SISTER ACT: On Sainthood, Tegan and Sara, for the first time, wrote every song together.
Pity the album. After a half-century of embarrassingly public body issues, our essential rock unit has not entered the new millennium looking very healthy. EPs are way more in vogue, MP3s have intangibility on their side, and 12-inches just sound impressive. Even AOR's great white hope, Thom Yorke, has turned his squint away from the long-player, making Radiohead into something more like a Web presence that tours.
None of this doomsaying is to suggest there aren't still masters of the craft. Our picks from this fall's schedule were made with the integrity of the album in mind. Here are 10 coming releases from bands whom we are willing to trust with up to a full hour of our awake time — that's a lot!
AIR | LOVE 2[ASTRALWERKS] | October 6 | The first single ("Do the Joy") to pull itself free of Air's forthcoming fifth album sounded as if someone had taken some Noxon to a Black Moth track — nice, but not as Airy as Air usually are. But, singles-schmingles: the most recent tease from the album, "Sing Sang Sung," is a broad autumnal sunbeam of wispy, luminous pop genius — a reminder of Air's versatility and a sign that, in the wake of Moon Safari, they haven't forgotten how to teach a master class.
BUILT TO SPILL | THERE IS NO ENEMY[WARNER BROS.] | October 6 | Earlier this year, Doug Martsch revealed his band's practical side (which was nice after all those 20-minute solos), saying, "There's no hurry for us to sell music. We can put out a record every five or six years, and that's plenty of Built To Spill." True as that may be, the tortoise-paced, repeatedly re-recorded and extensively jiggered process behind There Is No Enemy hints not just at Martsch's knack for sprawling statements but also at his perfectionism, which (when engaged) has never let us down.
MISSION OF BURMA | THE SOUND THE SPEED THE LIGHT[MATADOR] | October 6 | Since their triumphant reignition, Mission of Burma have proved themselves the most unfuckwithable band in Boston history. (Bring it!) The Sound the Speed the Light bears this out in a way that's not even funny. Informally arranged into four suites of three songs apiece, the songs pay visits to beloved Burma tropes (humor, riffage, brimstone) without ever hanging out too long. They're as fresh, dynamic, and exciting as anyone could expect from the Mission — and we still expect plenty.
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS | EXPLODING HEAD[MUTE] | October 6 | When A Place To Bury Strangers play, people listen. They can't help it — the NYC black-and-bluegaze heroes are too loud to ignore. Although they built their rep on tube-frying volume, their new batch of songs runs sawblade guitars through a newly noir — dare we say darkwave? — sound. Gear geeks will die over "In Your Heart" — and so will their earbuds. As frightening as Exploding Head may get, you must remind yourself that it is, first and foremost, an exercise in carefully controlled and highly volatile beauty. Or sonic annihilation. Whichever.
RAVEONETTES | IN AND OUT OF CONTROL[VICE] | October 6 | Often the band evolve through the albums; with the Raveonettes, it's more like the albums evolve through the band. Each iteration seems like a refinement of their general idea: a kind of Psychocandy prom, ditched by its king and queen on a motorcycle. And though the band are responsible for their own improvements (the snare on "Breaking into Cars" was directly inspired by the Wu-Tang Clan), the Danish duo also crowd-sourced critiques of their demos over Twitter. (So if you don't like it, that's your fault.)
PROM NIGHT: The Raveonettes’ In and Out of Control promises to be a further refinement of a great idea.
FLAMING LIPS | EMBRYONIC[WARNER BROS.] | October 13 | Tell the Flaming Lips that the album is in a troubled state and they'll just release a double LP and fix the situation. The Lips might be at the perfect point in their careers to start repeating themselves, but they're not. Introductory single "See the Leaves" is the grittiest we've heard them in years, bounding out of its gates like some tossed-off jam between late Can and early Branca, only to grow fragile and break off like one of the leaves it's peeping. Embryonic is not the smooth ride of Yoshimi, but patience pays — the Lips may shift shapes, but they always stay solid.
LIGHTNING BOLT | EARTHLY DELIGHTS[LOAD] | October 13 | If you know me, grab a coffee while I tell that story about how, once, when trying to make it all the way through 2003's Wonderful Rainbow, my heart and brain freaked out and I had to crawl across my floor to swat the needle off the record. That's the story. It's also why I think Lightning Bolt are one of the greatest bands ever. Actual physiological ramifications! Earthly Delights is more like a menacingly riffy black cloud hung overhead than an army of fire ants mining your brain. So, yeah, it's not really dinner music.