1. Record Breakers

1/27

Get ready for fall with our preview of the season's top new releases. See what to expect from Weezer, Brandon Flowers, Matt and Kim, Kid Cudi, Kings of Leon, and Antony and the Johnsons (clockwise from top left). Plus, get the scoop on 19 more artists who will keep you grooving from Labor Day until Halloween. —Andy Battaglia

START OUR SNEAK PEEK NOW

2. Record Breakers

2/27

Get ready for fall with our preview of the season's top new releases. See what to expect from Weezer, Brandon Flowers, Matt and Kim, Kid Cudi, Kings of Leon, and Antony and the Johnsons (clockwise from top left). Plus, get the scoop on 19 more artists who will keep you grooving from Labor Day until Halloween. —Andy Battaglia

START OUR SNEAK PEEK NOW

3. INTERPOL

3/27

Interpol (Matador)
Release date: Sept. 7
The Skinny: They lost their chance to tour this summer with U2 (when Bono's back went out) and lost their beloved bassist-ambassador (the endearingly goofy-looking fashionista Carlos D, who quit), but none of that stopped Interpol from gearing up for their next phase of operations. The group's new self-titled album places them back on Matador, the indie label that helped them rise up the ranks of the early-'00s "New York rock renaissance." But as the very artsy and elaborate video for the single "Lights" showed, there's little skimping going on. Instead, the signs for Interpol's fourth album point to an evermore expansive sound big on drama and space—and, as evidenced by new single "Barricade," a kind of pent-up funk.
Fast Fact: Description of the fabric used for a T-shirt that comes with a complicated $74.99 Deluxe Limited Edition of Interpol: "ultra-soft."
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WATCH: Interpol, "Lights"

4. KANYE WEST

4/27

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Island Def Jam)
Release date: November 22
The Skinny: It's not exactly clear what it means that the biggest music story of the year so far has been that Kanye West, um, started a Twitter account, but you've got to give the guy credit for making the smallest things seem big. He used it wisely early on to announce that Good Ass Job might, in fact, not ultimately be called Good Ass Job, and true to Kanye's style, rumors and bits of news have swirled, if often inconclusively: He cited a debt to the influence of Thom Yorke and Trent Reznor, he flew indie balladeer Bon Iver to Hawaii to talk about doing a track, he did some a capella jams at the offices of Facebook. And so on. What is knowable, without a doubt, is that whatever West puts out will be big in scope and even bigger in terms of spectacle.
Fast Fact: Kanye on how he deals with difficult times, like the death of his mother three years ago: "When Star Wars was out and I was a young child, I used to turn the sheets over and put pillows under it to make my bed look like the Empire Strikes Back snow thing, and whenever something tragic happens, I turn into this five year old."
WATCH: Kanye West, "Power"

5. OF MONTREAL

5/27

False Priest (Polyvinyl)
Release date: Sept. 14
The Skinny: Of Montreal are not known for underdoing things (see a storied concert in New York during which frontman Kevin Barnes sang a song on horseback), so it should come as no surprise that False Priest is all over the place—and then some. As he continues to burrow all the more purposefully into a truly singular sound-world, Barnes enlisted help from famed producer and film-music composer Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Punch Drunk Love, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). And then there's some singing from friends Janelle Monae and Solange Knowles, who help Barnes summon the kind of soul and sass that would have never been conceivable on Of Montreal's earliest indie-pop records.
Fast Fact: A sample of subjects surveyed lyrically on False Priest: zombies, Bowflex home gym machines, particle-wave duality, burnt irises, the tongues of dragons, female erection
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LISTEN: Of Montreal, "Coquet Coquette"

6. BRANDON FLOWERS

6/27

Flamingo (Island)
Release date: Sept. 14
The Skinny: Killers frontman Brandon Flowers announced his solo album by way of a mysterious countdown clock on the Killers' website that eventually turned over to Flowers' own name spelled out in the form of an old Las Vegas road sign. Then came a video for the single "Crossfire," which features Charlize Theron throwing Chinese stars and stabbing marauding ninjas. So, dude's sense of drama is at no risk of dwindling. But what, exactly, will Flowers' Killers-less future entail? A lyrical love letter to his hometown of Las Vegas with music that's throbbing, anthemic, and not altogether un-Killers-like—not surprising since Flowers says many of the songs were written originally with the band in mind.
Fast Fact: Growing up in Vegas, Flowers once worked at Gold Coast Casino, which plays home to, among other things, a T.G.I. Friday's and a Chinese restaurant called Ping Pang Pong.He also witnessed an orgy while working as a bellhop.
READ THE FULL REVIEW >>
WATCH: Brandon Flowers, "Crossfire"

