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As with every September, this month’s new release schedule is chock full of highly anticipated releases from every genre for every demographic. A few of the year’s most intriguing albums by artists both popular and acclaimed are due, most notably Drake, Justin Timberlake, and the woman behind PopMatters’ top album of 2010, Janelle Monae. There are also some big comebacks by throwback favorites, ranging from a proper Nine Inch Nails album to returns so long-awaited you stopped waiting for them by Mazzy Star and Sebadoh, as well as reinventions by Kim Gordon in Body/Head and Kathleen Hanna in the Julie Ruin. And that’s not to mention hotly tipped albums by buzzy acts across the musical spectrum, from 2 Chainz to the Weeknd to Icona Pop to MGMT.


 

 



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Richard Buckner

Surrounded

(Merge; US: 3 Sep 2013; UK: 9 Sep 2013)

Review [22.Oct.2013]
Richard Buckner
Surrounded


It’s getting harder and harder to think of Richard Buckner as only a singer-songwriter. He is certainly one of music’s best working lyricists, but he has used his time on Merge Records to explore many different avenues for his songs. Surrounded, his fourth record for Merge, comes on the heels of Our Blood, a high-water mark in Buckner’s career. It’s a record of strange and stunning compositions, humming atmospheres, and intimate songs. In other words, it’s a tough act to follow. But Surrounded holds its own and then some. Once again pushing himself to include new gear he hadn’t used before—like an electric autoharp—Buckner has given us another set of perfectly executed yet frayed-at-the-edge tunes. He can whip up a quiet storm of textures on “When You Tell Me How It Is” or deal in quiet space and hazy expanse on “Portrait”. All the album’s charms are present in the excellent closer, “Lean-To”, which is softly aching but also erupts in buzzing swells of sound. Buckner himself sings close to our ear in each song, letting his sweet rasp drift to the surface rather than forcing it over these careful sonic landscapes. Buckner is a noise experimentalist, a folk traditionalist, a shape-shifting artist, and the guy who made this, Surrounded, another memorable record, and one of 2013’s best. Matthew Fiander


 

 



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Califone

Stitches

(Dead Oceans; US: 3 Sep 2013; UK: 2 Sep 2013)

Review [16.Sep.2013]
Califone
Stitches


Stitches opens with a formidable threesome: the isolated buzz of “Movie Music Kills a Kiss”, the seething echoes of the title track, and the near-Red Red Meat revival of the stomping “Frosted Tips”. These are perfectly crafted songs, the kind that might make you think this is Califone’s most accessible record. You’d be right, but only in part. True, Stitches has a focus on fully-built moments that most of the band’s previous records veer excellently away from at times. Stitches, though, just weaves its experiments into different structures. “Movie Music Kills a Kiss” may seem like a simple acoustic tune, but its guitars can both tangle together and pull each other apart. The piano thump of “Magdalene” is complicated by faithful pedal steel, warm horns, and cool backing vocals. There’s more obvious deviations, like the layered vocals and negative space of “Bells Break Arms” or the closing noise experiment “turtle egg/an optimist”, but there’s also the tougher-to-pin-down shifts in epic standout “moonbath.brainsalt.a.holy.fool”. Even at its most experimental on the earlier records, Califone always hitched its most wild moments to the sturdily built songs. Here, despite what the title implies, they’re not patched together, but rather they merge in fascinating and endlessly tuneful ways. In other words, it’s another masterpiece from Califone. Matthew Fiander


 

 



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Neko Case

The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You

(Anti-; US: 3 Sep 2013; UK: 2 Sep 2013)

