The world may not end in 2012, but signs from the music industry prove otherwise. Tim McGraw is releasing his first album in three years, an eternity for an artist with such a fanatical following. With fans just as rabid, The Shins will be reentering the scene with their first album in five years. Pay close attention to these albums as three out of “Rolling Stone’s” Top Ten Albums from 2011 were released in January or February.
Tim McGraw “Emotional Traffic” January 17
Curb Records, McGraw’s label since his debut, has held “Emotional Traffic” hostage since 2010. Lawsuit and countersuit later, this album is finally slated for a January release. This will be McGraw’s final album with Curb Records. Check out the album streaming in its entirety at NPR.
Lamb of God “Resolution” January 24
Riding cries of “Metal is back!” from fans, Lamb of God returns with their seventh studio album, the first since 2009. Channelling earlier work such as 2003’s “As the Palaces Burn” and 2004’s “Ashes of the Wake”, Lamb of God promises memorable guitar riffs and solos that will melt your face. Give the first single from “Resolution” a listen here:
Ingrid Michaelson “Human Again” January 24
Having described this album as “fiercer and less peppy as my ukulele songs”, Michaelson’s newest album promises to change her sound. This may turn away fans of Michaelson, but let the music determine where you stand. Check out “Ghost”, the first single from the New York native. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S208WvTgSTo&ob=av2n
Lana Del Rey “Born to Die” January 30
Lana Del Rey has accomplished more than most artists before their first album. Simultaneously dividing the blogosphere into raging haters and unabashed lovers, Lana Del Rey challenges what the title “artist” means. After failing in music under the moniker “Lizzy Grant”, Lana Del Rey returns for round two (Lady Gaga anyone?). Manufactured artist designed to sell records or true talent, Lana Del Rey’s album will be debated for months to come. Lana Del Rey’s website offers two tracks from this album. For added fun: Google her name and click around. The amount of content out there surrounding her will have you laughing, crying and asking “WTF?”.
Paul McCartney “Kisses on the Bottom” February 7
I’ll let you finish laughing first. Yes, this album title is ridiculous. Yes, McCartney has described it as “very tender, very intimate” adding to the hilarity. This aside, this is still an album from one of the surviving Beatles and McCartney’s fifteenth album, an accomplishment. The first album since 2007, “Kisses on the Bottom” ends fan’s waiting for new McCartney music. Listen to “My Valentine” a track from this album.
Sharon Van Etten “Tramp” February 7
This Jersey singer-songwriter channels folk tradition while bringing a touch of tenderness to her music. Her newest album, “Tramp”, was produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner. Van Etten will begin a tour following the release of “Tramp” and will be in Columbus on Valentine’s Day. I’ll see all of you there. Give “Serpents” a listen.
Dierks Bentley “Home” February 7
Country mega-star Dierks Bentley’s next album “Home” continues his commercial and radio success. Already, the first single “Am I the Only One” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country singles. Give it a listen here.
Sleigh Bells “Reign of Terror” February 21
After receiving very positive reviews with the first album “Treats” and appearing at huge festivals, Bonnaroo and Coachella, Sleigh Bells face the pressure as the hype machine kicks into hyper speed. “Reign of Terror”, the second album from the Brooklyn duo, features the same sound of “Treats”. Sleigh Bells combine raw, fuzzy guitars with pounding drums to create a loud and aggressive noise. Expect more fury on “Reign of Terror”. Check out “Born to Lose”.
Bruce Springsteen “Wrecking Ball” March 5
The Boss Man and the E Street Band return with the first studio album since the passing of beloved saxophonist Clarence Clemons. The Hollywood Reporter has described the album as the angriest yet while using economic justice for subject matter. That noted, it is no surprise to see that Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, a political advocate, is featured on two tracks including one in memory of Clemons. Check out “Wrecking Ball”, the first single from the record.
The Shins “Port of Morrow” March 20
James Mercer returns to The Shins with the fourth studio album from this Portland band and first under Mercer’s label, Aural Apothecary. After working with producer Danger Mouse in the well received band Broken Bells, Mercer reassembled a band to record again under The Shins name. “Port of Morrow” features drums from Modest Mouse’s drummer Joe Plummer and The Shins have announced a North American tour highlighted by an appearance at Coachella in Indio, Calif. Listen to the first single and find tour dates at The Shin’s official website.