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Nine Inch Nails is No Nostalgia Act

Posted: 10/06/2013 3:35 pm

The first time I heard Nine Inch Nails was around 1990, when my then-grade nine girlfriend played me her copy of Pretty Hate Machine. The last time I saw Nine Inch Nails, not including Friday night's pummeling performance at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, was the 2009 "Wave Goodbye Tour" when my now-wife was nine months and a bit pregnant.

Though I'd stuck close by for days because she was overdue, missing NIN's purported last-ever tour was too much to ask. I said "text me if your water breaks" and headed to the show. It was amazing. But NIN shows are always amazing, be they playing a relatively tiny warehouse club or rocking a sprawling festival field. And a big part of that is because they always feel uniquely in the moment.

That is an incredibly rare accomplishment for an act nearing its 25th year. Most have either dissipated or dipped deep into nostalgia by that age. The Pixies, for instance, are probably a better live band now than they've ever been -- but they've been milking their past with reunion shows forever and though they finally put out a new EP recently, it came after the latest departure of Kim Deal.

The beloved bassist, of course, had finally left the Pixies to focus on her other band, the Breeders, another iconic 90s alt-rock act that still exists now only because of how amazing Last Splash still sounds two decades later. They're not alone. Mazzy Star is back. Sebadoh, too, and Soundgarden. Not to mention lesser lights like Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox 20.

Nine Inch Nails, however, do not trade in nostalgia, no matter how many alt-anthems Trent Reznor has in the back pocket of his black leather pants.

Ironically, NIN's Tension 2013 Tour does seem a bit like a reunion, if only because Reznor had previously declared in 2009 that he "isn't done creating music under the moniker, but that Nine Inch Nails is done touring for the foreseeable future."

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  • Trent Renzor

    Trent Reznor, lead singer of the band Nine Inch Nails performs at the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago, Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. The more than two-decade-old festival opens Friday in Chicago's lakefront Grant Park. (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)

  • Trent Renzor

    Trent Reznor, lead singer of the band Nine Inch Nails performs at the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago, Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. The more than two-decade-old festival opens Friday in Chicago's lakefront Grant Park. (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)

  • Lollapalooza 2013 - Day 1

    CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 02: (Editor's Note: Multiple exposeure made in camera) Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails performs during Lollapalooza 2013 at Grant Park on August 2, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

  • KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas

    LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 10: Trent Renzor and guitarist Aaron North of Nine Inch Nails performs at 106.7 KROQ's 'Almost Acoustic Christmas' at Gibson Ampitheater at Universal Studios on December 10, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)

  • KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas

    LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 10: Trent Renzor of Nine Inch Nails performs at 106.7 KROQ's 'Almost Acoustic Christmas' at Gibson Ampitheater at Universal Studios on December 10, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)

  • Voodoo Music Experience

    NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 29: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails performs at the Voodoo Music Experience October 29, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

  • MTV, VH1 & CMT Special "ReAct Now : Music & Relief"

    HOLLYWOOOD - SEPTEMBER 9: Musician Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails performs at the 'ReAct Now: Music & Relief' benefit concert at Paramount Studios on September 9, 2005 in Hollywood, California. The special, featuring musical performances from a wide array of artists, seeks to raise much-needed funds for The American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, America's Second Harvest and similar organizations as they continue their relief efforts in the devastating wake of Hurricane Katrina. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

  • Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2005 - Day Two

    INDIO, CA - MAY 1: Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Fields May 1, 2005 in Indio, California. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)

  • Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2005 - Day Two

    INDIO, CA - MAY 1: Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails perform at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Fields May 1, 2005 in Indio, California. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)

  • 2013 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival – Day 1

    INDIO, CA - APRIL 12: Musician Trent Reznor from the band How to Destroy Angels performs onstage during day 1 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 12, 2013 in Indio, California. (Photo by Trixie Textor/Getty Images for Coachella)

  • 83rd Annual Academy Awards - Press Room

    HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Composers Atticus Ross (L) and Trent Reznor, winners of the award for Best Original Score for 'The Social Network', pose in the press room during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • 83rd Annual Academy Awards - Press Room

    HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Composers Atticus Ross (L) and Trent Reznor, winners of the award for Best Original Score for 'The Social Network', pose in the press room during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

  • 83rd Annual Academy Awards - Show

    HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross accept the award for Best Original Score for 'The Social Network' onstage during the 83rd Annual Academy Awards held at the Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

