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Eminem, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney and more highlight fall music schedule

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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The waning days of summer and the arrival of another school year tend to make many people unhappy. Or at least a little melancholy.

Unless you're in the music industry. Then it's party time.

With the winter gift-giving holidays on the horizon, the final third of the year always brings the highest concentration of superstar releases and big-name projects, whether it's the hottest new music or the most extensive and ambitious box set retrospective. It's a strategy that works, too; in 2012, for instance nearly 40 percent of all album sales took place during the fourth quarter.

This year is no different, with the likes of Eminem, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Drake and scores of others ready to rock our world -- and our bank accounts. With this glut of attention-worthy music on the way, here's a look at the releases we're most excited about...

nine inch nails, "Hesitation Marks" (Sept. 3): Trent Reznor's claim to fame emerges from four years in mothballs sounding refreshed from the break. (See review, page XX).

Sheryl Crow, "Feels Like Home" (Sept. 10): Going country is really not that big a stretch for the veteran songstress, who with the help of Brad Paisley and some Nashville behind-the-scenes A-listers has come up with some songs that, interestingly, are maybe even too country for country radio.

Janelle Monae, "The Electric Lady" (Sept. 10): The multi-faceted Monae hasn't disappointed us yet, and her second full-length album, executive produced by Diddy and Big Boi, is stacked with A-list guests such as Prince, Miguel, Esperanza Spalding, Erykah Badu and Solange.

Keith Urban, "Fuse" (Sept. 10) and Alan Jackson, "The Bluegrass Album" (Sept. 24): A couple of mainstream country stalwarts take divergent paths on their latest releases. With a popularity boost from "American Idol," Urban gets a little poppier this time out, while Jackson, as his album's title indicates, heads in a rootsier, down-home direction.

Drake, "Nothing Was the Same" (Sept. 17): The Canadian hip-hop star will undoubtably have his share of guests on his third studio album -- including, he's said, Whitney Houston and Curtis Mayfield from the Great Beyond.

Icona Pop, "This Is..." (Sept. 24): The Swedish electropop duo that's dazzled us with "I Love It" and "All Night" goes long-form on its first full-length effort.

Elton John, "The Diving Board" (Sept. 24): A dozen new songs by John and lyricist Bernie Taupin. Stripped-down production by T-Bone Burnett. Who could ask for more?

Sting, "The Last Ship" (Sept. 24): The former Police man's first set of all-new material in a decade is highly personal, inspired by his English upbringing and sharing a title with the Broadway musical he's currently developing about his home town's shipbuilding trade.

Gov't Mule, "Shout!" (Sept. 24): The instrumentally intense group doubles the pleasure on its latest outing, with a second disc sporting guest singers -- including Dave Matthews, Grace Potter, Steve Winwood and more -- singing versions of all the songs on the first.

Justin Timberlake, "The 20/20 Experience -- 2 of 2" (Sept. 30): It's been a big year already for the reformed boy band star, with one album already (his first in nearly seven years), a big summer tour with Jay-Z and multiple MTV Video Music Awards. The saga continues with a second release, which features guest appearances by Jay-Z and Drake.

Danny Brown, "Old" (Sept. 30): The underground rapper from Detroit's third full album has been a long time coming and will feature guest appearances by A$AP Rocky, Charli XCX, Schoolboy Q and others.

Miley Cyrus, "Bangerz" (Oct. 8); Katy Perry, "Prism, (Oct. 22); Lady Gaga, "Artpop" (Nov. 11): These three pop divas are poised for the battle royale of the season -- initially pegged as a two-singer race until the controversy over Cyrus' VMA performance -- as well as her summer hit "We Can't Stop" -- vaulted her into the mix. All three promise works that will re-define their craft and images, although Perry's "Roar" and Gaga's "Applause" are fairly safe and familiar calling cards.

Patty Griffin, "Silver Bell" (Oct. 8): It isn't often that we get excited about a 13-year-old "lost" album. But there's plenty of legend behind what was to be the Texas singer-songwriter's third album, and the Dixie Chicks' recordings of a couple of its songs have kept it on the radar for all these years.

Pearl Jam, "Lightning Bolt" (Oct. 15): The Seattle rockers worked with longtime studio partner Brendan O'Brien on their first new album in four years, releasing the single "Mind Your Manners" in July. Guitarist Mike McCready promises it will rock like fans want the band to.

Paul McCartney, "New" (Oct. 15): The former Beatles's first set of all, well, "new," material since 2007 has been preceded by the title track and features production by Mark Ronson, Ethan Johns and Giles Martin, the son of longtime Beatles producer George Martin.

TLC, TBA (Oct. 15): Chili and T-Boz are back together with original mentor L.A. Reid, with four new songs -- including Lady Gaga and Ne-Yo co-writes -- for a greatest hits set that will accompany the debut of the VH1 biopic "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story."

Arcade Fire, "Reflektor" (Oct. 29): The arty Canadian troupe has been quiet since its stunning Album of the Year Grammy Award win for 2010's "The Suburbs." It's fourth full-length is produced by the eyebrow-raising choice of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy, so brace for something new, unexpected -- and most likely exciting.

Eminem, "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" (Nov. 5); The word about the Detroit rapper's eighth studio album came down like lightning during the MTV Video Music Awards and set the Twitterverse all atwitter. The Billy Squier-sampling first single, "Berzerk," came out last week and the executive producer tandem of Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin signals that Slim Shady is continuing to up his game this time out -- no small matter considering that "The Marshall Mathers LP" in 2000 has sold more than 27 million copies worldwide.

To Be Determined: Beyonce's label says she hasn't scrapped a slew of material as one of her collaborators has claimed, so there are still hopes her fifth album will emerge this fall...U2 has been working with producer Danger Mouse on its follow-up to 2009's "No Line on the Horizon," but latest forecasts are a fall release is a longshot.


It's not quite wall-to-wall like summer, but fall will be plenty busy at area concert venues, too. Some of the season's not-to-be-missed shows include: Patti Smith, Sept. 7 at the Majestic, Detroit...Alt-J, Sept. 10, Royal Oak Music Theatre...Queens of the Stone Age, Sept. 12, Fillmore Detroit...DIY Festival, Sept. 13-15, Ferndale...St. James Laneway Festival, Sept. 14, Meadow Brook Music Festival, Rochester Hills...Imagine Dragons, Sept. 17, Meadow Brook Music Festival...Vista Chino (formerly Kyuss Lives!), Sept. 20, The Crofoot, Pontiac...The Eagles, Sept. 21, Palace of Auburn Hills...Pop Evil, Sept. 21, Macomb Music Theatre, Mt. Clemens...Vienna Teng, Sept. 26-27, The Ark, Ann Arbor...Phoenix, Sept. 29, EMU Convocation Center, Ypsilanti...ZZ Wards, Oct. 6, The Shelter, Detroit...nine inch nails, Oct. 7, Palace of Auburn Hills...Black Milk, Oct. 16, Saint Andrews Hall, Detroit...Brian Wilson and Jeff Beck, Oct. 25, Fox Theatre, Detroit...The Head and the Heart, Oct. 29, Royal Oak Music Theatre...Bettye LaVette, Oct. 30, The Ark...Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Nov. 1, Palace of Auburn Hills...Dar Williams and Lucy Wainwright Roche, Nov. 7-8, The Ark...Amos Lee, Nov. 10, Royal Oak Music Theatre...The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream," Nov. 15, Fox Theatre...Monster Magnet, Nov. 15, Saint Andrews Hall...John Prine, Nov. 15, Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor...Fitz & the Tantrums and Capital Cities, Nov. 17, Fillmore Detroit...Clutch, Nov. 23, Fillmore Detroit.


The fall is a busy time for music books, too, with several key biographies and other tomes slated to hit shelves: Linda Ronstadt's recent disclosure about her battle with Parkinson's Disease makes her "Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir" (September) that much more intriguing...Graham Nash pulls no punches about the Hollies, CSNY or anything else in "Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life" (September)...Steely Dan frontman Donald Fagen offers Bob Dylan-like musings in "Eminent Hipsters (October)...Kiss co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have co-authored "Nothin' To Lose: The Making of Kiss (1972-1975)," the first in a series of books about the group's history (September)..."JAMerica" by Peter Conors offers an oral history about the modern jam band and festival scene in the U.S (September)...In "27," Howard Sounes chronicles and connects music's "club" of artists who passed at the age of 27 (November)...Terry Teachout takes a deep and scholarly look at one of music's all-time greats in "Duke: A Life of Duke Ellington" (October)...The eternal argument continues in John McMillan's "Beatles vs. Stones" (late October)...Richard Corman chronicles early Material Girl in "Madonna NYC 83" (November).

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