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Dropping Like Leaves

Sales of music product in the CD format continue to fall and the advent of streaming service Spotify are further signals in the shifting of how fans are getting and listening to music. Everything is changing. One thing holds, however, despite the continued death knell: The album as a format is not going away. Artists can’t let go of the cohesive, multi-song set as a statement. Here are a handful of them to watch for this fall.

September 13

Black Francis & Reid Paley

Paley & Francis (Sonic Unyon)

Days after Charles Thompson (a.k.a. Pixies frontman Black Francis, a.k.a. indie singer/songwriter Frank Black) and his frequent collaborator, Brookylnite Reid Paley, come to Buffalo to rock out the Mohawk Place, they issue the first proper, full-length album capturing the fruits of their work together.

September 20 & September 28

Pearl Jam

Twenty soundtrack (Columbia)


Nevermind: 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Geffen)

It’s been 20 years, so we are ready to break out the flannel, the angst, and the riffs all over again. Okay, the truth is that these two bands and the music they made (in the case of Pearl Jam: the music they continue to make) have never left rock’s consciousness in the ensuing years. While Pearl Jam’s soundtrack to the Cameron Crowe doc on the band—which airs on PBS—captures a band that survived the initial grunge and alternative rock rush to the mainstream and continues to grow, Nirvana’s legacy remains frozen in time but feels as powerful, important, and alive as when it first blasted from the speakers in 1991.

September 27


The Whole Love (dBpm)

Jeff Tweedy and his band’s eighth studio album and the first on the band’s own imprint, dBpm. Ever the fan-friendly outfit, Wilco is offering those who preorder the album in advance of release the chance to win unique prizes. including a one-of-a-kind, single-speed, Wilco-branded bicycle, tickets to live shows, and a vintage Polaroid camera with photos taken by the band.

September 27


The Hunter (Reprise)

Judging by the initial tracks that have been premiered (“Black Tongue” and “Curl of The Burl”), the Alanta-based lords of technical, heavier-than-heavy metal return with a stripped, leaner, meaner, and—dare we say it—more commercial sound. If not commercial, let’s say less prog, more pure riffs, and maybe even a catchy hook or two buried beneath those massive guitars and throttling beats.

October 11

Ryan Adams

Ashes and Fire (Pax-Am/Capitol)

Everyone knew that being “retired” from music in his mid-30s would never pan out for Ryan Adams. The mercurial and notoriously prolific singer/songwriter Adams has never entirely stopped, issuing material from the vaults and vinyl-only metal albums. Now he looks to be taking another whack at it with fervor, spirit, and quality material that he hasn’t produced in some time. Famed engineer/producer Glyn Johns (the Beatles, the Who, Bob Dylan, and on and on) was behind the console for Ashes and Fire and guests include Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench and Norah Jones.

October 18


Michigan Left (Universal Music Canada)

Our nearby neighbors to the north, Hamilton, Ontario’s Arkells, offer their sophomore outing, boasting 10 crisp tracks of head-bobbing, alt.pop-kissed blue-eyed soul. Standout tracks include the throbbing rocker “Whistleblower,” the crush-on-you ditty “On Paper,” and the catchy as the flu jam “Kiss Cam.”

October 18


Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming (Mute)

French electronic auteur Anthony Gonzalez’s M83 follows 2009’s universally acclaimed Saturdays=Youth with a sprawling album with much of the same grandeur of its predecessor but with wider scope, darker corners, and something to prove. This double disc of Gonzalez’s patented dream-woozy, widescreen pop feels the part of a 22-track masterpiece fuelled by soaring synths, thumping beats, and crystalline vocals contributed by Morgan Kibby—whose voice was Saturdays=Youth main character—and with Zola Jesus.

October 25

Tom Waits

Bad As Me (Anti)

Fresh from his somewhat unlikely induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the gruff, growling genius of twisted blues-jazz, balladeer of broken bones and broken dreams, and qualified American treasure Tom Waits returns with his first album of new material in seven years. Waits’s label is calling it a “pivotal work that refines the music that has come before and signals a new direction.”’

November 1

Lou Reed & Metallica

Lulu (Elektra)

This one has “musical train wreck” written all over it…

November 18

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (Sour Mash)

If you think about it, there were always two distinct Oasis fans: the ones who loved the bluster, bombast, and unabashed rock-and-roll star attitude of Liam Gallagher, and the ones who revered his older brother Noel’s gift for song construction and for plotting the course of the band that brought rock majesty back to England. Whichever side of the Oasis fandom you fall on or whom you favor in the split, 2011 is a win either way. Liam and the rest of the former band as Beady Eye impressed with Different Gear, Still Speeding; and now Noel Gallagher gets to shine, singing his songs as frontman, something that anyone who ever saw Oasis on MTV Unplugged knows he can do.

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