-the-club night. —Matthew Stieb


Juana Molina / Wed 21 / Crammed Discs

Quirky, experimental, and eclectic to a fault, Juana Molina is the closest thing Latin music has to its own version of Björk. Her sixth album, Wed 21, comes after she’s significantly refined her sound for the nth time, by blending in classical Argentine elements to the Euro-pop she picked up during her experiences as an exile in Paris. Molina is a real treasure in Latin pop, someone not afraid to indulge her artsy side while still remaining true to the traditional style that makes the form so vital. —LP


M.I.A. / Matangi / Interscope

In the midst of her lawsuit with the NFL for flipping the bird during last year’s Beyoncé-fest Super Bowl show, Maya Arulpragasam is dropping her fourth album since taking on the moniker of M.I.A. back in 2005. In terms of politically relevant lyrical content, forward-thinking aesthetic sense and wide sonic influences, M.I.A. might be the most interesting female artist breaking Top 40 charts and Matangi should be a nice refresher to her work. Lucky for us fans in South Texas, she’ll be at Austin’s Fun Fun Fun just days after the album’s drop date. (See “Fall Concerts”) —MS


R. Kelly / Black Panties / RCA/Sony

Shoutout to R. Kelly for naming the tracks on his new album like an R&B sextape—see “Poetic Sex,” “Throw Money on You” and “Fuckin’ with the Lights On.” But at this point, maybe an official, non-water sports sextape soundtrack is the last frontier for a man with 54 million albums sold, a 33-part music video and his own skit on Chappelle’s Show. While “My Story,” Kellz’ new single with ATL emcee 2 Chainz, can’t hold a candle to his career-making hits, if Black Panties produces one “Ignition”-caliber banger from a collection of otherwise B-level porn R&B, it’s all good. —MS


Lady Gaga / ARTPOP / Interscope
After a hip injury forced her to cancel 22 shows earlier this year, Lady Gaga is back in everyone’s face: she will appear in Robert Rodríguez’s Machete Kills on October 11 (see “Fall Films” ), and a month later will release her new album. According to Interscope, the album will be released in conjunction with an app described as “a musical and visual engineering system that combines music, art, fashion and technology,” and which promises the user will share in the “adrenaline of fame.” Whatever. —EL

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