With acts and albums, pop cranks it up
Let's move indoors, shall we?
In the summer months, pop music largely happens outside, more often than not, it seems, in a festival setting. But now that the leaves on the trees are falling, it's high season for big-name albums to go on sale, and the live music scene to warm up in cozier confines.
Open-air shows are still happening, before it gets too chilly, particularly at the Mann Center in Fairmount Park, where Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, Sigur Rós, Steely Dan, and Pet Shop Boys are all playing between now and next Sunday. Phew!
But mostly, the action will be inside. With the Ardmore Music Hall and South Philadelphia's Boot & Saddle, there are two new venues on the scene (see story on H10). In large-scale rooms, Radiohead's Thom Yorke brings his side project Atoms for Peace, with Flea on bass, to the Liacouras Center on Sept. 24. And Canadian R&B singer Abel Tesfaye, who performs as the Wkend, plays indoors at the Susquehanna Bank Center, where he'll be Oct. 4.
At the Wells Fargo Center, the annual Powerhouse hip-hop party features Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown, Big Sean, and Philadelphia's own Meek Mill, on Oct. 25. Pink plays the South Philly hockey arena Dec. 6, and for planning purposes, Jay Z (Jan. 24), Lady Antebellum (Jan. 30), and George Strait (Feb. 28) are all on tap for early next year.
Other shows of note: Lucinda Williams, doing her 1988 self-titled album in its entirety Sept. 21, the same night Jamaican dub master Lee "Scratch" Perry plays the Trocadero. Patrick Stickles' punker Titus Andronicus plays Sept. 26 at the Arden Gild Hall in Wilmington, Del.; ace country song man Robbie Fulks sings Sept. 28 at the Sellersville Theater; jazz singer Diana Krall performs Oct. 12 at the Academy of Music; and odd couple Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck play Oct. 13 at the Tower Theater.
A slew of local bands will be busy this fall. Pop-roots band Dr. Dog return Oct. 1 with its eighth album, B-Room. Chamber-pop group Buried Beds release In Spirit on Sept. 24 and play Oct. 10 at Boot & Saddle. Philly- (and now Santa Barbara-) based heartland rocker Dave Hause's Devour comes out Oct. 8, and he's playing that night at the First Unitarian Church side chapel. And Man Man, the cacophonous Philadelphia fivesome whose On Oni Pond has just been released, wraps up a U.S. tour with two dates, Oct. 30 and 31, at Union Transfer. - Dan DeLuca, Inquirer music critic
Fall Preview: Pop Music
Elvis Costello & The Roots, Wise Up Ghost. (On sale Tuesday; Costello plays solo Nov. 10 at the Merriam Theater.) The 59-year-old Costello got to know the generation-younger Roots on the set of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. He has now added the Philadelphia hip-hop band to his long list of collaborators, including Allen Toussaint, Burt Bacharach, and Anne Sofie von Otter. Wise Up Ghost sounds like a deep, dark, top-of-the-line Costello album, albeit more rhythmically adept and forceful than usual. (The Roots' own new album, said to be titled & Then You Shoot Your Cousin, does not yet have a release date.)
Icona Pop, This Is . . . Icona Pop. (On sale Sept. 24.) Sweden's Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo are the women behind "I Love It," the smash hit with a chorus sung by Charli XCX that you heard all summer long at the beach or the baseball stadium. They're also the duo responsible for "Manners," their earlier hit sampled by Philadelphia hip-hop duo Chiddy Bang on "Mind Your Manners." The Swedes (playing Sept. 22 at the TLA) will attempt to keep the party going with This Is . . . Icona Pop, which is actually the duo's second full-length album.
Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2. (On sale Sept. 27.) Too much JT, already? He hopes not. Justin Timberlake made his return to music with The 20/20 Experience in March, toured with Jay Z this summer, and picked up a Video Vanguard award at the MTV VMAs. This fall, he stars in gambling thriller Runner, Runner and as a folksinger in the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis. The Michael Jackson and Prince manqué will also be unleashing part deux of The 20/20 Experience - songs 11 through 20, as it were - which has been teased with the efficient if unremarkable single, "Take Back the Night." And he's also touring: He hits the Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 10, with his terrific backing band, the Tennessee Kids.