7. WEEZER

7/27

Hurley (Epitaph)
Release date: Sept. 14
The Skinny: "People, it's pretty hot!" That's Weezer on their website in reference to the striking status of their proverbial creative iron, which has gotten some serious work of late with the making of three albums in the past three years. The newest, Hurley, will be the band's first for storied punk indie label Epitaph, and Rivers Cuomo found a surprising kindred soul in a collaboration with Mac Davis, a songwriter who wrote Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto." Other intriguing guest stars this time include Ryan Adams and Johnny Knoxville, who sings in a song, "Memories," slated for use in the next Jackass movie.
Fast Fact: Rivers Cuomo on the original Jackass: The Movie, back in 2002: "Most of the movie was too much for me. I'm squeamish."
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LISTEN: Weezer, "Memories"

8. LINKIN PARK

8/27

A Thousand Suns (Machine Shop/Warner Bros.)
Release date: Sept. 14
The Skinny: Linkin Park helped give rise to a rap-rock movement that might have been better off never happening, judging by the short shelf-life of so many fateful pretenders to the throne. But the band behind the epochal 2000 album Hybrid Theory has aged better than most, and there's potential that remains to be tapped still by A Thousand Suns. Linkin Park mastermind Mike Shinoda teamed up again with Rick Rubin, the polymath rap-rock producer who worked on 2007's Minutes to Midnight, and you know a band means business when they title the first two tracks on an album "The Requiem" and "The Radiance."
Fast Fact: Mike Shinoda recently made a "Celebrity Playlist" for iTunes that included songs by Oingo Boingo, Tears for Fears, and N.W.A., among others.
READ THE FULL REVIEW >>
LISTEN: Linkin Park, "The Catalyst"

9. CHROMEO

9/27

Business Casual (Atlantic)
Release date: Sept. 14
The Skinny: Chromeo make a strange kind of simultaneously earnest and arch electro-rock whose earnestness and archness depend on each other—like two mismatched movie cops who could never partner with anybody else. They started out on Vice Records, true to their party-rocking roots in Montreal, but Chromeo moved to the major label Atlantic for Business Casual. (Might the move and title match?) The new album was made with help from French house producer Philippe Zdar, who works in the dance-music group Cassius and produced the last album by Phoenix. And the sound: lots of whacking, thwacking beats with would-be anthems attached.
Fast Fact: Chromeo member Pee Thug was born in Lebanon, though neither "Pee" nor "Thug" is, etymologically speaking, especially Lebanese.
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LISTEN: Chromeo, "Don't Turn the Lights On "

10. GRINDERMAN

10/27

Grinderman 2 (Anti-)
Release date: Sept. 14
The Skinny: Illustrious brooder Nick Cave garnered good notices when he pared down and went even rawer than usual with Grinderman in 2007. That wasn't exactly an aberration in a career marked by good notices going back to the 1970s, nor was it a surprise considering that Cave's cohorts in Grinderman were members of his seminal band Bad Seeds. But still, it marked a significant shift for Cave and Co., and they've moved to make it more than a one-off side-project thing with Grinderman 2, an album that bandmember Warren Ellis said sounds like "stoner rock meets Sly Stone via Amon Düül."
Fast Fact: Not one to be confined to songwriting, last year Cave published his second novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, a story starring what The Guardian newspaper called "an antihero of epic proportions, a booze-addled, nicotine-stained, cocaine-fuelled monster constantly in search of priapic adventure."
READ THE FULL REVIEW >>

11. JAMEY JOHNSON

11/27

The Guitar Song (Mercury)
Release date: Sept. 14
The Skinny: Jamey Johnson has a grizzled grizzly beard, which goes a long way toward signaling the kind of country music he favors. As does the title of his 2008 breakout album, That Lonesome Song. To put it simply, Johnson likes country from the old school (or at least the mythologized "old school"), when outlaw songs met with moody ballads and swirled into something like rootsy American bedrock. For his forthcoming The Guitar Song, Johnson bedded down and wrote a set of 25 songs that will be divided into two CDs, one called the "Black Album" and the other the "White Album." Guess which one is dreary and which is more upbeat?
Fast Fact: Johnson was a Marine for eight years and used to play songs for his fellows in the corps.
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12. THE WALKMEN