  • NIN In Concert At The Echoplex

    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 06: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails performs at the Echoplex on September 6, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Rebel Waltz)

  • KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas

    LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 10: Trent Renzor of Nine Inch Nails performs at 106.7 KROQ's 'Almost Acoustic Christmas' at Gibson Ampitheater at Universal Studios on December 10, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)

  • Voodoo Music Experience

    NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 29: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails performs at the Voodoo Music Experience October 29, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Reznor said Nine Inch Nails would "disappear for a while" though that turned out to mean Reznor would win an Oscar for The Social Network score under his own name (alongside partner Atticus Ross). And that by 2012, he'd be writing NIN songs again and that by September 2013, he'd release the album Hesitation Marks and head out on a world tour, the one which just rolled through Toronto. (In other words, he wasn't even gone as long as the five years between '94's Downward Spiral and '99's The Fragile.)

The '90s generation grew up with an antipathy for nostalgia tours thanks to the money-sucking monstrosities of our youth like Rolling Stones' "Steel Wheels" tour, The Eagles' "Hell Freezes Over" tour, and, most ironically thanks to their indelible "hope I die before I get old" lyric, The Who's 25th anniversary tour in 1989 which came a mere seven years after their "farewell" tour.

Fair or not, these legacy artists were dismissed as dinosaurs of rock, especially when seen beside the revolutionary rock music that was being produced by upstarts like Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana and Jane's Addiction (who have been reuniting off-and-on since Perry Farrell broke them up after the very first Lollapalooza tour in 1991).

I have no inherent problem with reunion tours -- seeing the Pixies' play both versions of "Wave of Mutilation" on their first reunion tour in 2004 is still a live music highlight for me, and I'd see the Breeders anytime just for the chance to watch them play "No Aloha" live. But it's like re-watching Pulp Fiction rather than going to see Django Unchained or whatever Tarantino comes out with next. The new movie might not be as good as the old favourite, but there's something special about a longtime artist whose creativity remains a going concern.

Nine Inch Nails' new album Hesitation Marks isn't The Downward Spiral 2.0, but it's great and new and feels inspired. The same goes for the live show which follows Reznor's usual routine of completely reconfiguring every song from his massive back catalogue to sound like it came from the same current album.

Maybe it's because he's always built his music by himself, so he feels no loyalty to arrangements or even genre. On some tours he's turned out a proper moshpit-fuelling barrage of alt-anthems to keep festival crowds roiling all the way back to the port-o-lets. Other tours have amped up his songs' dark disco subtext to become something close to an industrial rave.

On the aptly titled Tension tour, Reznor has hired a whole new touring band (not counting longtime live guitarist Robin Finck) and reformatted his music with a new noise-rock aesthetic that was applied as equally to new tunes like "Copy Of A" and "Came Back Haunted" as it was to mid-90s classics like "March of the Pigs" or "Terrible Lie."

In fact, the older tunes were often recognized primarily by their familiar lyrics, which helped bring fans along on the new, harder-edged arrangements of jackhammer beats and aggressive guitars. There were some handclap and singalong moments, but mostly the fans stood there grinning amidst the punkish sonic assault which never quite delivered a slam-danceable groove.

The production emphasized this more minimalist approach, especially in the early half, as industrial lights lowered down directly above the band members so that it felt like they were playing a small strobe-lit basement club rather than a cavernous hockey arena.

As the band jumped into The Fragile-era tunes "The Frail" and "The Wretched," the production opened up, with a big screen behind them and an LED light cage surrounding the stage that created a surreal digital aesthetic. Back-up soul singers, new to this tour, gave several songs an unfamiliar twist as he mixed more new tunes like "Find My Way" and "All Time Low" in with must-plays like a chunky bassline-driven "The Hand That Feds," headbanging set-closer "Head Like a Hole" and final everyone-sing-together encore "Hurt."

Last month, the Associated Press became the subject of much ridicule when whichever intern they assigned to review Nine Inch Nails praised Reznor's "cover" of the Johnny Cash tune. To be fair, Cash certainly made "Hurt" sound like a Cash song, a testament to how well-written Reznor's original is.

But interestingly, Reznor is also entering the Johnny Cash phase of his career. At no point did Cash's continued performances or records ever feel like nostalgic cash-grabs, no matter old he got.

