Hip-hop stars have mostly given up on using albums as calling cards: masterful mix tapes and hit singles build anticipation for months before an official release finally drops. But Kid Cudi, the Brooklyn-via-Cleveland rapper with the slow, spaced-out flow, cares about concepts and complicated thoughts. So his long-player should be a trip. Also, look for the debut from quick-witted D.C. rapper Wale in October.
G.O.O.D. Music/Universal Motown, Sept. 15 (Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)
“Supergroup” is far too inflated a word to describe this lovely, laid-back collaboration among four leading lights of introspective rock: songwriters M. Ward, Jim James and Conor Oberst, and arranger/producer Mike Mogis. Call it a master class instead. These songs drop sonic wisdom like honey. Mogis also worked on the long-promised solo debut from Strokes singer Julian Casablancas, “Phrazes for the Young,” also out this month (we hope).
Shangri-La Music, Sept. 22
From left: Mogis, Oberst, Ward and James. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
It’s a new golden era for women in country, and Miranda Lambert, a serious songwriter with fire in her belly, earns her kudos as a new Loretta Lynn. Her third album highlights her introspective side while still offering the dust-kickers that made her a star. Carrie Underwood, who is to Lambert what Tammy Wynette was to Lynn, returns with her third studio album, “Play On,” in November.
Columbia, Sept. 29 (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
The video for the title track and first single from the Colombian demigoddess’ third English-language studio album was more like an assault than a tease: writhing and roaring, Shakira staked her claim on the dance floor with moves that should make Lady Gaga run in fear. This electronica-tinged effort features production by Pharrell Williams, RedOne and Santigold‘s pal John Hill, plus Shakira’s old hit-making partner, Wyclef Jean. Also dominating this fall: Nelly Furtado‘s first Spanish-language album, “Mi Plan,” out Sept. 29.
Epic, Oct. 13 (AFP/Getty Images)
Nobody would call the cheesiest rock band ever “album oriented,” but consider this release, “Sonic Boom” -- the first studio effort from the group in 11 years -- a value-added experience. The Wal-Mart set will include another disc featuring re-recorded hits and a live DVD. (Christopher Barth / Associated Press)
Adore him or simply marvel at his audacity -- R. Kelly doesn’t care. R&B’s most lascivious talent will continue turning his primal drives into hip-hopera as long as he is allowed; witness the first single from this new set, the Keri Hilson duet “Number One,” which seeks to make the airwaves themselves, um, vibrate. Also hot for fall: Mary J. Blige‘s ninth studio album, “Stronger,” coming in November.
The Dutch-born trancemaster known for his massive DJ sets cultivates a smaller community on this crossover effort, which features vocals by boutique-pop favorites like Tegan and Sara, Kele Okereke of Bloc Party, Nelly Furtado, Emily Haines of Metric and Icelandic pop elves Sigur Rós. Dance mavens also are looking forward to the new one from Air, “Love 2,” coming in October.
Ultra, Oct. 20 (Hamish Brown)
Sometimes a change can do you good. So thinks Norah Jones, whose as-yet-untitled fourth studio album promises to be guitar-driven, roots-rocky (collaborators include Ryan Adams and Will Sheff of Okkervil River) and maybe a bit rougher than her previous velvety fare. Similarly promising change is John Mayer, whose new “Battle Studies,” also set for November, will be nothing like his smash “Continuum,” according to the guitarist himself.
Blue Note, November (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
One hit song does not make a career, but when that hit is “Bleeding Love,” it comes pretty close. The English beauty behind that ridiculous smash returns with her second album, and contributions from Timbaland, Justin Timberlake and, yes, her “Blood” brother Ryan Tedder portend more endless radio play. Less certain: the fate of Mariah Carey‘s showily delayed new release, “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel,” coming Sept. 29.
J Records, Nov. 17 (EPA)
I’m glad I’m not Adam Lambert -- so many expectations hang on the glitter-kissed shoulders of last season’s “American Idol” breakout star. He’s promising a cornucopia of styles from rock to dance to pop on this debut album, but one thing’s for sure: with collaborators such as Max Martin, Ryan Tedder and Linda Perry, it should sound like gold. Also coming in November: debuts from Lambert’s “Idol” pals Kris Allen and Allison Iraheta.
