>Album Title Goes Here<

Producer: Deadmau5

Ultra Music

Release Date: Sept. 25

He recently wrote on Tumblr that he plans to "unplug for a wee bit" as a result of being "pretty miserable right now." But before he does, Deadmau5 is unleashing a new studio release, ">Album Title Goes Here<", that feels like an attempt to hold onto some of the interest he's attracted during the last year with a high-profile Foo Fighters collaboration and a widely discussed feud with Madonna. In lead single "Professional Griefers" the Canadian DJ/producer (born Joel Zimmerman) recruits My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way for a stomping disco-punk jam, while "Failbait" features radio-ready rhymes from Cypress Hill. Elsewhere, Imogen Heap threads "Telemiscommunications" with a delicate vocal melody sure to appeal to fans of her own "Hide and Seek." That's not to suggest that ">Album Title Goes Here<" might alienate committed EDM types: "Channel 42," a vocal-free co-production with Wolfgang Gartner, thumps as hard as any Electric Daisy ticketholder could hope. (And "The Veldt" and "Fn Pig" both stretch beyond the eight-minute mark.) But not much here makes Deadmau5 seem like a guy wary of increased renown.

The xx


Producer: Jamie Smith

Young Turks

Release Date: Sept. 11

You can apply the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" adage to the xx's second album, "Coexist". The follow-up to the British trio's celebrated 2009 self-titled debut maintains the same hushed, Lee Hazlewood-and-Nancy Sinatra-go-to-East-London vibe that made the xx a favorite among the likes of Shakira, Drake and Rihanna -- all three of whom have covered or sampled the electro-rock group's songs. Repeat spins reveal "Coexist" to be a more emotive, ever-so-slightly more rhythmic outing, as exemplified by lead single "Angels," for which singer Romy Madley-Croft delivers one of her most expressive vocals to date. Elsewhere, "Chained" and "Sunset" feature some of the group's hardest-hitting beats, with a thumping bass carrying the latter into one of the quietest four-on-the-floor choruses in recent memory. The chemistry between Madley-Croft and singer/guitarist Oliver Sim remains delightfully intact, adding a layer of depth that makes mournful breakup ballads like "Our Song" and "Try" all the more affecting. The hooks might not be as immediate as xx faves like "Islands" or "Night Time," but "Coexist" becomes more satisfying as a full album.


Theatre Is Evil

Producer: John Congelton

8ft. Records

Release Date: Sept. 11

"I'm not an idiot," Amanda Palmer told the Guardian in late August. "I know how the press works." She was referring to the probability that most reviews of her new album will likely lead with the fact that the former member of Boston's cult-beloved punk-cabaret act the Dresden Dolls had financed the record by raising $1.2 million through Kickstarter. And indeed, here we are! So does "Theatre Is Evil" -- which Palmer describes as her "first really big" studio album since 2008's Ben Folds-produced "Who Killed Amanda Palmer" -- live up in a musical sense to its impressive origin story? It certainly does if you're a fan of Palmer's previous work. Much of "Theatre" finds the singer/pianist layering her swooping vocals over high-contrast arrangements full of crashing drums and meaty riffs. The songs "Trout Heart Replica" and "Do It With a Rockstar" increase the drama with lush orchestral strings, and "Massachusetts Avenue" features a tart horn section. Lyrically, too, Palmer sticks to her usual style, vacillating madly between bleeding-heart compassion and seen-it-all skepticism. She gives the people -- and her backers -- what they want.



Music @ the Speed of Life

Producer: Mint Condition

Caged Bird/Shanachie Entertainment

Release Date: Sept. 11

Marking its 20th anniversary last year, Mint Condition scored a double Grammy Award-nominated top 10 R&B hit ("Not My Daddy" with Kelly Price) and the top 20 singles "Caught My Eye" and "Walk On" from the group's aptly titled seventh album, "7". Now the hardest-working band in R&B is back with an eighth album and another top 20 adult R&B hit with lead single/couples therapy anthem "Believe in Us." As the album title implies, the group delves into life's various facets-family and romantic relationships, personal growth-through music. In this case, it's Mint Condition's signature blend of R&B/funk, jazz, rock and hip-hop. But don't think that after 20 years the guys are simply phoning it in. The quintet still sounds just as fresh and vibrant as on its first top five hit, 1991's "Breaking My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes)." Download contenders include the fervent, done-me-wrong track "Nothin'," the introspective "Completely" and the free-form "Sixfortynine/Changes" featuring Brother Ali. Slowing down? That doesn't seem to be part of Mint Condition's game plan.



