The new releases you won't want to miss

By Leah GreenblattKyle Anderson and Ray Rahman
August 24, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

1. Taylor Swift
Red (Oct. 22)
After 2010’s entirely self-penned Speak Now, Swift decided to invite some friends along, including Max Martin (on the smash single ”We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”), Butch Walker, and Ed Sheeran. ”I ended up being inspired by a lot of crazy zero-to-100-then-it-hits-the-wall-and-then-explodes relationships,” she’s said. Gentlemen, prepare to get served.

2. Kanye West/G.O.O.D. Music
Cruel Summer (Sept. 18)
Lately it seems like every crew has a great mixtape album. But only one has Kanye at the helm — and with a roster that includes scene MVPs Pusha T, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, and Kid Cudi, Yeezy’s G.O.O.D. Music label looks to live up to its name. ”Every artist brings the true essence of who they are to the table,” says Cudi (who also has his own disc, Indicud, due later this fall). ”We’re just pretty much the most creative, coolest crew doing it.”

3. Mumford & Sons
Babel (Sept. 25)
These guys know not to folk with a good thing. ”We have no interest in reinventing ourselves,” says drummer Ted Dwane of the follow-up to 2009’s Sigh No More, recorded in their native U.K. Besides, he laughs, ”there’s really only one way we know how to do things.”

4. No Doubt
Push and Shove (Sept. 25)
The SoCal champs reconvened in 2008, but real life got in the way. ”We’re all parents now,” says guitarist Tom Dumont. Still, he promises, Push retains their classic formula: one part ”ska-reggae-dancehall vibe,” one part ”new wave, like Depeche Mode and the Cure and OMD… That’s what makes us No Doubt.”

5. Green Day
¡Uno! (Sept. 25)
Why make just one album when you can knock out three? ¡Uno!, to be followed by ¡Dos! Nov. 13 and ¡Tre! Jan. 15, finds the often-fierce band putting fun first. ¡Uno! brings both pop dynamics (see single ”Kill the DJ”) and raucous three-chord workouts (”Nuclear Family”). ”At the end of recording, [frontman] Billie [Joe Armstrong] said it felt like a homecoming to him,” says longtime producer Rob Cavallo. Leave it to the punks to call grimy blasts like ”Makeout Party” home.

6. The xx
Coexist (Sept. 11)
The U.K. dream-poppers’ swooning self-titled 2009 debut made fans of blog snobs and pop stars alike (Drake and Rihanna have both sampled the group’s work in their own songs). In the three years since, ”we learned to work together as a three-piece,” Oliver Sim says, referring to the departure of bandmate Baria Qureshi. The trio even built their own studio for Coexist, and had member Jaime xx produce again. Says Sim, ”I hope it feels as intimate to everyone else as it does to us.”

7. Meek Mill
Dreams & Nightmares (Oct. 30)
Despite his famous mentor (king-size rapper Rick Ross) and buzz-heavy mixtapes (you can find his Dreamchaser series online), Mill isn’t exactly a widely known quantity. But he plans to change that with his debut: ”It’s gonna be different beats, different lyrics, different topics,” he says. ”I did Dreamchasers when I was hanging in the hood. Now I’m on the road more — I understand life, seeing different things.”

8. Carly Rae Jepsen
Kiss (Sept. 18)
Don’t worry, ”Call Me Maybe” obsessives — there are more sweet nothings where that zeitgeist-bottling smash came from. ”The theme of the album is all based on love and flirtation and the excitement of beginnings,” Jepsen tells EW. Armed with the official summer jam of 2012 and a producing lineup that includes Max Martin and LMFAO’s Redfoo, Kiss aims to leave even more smitten phone-stalkers in its wake.

9. Alicia Keys
Girl on Fire (Nov. 27)
Most 31-year-olds would be content to have four platinum albums and 14 Grammys on their mantel. Not Keys. ”I wanted to write these insane songs that could live on their own, that people couldn’t deny,” she says of Girl on Fire, recorded in New York City, London, and Jamaica. To get there, she pursued a rawer, stripped-down approach: ”I thought I had to put 300,000 instruments in a track for it to sound big, but now I realize that the less I put in it, the bigger it can sound.” One new accompaniment she’s happy to have? Her son, Egypt, nearly 2. ”He may have a little feature on one song,” Keys hints. ”We’ll see.”

10. Ellie Goulding
Halcyon (Oct. 9)
Sometimes an artist bursts right out of the gate. And sometimes it takes a seventh — yes, seventh — single to make it all come together. So it was for the stealth smash ”Lights,” from the 25-year-old Londoner’s debut of the same name, now perched just short of the No. 1 spot after six months on the Hot 100. But don’t expect a cavalcade of guest stars on her follow-up. ”I haven’t really collaborated with anyone for this record,” says the songstress, who recently worked with Calvin Harris on another project. ”It’s just me and a producer…. But it has more of a tribal feel, too,” she adds. ”It’s just way more epic.”

11. Jason Aldean
Night Train (Oct. 16)
Nashville stars like Kenny and Carrie and Taylor may have first-name-only wattage, but Aldean’s got numbers on his side, thanks to his monster 2010 album, My Kinda Party. Look for more ten-gallon hits on Night Train, including ”Wheels Rollin”’ and the title track. ”A lot of people call it sloppy playing,” Aldean says of the guitar style made popular by the likes of Slash, his personal ax hero. ”I just call it cool.”

12. Ke$ha
Title and date TBA
On the guest list for the pop wild child’s latest? Dr. Luke, the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne, and punk godfather Iggy Pop (she calls their collab, ”Dirty Love,” her favorite). ”I was super young and broke when I did [2010’s] Animal,” she says. ”We just partied constantly and made an album in between.” This one, she reveals, will showcase her voice and use ”tons of live instruments… It’s definitely a great evolution.”

…and one bonus ”album”
There’s a new project coming from one of music’s most adored alt heroes, but you’ll have to see it to believe it — literally. Beck, who hasn’t put out a record since 2008’s acclaimed Modern Guilt, will release Beck Hansen’s Song Reader, a collection of 20 original songs presented solely in the form of sheet music. Due this December via lit-scene star Dave Eggers’ publishing house McSweeney’s, the full-color, hand-illustrated sheets will come in their own hardcover carrying case. What will fans and dedicated DIYers choose to do with it? Internet, get ready for the deluge.