Neko Case
The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You


There’s a palpable sense of nostalgia to Neko Case’s music, as her rich, wry, sentiment-tinged voice and the sepia-toned strumming evoke a feeling of familiarity even when you haven’t heard from her in a while. Indeed, her return on The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You is like getting reacquainted with someone you instantly get caught up with, with all the timeless elements that make Case memorable coming through on tracks like the wisely humorous “I’m from No Where” and the waltzy throwback “Local Girl”. But such recognizably Neko Case offerings shouldn’t overshadow the new wrinkles on The Worse Things Get that we hadn’t gotten from her solo efforts before now. There’s more of a rollicking rock drive this time out, especially on the New Pornographers-like power-pop of “Bracing for Sunday” and the saloon-rock of “Calling Swans”. And Case is probably bolder and brasher than ever messing with gender roles on the furious “Man”, when she stands up for herself, calling out, “I’m a man / That’s what you raised me to be” to prove she isn’t nor wants to be—as she puts it later, “Make no mistake, I’ve invested in / A woman’s heart as the watermark / Of which I measure everything.” So when she announces on “Man” that “I’m not an identity crisis,” she’s telling the god’s honest truth, because, despite the twists and turns on The Worse Things Get, it’s clearly the work of the one and only Neko Case, and no one else. Arnold Pan


 

 



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The Julie Ruin

Run Fast

(TJR; US: 3 Sep 2013; UK: 3 Sep 2013)

Review [5.Sep.2013]
The Julie Ruin
Run Fast


Whatever wave of feminist rock we’re currently on, you can be sure that Kathleen Hanna is somewhere in the vanguard at the ramparts, in spirit if not forcing the action herself. We’re lucky that the latter is the case right now, as Hanna makes her return by dusting off her post-Bikini Kill/pre-Le Tigre alter ego Julie Ruin, which can be credited with her most intellectual engaged—and engaging—work. The Julie Ruin’s new disc Run Fast definitely picks up where the eponymous 1998 album left off all those years ago, combining punky dance-pop and deceptively catchy vocals that get across Hanna’s subversive social critique. A good case-in-point is “Kids in NY”, its funky lo-fi groove made for dancing in the streets and inciting the kind of underground youth revolt Hanna got her own start with. Like a demented version of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, “Girls Like Us” cites a litany of nagging gender stereotypes, dismissing them by embracing them (“Girls like us pick up the hot handles and burn our hands and we get over it”). With the medium always being a big part of Hanna’s message, Run Fast plays with and riffs off pop conventions to convey its confrontational points almost undercover, whether it’s coming on like a more psychotic and socially conscious B-52s on “Ha Ha Ha” or with the grrrl-groupy melodies of “Just My Kind”. Just as the terms of inequality change, so to do Kathleen Hanna’s tactics, finding just the right way to attack ‘em rhetorically and artistically. Arnold Pan


 

 



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Potty Mouth

Hell Bent

(Old Flame/Marshall Teller; US: 17 Sep 2013; UK: 16 Sep 2013)

Potty Mouth
Hell Bent


There’s something infectious but unassuming about Potty Mouth. The band members—Abby, Phoebe, Alli, and Victoria—generally only identify themselves by their first names in print. Their music, as it turns out, has a first-name approachability and intimacy. Their first full-length, Hell Bent, is full of pop-punk burners, from straight-ahead opener “The Gap” to surf-rock gem “Rusted Shut” to more shadowy turns like “Damage” or epic closer “The Better End”. Throughout, the songs take on various frustrations and barriers, but never succumb to them. “I’m rusted shut,” a song might admit, but then it follows with, “but I’m never gonna give up.” All though the album, the band seems to beam a smile at their crowd but sneer at everything else, and that sneer—and these songs—slice sharp. The music itself fitfully pulls at the boundaries of power-chord punk, weaving in noodling hooks and a rumbling low end. Potty Mouth is musically wise beyond their years, recalling in equal parts the best stuff from both Taang! and Touch and Go. The hooks will rope you in, but it’s the heart of these songs, and the subtle complications, that will keep you coming back. Matthew Fiander


 

 



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Frankie Rose

Herein Wild

(Fat Possum; US: 24 Sep 2013; UK: 24 Sep 2013)

Review [15.Nov.2013]
Frankie Rose
Herein Wild


It would be trite to say that Frankie Rose comes into full bloom on her third full-length Herein Wild, except that it’s true in this case. Okay, that’s still a bad cliché, but Herein Wild finds Rose further down the road coming into her own as a songwriter, zooming way past her lo-fi phase and into a bigger, more assured sound. If the more atmospheric feel of last year’s Interstellar counted as a big step in her development, Herein Wild constitutes a quantum leap in that direction, with the melodies more substantial and the textures richer this time out. There’s a more thorough exploration of the orchestrated touches Rose had dabbled in before, with piano, strings, and horns piercing through her gauzy soundscapes with greater resonance. These elements work in whatever setting they’re placed in, be it in a louder, more boisterous track such as the Stereolab-y “Minor Times” or a quieter, more patient composition like “Cliffs as High”. But even as Rose shows a more complex approach on Herein Wild, the ex-Vivian Girl and Dum Dum Girl also pays homage to her roots better than before here, threading her neo-girl-group pop instincts through her moodier dark-pop experiments, especially noticeable on the pensive “Sorrow” and the Go-Go’s-gone-goth number “Heaven”. Arnold Pan


 

 



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Sebadoh

Defend Yourself

(Joyful Noise; US: 17 Sep 2013; UK: 16 Sep 2013)

Review [18.Sep.2013]
Sebadoh
Defend Yourself


There’s been plenty of overdue reunions recently—didn’t we just talk about Medicine last month?—but Sebadoh has to be one of the most welcome returns of 2013. Lou Barlow and company came back with the Secret EP last month, but now they’ve got a full record in Defend Yourself, and it’s an excellent new entry in the band’s impressive discography. It certainly will remind you of past Sebadoh successes when Barlow hits us with bittersweet pop gems like “I Will” and “State of Mine” or when Jason Loewenstein digs into the frenetic rundown of “Inquiries” or the gut-rumble of “Beat”. But while the band sounds confidently like themselves, there is something different about Defend Yourself. It acts as a counterweight to the consistent tensed-up overcast feel of Bakesale or the varied thorns and barbs of Harmacy. Under all the band’s usual stunning heft, there is a sense of landscape in these songs. Guitar ripple out instead of coiling in, the vocals seem to drift out into a wider space. There’s a thin coat of dust over these songs, but also a low light rising out from under it. So, yeah, it’s not surprise a band has changed after 14 years without a record, but the changes here, the subtlety of them, are bracing and make Defend Yourself not just a welcome return, but a shot in the arm for the band, the listeners, and indie rock at large. Matthew Fiander


 

Selected Releases for September 2013
(Release dates subject to change)


September 3


Acoustic Syndicate, Rooftop Garden (Little King)
Angger Dimas, Angger Management (Dim Mak)
Ashanti, BraveHeart, (Written Entertainment/eOne)
Bermuda Triangle, Friends and Family (Happenin’)
Celestial Shore, 10x (Hometapes)
Drimcell, Sleep Complex (CLR)
Elephant Revival, These Changing Skies (Itz Evolving/Thirty Tigers)
Esmerine, Dalmak (Constellation)
Ginkgo, Manopause (ibid)
Glasvegas, Later…When the TV Turns to Static (Go Wow)
Ariana Grande, Yours Truly (Universal Republic)
Grey Reverend, A Hero’s Lie (Motion Audio)
Hellsongs, These Are Evil Times (Tapete)
Fred Hersch and Julian Lage, Free Flying (Palmetto)
Dave Holland, Prism (Dare2)
Lonnie Holley, Keeping a Record of It (Dust-to-Digital)
Holograms, Forever (Captured Tracks)
Hookworms, Pearl Mystic (Weird World)
Jackson and His Computerband, Glow (Warp)
Keith Jarrett and Michelle Makarski, Six Sonatas for Violin and Piano (ECM)
John Wizards, John Wizards (Planet Mu)
King Khan & the Shrines, Idle No More (Merge)
John Legend, Love in the Future (Sony)
Loss of Self, 12 Minutes EP (The Flenser)
Mike Mangione and the Union, Red-Winged Blackbird Man (Rodzinka)
Meridian Brothers, Devocion (Works 2005-2011) (Staubgold)
Nine Inch Nails, Hesitation Marks (Columbia)
North Mississippi Allstars, World Boogie Is Coming (Song of the South)
Okkervil River, The Silver Gymnasium (ATO)
Over the Rhine, Meet Me at the Edge of the World
Pink Frost, Sundowning (Smart Like Virus)
Jonathan Rado (Foxygen), Law & Order (Woodsist)
Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project, Devils ‘n Darlins (429)
Severence, Hidden Ceilings (Binemusic)
Rod Stewart, Rarities (Mercury)
Sundowner, Neon Fiction (Fat Wreck)
Surf City, We Knew It Was Not Going to Be Like This (Fire)
Swiiim, Cellophane Castle (Lightwave)
Nedelle Torrisi, Nedelle Torrisi
TV Ghost, Disconnect (In the Red)
Mika Vainio/Joachim Nordwall, Monstrance (Touch)
Various Artists, Le Petit Bonheur: Le K Plays Staubgold (Staubgold)
Volcano Choir, Repave (Jagjaguwar)
Derek Webb, I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry & I Love You (Fair Trade)
White Poppy, White Poppy (Not Not Fun)
Chelsea Wolfe, Pain Is Beauty (Sargent House)
World’s Fair, Bastards of the Party (Fool’s Gold)
Richard Youngs, Summer through My Mind (Ba Da Bing!)
Youth Code, Youth Code (Dais)


September 10


2 Chainz, B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time (Def Jam)
The Albertans, Dangerous Anything (Ernest Jenning)
Ralph Alessi, BaidaECM
Alex Smoke, Dust EP (R & S)
Arctic Monkeys, AM (Domino)
Balance and Composure, Reflection (No Sleep)
Willis Earl Beal, Nobody Knows (HXC)
Jim Beard, Show of Hands (Sunnyside)
The Black Watch, The End of When (Pop Culture Press)
Body/Head (Kim Gordon), Falling Apart (Matador)
Tamar Braxton, Love and War (Epic)
Briar Rabbit, From Your Bones
Ane Brun, Songs 2003-2013 (Balloon Ranger)
Brussels Jazz Orchestra featuring Joe Lovano, Wild Beauty: Sonata Suite for the Brussels Jazz Orchestra (Half Note)
Ry Cooder and Corridos Famosos, Live in San Francisco (Nonesuch/Perro Verde)
Sheryl Crow, Feels Like Home (Warner Bros.)
Delorean, Apar (True Panther)
Down to Nothing, Life on the James (Revelation)
Earth, Wind and Fire, Now, Then and Forever (Legacy)
Gloria Estefan, The Standards (Sony Masterworks)
Factory Floor, Factory Floor (DFA)
Fiver, Lost the Plot (Triple Crown)
Forest Fire, Screens (FatCat)
Gipsy Kings, Savor Flamenco (Knitting Factory)
Goldfrapp, Tales of Us (Mute)
Helm, Silencer EP (PAN/Alter)
Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd, Holding It Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project (Pi)
Jacuzzi Boys, Jacuzzi Boys (Hardly Art)
Joanna Gruesome, Weird Sister (Slumberland)
George Jones, Amazing Grace (Bandit)
Kaskade, Atmosphere (Ultra)
Mark Knopfler, Privateering (Universal)
Lissie, Back to Forever (Fat Possum)
London Grammar, If You Wait (Columbia)
Man Man, On Oni Pond (Anti-)
Dave Martone/Glen Drover, Live at Metalworks (Magna Carta)
Mary Halvorson Septet, Illusionary Sea (Firehouse 12)
Miniboone, Miniboone (Ernest Jenning)
Ministry, From Beer to Eternity (AFM)
Janelle Monae, Electric Lady (Bad Boy)
Mrenc, All Around Sound (New Grenada)
Obits, Bed & Bugs (Sub Pop)
Peelander-Z, Metalander-Z (Chicken Ranch)
Placebo, Loud Like Love (Universal)
Rise Against, Long Forgotten Songs: B-Sides & Covers 2000-2013 (Interscope)
The Sadies, Internal Sounds (Yep Roc)
Shortwave Broadcaster, Everything You Do Is Deja-Vu (Saint Marie)
The Starfolk, The Starfolk (Korda)
The Stargazer Lilies, We Are the Dreamers (Graveface)
Steep Canyon Rangers, Tell the Ones I Love (Rounder)
Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio, Thwirl (Sunnyside)
The Stepkids, Troubadour (Stones Throw)
Terry Malts, Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere (Slumberland)
Emiliana Torrini, Tookah (Rough Trade)
Toy Soldiers, The Maybe Boys (Rocket Science Ventures)
Trombone Shorty, Say That to Say This (Verve)
Various Artists, The Road to Jajouka: A Benefit Album (Howe)
Keith Urban, Fuse (Capitol Nashville)
J. Roddy Walston & the Business, Essential Tremors
Jimmy Webb, Still Within the Sound of My Voice (eOne)
The Weeknd, Kiss Land (Republic)
Wild Ponies, Things That Used to Shine (Ditch Dog)
Wildcat! Wildcat!, Wildcat! Wildcat! EP (Downtown)
Brian Wright, Rattle Their Chains (Sugar Hill)


September 17


Arp, High-Heeled Clouds (Smalltown Supersound)
The Band, Live at the Academy of Music 1971 (4CD/1DVD) (Capitol)
the band in Heaven, Caught in a Summer Swell (Decades)
The Band of Heathens, Sunday Morning Record
Big Scary, Not Art (Barsuk)
Blouse, Imperium (Captured Tracks)
Aisha Burns, Life in the Midwater (Western Vinyl)
Bill Callahan, Dream River (Drag City)
Don Cavalli, Temperamental (Everloving)
Clark, Feast/Beast (Warp)
Clear Soul Forces, Gold PP7S (Fat Beats)
The Cloak Ox, Shoot the Dog (Totally Gross National Product)
Saul Conrad, The Fancy (Mountain of Leopards)
Cloud Control, Dream Cave (Votiv)
Juliette Commagere, Human (Aeronaut)
Elvis Costello and The Roots, Wise Up Ghost (Blue Note)
Crystal Stilts, Nature Noir (Sacred Bones)
The Darcys, Warring (Arts & Crafts)
Forrest Day, The Second
Dirtbombs, Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey (In the Red)
Drake, Nothing Was the Same (Universal)
The Falls, Hollywood EP
Kenny Feinstein, Loveless (cover of My Bloody Valentine album) (Fluff & Gravy)
The Fire Tapes, Phantoms (Warhen)
Go: Organic Orchestra/Adam Rudolph, Sonic Mandala (Meta)
God Is an Astronaut, Origins (Rocket Girl)
Grouplove, Spreading Rumours (Atlantic)
Guido Mobius, Though the Darkness Gathers (Karaoke Kalk)
Gwar, Battle Maximus (Metal Blade)
Holy Ghost!, Dynamics (DFA)
Francois Houle and Havard Wiik, Aves (Songlines)
Islands, Ski Mask (Manque)
Jack Johnson, From Here to Now to You (Universal Republic)
Tommy Keene, Excitement at Your Feet (Second Motion)
Keep Shelly in Athens, At Home (Cascine)
John Paul Keith, Memphis Circa 3AM (Big Legal Mess)
Carol Kleyn, Return of the Silkie (Drag City)
Lake, The World Is Real (K)
Jonny Lang, Fight for My Soul (Concord)
Mark Lanegan, Imitations (Vagrant)
Las Kellies, Total Exposure (Fire)
Lawrence, Films & Windows (Dial)
Kal Marks, Life Is Murder (Exploding in Sound)
MGMT, MGMT (Columbia)
Mind Over Mirrors, When the Rest Are Up at Four (Immune)
mum, Smilewood (Morr Music)
The Naked and Famous, In Rolling Waves (Republic)
Nashaz, Nashaz (Ziryab)
Nightmares on Wax, Feelin’ Good (Warp)
Tim O’Brien and Darrell Scott, Memories & Moments (Full Skies)
Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band, Take Me to the Land of Hell (Chimera Music)
Pillars & Tongues, End-dances (Empty Cellar)
Plankton Wat, Drifter’s Temple (Thrill Jockey)
Gregory Porter, Liquid Spirit (Blue Note)
Royal Bangs, Brass (Modern Art)
Royal Teeth, Glow (Dangerbird)
Tom Rush, Celebrates 50 Years of Music; Live in Concert Boston Symphony Hall 2012 (CD/DVD) (Appleseed)
Said the Whale, Hawaii (Hidden Pony)
Samuel Blaser Consort in Motion, A Mirror to Machaut (Songlines)
San Fermin, San Fermin (Downtown)
Saroos, Return (Alien Transistor)
Seams, Quarters (Full Time Hobby)
Sisu, Blood Tears (Brooklyn’s Mono Prism)
Jyotsna Srikanth, Call of Bangalore (Riverboat/World Music Network)
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Fly by Wire (Polyvinyl)
Wesley Stace, self-titled (Yep Roc)
Susanna and Ensemble neoN, The Forester (Susannasonata)
Telonius, Inter Face (Gomma)
Sidi Touré, Alafia (Thrill Jockey)
Ulcerate, Vermis (Relapse)
Various Artists, Afrobeat Airways 2 (Analog Africa)
Various Artists, Kill Yourself Dancing: The Story of Sunset Records Inc, Chicago 1985-89 (Still)
Tony Joe White, Hoodoo (Yep Roc)
Windhand, Soma (Relapse)
Wolvserpent, Perigaea Antahkarana (Relapse)
Dustin Wong, Mediation of Ecstatic Energy (Thrill Jockey)
Yuppies, Yuppies (Dull Tools)


September 24


10 Ft. Ganga, Skycatcher (ROIR)
Au Revoir Simone, Move in Spectrums (Instant)
Chvrches, Bones of What You Believe (Glassnote)
Claire, Broken Promise Land EP (Astralwerks)
Clannad, Nadur (Arc Music/Naxos)
John Coltrane, Afro Blue Impressions (2CDs) (Concord/Pablo)
Dave King Trucking Company, Adopted Highway (Sunnyside)
Deer Tick, Negativity (Partisan)
Jeremy Denk, Goldberg Variations (Nonesuch)
Dream Theater, Dream Theater (Roadrunner)
Stewart Eastham, The Man I Once Was (Long Bar)
Ghostpoet, Some Say I So I Say Light (PIAS)
Gov’t Mule, Shout (Blue Note)
Ha Ha Tonka, Lessons (Bloodshot)
Heaven’s Gate, Transmuting (Inflated)
Huerco S., Colonial Patterns (Software)
Icona Pop, This Is: Icona Pop (Big Beat/WEA)
Into It. Over It., Intersections (Triple Crown)
Alan Jackson, The Bluegrass Album (Capitol Nashville)
Jesu, Every Day I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came (Avalanche)
Elton John, The Diving Board (Universal)
Kings of Leon, Mechanical Bull (RCA)
Kissaway Trail, Breach (Yep Roc)
Kneebody, The Line (Concord)
Lovers, A Friend in the World (Badman)
Matt Mitchell, Fiction (Pi)
Mazzy Star, Seasons of Your Day (Rhythm of an Hour)
Native, Orthodox (Sargent House)
Willie Nelson, To All The Girls… (Legacy)
Nirvana, In Utero Super Deluxe Edition (3CD+1DVD) (Geffen)
Noah and the Whale, Heart of Nowhere (Caroline)
Pink Martini, Get Happy (Heinz)
Promised Land Sound, Promised Land Sound (Paradise of Bachelors)
Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby, Cluck Ol’ Hen (Skaggs Family)
sleepmakeswaves, ...and so we destroyed everything (Monotreme)
Smashing Pumpkins, Oceania: Live In NYC (2CD+1DVD) (Virgin)
Steel Cranes, Ouroboros
The Slims, Slowpoke
Sting, The Last Ship (Cherrytree/Interscope/A&M)
Touche Amore, Is Survived By (Deathwish Inc)
TRAAMS, Grin Out (FatCat)
Trentemøller, Lost (In My Room)
Various Artists, The Rough Guide to Voodoo (World Music Network)
Vienna Teng, Aims


September 27


Death Valley Rally, The Stars Shine Brighter After Midnight (Planting Seeds)
Roberto Fonseca, Yo (Concord Jazz/Montuno)
Luray, The Wilder
Vulture Industries, The Tower (Season of Mist)


September 30


HAIM, Days Are Gone (Columbia)
Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience, 2 of 2 (RCA)

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