In a recent New York Times profile of the Brooklyn indie band TV on the Radio, founding member Dave Sitek said he thinks “the album as a format is dying.” Music industry statistics seem to agree with him. According to Nielsen SoundScan, album sales so far this year are down 11 percent. So it seems fitting that TV on the Radio should lead the fall music calendar with the release this week of its third full-length, Dear Science, (yes, the comma is intentional), alongside new albums by droney Scottish post-rockers Mogwai and the soul-tinged California punk quartet Cold War Kids.
Indeed, the fall is packed with A-list indie releases—Mercury Rev on Sept. 29; Lambchop, Deerhoof and Of Montreal on Oct. 7; and Bloc Party on Oct. 28, to name a few. Even Portland’s lovable and literary Decemberists are getting in on the action with a new three-volume singles series, the first installment of which is set for an Oct. 14 release and features an ode to outed C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame. (Catch them perform the track live on Late Night With Conan O’Brien the night before the election.)
But the cool kids have iPhones, not compact discs, on their holiday wish lists. So it’s gonna take more than a few Pitchfork-approved buzz bands to boost sales. Luckily for record labels, a handful of classic artists are back with new albums. Metallica’s first studio album in five years, Death Magnet (released on Sept. 12), entered the Billboard charts at No. 1 last week. Hard rock fans will also be thrilled to hear AC/DC’s first album in eight years, Black Ice, when it’s released on Oct. 20. Oasis releases its latest, Dig Out Your Soul, on Oct. 6, although you may have already heard some of the tracks—after canceling their Sept. 12 show at Terminal 5, the Brit pop icons taught 30 M.T.A.-approved street musicians how to play a handful of the album’s tunes for public consumption. And what would a dreary autumn be without the melancholic melodies of the Cure? Their new album, the cryptically named 4:13 Dream, comes out on Oct. 14.
Next, a few flying under the radar: The enigmatic Canadian hard-core quintet Fucked Up (perhaps the first band whose name The New York Times would not so much as allude to in a concert review) has been exciting punk rock fans old and new. Now signed to Matador Records, they’ll release their second full length on Oct. 7, and hit the road with Vivian Girls, an all-female garage trio from Brooklyn who’ve been stirring up quite the hype storm, and whose self-titled debut full-length comes out the same day. Also, Mount Eerie, the current solo project of K Records fixture Phil Elvrum (formerly known as the Microphones), releases Lost Wisdom on Oct. 7; the Dears, an orchestral pop troupe from Canada that we haven’t heard too much about since Morrissey was pumping them a few years back, release Missiles on Oct. 21; and also that day, Gang Gang Dance, whose members are perhaps New York’s hippest new avant-gardists, release Saint Dymphna.
Not surprisingly, most of the blockbuster releases are slated for later in the season, just in time for the holiday shopping rush. It starts on Nov. 7 with the release of Folie a Deux, the new album by mall-punk darlings Fall Out Boy, and continues with the Killers’ latest, Day & Age, due on Nov. 25. Beyoncé’s yet-to-be-named third solo album hits stores on Nov. 18 (keep in mind her first two solo efforts both opened at No. 1 on the U.S. pop charts), and the hip-hop world is anticipating new releases by Eminem and Dr. Dre by year’s end. (Eminem hasn’t put out a new album since 2004, and Dr. Dre, who is working on the new Eminem disc, recently said that his long-awaited third solo album, Detox, will probably be his last.) But there’s no doubt that the most talked-about release of the fall will be—Britney Spears! The sometimes dysfunctional pop star’s new album, Circus, hits stores on Dec. 2, which is also Ms. Spears’ 27th birthday. Will she keep her hair intact until then? Stay tuned …