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Impressions: Pop Recordings

It looks like we're going to see a banner crop of pop and rock CDs this fall. Of the thousands slated for release, here are 22 we think are noteworthy, either because they're good (see Black Keys), or newsworthy (see the Who), or are going to sell a gajillion copies (see Fergie). Either way, inquiring minds want to know.

Yo La Tengo, ``I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass," Matador, Sept. 12. Hoboken's beloved rock eclectics deliver orchestral chamber pop, garage-punk rave-ups, and most things in between on their 12th album.

The Black Keys, ``Magic Potion," Nonesuch, Sept. 12. It only takes two to be a great rock band, as the Akron, Ohio, duo proves again on it s fourth album, its debut on the ever-expansive Nonesuch label.

Jake Shimabukuro, ``Gently Weeps," Hitchhike Records, Sept. 12. The Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele. You've got to check it out.

Fergie, ``The Dutchess," Interscope, Sept. 19. The Black Eyed Peas' vocalist goes solo and judging by the smash single, ``London Bridge," her maiden venture will investigate territory familiar to fans of ``My Humps" and ``Let's Get It Started."

Scissor Sisters, ``Ta Dah!," Universal, Sept. 26. A hot little banjo ditty, a disco tune called ``Paul McCartney," and Elton John all materialize on the sophomore effort from our favorite glam-pop-dance-rockers.

Janet Jackson, ``20 Y.O.," Virgin, Sept. 26. Still on the comeback trail after the wardrobe and ``Damita Jo" malfunctions, Miss Jackson is playing the nostalgia card with her new disc, whose title celebrates the 20th anniversary of ``Control," which didn't malfunction. Nelly, Jermaine Dupri, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis pitch in.

Jet, ``Shine On," Atlantic, Oct. 3. After a bout of writer's block, botched recording sessions, and a death in the family, the Australian garage-rockers follow 2003's debut, ``Get Born," with a collection heavy on the expected epic rockers and studded with a surprising clutch of tender ballads.

Diddy, ``Press Play," Bad Boy, Oct. 3. Hip-hop's premier entrepreneur steps up to the microphone on ``Press Play," whose title refers to the artist's vow not to overhype the disc. He gets help from Christina Aguilera, Mary J, Brandy, Kanye, and Pharrell.

Pernice Brothers, ``Live a Little," Ashmont, Oct. 3. The South Shore's finest return with a signature collection of lovely, uber-literate pop-rock tunes.

Beck, ``The Information," Interscope, Oct. 3. His holiness reunited with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich, who was also at the helm for Beck's ``Mutations" and ``Sea Change." His 10th album will be sold in a blank case with a sleeve of stickers so that fans can create their own album art.

Evanescence, ``The Open Door," Wind-up Records, Oct. 3. Little Rock's poppy goth-rockers finally return for their second outing with a choir, a string section, and a song based on a section of Mozart's ``Requiem," all of which suggests an all-purpose upping of the drama quotient -- no surprise after losing two key members and living through the new songwriter/guitarist's stroke last year.

The Decemberists, ``The Crane Wife," Capitol, Oct. 3. The quirky Portland, Ore. , pop collective is releasing its major-label debut, which in time-honored major-label debut fashion sports a lot less quirk and a lot more pop.

The Killers, ``Sam's Town," Island, Oct. 3. Don't know how they're going to top ``Mr. Brightside," but fingers are crossed for the Las Vegas fashionistas on their sophomore effort. Expect a rather dramatic image shift, from suave to scruffy.

Robert Pollard, ``Normal Happiness," Merge, Oct. 10. The phenomenally prolific Guided by Voices frontman releases his 10th solo CD -- on the heels of a double album that came out earlier this year. Is it any wonder his brilliant, hook-drenched discs are a bit thin in the coherence department?

Vince Gill, ``These Days," MCA Nashville, Oct. 17. This mammoth set -- 43 songs on four CDs -- spans country, bluegrass, rock, and jazz and features cameos from Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood, Gill's wife, Amy Grant, and daughter Jenny Gill, plus some dudes, too.

Badly Drawn Boy, ``Born in the UK," Astralwerks, Oct. 17. The master pop craftsman and slacker guru releases his fifth disc in as many years.

John Legend, ``Once Again," Sony, Oct. 24. Early (and positive) word on the new disc from the excellent neo-soul singer and songwriter is that Legend infuses his signature mellow vibes with strains of classic pop and indie rock, with production help from his mentor Kanye West, Will.I.Am, and Craig Street.

My Chemical Romance, ``My Chemical Romance," Reprise, Oct. 24. The aggro-alt-popsters return with their third CD, whose eponymous title at this stage of the game suggests some interesting mid-career identity issues.

The Who, ``Endless Wire," Universal, Oct. 31. The first album of new material in 24 years from the British rock icons includes a six-song mini-opera, ``Wire & Glass," based on Pete Townshend's novella ``The Boy Who Heard Music," already out in the U K. The rest of the album's 17 or so tracks remain a well-kept secret.

Willie Nelson, ``Songbird," Lost Highway, Oct. 31. The red-headed stranger hitched his wagon to the country-rock renegade -- Ryan Adams -- and recorded with Adams' s band the Cardinals. The title song, a Fleetwood Mac cover, should be worth the price of admission.

Young Jeezy, ``The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102," Def Jam, October. Let the hotshot producer pageant continue: Pharrell, Kanye West, Timbaland, Scott Storch, and newcomers the Runners have their hands all over Jeezy's latest.

JOAN ANDERMAN

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