This season brings listeners a combination of whole new sounds, including new works from Mika and the Pet Shop Boys, along with re-imagined and re-worked throwbacks as Nina Simone is honored and Barbra Streisand releases never-before-heard songs from earlier parts of her career.
Folk-rock musician Melissa Etheridge’s newly released album, “4th Street Feeling,” takes listeners back to her hometown Leavenworth, Kan. Etheridge describes 4th St. as the main drag of downtown and this is the first time where she takes lead guitar to sing the bluesy sounds of her home.
Released earlier this week, the Pet Shop Boys’ new album “Elysium” is the 30-year-old group’s attempt to infuse the music with fresh sounds by recording in Los Angeles with Kanye West associate Andrew Dawson. The first single “Winner” was revealed in July and it was performed before the Olympic tennis game along with “Always On My Mind” and “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” in Henman Hill, Wimbledon.
Also just out is Amy Cook’s new album “Summer Skin” where singers as diverse as Robert Plant and Patty Griffin join her for the project she calls highly melodic and catchy.
The day after, Nelly Furtado’s latest album “The Spirit Indestructible” released and it is her first English language album in six years. Three years in the making, Furtado has returned to her “Whoa Nelly!” origins with a pop and R&B combo.
The multi-platinum out star Mika releases his new album “The Origin of Love” on Oct. 16. His third album, every aspect of “The Origin of Love” was put together completely by Mika over two years. He flew all over the world to put together a large amount of collaborators including Greg Wells, who has worked with stars such as Rufus Wainwright, Katy Perry, Elton John and Adele.
Yoko Ono has linked up with Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moor to produce “YOKOKIMTHURSTON” coming out Sept. 25. The album has only six tracks, however it still appears to be lengthy based on their first single “Early in the Morning,” which is 14 minutes long. The announcement of the new album came to surprise many fans since Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore split after 27 years of marriage last October.
Seattle-based rapper, Macklemore (also known as Ben Haggerty) has a new release “The Heist LP” coming out Oct. 9. The previously released single “Same Love,” which showed Macklemore’s support for same-sex marriage, is included on the track along with “Can’t Hold Us” and “Make the Money.”
While some artists are producing new modern sounds, some are putting fresh twists on the old. Meshell Ndegeocello comes out with “Pour Une Ame Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone” on Oct. 9, a tribute to legendary singer and pianist Nina Simone who died in 2003. The juxtaposition of Simone’s lyrical clarity against the unclear style of Ndegeocello, who’s bi, appears in many of the album’s songs.
Also reimaging older numbers is Tori Amos, whose newest album “Gold Dust” comes out on Oct. 2. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Amos’ first album “Little Earthquakes,” and her new album includes several numbers spanning her career re-recorded with the Metropole Orchestra. The idea for the album was conceived in 2010 when Amos was invited to perform with the orchestra and she enjoyed hearing her songs being played in this style. She wanted the renditions of her songs recorded.
Also working somewhat within that vein is Aussie diva Kylie Minogue, whose “Abbey Road Sessions” drops Nov. 6 featuring 16 of her songs re-imagined and re-arranged with full orchestra. It will also include one previously unreleased cut, “Flower.”
Barbra Streisand is sharing 11 unreleased numbers that span from 1963 to the present in her album “Release Me,” which is available on Vinyl on Sept. 25 and on CD on Oct. 9. Many of the tracks were extra recordings that did not make it onto the original albums. The tracks include songs such as “Willow Weep For Me,” recorded in 1967 for the album “Simply Streisand,” and a version of Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going Rain Today” with Newman on piano and Streisand singing.
Leona Lewis is finally releasing her third studio album “Glassheart” on Oct. 15. The album was originally scheduled to release last fall, but was pushed back several times to add more recording sessions. Lewis performed the first single “Collide” on Simon Cowell’s new game show “Red or Black?” Later in September 2011, she performed this single along with the title song “Glassheart” at G-A-Y nightclub in London.
Freshening up the later part of fall is Taylor Swift with her studio album “Red” slated for Oct. 22. Swift is known for her tumultuous and emotional style, often pulling from her past relationships as inspiration. Her new work promises to be no different as the first released single “We Are Never Getting Back Together” might be the next breakup anthem. It’s up to listeners to figure out which past loves she is singing about in which tracks, as the singer is not giving any names.
On Oct. 23, Diamond Rings — a one-man outfit consisting of gay singer John O — releases “Free Dimensional,” which he says retains the melodicism, clever juxtapositions and lyrical honesty that garnered him kudos for his “Special Affections” project.
“What’s different this time around is how the songs were conceived and produced,” he said in a press statement, referring to his increasing comfort with “high tech bells and whistles.”