Sept. 91. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Skeleton Tree”There is always a bit of anxiety that comes with the release of a new Nick Cave album. This one especially so. After the death of his 15-year-old son, Arthur, in summer 2015, Cave became reclusive until the sporadic announcement of a new album and theatrical accompaniment. Two songs have been released so far, including a music video for the opening track “Jesus Alone.” Watch the video. Look into his eyes and see what “Skeleton Tree” has in store for you.
2. MIA, “AIM”The Sri Lankan pop rap wunderkind returns with her fifth and supposedly final album. The lead singles “Swords” and “Borders” indicated an emphasis on confronting the ongoing migrant crisis, while the singer herself said the album is going to have a “happy and positive” tone. Political statements can sometimes use a dose of positivity, and if anything, you can bet on the album being supremely catchy.
3. Devin Townsend, “Transcendence”Full disclosure: Devin Townsend is one of my favorite musicians. He put on one of the most entertaining concerts I have ever seen, and I’m overly excited about the new record. This is his follow-up to 2014’s “Z2,” a concept album about an alien seeking enlightenment and the universe’s ultimate cup of coffee. The new record is not a concept album. Devy explains it as “a reflection of how I’m feeling now.” Devin and his band make triumphant progressive metal music, with soaring guitars and vocals that range from shrieks to angelic choirs. Check out the track “Failure” for a sneak peek at the glory.
4. Wilco, “Schmilco”Last year, Wilco surprised and delighted longtime fans with “Star Wars,” showing the gruffer side of their sound after a few years of quiet. Now comes “Schmilco,” the softer side of the “Star Wars” recording sessions. Jeff Tweedy and Co. allow the notes to breathe a little bit, adding a touch of relaxed ambient energy to the recordings. Throw in a little bit of reverb and you have yourself a weird folk record that is sure to delight.
5. The Head and The Heart, “Signs of Light”Seattle-based indie folksters return with their third album on Sub Pop Records. The Head and The Heart delight with quiet but evocative melodies, and gorgeous harmonized vocals. They also cleverly uses sparse segments of strings to add a little bit more emotional weight to some songs. This is the stuff that makes you linger in a coffee shop long after you should’ve left.