From left: Fiona Apple; Nada Surf frontman Matthew Caws; Lady Sovereign.Photo: From left: Courtesy of Lionel Deluy; Michael Schmelling; Courtesy of Chocolate Industries

The Weight is a Gift
A decade ago, Nada Surf was alt-rock’s flavor of the moment: Ex–Cars front man Ric Ocasek took a shine to the boys and invited lead singer Matthew Caws over to the apartment he shares with his wife, the former supermodel Paulina Porizkova. “It was surreal,” says Caws. “As I left, Paulina said, ‘He likes your phrasing,’ and then I got on my bike and rode home.” Ocasek ended up producing the band’s first record, which spawned the MTV hit “Popular,” a clever if unsubtle jab at high-school life….
• Barsuk; September 13.

Vertically Challenged
Lady Sovereign, who recently threw down a few verses in Jay-Z’s boardroom, has the outsize personality that propels artists out of subcultures.
• Chocolate Industries; November.

What the Game’s Been Missing
The Diplomats’ do-it-yourself street rap wows fans—and label execs.
• Def Jam; October 25.

Viagra Rock
This fall, the rock heroes of yesteryear—The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Neil Diamond, Neil Young, and Echo and the BUnneymen—are more ubiquitous than ever.
A Bigger Bang. Virgin; September 6.
Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. Capitol Records; September 13.
Neil Diamond. Columbia Records; November 8.
Prairie Wind. Reprise Records; September 21.
Siberia. Cooking Vinyl; September 20.

Extraordinary Machine
Fiona Apple is still singing about the kind of doomed, neurotic relationships familiar to any New Yorker, and through it all, her voice rings clearer and more confident than ever before—the sound of a singer in her prime.
• Epic; October 4.

You Could Have it So Much Better
Franz Ferdinand, Scotland’s gift to the world, might just top their extraordinary debut.
• Epic; October 4.

Photo: Courtesy of Jasper Coolidge

Applause, Applause
Singer Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah wails his way between catchy and off-kilter melodies, drawing comparisons to David Byrne and turning his Brooklyn band into an overnight sensation. A major tour begins this month.“All of us used to have day jobs,” says Ounsworth. “But lately we’ve been resigning ourselves to the rock-and-roll fantasy.”
• At the Bowery Ballroom, with the National, September 9.

Photo: Statia Molewski/Retna

Just as it seemed his behavior couldn’t get any more callow, Ryan Adams, the freakishly productive clown prince of the East Village, reveals a previously well-hidden grace and maturity on his new album, Jacksonville City Nights.
• Lost Highway; September 27.

Best of the Rest

Seu Jorge, ‘Cru’
The Brazilian actor-singer who played the wonderful acoustic Bowie covers in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou has a romantically roughneck way with ballads.
• Wrasse, September 6.

Damian Marley, ‘Welcome to Jamrock’
Youngest scion tries to follow in dad’s footsteps with the old-fashioned skank of the title tune.
• Universal, September 13.

Sigur Rós, ‘Takk …’
The Icelandic innovators of esoteric chill-out music try a startling new approach—rocking out.
• Geffen, September 13.

Stellastarr*, ‘Harmonies for the Haunted’
Williamsburg’s answer to the Cure returns with a stylishly bleak second album.
• RCA, September 13.

Big Star, ‘In Space’
Sweet harmonies and punchy guitars by members of the Posies make ragged ol’ Alex Chilton sound young again.
• Ryko, September 27.

Gretchen Wilson, ‘All Jacked Up’
If the jagged guitar and swinging violins of the title single are any indication, country’s biggest new star beats the sophomore jinx.
• Epic, September 27.

Dangerdoom, ‘The Mouse and the Mask’
The D.J. who made a splash by mashing up the Beatles and Jay-Z teams with indie hip-hop’s foremost M.C. for a satisfyingly jazzy collaboration.
• Epitaph, October 11.

Matt Pond PA, ‘Several Arrows Later’
This heartfelt folk-rock record makes felicitous use of the cello.
• Altitude, October 11.

The Fiery Furnaces, ‘Rehearsing My Choir’
Brooklyn’s brother-sister art-rock duo adds electronic squiggles and guest vocals by Grandma to their repertoire.
• Rough Trade, October 25.

True Love, ‘Wings’
The Hoboken power poppers have plenty of Cheap Trick up their sleeves.
• Not Lame, October 25.

Big & Rich, ‘Comin’ To
Your City’ On Horse of a Different Color, they pulled off the catchiest, most good-natured hip-hop–country fusion yet. Find out if they can possibly top “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy).”
• Warner, November 15.

The Mendoza Line, ‘Full of Light and Full of Fire’
Elegantly ramshackle country-inflected rock from a great underrated Brooklyn band.
• Misra, November 22.

The reunited duo will have something out this fall—either a soundtrack to their HBO musical, My Life in Idlewild, or a back-to-basics disc called 10 the Hard Way.

What Are You Looking Forward to This Fall? Ask a Record-Store Clerk
Dary Stroup, Fat Beats

Taste: A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Native Tongues. The older stuff that influenced people.

Looking forward to: Percee P’s new album is going to be big. He’s working with one of the best producers in hip-hop, Mad Lib, and a lot of people in New York are pulling for him because this is his shot.

Wish list: I would make a new Tribe album, with Mad Lib, Diamond D, and Large Professor on production. Early-nineties soulful jazzy, but hard, nice, New York sound.