And Reznor, at 48, has achieved a similar timeless vitality. Every new album adds at least a few new songs that stand up to the old ones, and every tour reimagines them anyway in an exhilarating new context, so Reznor could easily continue hurting us for another 25 years.

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  • Lady Gaga - ARTPOP - Nov. 11

    Pop's reigning queen of the delightfully odd recently revealed seven new songs off her forthcoming album-cum-iPhone-app, and everything we've heard so far suggests "ARTPOP" will be her most diverse outing yet. (She raps with T.I. and Twista and Too $hort makes an appearance!) A lot has changed since Gaga released "Born This Way" two years ago, and Katy Perry's "Roar" handily defeated Gaga's "Applause" in first-week singles sales, but anyone counting Gaga out is probably sorely mistaken.

  • Drake - Nothing Was the Same - Sept. 24

    We'd be remiss if we didn't <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=drake%20album%20from%3Aernestbaker_&src=typd" target="_blank">point you in the direction of Ernest Baker's "Drake album about to be that _____ music" series of tweets</a> (example: "had a conversation with the guy you cheated with to get the full details"), but honestly, we'd be lying if we weren't just plain excited for Aubrey Graham's third studio album. Every song that he's released this summer has been a hit in one capacity or another ("5AM in Toronto," "All Me," "Hold On, We're Going Home," "Started From the Bottom," "The Motion," etc.) and his remix to the Migos' "Versace" became the defining club hit of the summer. Count him out as many times as you want, but if this album impresses, there's no doubt that Drake will be remembered as one of this generation's most dynamic talents in rap.

  • Katy Perry - Prism - Oct. 22

    You've already heard her "Roar," and whether or not Perry's lead single sounds too similar to Sara Bareilles' "Brave," one thing is for certain: Perry will return with some new version of Dr. Luke, Bonnie McKee and friend's golden cocktail of pop hits. Perry's messaging (the burning of her "Teenage Dream"-era wig, etc) seems a bit overbearing for music that has yet to surprise, but perhaps Katy Kat has some tricks up her sleeve.

  • Eminem - "MMLP2" - Nov. 5

    In a year that's already seen LPs from some of rap's biggest names (Jay, Kanye) and most talked about newcomers (J. Cole, Meek Mill, Wale, etc.), Eminem's project remains something of a holy grail (a different one than JT was singing about). The wildly anticipated project will feature "Berzerk," Eminem's first solid single in a long time that doesn't sound like he's playing preacher. Expect some fire, but whether or not Rick Rubin can fully stoke the embers of Marshall's creative energy to full force remains to be seen.

  • Pearl Jam - Lightning Bolt - Oct. 15

    "Lightning Bolt," Pearl Jam's 10th studio album and first since 2009, is obviously highly anticipated among the band's die hard fans, but it's the newbies who might want to take note. "I think it's a great representation of their work right now," <a href="http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/5679998/pearl-jam-shares-lightning-bolt-track-list" target="_hplink">producer Brendan O'Brien told Billboard</a>. "If you like Pearl Jam, you'll love this. And if you haven't listened to Pearl Jam in awhile, I think it's going to bring you in. That's the whole idea." The album's lead single, "Mind Your Manners," is a good representation of that edict: the song is a straight-up rocker that also recalls the band's often experimental work on 1994's "Vitalogy."

  • Beyonce - TBD - TBD

    There's neither a date nor a title for Beyonce's supposedly forthcoming fifth studio album, but we've seen glimpses of what it could sound like: Anthemic ("Grown Woman"), sugary ("Standing in the Sun") and perhaps even angry ("Bow Down," which likely wont' appear on the album). We've heard rumors of B having collected some of music's biggest heavy hitters around her for the effort, but no matter how many hits The-Dream puts to paper, it's Beyonce who's going to have to pull it all together and give the Beyhive something to rock with.

  • Miley Cyrus - BANGERZ - Oct. 8

    Oh, Miley. The young star has spent the summer mingling with rappers and slurring her way through songs about doing drugs and not stopping, so expect a handful of Mike Will Made It-produced strip club jams mixed with emotional sing-song anthems like "Wrecking Ball." Cyrus has done a good job of making sure all eyes are on her, and she hasn't done it in the most respectable way, but perhaps on Oct. 8 she'll make good on all the attention-seeking and put out something listenable.

  • Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience Part II - Sept. 30

    JT couldn't just make one comeback album, he had to make too. Expect plenty of Timbaland's instantly recognizable drum work here, and though it's too early to really tell how the LP will sound, lead single "Take Back the Night" is a strong first offering.

  • 2 Chainz - B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time -- Sept. 10

    Of all of the work Pharrell Williams has put in this year, "Feds Watching" might just be the most enduring product. The party anthem freakishly told you that you weren't the only one reading your emails and listening to your lover's voice on the phone before Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald got around to it, but that's not all surprising given that we're talking about the rapper who brought back leather pants and Versace tees a full year before every other rapper followed suit. Tauheed Epps isn't one to sleep on.

  • Avicii - True - Sept. 13

    Tim Bergling's first studio album debuted as a bit of a downer. The Swedish phenom behind EDM's largest song of the past half-decade, "Levels," was headlining Miami's Ultra Music Festival when he stopped DJ'ing mid-set to allow for instruments and live performers to come on stage and work through "True," his major label LP that's an interesting blend of soul, folk and dance. The Aloe Blacc-assisted lead single "Wake Me Up" has been an interminable summer anthem, and a number of people who worked on the project have told us that Bergling seems to have pulled off the nearly impossible.

  • Arctic Monkeys - AM - Sept. 10

    Alex Turner never really became John Lennon (or Paul McCartney), but he's turned into quite a charming Alex Turner. He's said he wants his album to get to a place where he can do things that would be seen as cheesy if they were done by others (his reference for this was Aaliyah, do with that what you will), while also making Real '70s Rock.

  • Britney Spears - TBD - Sept. 17 (Maybe)

    Like Lady Gaga, Britney hasn't released a true album since 2011. Unlike Lady Gaga, she's already delivered a full body of work and tried her hand at a number of other careers. There's no official confirmation that Britney's releasing an album on Sept. 17, but a countdown clock on her website suggests that <em>something</em> will happen on that date. And honestly, in a year that sees likes of Cher and Celine Dion chugging some honey tea and jumping back in the ring, why shouldn't Spears step out again?

  • Cher - Closer to the Truth - Sept. 24

    Cher has been doing more than tweeting up a storm of wildly confusing and enthralling missives. She's also been prepping "Closer to the Truth," her 26th studio album. Cher told the world the LP the best she's ever done, and also hinted that it will most closely resemble 1998's "Believe." The lead single, "A Woman's World," saw the 67-year-old toss together a smattering of wigs and girl-power themes for a competent song that didn't turn <em>too</em> many heads. Stay tuned.

  • Celine Dion - Loved Me Back to Life - Nov. 5

    Celine Dion released the title track off her forthcoming LP earlier this week, and the track comes off as a refreshing lightning bolt of a single. The skittering dubstep combined with soaring vocals for something entirely new from Dion, but what's new isn't always popular on the internet, where the song was derided for sounding a bit too much like Beyonce or even Skylar Grey. It's still a refreshing tease, and one would be remiss to forget that Dion knows her way around a microphone.

  • Paul McCartney - NEW - Oct. 15

    If a TLC (sans the "L") album doesn't seem like something you're down with, feel free to scoop up Paul McCartney's "NEW," which is out the same week. Macca tapped the likes of Mark Ronson, Paul Epworth and Ethan Johns for the project. It remains to be seen if the Beatle will follow down the dance-inflected path he stepped on with "Out of Sight," his collaboration with the Bloody Beetroots.

  • DJ Khaled - Suffering From Success - Oct. 22

    A DJ Khaled album is a weird thing, because the producer doesn't seem to do much except get a crowd of usual suspects (Nicki, Wayne, Drake, Ross, Future, rinse, repeat) together for capable club anthems bookended by his incessantly shouted catchphrases ("We the best!" "I'm the best that ever did it!"). In a barrage of Instagram posts, Khaled promises the album will reveal what he has been "threw" and asks that we trust him ("jus kno"). "No New Friends" and "I Wanna Be With You" sound good enough, but unfortunately Khaled's iPhone snaps might be the best thing the producer has ever or will ever do.

  • Chris Brown - X - TBD

    Breezy's summer has been anything but, a cavalcade of accusations (some true, others, not) have derailed his do-good mission. The singer has gone so far as to suggest he'll withdraw from the music industry after "X," saying that he's tired of being famous for his "mistakes." "Fine China" impressed his fans and didn't exactly offend those who shy away from Brown's brand of R&B. He's used Aaliyah's voice ("Don't Think They Know") and tapped perennial feature Nicki MInaj ("Love More"), so it will be interesting to see how the rest of the LP includes the Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Sam Cooke influence Brown claims inform the project.

  • MIA - Matangi - Nov. 5

    It's hard not to love MIA, who took to Twitter with threats to leak her album and called out Interscope by name over release delays. (Shortly thereafter, the label set a date.) The "Bad Girls" singer seems to be staying mostly in her lane here, as "Bring the Noize" positioned her as the queen of an aggressively partying underground world. But there's always room for something new as well: On "Come Walk With Me," MIA spends half the track sing-songing her way through anti-party messages before flipping the record on its head with a thumping beat. Always fun, right?

  • Elvis Costello & The Roots - Wise Up Ghost - Sept. 17

    The Roots don't really do collaboration albums that aren't worth at least one listen. Last year's "Wake Up!" saw Questlove's band teaming up with John Legend for a memorable outing, and Costello's voice seems like a wonderful foil for the Roots' funky jam-band sensibilities.

  • Kaskade - Atmosphere - Sept. 10

    Dance music's enduring nice guy sings (for the first time) on his upcoming album's lead single, a bad idea that paid off shockingly well. In theory, DJing for millions of people over tens of years should endow Kaskade (born Ryan Raddon) with some insight into what it takes to make effective dance music, and his recent albums haven't disappointed. It's worth noting, as well, that Raddon took to Twitter to implore fans to consider <em>not</em> doing drugs in the wake of a string of deaths at dance music events. His reasoning was a refreshing burst of sincerity in a party-driven scene. (Raddon himself is sober.)

  • Arcade Fire - TBD - Oct. 29

    It's hard to know what's really coming out of the Arcade Fire camp, especially since James Murphy -- the producer who first said he wasn't involved -- hasn't had much to say except that everyone in the group got along well during the creative process. Time will tell.

  • Jack Johnson - From Here to Now to You - Sept. 17

    Johnson dragged himself off a surf board for long enough to record his sixth studio album. His past four LPs have debuted in the Top 3 on Billboard's chart, with the last two debuting at No. 1, so there's a heavy level of anticipation here. But if there's anyone who can stay calm and deliver something sunny enough, though, it's Johnson.

  • Lorde - Pure Heroine - Sept. 30

    It's been a a long time since anyone has had as exciting of a pop debut as that of Lorde, a teenager who burst onto the scene with "Royals." The track, a snarky tune that sets the best of Lorde's brooding voice against a simple, almost spare arrangement, went off like a gunshot in the blogosphere -- for good reason. Since then, the 16-year-old has released a string of competent tracks and an EP that went platinum three times in Australia -- all while meticulously controlling her image and messaging. Expect greatness.

  • Elton John - The Diving Board - Sept. 24

    This album marks John's first solo LP in seven years and will be split across 12 new songs and three interludes. "The Diving Board" is produced by T-Bone Burnett and comes with lyrics from John's longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin. “In many ways, I feel like I’m starting again, making records," John said when announcing the album. "Several years ago when beginning to work with T-Bone and being in the studio with Leon Russell for 'The Union,' I had to ask myself, ‘What kind of music do I really want to make?’, and I realized that I had to go back to go forward again. I needed to strip away the excesses and get back to the core of what I do as an artist."

  • Enrique Iglesias - TBD - November

    The as-of-yet untitled project has already birthed Spanish ("Loco") and English ("Turn the Night Up") singles, a sign that Iglesias may be retracing his own footsteps (2010's "Euphoria was also bilingual). The album will feature Marc Taylor and the Cataracs and is produced by Iglesias' longtime collaborator Carlos Paucar.

  • HAIM - Days Are Gone - Sept. 30

    It's nice to see sister act HAIM finally have their moment, especially on a project that seems as charming and powerful as "Days Are Gone." "Forever" and "The Wire" tease throwbacks to '70s rock, while the album's title track dips into classic R&B for influences. HAIM's will be a popular album, but don't expect it to be a one-note pop record.

  • Kelly Clarkson - Wrapped in Red - Oct. 29

    Pop's darling returns with her first-ever holiday album, a mix of classics ("Silent Night") and original tunes for the season ("Underneath the Tree," "Wrapped in Red"). Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood stop by for features, giving the project a shot at being a classic Christmas effort.

