New Albums Due Out In 2011 

The new year will be music to your ears

The eggnog is gone, the tree is composted, and since you used recyclable paper to wrap your presents, it's all tucked neatly in the bin. As you shake off the last of the holiday cheers or jeers, it's nice to put away the Christmas music and have some new tunes to look forward to in the new year. A slew of highly anticipated albums are due out in early 2011, guaranteeing the year will definitely come in with a sonic bang.

In January, Cold War Kids will hopefully climb out of their sophomore slump. Mine Is Yours (Interscope) is the band's third studio release and is scheduled to hit store shelves on Tuesday, Jan. 11. It promises the same thick, melodic sound CWK is known for but feels more like a record made by grown-ups for grown-ups. Some of that credit goes to producer Jacquire King, known for his work with Kings of Leon. In an interview with Rolling Stone, CWK frontman Nathan Willett said, "We used to share the live aesthetic with White Stripes and Black Keys-type bands, but we really wanted to do something richer and classier." Success.

It's been a long time since California-based Cake has dropped any new music and people may have forgotten about them--although it's hard to dismiss the band that gave us "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" and the brilliant "I Will Survive" cover. Fans will find the same Cake on the Tuesday, Jan. 11, release of Showroom of Compassion (Upbeat Records), which is to say you never really know what to expect from Cake. "Sick of You" is a '70s-sounding trumpet blaster with vocalist John McCrea sounding as laid-back as ever. His signature take it-or-leave-it delivery, in spite of heavy lyrics--"I'm so sick of you / so sick of me"--is still there.

SoCal punkers Social Distortion, who have been around for more than 30 years, aren't about to let a little thing like age stop them. On Tuesday, Jan. 18, they'll release Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes (Epitaph), their seventh studio album and their first release in more than six years. Songs like the single "Already Gone" prove that while the music may have mellowed slightly, the message hasn't.

It's been a while since Iron and Wine aka Sam Beam released a studio album, but the three years that fans have been waiting for Kiss Each Other Clean (Warner Bros.), out on Tuesday, Jan. 25, will be worth it. Beam lives up to his storyteller reputation with sweet lines like "I was walking far from home / but I carried your letters all the while," appropriately from the single, "Walking Far From Home"--but then he takes the music in a new direction with the electronic Cat Stevens-esque "Biting Your Tail."

Bright Eyes, fronted by solemn Conor Oberst, has also kept the music close for the past few years but will release The People's Key (Saddle Creek Records) on Tuesday, Feb. 15. Oberst, Mike Mogis (who co-produced the album) and Nathaniel Walcott will also play Radio City Music Hall and Royal Albert Hall later this year. The Omaha, Neb.-based Bright Eyes has been around for more than 10 years, but rather than grow stale, the band's moody folk music has stood the test of time.

As we spring into spring, Devotchka fans can look forward to Tuesday, March 1. That's when 100 Lovers (Anti- Records) will crowd store shelves. This romantic Denver-based foursome is known for combining traditional European instrumentation and rhythms with American music sensibilities and creating a sound that is at once familiar and exotic. The band will be in Boise on Wednesday, March 2, and since it's the day after their album comes out, the mood will surely be celebratory.

Drive-By Truckers, who will make a stop in Boise on Wednesday, March 16, at the Knitting Factory, release Go-Go Boots (ATO Records) on Tuesday, Feb. 15. Drive-By Truckers aren't really rock, they aren't really country, and they aren't country rock. Alt-country is a term that works but might bring to mind chugging bass and sliding guitar. OK, slide guitar is definitely a country music trope, but in the hands of the Truckers, it becomes something that should never be played in the same set as, say, a Keith Urban tune. Go-Go Boots stays true to the band's sound but pushes the Truckers even farther into alt territory.

Some time in May, the nicer weather will bring Codes and Keys (Atlantic Records) from Death Cab for Cutie. DCFC frontman and Zooey Deschanel spouse Ben Gibbard told that it is "a testament to where we are as a band ... it's not a guitar-based record. We've been into vintage keyboards and playing with that palette."

The Strokes, R.E.M. and Get Up Kids have releases planned for the new year as well, and word has it that we may hear new stuff from Aerosmith, Beastie Boys, Culture Club, Fiona Apple, My Morning Jacket, Old 97's, Radiohead, U2 and Wilco as well.

Better make some room on your iPods, iPhones, Androids, whatever, kids, because 2011 has enough good new music to fill them up all over again.

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