Miley Cyrus, Bangerz. (On Sale Oct. 4.) First she taught mainstream America what it means to twerk, and then she went swinging naked and doing inappropriate things with a sledgehammer in the Terry Richardson-directed "Wrecking Ball" video. Will the outrages perpetrated by the former Disney sweetheart, who will capitalize on her infamy with her new album Bangerz this fall, ever cease? Probably not, at least in the foreseeable future.
Paul McCartney, New. (On sale Oct. 5.) The still-cute-at-71 Beatle follows up Kisses on the Bottom, last year's loungey album of silly love-song standards, with a full-length set of originals. Recorded with a foursome of young producers including Mark Ronson, Paul Epworth, Ethan Johns, and Giles (son of George) Martin, New's title track suggests that this time out, we're in for a friskier Macca, always reliable with forgettable lyrics and memorable melodies.
Pearl Jam, Lightning Bolt. (On sale Oct. 15; plays Oct. 21 and 22 at Wells Fargo Center .) "Mind Your Manners," the first song from the forthcoming Pearl Jam album Lightning Bolt, comes on with full-throttle punk-rock fury reminiscent of "Spin the Black Circle," the band's much-loved ode-to-vinyl B-side. Will Eddie Vedder and his crew of Seattle grunge survivors, last in town when they headlined the first Made in America festival last year, be able to maintain that kind of energy for the whole of their 10th studio album and first in four years?
Brandy Clark, 12 Stories. (On sale Oct. 22.) It has already been a pretty great year for women in country music, with albums by sharp songwriters Caitlin Rose, Ashley Monroe, and Kacey Musgraves that came out in the spring. That trio just might be topped by Brandy Clark, the Washington state-reared tunesmith, who has had her songs covered by Musgraves, Miranda Lambert, and others. "Crazy Women" and "Hungover" establish Clark's feminist bona fides, and 12 Stories demonstrates her ability to tell tales with black humor and understated grace.
Arcade Fire, Reflektor. (On Sale Oct. 29.) The last time the Canadian band, fronted by Win Butler and his wife, Régine Chassagne, put out an album - 2010's The Suburbs - it was an upset Grammy winner for album of the year. That's more than enough reason for the high expectations that await Reflektor. Excitement is all the higher because the set was produced by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, who has retired his own band but promises to bring a crisp, gleaming sonic approach to the heroic-sounding octet.
Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP 2. (On sale Nov. 5.) Thirteen years after the first volume, The Marshall Mathers LP 2 is being billed as a sequel to Eminem's third album, arguably the best of the three terrific, disturbing, Dr. Dre-produced collections with which the Detroit rapper, on the eve of Sept. 11, 2001, presented himself as the scariest sociopathic threat known to America. Will he be able once again to raise his game to that level? So far, lead tracks "Berzerk" and "Survival" - not to mention the strange interview he did last weekend with Brent Musburger at halftime of a college football game - would not lead fans to believe Em is going to be on top of his game on this album, produced by Dre, Rick Rubin, and others.
Lady Gaga, ARTPOP. (On sale Nov. 11.) Fully recovered from hip surgery and last seen stripped down to a clamshell bikini at the VMAs, Gaga goes EDM on her new album. Or at least, the artist formerly known as Stefani Germanotta has worked extensively with German electronic dance music producer Zedd, as well as longtime associate DJ White Shadow, on ARTPOP. Whether that means the follow-up to 2011's Born This Way will be a fur-on-the-floor dance throbber from beginning to end remains to be heard.
Neko Case (Electric Factory, Sept. 25). Red-headed siren Neko Case has a superb new album with a title so wordy - The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You - you might think Fiona Apple came up with it. Reeling from the loss of her grandmother and mother, the native-Virginian singer's eighth studio album is imbued with sadness, but is also spirited and energetic, and by no means a morose or melancholy affair. The a cappella centerpiece "Honolulu" is a stunner in its recorded version and is bound to bring the house down when Case brings her band to town with the vocal assistance, as always, from the great Kelly Hogan.
City Bisco (Mann Center, Sept. 27 and 28). For the last 12 years, Philadelphia electronic-jam band Disco Biscuits has hosted its own summertime electronic music festival called Camp Disco in Upstate New York. For the last two, the members have put on a companion version in their hometown. In addition to the Biscuits themselves, this two-day event features weed-loving rappers Redman and Method Man, funkified emcee Big Boi from Outkast, and EDM artists Shpongle, Gigamesh, and Treasure Fingers.