4th Street Feeling

Producers: Jacquire King, Steve Booker, Melissa Etheridge


Release Date: Sept. 4

"I been aching to slip an 8-track on again," Melissa Etheridge announces not long into her new studio album, and the rest of "4th Street Feeling" makes good on that old-school aspiration. Working with producers Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Of Monsters and Men) and Steve Booker (Duffy), the 51-year-old rock veteran digs into the warm sound of vintage soul and blues here, plucking out a roadhouse-style guitar riff in "Be Real" and riding a laidback organ groove in the mellow title track, where she summons up the good old days "when everything I had could fit into my Chevrolet." Other songs fold in traces of folkier styles, such as the gritty harmonica in "Shout Now" and the ringing banjo lick in "Falling Up." The latter even finds her urging us to "shake it like a Polaroid," stoking nostalgia for both pre-digital technology and OutKast's nearly decade-old "Hey Ya!" Maybe "4th Street" leads to Memory Lane.


When I'm President

Producers: The Prongs

Slimstyle Records

Release Date: Sept. 4

The first few notes on Ian Hunter's 20th album provide a big hint that when he sings about "slipping into something more comfortable" he means full-bodied, '70s-style rock'n'roll with a debt to the Southern music of the late '50s. It's a style that shows up in the songs "Comfortable," "Wild Bunch" and the blues "I Don't Know What You Want," confidently performed and produced rock'n'roll that uses the rhythm section for power, the piano for a little laughter and the human voice to penetrate the heart. At 73, Hunter sounds more American than British, alternating among styles that recall Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi and the Midwestern rock of John Mellencamp and John Hiatt. "Just the Way You Look Tonight" and "Saint" are ample proof that Hunter's command of '80s singer/songwriters can be part of 2012's definition of Americana. The former Mott the Hoople leader is remarkably strong of voice, sounding like a man half his age bellowing over the forceful rave-up style of his backing band the Rant. The take-charge numbers on "When I'm President" hit a target that veteran rockers too often miss; even when he exposes a softer side ("Life"), Hunter still clearly means business.


The Carpenter

Producer: Rick Rubin

American Recordings/Republic Records

Release Date: Sept. 11

In February 2011, this North Carolina roots-rock outfit jammed with Bob Dylan (and Mumford & Sons) on the Grammy Awards telecast. Six months later, Avett Brothers bassist Bob Crawford discovered that his 2-year-old daughter had a brain tumor. Those emotional extremes reverberate throughout The Carpenter, the band's follow-up to 2009's breakthrough "I and Love and You", which earned the band a series of high-profile festival dates and late-night TV appearances, as well as the opening slot on an amphitheater tour by John Mayer. Like "I and Love and You", Rick Rubin produced "The Carpenter". In the 90-second "Geraldine" Scott and Seth Avett harmonize brightly over a rollicking honky-tonk groove, while "Winter in My Heart" slows the tempo to a contemplative soul-folk stroll. Elsewhere, "Paul Newman vs. the Demons" turns surprisingly aggressive with big, meaty electric-guitar riffs. All those conflicting feelings come together in "Live and Die," a tender acoustic ditty about "say[ing] goodbye to how we had it planned."

Edited by Mitchell Peters (albums)

CONTRIBUTORS: Phil Gallo, Andrew Hampp, Jason Lipshutz, Gail Mitchell, Chris Payne, Erika Ramirez, Ryan Reed, Mikael WoodAll albums commercially available in the United States are eligible. Send album review copies to Mitchell Peters at Billboard, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90036 and singles review copies to Jason Lipshutz at Billboard, 770 Broadway, Seventh Floor, New York, NY 10003, or to the writers in the appropriate bureaus.