12/27

Lisbon (Fat Possum)
Release date: Sept. 14
The Skinny: The Walkmen started as a stately indie-rock band and have grown evermore stately, in evermore raw and sparing ways, since their 2002 debut. The New York group's sixth album has them name-checking a certain old rock guy named Elvis Presley and the kind of elemental sounds that came out of Memphis' legendary Sun Studios. All that comes by way of songs written during stints in Portugal (hence Lisbon) and recorded in warehouses in Brooklyn and Philadelphia. But however jumbled their geographical reach, the Walkmen can be counted on to stay pure and internal—with lots of reverb and intensified rock songs cut from an ageless mold.
Fast Fact: The Walkmen have been working on writing a group novel called John's Journey.
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LISTEN: The Walkmen, "Stranded"

13. SUPERCHUNK

13/27

Majesty Shredding (Merge)
Release date: Sept. 14
The Skinny: The truth about much fabled '90s indie rock is that very little of it has aged well. Superchunk is an exception. Few bands of any kind could have negotiated their way so well from ratty, bratty punk to expansive rock songsmithery, and the best part about them was that they swirled it all together without worrying over the differences. Bandleaders Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance have been better known of late for running Merge Records, the little indie label that went huge behind Spoon and the Arcade Fire. But a slew of rapturously received reunion shows and now Majesty Shredding, the first new Superchunk album in nearly a decade, stand to reignite a flame that deserves to burn a good while longer.
Fast Fact: Superchunk's first single, "Slack Motherfucker," was named the 19th best single of the '90s in a 1999 issue of SPIN, right after Aaliyah and right before a tie between Hanson and Naughty by Nature.
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LISTEN: Superchunk, "Digging for Something"

14. NO AGE

14/27

Everything in Between (Sub Pop)
Release date: Sept. 28
The Skinny: Since slinking out of the fabled L.A. art-punk den known as The Smell, flailing duo No Age have been big players in indie rock's new economy—"economy" in their case meaning output measured against terms of size, focus, efficiency, all that. Put more simply: They sound like way more than two dudes. Dean Spunt and Randy Randall manage to summon a big, immersive sound with guitar and drums, each of which they make shine and swirl until they end up with something between old hardcore punk and the softest, dreamiest shoegaze. The secret seems to be there in a new song title from what will be their third album: "Shred and Transcend."
Fast Fact: Shows at No Age haunt The Smell are, rather coolly, all ages and almost always $5.
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LISTEN: No Age, "Glitter"

15. YOUNG JEEZY

15/27

TM103(Island Def Jam)
Release date: Sept. 28
The Skinny: Quick, how many monster rap stars have made an album addressing the current perilous state of the economy, not just in little incidental bits but in consistent measure? That's what Young Jeezy's impressive and surprising album The Recession did in 2008, and it's still not been touched on its own terms since. For TM103, Jeezy has returned to title scheme of his past "Thug Motivation" albums, but it's hard to imagine he'll be back entirely to his old coke-slinging ways. The singles so far have featured guest turns by Lil Jon and Yo Gotti, and others said to have done studio time with Jeezy include include André 3000, Kanye West, and Swizz Beatz.
Fast Fact: "They trippin', man."--Young Jeezy to MTV, addressing people who think he's got a beef of late with fellow hip-hop honcho Rick Ross
WATCH: Young Jeezy, "All White Everything" (feat. Yo Gotti)

16. DEERHUNTER

16/27

Halcyon Digest (4AD)
Release date: Sept. 28
The Skinny: Deerhunter have made themselves one of the best bands in all of rock with an elemental sound that can slot in with classics like the Velvet Underground, Brian Eno, and My Bloody Valentine without coming off as the least bit muddled by influence. Frontman Bradford Cox has been crazily prolific over the past few years (both with Deerhunter and his more atmospheric side project Atlas Sound), but the quality just keeps going up as he delves all the more deeply into his singular sense of song. For Halcyon Digest, Deerhunter pull from a wide variety of sounds, including the easy-going but also somehow macabre '60s-pop lean of the single "Revival."
Fast Fact: Cox regularly posts great "micromix" playlists for free download on his Deerhunter blog—such as a recent one that features the likes of Pere Ubu, Stereolab, and the B-52's.
READ THE FULL REVIEW >>
LISTEN: Deerhunter, "Revival"

17. BAD RELIGION

17/27

The Dissent of Man (Epitaph)
Release date: Sept. 28
The Skinny: Bad Religion formed in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was a new president, and have been at it more or less in force ever since. Their brand of punk has changed over the years, but it's never been less than punk. It certainly wasn't on 30 Years Live, a free digital release from earlier this year, and it stands not to be on The Dissent of Man, the band's 15th studio album (and by no means the first with a title alluding to something other than peace and harmony). Songwriter Gregg Graffin worked on the album while writing a book called Anarchy Evolution, and his songwriting colleague, Brett Gurewitz, recently had a kid. So it seems like things will be weighty, as if they could ever be otherwise for Bad Religion.
Fast Fact: Still priceless title of Bad Religion's full-length debut, from 1982: How Could Hell Be Any Worse?
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LISTEN: Bad Religion, "The Devil in Stitches"