Flaming Lips / Tame Impala (Festival Pier, Oct. 3). This twin bill, which closes out the outdoor season at the Festival Pier on Penn's Landing, pairs up two generations of psychedelic rockers. The eminences grises are the Flaming Lips, Wayne Coyne's Oklahoma merry men known for conflating Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz while walking on a bubble across the crowd. Their new album, The Terror, takes a darker turn. On the undercard are Australians Tame Impala, expert at coaxing sunbursts of trippy melodicism out of the seemingly played-out era of late '60s lysergic-acid experimentalism.
Wesley Stace (World Café Live, Oct. 3). You've previously known this now-Philadelphia-based Englishman as John Wesley Harding. That is, if you're familiar with the 17 albums of frequently literary-minded rock he has released under that stage name. Over the last decade, however, he has published three novels under his given name, Wesley Stace, with a fourth, Wonderkid, due in February. His jam-packed, 16-song, soft-rock new album, which comes out Sept. 17, is his most autobiographically direct to date, so it's fittingly called Self-Titled, and credited to . . . Wesley Stace!
Janelle Monáe (Electric Factory, Oct. 3). The high concepts behind Janelle Monáe's albums - the latest is the dazzling, dizzying The Electric Lady, which concerns the further sci-fi adventures of her android alter-ego, Cyndi Mayweather - can sometimes be too complicated for their own good. But as the Kansas City-born and bountifully talented bandleader moves from funk to pop to rock to jazz to rap, she never overestimates her musical capabilities, and she's a dynamo on stage.
Cecile McLorin Salvant (Longwood Gardens, Oct. 18; Berlind Theatre Auditorium, Princeton, Oct. 19). Cecile McLorin Salvant is a 24-year- old jazz singer who was born in Miami to French and Haitian parents and won the Thelonious Monk vocal competition in 2010. She has a playful presence in concert, but the maturity of her style and the breadth of her repertoire can be startling. Her range and vocal command recalls Betty Carter and Sarah Vaughn. On her impressive debut album, Woman Child, she reaches into the way-back machine to put her stamp on 1920s Bessie Smith blues standards and Bert Williams' 1906 tune "Nobody."
Drake/Miguel (Wells Fargo Center, Oct. 19). Canadian rapper-singer-heartthrob Aubrey Drake Graham's third album, Nothing Was the Same, is one of the most anticipated albums of the season, what with a guest appearance by Jay Z and its lead single, "Hold On, We're Going Home." It comes out Sept. 24. The former Degrassi: The Next Generation actor is also on tour, on a well-suited package with R&B star Miguel, a Made in America standout still working his sterling 2012 release Kaleidoscope Dream.
John Legend (Revel Ovation Hall, Atlantic City, Oct. 25). Don't be confused by the title of John Legend's Love in the Future, the University of Pennsylvania grad's fourth studio album. Exec-produced by Kanye West, it's not a time-traveling sci-fi guide to sex and romance in the next millennia. Instead, it's the 34-year-old Legend's album-length ode to his fiancée, model Chrissy Teigen, complete with a guest turn by that most romantic of rappers Rick Ross. There's no Philadelphia tour date for Legend this fall, so if you want to catch up with the R&B crooner and pianist, you'll need to head to the Revel in Atlantic City.
My Bloody Valentine (Electric Factory, Nov. 9). Shoe-gaze perfectionist Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine have played Philadelphia before, but it has been a while. The last gig was in 1992, a year after the British band fully realized its shimmering guitar-noise approach on Loveless, their influential sophomore release. Shields finally got around to following that up with this year's underrated mbv. Absence has only made the hankering to see Shields and crew create a Spectoresque wall of distorted sound on stage all the greater, and Philadelphia is one of a handful of North American dates the band will play this fall.
Kanye West (Wells Fargo Center, Nov. 16). Hurry up with his damn croissants, would you please? Kanye West is coming to town. The "I Am a God" rapper, producer, and most notorious man in show business didn't set the pop charts on fire with his frequently abrasive new Yeezus, but he did continue his life's work of following his own artistic instincts, no matter what the costs.