  • The Weeknd - Kiss Land - Sept. 10

    Abel Tesfaye, the no longer mysterious R&B crooner behind prescription drug-laden bedroom tales of lust and … lust, ups the stakes on "Kiss Land." A heavier project with hints of industrialism, the album sees Tesfaye strive for something new. Blame it on the fact that his earlier work (split across three EPs which were re-released as "The Trilogy" last year), but the singer's voice is too consistently trying to be cool and seductive to approach intrigue. Still, Tesfaye's die-hard fans (however many of them are left), will be impressed with the LP.

  • Panic! At The Disco - Too Weird to Love, Too Rare to Die! - Oct. 8

    It's a good time to be a pop rock band from the mid-oughts. Fall Out Boy blazed their way back into the fore earlier this year, and Panic! is wise to quickly line up behind them. The band doesn't have many of its original members left (the original guitarist and bassist left to form the Young Veins and the group's drummer has taken a break to fight drug addiction), so frontman Brandon Urie basically stands alone. The lead single, "This Is Gospel," serves up exactly what listeners want from Panic! They can get plenty more when they buy tickets to see Fall Out Boy. Urie and whoever he collects for the tour are opening.

  • Sting - The Last Ship - Sept. 24

    In <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sting/the-last-ship_b_3384993.html" target="_blank">a blog he wrote for The Huffington Post</a>, Sting describes his upcoming LP as a "musical play" and reveals its his first writing effort in eight years. "I'd lost the urge to create -- the urge that had driven me most of my life," he said. "But once I decided to turn these memories of my childhood into a narrative, and began to think of writing for other people -- for other characters, from other viewpoints apart from my own -- the songs came very quickly. I wasn't in the way anymore." As such, he hopes that the album whets the appetite of his listeners for the 2014 play.

  • Icona Pop - This Is… Icona Pop - Sept. 20

    It's hard to follow up a smash hit single when you don't have much else to stand on, but Icona Pop has done a commendable job of releasing songs that function nearly as well as "I Love It." Of their latest efforts, "All Night" and the Tupac-quoting "Girlfriend," it's the former that makes the most sense for their brand, and accordingly so, that's one that you'll be hearing the most of this fall.

  • Future - Honest - Nov. 26

    While Nicki Minaj is probably rap's most featured when it comes to guest verses, Future's hooks are have become the glue that keeps the industry's biggest club hits together. His warbled, robotic voice goes further than T-Pain and drips emotion in way that approaches beauty. "Pluto," Future's 2012 album, was a bit bloated at 15 songs, but if he can match the intensity of "Same Damn Time" with the emotions of the work he put in on tracks like Rihanna's "Loveeee Song," Future could have something special on his hands.

  • Keith Urban - Fuse - Sept. 10

    Urban's eighth studio album features duets with Miranda Lambert and Eric Church and was written by over 30 scribe. Stargate, the duo behind Selena Gomez' "Come and Get It," Rihanna's "Diamonds" and a slew of other pop and urban hits, make an appearance ("Shame"), so don't expect typical Urban. The singer said he was inspired when he heard that Bono saw "Achtung Baby" as the opposite of "Joshua Tree." In a word, <a href="http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-615/1564963/keith-urbans-fuse-is-lit-talks-up-diversity-of-new-album" target="_blank">he told Billboard</a>, the album will be full of "diversity."

  • Kings of Leon - Mechanical Bull - Sept. 24

    The group made up of three brothers (Nathan, Caleb and Jared Followill) and their cousin Matthew ended their last tour abruptly amid rumors of turmoil, making "Mechanical Bull" a highly anticipated return to normalcy. Early reads say it's going to be great.

  • Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady - Sept. 10

    She's teamed up with the likes of Prince, so Janelle Monae is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. Miguel and Erykah Badu also stop by for appearances, pretty much guaranteeing that this is a can't-miss album.

  • MGMT - MGMT - Sept. 17

    "I don't even know if it's music we would want to listen to," Andrew VanWyngarden told Rolling Stone of MGMT's forthcoming third album. "It's just what's coming out of us. We didn't make a single compromise." That's probably an endorsement, but whether fans are ready for more of MGMT's brand of psychedelic rock (which, it's worth noting, varied wildly between their first and second albums), remains to be seen.

  • TLC - TBD - Oct. 15

    The famed trio remains down a member following the tragic death of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in 2002, but T-Boz and Chilli are forging ahead with a compilation album that will also feature some new material. Songs written by Ne-Yo ("Meant to Be") and Lady Gaga ("Posh Life") have already been contributed, but not that much else is known at this time.

 

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