18. JIMMY EAT WORLD

18/27

Invented (DGC/Interscope)
Release date: Sept. 28
The Skinny: Serious business when it comes to influential acts within the swell of mid-'90s emocore, Jimmy Eat World climbed up to a bigger rock level in 2001 with "The Middle" and its accompanying video, a.k.a. the underwear-party video. That was a long time ago, of course, but it's a sticky legacy—and one that stands to figure in the reception of Invented. For their sixth album, the band teamed back up with Mark Trombino, a beloved producer who worked on the previous Jimmy Eat World albums Bleed American, Static Prevails, and Clarity. Those are generally the ones devoted fans talk about when they get to really talking, so the stakes are high for a resuscitation of bedrock sounds and sensibilities.
Fast Fact: Jimmy Eat World live in Phoenix, where the average temperature in August is 103 and the highest measure for an August day on record is 116.
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LISTEN: Jimmy Eat World, "My Best Theory"

19. GUCCI MANE

19/27

The Appeal (Asylum/Warner Bros.)
Release date: Sept. 28
The Skinny: Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane was released from prison earlier this year after getting locked up for violating his probation (if you ever get community service, you should go ahead and do it) on an assault charge. The stint behind bars happened at a pretty bad interval for Mane, as it overlapped with the prime time of his 2009 album, The State vs. Radric Davis. But now he's out and ready to file The Appeal, which pairs the Dirty South-loving problem child with a rich roster of compatriots, including Pharrell, Swizz Beats, Rodney Jerkins, Rick Ross, and Shawty Red.
Fast Fact: Ties on the website for illustrious clothier Gucci cost $180.
LISTEN: Gucci Mane, "It's Gucci Time"

20. T.I.

20/27

King Uncaged (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
Release date: Sept. 28
The Skinny: The king is uncaged…and chilling in a throne with a lion on the cover of his new album. So goes the reentry of T.I. into society after doing storied prison time on federal weapons charges. T.I. has said King Uncaged delves into some of what he thought about and learned while incarcerated, but it also serves as the third part of a trilogy that included T.I. vs. T.I.P. and Paper Trail, so it's not all a star behind bars. But T.I. himself has cited Tupac's 1996 out-of-the-joint classic All Eyez on Me as his main competition, so it seems like he's swinging big. Guest stars include Eminem and Lady Gaga, plus lots more as T.I. reportedly recorded 80 songs for his comeback.
Fast Fact: "Weapons charges" = possession of three unregistered machine guns and two silencers, each nabbed in the parking lot of a Walgreen's in Atlanta.
LISTEN: T.I., "I'm Back"

21. MARK RONSON AND THE BUSINESS INTL

21/27

Record Collection (RCA)
Release date: Sept. 28
The Skinny: There are very few people who could co-write a song with a member of the up-and-coming arty indie-rock band the Drums and then get Ghostface Killah to guest on it. But that's how it goes in the world of Mark Ronson. That song, "Lose It (In the End)," is one of 11 on Record Collection, an album for which Ronson learned to sing and put his production chops to work on songs aided by the likes of Q-Tip, Boy George, Spank Rock, Simon Le Bon, and Kai Fish from Mystery Jets. If it sounds like a jumble, it is—but remember, this is a guy who has managed to corral stunning shows of brilliance from Amy Winehouse.
Fast Fact: "Puffy took a liking to the way I DJ'd or something. He liked the cut of my jib?" Ronson on an early break in his career, in a chat as part of The Creators Project.
READ THE FULL REVIEW >>
LISTEN: Mark Ronson and the Business Intl., "Bang Bang Bang"

22. THE CORIN TUCKER BAND

22/27

1,000 Years (Kill Rock Stars)
Release date: Oct. 5
The Skinny: Corin Tucker has been relatively quiet since Sleater-Kinney took a breather in 2006, but presumably she's been more present to the two kids she's been mothering than to the rest of us. But here she is again, with a new namesake band and an album, 1,000 Years, that features more lightly brushed drumming and things like violins than a Sleater-Kinney record ever did. Her stated reference points this time include Sinead O'Connor's The Lion and the Cobra, as well as the Slits, the Raincoats, and the English Beat.
Fast Fact: Tucker has a son and a daughter, the latter of whom is named Glory.
READ THE FULL REVIEW >>
LISTEN: The Corin Tucker Band, "Doubt"