RCA, Nov. 24 (Noel Vasquez / Getty Images)
Latin America’s love language -- tango -- realizes a new vocabulary through the work of this Argentine-Uruguayan collective, which blends electronic and hip-hop with the seductive traditional sound. Wear heels to this one.
Mayan Theater, Sept. 17
Pictured: Bajofondo’s Gustavo Santaolalla (Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times)
The punchy rock of the new “Backspacer,” to be released Sept. 20, shows how much alt-rock’s most steadfast band still values challenging itself. The same goes for a tour based on multiple-night stands, including these theater shows, which will surely electrify.
The Madonna from Down Under was recently declared, via a nationwide survey, to be Australia’s most marketable brand. Southland residents can finally bask in the shine of this veteran international pop goddess during her first-ever U.S. tour.
Hollywood Bowl, Oct. 4 (J.L. Pino / EPA)
The Cadbury chocolate of swoony U.K. rock, Travis makes deliciously grandiloquent music that’s beloved by those who’ve gone beyond Coldplay. The band’s lead singer and guitarist emote for the lucky few during this intimate run.
Largo at the Coronet, Oct. 9-12 (EPA)
The Part Time Punks festival is always great for late-1970s/early-1980s fetishists, but the first-ever West Coast set from the band whose feminist racket inspired Kurt Cobain and drew the map for Riot Grrrl makes it really special.
The Echo, Oct. 11 (Florian Schulte)
What is it with all the rock gods descending to Earth this season? Dylan does Hollywood the week his wryly anticipated Christmas album hits stores; the Who’s 65-year-old Adonis brings his first solo tour since 1985 to one of downtown’s loveliest spots a few days later.
Dylan at the Palladium, Oct. 13-15
Daltrey at the Orpheum, Oct. 17 (Associated Press)
The thinking woman’s heartthrob (and thinking man’s style advisor) has made a stunning comeback with his critical and commercial hit “BLACKSummer’s Night” album; a stop at the Hollywood Bowl continues his winning streak. Also on the hot list for urban sophisticates: the reunion tour of the girl group that inspired Beyoncé and many more.
Maxwell at the Hollywood Bowl, Oct. 16
En Vogue at Club Nokia, Nov. 8 (Patrick Semansky, Associated Press)
Astoundingly virtuosic on their own instruments, these three masters -- of the banjo, the Indian tabla and the upright bass, respectively -- make alchemical gold by intertwining repertoires and world traditions.
Royce Hall, Oct. 22 (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
Come on, you gotta see the Claw! Ireland’s titans bring the exoskeletal structure -- the tallest stadium set ever built -- to Pasadena during a world tour that’s obliterating earlier definitions of theater-in-the-round.
Rose Bowl, Oct. 25 (AFP/Getty Images)
Internationally renowned DJs and costumed revelers shake the rafters at this huge annual dance party. This year’s acts include Armin Van Buuren, Crystal Castles and Felix Da Housecat.
Los Angeles Sports Arena, Oct. 31 (Roger Kisby / Getty Images)
It’s a night of tough choices -- or boot-scooting between venues -- for fans of serious country when two of its brightest new stars set up shop at the L.A. Live complex, and one of its most respected elders reflects on his life and great songbook just down the street.
Jamey Johnson, pictured, and Randy Houser at Club Nokia, Nov. 1
Kris Kristofferson at Disney Hall, Nov. 1 (James Minchin)
Twenty years later, “Doolittle,” the breakthrough record from Boston’s snarliest post-punk band, still sounds weird and strangely new. The occasionally reunited group performs the whole thing, plus B-sides and promised “surprises,” at these two shows.
Palladium, Nov. 4 and 5 (AFP)
This John Adams-curated fest nobly ignores distinctions between “pop” and “classical” and includes evenings with Dave Alvin and the Airborne Toxic Event, pictured, as well as one celebrating the Beats (with Kurt Elling!). Don’t miss the opening event, a collaboration between the Kronos Quartet, electronic duo Matmos, guitarist Mike Einziger of Incubus and the great composer Terry Riley.
Disney Hall, Nov. 21 (opening night) through Dec. 8 (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)