Fall National Pop Preview: The golden age

The industry is dead, but the music lives on
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  September 20, 2010

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Zola Jesus

Okay, so the album is dead, the music industry is dead, rock is dead, and the Library of Alexandria you have stored on your C drive has killed 150 years of recorded music culture. But wait: there are still pop stars on the radio, massive tours booked nationwide, and new albums flooding onto the shelves in record numbers. I guess for those in the biz, a downturn of a few percentage points is the Apocalypse. For those who love and pay attention to music, however, it's a golden era, as the flow of new awesome acts piles up against established artists who need to keep it exciting now that they can't just coast on the back catalogue. If this is the way the (music) world ends, it's going to be not with a whimper but with a deluge. That applies especially to this fall's offerings — our cup runneth over with sweet, sweet jams.

SALEM | KING NIGHT [IAMSOUND] | oOOOO | oOoOO EP [TRI ANGLE] | September 28 | If 2008 was all about dubstep, and 2009 was all about chillwave, then 2010's genre signifier that no one really understands is "witch house." Two of the movement's shining stars drop debut CDs on the same day. Salem sound like Mazzy Star on a 'Tussin bender, but with enough shining songcraft to puncture the foreboding synth clouds; the resulting album is the audio experience of the year, an epic to be experienced as a whole. By comparison, the oddly monikered oOoOO EP is bursting with joy, with tribal drums and clinking notes flitting around alluring female vocals on the lead single, "Hearts."

T.I. | KING UNCAGED [GRAND HUSTLE/ATLANTIC] | September 28 | T.I. is not the only rapper recently out of jail putting out an album this fall (Gucci Mane's aptly named The Appeal hits shelves the same day), but he is the most high-profile, especially given the double-platinum success of 2008's Paper Trail. King Uncaged showcases, in song after song, his shy humility. Psych! It offers his most outlandish braggadocio, whether in the RedOne/Lady Gaga collaboration "Lick It" or the brash hater-ade of lead single "I'm Back."

NEIL YOUNG | LE NOISE [REPRISE] | September 28 | Remember the Neil Young that was dead set against all things digital? That curmudgeon seems long gone — Neil Young 2.0 goes on Facebook to post deets on his new Daniel Lanois–helmed solo platter, detailing the album's accompanying iPhone app. Of course, the old Neil surfaces when he adds this: "Forgive my use of the word 'album.' I am old school." Uh, no kidding, Neil. But old school or not, expect wounded melodies, prickly guitar, and the Lanois trademark atmospherics.

THE ORB FEATURING DAVID GILMOUR | METALLIC SPHERES [COLUMBIA] | October 4 | If you salivated at the thought of a reunion while watching Pink Floyd play Live 8 a few years ago, only to have that hope dashed time and time again, this pairing of Floyd ax man David Gilmour with Alex Paterson's Orb is a dream come true. Comprising two album-side-length tracks, Metallic Spheres finds the pair working with renowned producer and erstwhile Killing Joke bassist Youth. We gather its release will be celebrated in NYC and LA with special laser-show listening parties — which sounds like some kind of awesome hipster re-creation of Dazed and Confused.

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