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Despite industry changes, time is now for major releases

Greg Kot

4:25 PM EDT, September 5, 2013

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Much has changed about the recording industry in the last decade – digital has overtaken physical, streaming is passing up downloading, and singles are beating out albums. But fall is still the season for big artists on big labels to roll out their new albums, in hope of catching a holiday windfall. This year is no exception, with new albums expected from Eminem, Drake, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Arcade Fire. Here's a rundown of some of the most anticipated new releases:

Hip-hop and R&B

Janelle Monae, "The Electric Lady" (Sept. 10): The singer won accolades for her 2010 debut, "The ArchAndroid." Now she's enlisted some heavy hitters for the follow-up, including Prince, Solange and Erykah Badu.

2 Chainz, "B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time" (Sept. 10): We'll believe it when we hear it, but the Southern party-rap hustler promises some rare introspection to break up the celebratory boasts and come-ons.

Drake, "Nothing Was the Same" (Sept. 24): After two best-selling albums, the Toronto rapper is calling in heavy hitters such as Jay Z and Lil Wayne.

Eminem, "The Marshall Mathers LP 2" (Nov. 5): The sequel to the rapper's acclaimed and divisive 2000 album, "The Marshall Mathers LP," lists power players Dr. Dre and Rick Rubin as executive producers, with a Rubin-produced single, "Berzerk," leading the way.

MIA, "Matangi" (Nov. 5): The Sri Lankan electro-rap provocateur aimed to have this album out nearly a year ago, and now it's finally ready to go.

Lady Gaga, "ARTPOP" (Nov. 11): The single "Applause" ushered in the media onslaught for Gaga's fourth album.

R. Kelly, "Black Panties" (Nov. 11): After a couple of "dusties"-style, retro-soul dance albums, the singer promises to bring the bump and grind once more.

Rock

MGMT, "MGMT" (Sept. 17): Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser return with their third album, coproduced by longtime collaborator Dave Fridmann. It includes a cover of '60s psychedelic obscurity "Introspection."

Elvis Costello and the Roots, "Wise Up Ghost" (Sept. 17): After bonding on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," Costello and Fallon's house band, the brilliant hip-hop group the Roots, decided to take things a step further with a boundary-bashing collaboration.

Kings of Leon, "Mechanical Bull" (Sept. 24): The band of brothers has had its share of squabbles in recent years, but after taking a year off they've reconvened for their fifth album.

HAIM, "Days Are Gone" (Sept. 30): Three sisters debut by showcasing influences from "Rumours"-era Fleetwood Mac to heavy metal.

Paul McCartney, "New" (Oct. 15): At 71, the ex-Beatles bassist shows no signs of slowing down. He's set to release a dozen tracks from recording sessions with Mark Ronson, Ethan Johns and Adele collaborator Paul Epworth, among others.

Pearl Jam, "Lightning Bolt" (Oct. 15): The Seattle quintet's first album in four years was once again recorded with producer Brendan O'Brien.

Arcade Fire, "Reflektor" (Oct. 29): How to follow up "The Suburbs," which won Grammy album of the year? The Montreal band aimed high by recording tracks with LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy.

Pop

Jack Johnson, "From Here To Now To You" (Sept. 17): The Gen X answer to Jimmy Buffett promises – surprise! -- more mellow beach grooves on his sixth album.

Avicii, "True" (Sept. 17): The debut from one of the Swedish stars of electronic dance music includes a wide-ranging guest list, from Chic's Nile Rodgers to Imagine Dragons.

Elton John, "The Diving Board" (Sept. 24): T Bone Burnett produces the piano man's first studio album in seven years. It's a stripped-down affair, with longtime sidekick Bernie Taupin once again contributing lyrics.

Sting, "The Last Ship" (Sept. 24): Concept album? Broadway-influenced tunes? Yes, it's the new Sting opus, his first batch of original songs in a decade.

Icona Pop, "This is … Icona Pop" (Sept. 24): The Swedish duo finally follows up the mega hit "I Love It" with its first album.

Justin Timberlake, "The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2" (Sept. 30): The sequel to "The 20/20 Experience," released earlier this year, includes more tracks from an epic recording session with producer Timbaland.

Miley Cyrus, "Bangerz" (Oct. 8): Hannah Montana, we hardly knew you. The 20-year-old singer continues the transition out of teen pop begun on the 2010 "Can't Be Tamed."

Katy Perry, "Prism" (Oct. 22): After the multimillion-selling success of her 2010 album, "Teenage Dream," the singer is ready to follow up with a new single, "Roar," leading the way.

Country

Sheryl Crow, "Feels Like Home" (Sept. 10): Crow moved to Nashville from her longtime home of Los Angeles and refocuses on country music. Skeptics might accuse her of desperately trying to combat declining sales, but Crow's roots-based songwriting suits the transition.

Keith Urban, "Fuse" (Sept. 10): The Australian arena-country star is shaking up his sound with help from producer Mike Elizondo, who has worked with Fiona Apple, 50 Cent, Regina Spektor and Mastodon.

Alan Jackson, "The Bluegrass Album" (Sept. 24): A mix of originals and covers, including Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky," informs this homage to the high-and-lonesome tradition.

Willie Nelson, "To All the Girls …" (Sept. 24): At age 80, the honky-tonk icon has been as prolific as ever, with his third album in 16 months. This one focuses on duets with Dolly Parton, Rosanne Cash, Carrie Underwood, Loretta Lynn, Miranda Lambert and Mavis Staples, among others.

greg@gregkot.com