Just as with movies, the end of any given year generally sees the most anticipated releases in music, and for the rest of 2005 a plethora of fervently awaited albums will be released on a fairly consistent schedule. The pack isn't narrowed into any particular genre either -- indie favorites, hip hop icons and aging stars all have records slated for shipment this fall. Let's try and sort through the pack.

Arguably the two most hyped records of the year will come out within a week of each other in late August. They're both hip hop, and are both very recognizable. OutKast are returning to follow up 2003's Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below with a less ambitious 10-track set, aptly titled 10 The Hard Way (August 23). A week later, 2004's breakout success, Kanye West, will drop Late Registration. The word is that West has been tweaking the record to "perfection," much like he did with last year's instant classic debut, The College Dropout. With hip hop's two biggest artists (now that Jay-Z is retired and Eminem on hiatus) hitting record stores almost simultaneously, RIAA executives should be able to worry less about rapidly declining record sales.

Although indie fans have been treated to a spectacular 2005 already by the likes of Spoon, Sufjan Stevens, Sleater-Kinney, the Decemberists and Bright Eyes, there's a whole lotta love left to give. Three of the most beloved indie pop groups (sorry, the Shins have pushed it back to 2006) are returning to the scene after 2-year absences. A.C. Newman's New Pornographers will release Twin Cinema on August 23, the third record for the supergroup; Ben Gibbard's Death Cab for Cutie will deliver Plans on August 30, their debut on major label Atlantic Records; and Toronto's Broken Social Scene, whose invigorating live show has won them a staggering fan base, will release the long-delayed Windsurfing Nation on October 4. Other major indie firestarters include albums from the iconic Super Furry Animals (October 23) and Silver Jews (October 18), as well as less accessible favorites like Mount Eerie (August 16), Deerhoof (October 11) and Animal Collective (October 18).

Last year's superhit Franz Ferdinand have already completed their follow-up to their smash self-titled debut, and, in Weezeresque fashion, it will also be self-titled. And 2004's other rock success story, the Arcade Fire, will see the release of the much-awaited debut of their friends, Wolf Parade (September 27).

But before they let the new kids take over, some legends are coming back to have a go at it. A 40-year-old rivalry will begin anew, as the Rolling Stones release A Bigger Bang, their first studio album in 8 years, on September 6, a week before Paul McCartney hits the shelves with Chaos And Creation In The Back Yard. Other revered figures returning to the scene include Neil Young (September 20) and Carlos Santana (November 1).

The album that seems to avoid any categorization, but would be a shame to omit, is Sigur R¢s' latest opus, Takk (September 13). The Icelandic post-rockers claim their first record in three years will be more accessible (and less pretentious) than 2002's notorious ( ), a statement open to interpretation.

Hopefully now you have a sense of what to look forward to for the rest of 2005. Support the record industry and buy these records. Except Santana's. He's lame.


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