23. ANTONY AND THE JOHNSONS

23/27

Swanlights (Secretly Canadian)
Release date: Oct. 12
The Skinny: Antony Hegarty is one of the strangest, most bewitching musicians at work today—and in any age, actually. He looks like a middle-aged suburban mother doing her best to dress in goth drag, he sings a bit like Nina Simone, and he floats over gorgeous musical arrangements that keep growing more elaborate and refined. He counts among his fans Björk and Lou Reed, and he stands to gain more with Swanlights, an album with a "more exotic" range of sound that glides between orchestral grandeur and otherworldly artfulness. A special edition of the album will come with a 144-page hardcover book featuring Antony's art and writing, and every edition will include a duet with Björk called "Flétta."
Fast Fact: Antony made a striking move by covering a song by underground electronic synthesizer wizard Oneohtrix Point Never, whose new single "Returnal" features a piano version by Antony.
LISTEN: Antony and the Johnsons, "Thank You for Your Love"

24. KINGS OF LEON

24/27

Come Around Sundown
Release date: Oct. 19
The Skinny: Few would have predicted ever-growing hugeness for Kings of Leon when they first came up and got tagged as "the Southern Strokes." But even groundhogs are wrong sometimes, and so it was for those who failed to recognize. The band's forthcoming fifth album, Come Around Sundown, will be a weighted one, coming as it does after the major 2008 breakout Only by the Night. The family band (three brothers, one cousin) recorded the new one in New York with producers Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King, who worked on the last one. And they've reckoned that the city might have had a hand in birthing "a little more darker record." But one with fiddle and lots of other old-style country touches, too.
Fast Fact: Kings of Leon recently had to cancel a concert in progress at an outdoor amphitheater in St. Louis for a sure-to-count-as-classic reason: The band's bassist was getting bombed, repeatedly, by pigeon poop.

25. TAYLOR SWIFT

25/27

Speak Now (Big Machine)
Release date: Oct. 26
The Skinny: Taylor Swift is one of those pop stars who just seem preternaturally talented in an all-encompassing way (for evidence of range, see her super-impressive hosting job on Saturday Night Live). But, in more focused musical terms, she's also a highly distinctive songwriter with an unusual handle on cramming reams of emotion and catharsis into songs that don't need to make a big show of how smart or clever they are. Her reported point of focus for Speak Now is "boys and love," but as anybody who's really listened to one of her songs knows, nothing so simplistic could account for what Swift surveys at her best.
Fast Fact: For the Swift fan who has everything and likes to relax in devoted comfort, consider a limited-edition purple "fleece unisex robe" available on Swift's website for $75.
LISTEN: Taylor Swift, "Mine"

26. KID CUDI

26/27

Man on the Moon 2: The Legend of Mr. Rager (G.O.O.D./Universal Motown)
Release date: Oct. 26
The Skinny: "Mr. Rager" seems like a strong candidate for oft-invoked nicknames to be slung among friends at parties big and small in the coming months, but what exactly the mantle means will have to be left to the impressively strange and inscrutable rapper Kid Cudi. The Kanye West protégé found a nice weird niche for himself with his 2009 album Man on the Moon: The End of the Day, and talk of the much-delayed follow-up has included mention of strange bedfellows Ratatat and Band of Horses, as well as hip-hop peers Jim Jonsin and Kanye himself.
Fast Fact: "Rotten 'Kid' rapper busted": headline from the New York Post after Kid Cudi was arrested in June for "carrying drug gear" and getting in a "spat" with a woman whose phone he broke and whose door he ripped off its hinges.
LISTEN: Kid Cudi, "Erase Me" (feat. Kanye West)

27. MATT AND KIM

27/27

Sidewalks(Fader)
Release date: Nov. 2
The Skinny: With a relentless tour schedule and an even more relentless ability to wow pretty much everyone who sees them live, Matt and Kim are beneficiaries of themselves, really. The Brooklyn indie-pop duo have to count among the hardest-working acts in the biz, as it were, and their third album, the follow-up to last year's triumphantly energetic Grand, stands to make good on all that devotion. Under the guidance again of the label associated with The Fader magazine, Matt and Kim went into the studio with Ben Allen, who worked on Animal Collective's kaleidoscopic Merriweather Post Pavilion. The results are said to be "upbeat and rhythmic, but with a punk edge"—which is a bit like saying the Stooges are a little bit raw.
Fast Fact: For their previous album, Matt and Kim took what might be the best promotional photo ever.