This year's fall pop music season offers your average 21st century bounty, one with so many colors, textures, varieties, personalities and avenues for consumption that it's pretty easy to frame an argument depending on mood or agenda.
Those observing gender and the pop marketplace, for example, can note that the season is heavy with commercially powerful female vocalists: New albums from Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Cher, Kelly Clarkson and future superstar Ariana Grande look to rule the charts through the holidays. Less commercially viable, but more aesthetically expansive, artists offer proof of the bounty: Atlanta future-soul singer Janelle Monáe, former Bikini Kill/Le Tigre singer Kathleen Hanna (as the Julie Ruin) and the sparkling Argentinian singer-actress Juana Molina all present new work.
FOR THE RECORD:
Katy Perry: In the Fall Arts Highlights for pop music in the Sept. 15 Arts & Books section, Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" album was said to have tied Michael Jackson's "Thriller" for the most No. 1 singles from one album. The Jackson album that Perry's album tied was "Bad." —
Adults looking for comfort can find it in new material by British gentlemen. Paul McCartney releases his buzzing new (yet unnamed) studio album featuring the bouncy, excellent Mark Ronson-produced first single, "New." Elton John teams with longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin for a new album, "The Diving Board." Elvis Costello enlisted the Roots for the funked-up "Wise Up Ghost." Sting delivers an assured new work, "The Last Ship," a thematically intertwined album ripe for theatrical adaptation. (The odds that Eminem's new album, "The Marshall Mathers LP II," lands on Broadway are less certain.)
Rockers can look forward to big releases from the Kings of Leon, the Arctic Monkeys and Pearl Jam, smaller but no less enticing work from the Dirtbombs (the sugary sweet new bubble-gum pop record "Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-blooey!"), Joan Jett and an assured country-rock endeavor from songwriter Bill Callahan.
Those yearning for twang can note commercial country releases from "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery, "Beer With Jesus" singer Thomas Rhett, Blake Shelton protege Cassadee Pope and a bluegrass album from longtime hitmaker Alan Jackson.
Hip-hop? In addition to Detroit's finest, fall will see records from the New York rap collective A$AP Mob, Motor City lyricist Danny Brown and the long-awaited return of Deltron 3030, a futuristic supergroup featuring Del the Funky Homosapien and Dan the Automator.
Below are some specific dates to circle.
Drake, "Nothing Was the Same" (Young Money/Universal)
Canadian rapper Drake can credit his rise and notable success to an ability to converse with both the ladies he desires and the gentlemen he's competing against. He can opine and admonish, yes, but he can also touch. His third album, "Nothing Was the Same," stakes out a rougher sound, as evidenced by the massive first single, "Started From the Bottom." That Drake closes the record with a Jay Z collaboration called "Pound Cake" bodes well. Drake will perform at the Honda Center on Nov. 21 and Staples Center on Nov. 25.
Station to Station tour featuring Beck, No Age, Kenneth Anger, others
In early September, noted multimedia artist Doug Aitken began a journey by train from New York across America and invited a fascinating group of artistic collaborators. Riding the rails or providing aesthetic support for the nine-city Station to Station tour are, among others, artists Chris Ware, Dara Birnbaum and Raymond Pettibon, with musicians Ariel Pink, Thurston Moore, Twin Shadow, the Handsome Family and others offering accompaniment. At three California stops, San Francisco, Barstow and Los Angeles, artists will include musicians Beck, No Age, Dan Deacon and Sun Araw & the Congos and visual artists Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore and underground L.A. film mystic Kenneth Anger.
Vampire Weekend, Beirut
Few are the overly hyped blog bands of the late '00s that have endured critical or commercial backlash unscathed. New York band Vampire Weekend, though, has not only survived but also prevailed. Its recent album, "Modern Vampires of the City," is an urgent, rhythmic dance rock record, quite obviously the product of a band eager to both thrill and experiment. The band performs with Balkan-esque folk group Beirut.
Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Blvd. $18-$85, www.laphil.com
SEPT. 28, 29, OCT. 2
For reasons known only to the synth pop gods and/or Robert Moog, Los Angeles has held a particularly strong affection for the English dance music innovators. But then, over the decades, the band has provided the city with many reasons for all that love. The group that helped ferry in the age of computer pop returns to its second home for a three-date stint at Staples Center. Just can't get enough, indeed.
Staples Center, 1111 S. Figueroa, $49-$129.50. www.axs.com
Way Over Yonder Fest featuring Neko Case, Brett Dennen, others
On the beach, near the Pacific as salty wind blows forth and surfers ride the waves: not exactly the setting in which folk-based music was designed to be heard. But those wanting to go rustic under the California sun should note Over Yonder. Produced by the East Coast brains behind the Newport Folk Festival, the two-day Santa Monica concert will feature, among others, country-rock chanteuse Neko Case, singer-songwriter Conor Oberst, the Tucson-based roots band Calexico and second-generation songwriter Justin Townes Earle.
Santa Monica Pier, 200 Santa Monica Blvd. $45 per day ($80 for two-day pass). www.wayoveryonder.net
Despite not having released much music, the Los Angeles sibling trio Haim has been on the lips of many tastemakers in the last few years. The subject of a bidding war, the buzz of the city's pop scene and, most important for their future earnings, clients of Jay Z's management firm, sisters Este, Danielle and Alana seem like veterans even before their debut album, "Days Are Gone," filled with shiny, modernist rock, hits the stores Sept. 30.
The Fonda, 6126 Hollywood Blvd. $20. www.goldenvoice.com
Katy Perry, "Prism" (Capitol Records)
There's Michael Jackson, and then there's Katy Perry. The former once held the record for most No. 1 singles from the same album — five for "Thriller." A few years ago, though, Perry's "Teenage Dream" equaled that seemingly untouchable record. Perry has once again teamed with the best commercial hitmakers in the biz for her follow-up, "Prism," and early reports are that it's as catchy and sturdily constructed as her multiplatinum "Dream." Whether Perry or the yang to her yin, Lady Gaga and her "Artpop" album (Nov. 11), will hit bigger this fall is to be determined, but ignore Perry at your peril. While Gaga's insecurely hoping to be taken "seriously" as an "artist" with her new work, Perry and her team are dropping sonic pop art.
Arcade Fire, "Reflektor" (Merge)
In 2011, Arcade Fire stunned the majority of people who care about the Grammy Awards when it snagged album of the year award for its 2010 record "The Suburbs." Since then, the group has remained professionally quiet while the married principals, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, welcomed their first child. How the new boy will affect the band's sonic output is to be determined, but the Montreal-based group has been in the studio with New York producer/LCD Soundsystem founder James Murphy, who's been known to add noble thump to his work. The first single, "Reflektor," confirms this speculation. It's a seven-minute dance floor banger featuring David Bowie.
The Malian singer offers her beguiling fifth album, "Beautiful Africa," to America this fall both through the Nonesuch release (delayed from the spring), and a highly anticipated tour. In the last few years, Traoré has performed with artists including McCartney and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, and collaborated with Los Angeles-based theater director Peter Sellars. "Beautiful Africa" (Sept. 24) was produced by John Parish, best known for his work with PJ Harvey. Her Luckman performance is not to be missed.
Luckman Theater, 5151 State University Drive. $30-$40. www.luckmanarts.orgCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun