Who doesn’t love autumn? The kids are back in school, the weather is slightly less unbearably infernal, your favorite TV shows are out of reruns and the top 10 movies at the box office start to contain fewer comic-book sequels, tween thrillers and 3D monster movies and more films for actual grown-ups.
The months leading up to Christmas are also a great time for music. September, October and November typically see the release of some of the year’s most anticipated albums. Every now and then we’ll be spotlighting a few of them. Here’s a look at some of this week’s most exciting releases.
Ben Folds and Nick Hornby: Lonely Avenue
Talk about a match made in music-geek heaven. Folds is the classically trained piano rocker responsible for some of the most enduring cult pop songs of the past 20 years (“Brick,” “Army,” “Rockin’ the Suburbs”and one catchy rap cover with an unprintable name), and Hornby is the author of a number of eloquent novels and screenplays about love, music and the male condition, including “High Fidelity.” Hornby wrote the lyrics and Folds played and sung for this first compelling collaboration, developed over a mutual fanship.
Edwyn Collins: Losing Sleep
One of the best musicians alive that nobody knows, former Orange Juice frontman Collins has been inactive for years thanks to a cerebral hemorrhage he suffered in 2005. “Losing Sleep” is his first album of new material since his recovery, and it’s another finely tuned set of infectious, heart-rending pop-rock. Collins, perhaps best known for the ’90s club hit “Girl Like You,” co-wrote and recorded the album with some impressive help: The Smiths’ Johnny Marr and members of Aztec Camera, The Drums and Franz Ferdinand. He’s reportedly playing live again and sounding as powerful as ever.
No Age: Everything in Between
Los Angeles’ No Age is the kind of band for whom sloppiness is something of a benefit. It’s hard to imagine the group playing an elegant music hall; when they’re not performing in grocery stores, record shops or on beaches, they darken small, sweaty clubs throbbing with their crazy throngs of admirers. Critics have been reticent to describe their sound as “punk,” because the moniker has been successfully co-opted by Hot Topic posers, but punk circa 1977-1981 is exactly the period their noise conjures. “Everything in Between” is said to be more refined and nuanced than their abrasive full-length debut “Nouns;” if it’s anything like last year’s EP “Losing Feeling,” it’ll be in regular rotation on my turntable.
Neil Young: Le Noise
Neil Young is one of the few baby boomer rock icons to stay as relevant as ever in the 21st century. While his ’70s contemporaries sound today like dinosauric relics from another time, Young continues to challenge his audience, both with his outspoken political views (Those who dismissed his 2006 album “Living With War” on the basis of its anti-Bush message alone missed one of the year’s best records) and for the music itself, which has become complex, experimental and, as the title of his latest record suggests, noisy. Young offers a few songs from the album on his website: Drench yourself in the glorious feedback and wonder how this can possibly be from the same guy who recorded “Harvest Moon.”