Can fall albums live up to hype?

Molly Schreiber

Fall is officially upon us. And, aside from the turning leaves and the brisk weather, autumn can only mean one thing: the long awaited arrival of fall music releases. As always, there lurks a simple question: can the fall record releases compete with summer albums? 

The summer of 2010 offered music fans an exciting rotation of new music. Along with releases from old favorites like the Walkmen, Ra Ra Riot and the Black Keys, the summer of 2010 also introduced a slew of new and promising artists. Bands like Sleigh Bells, Best Coast and the Head and the Heart emerged with a fierce and unique artistic vision in 2010, making it more than just the summer of old pros. 

This unique output of old and new artists promises to make it difficult for the fall releases to make an impact. But, before the “best of” lists can be composed and the successes tallied, critics must wait for the last of the year’s releases. 

In spite of the all-star cast of summer releases, the fall lineup maintains an impressive catalog of artists. Five years after his last release, indie favorite Sufjan Stevens returns to the scene with his new album, “The Age of ADZ.” While the record hasn’t been released yet, early track previews suggest a definitive movement toward electronic beats and a synth-pop sound.

Deerhunter’s highly anticipated album, “Halcyon Digest,” has been receiving phenomenal initial feedback. Following their wildly popular 2008 release, “Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.,” their fourth record is poised to catapult them toward a more mainstream sound. The album, which is currently streaming on NPR’s website, satiates fan cravings with textured sounds and intricate instrumentation. 

After a few years of relative silence, old favorites Belle & Sebastian also top the list of anticipated fall releases. With their record, “Write About Love,” the crooners are expected to deliver a solid pop sound with their signature sweetness. While the record will likely be stacked with solid pop balladry, I expect the album not to sound very new at all.

Along with these artists, the phenomenally talented Brian Eno, the dark and alluring Antony & The Johnsons and the playful Of Montreal are all turning out new albums this fall. Kings of Leon, whose artistic trajectory has been less than stellar over the course of their career, will either refute or reaffirm critics’ mediocre reviews.

While I believe Sufjan Stevens and Deerhunter will be the frontrunners of the fall, I can’t help but feel that the best music of 2010 will be dominated by spring and summer releases. Early releases from bands like the National, Local Natives and Delta Spirit also threaten to overshadow the artistic contributions of these last minute releases. With such little time to make an impression on fans, critics and list-makers, these fall records face a serious challenge. Despite the reception of these upcoming releases, 2010 has proved to be an incredible year for music. 

So, with such a diverse list of brilliant artists, music fans have a lot to look forward to (and be thankful for) in 2010. As winter closes in and our memories of warm weather are set on ice, at least we can turn to the vast inventory of this year’s music, including these last-minute releases, for a little reprieve.