The Hold Steady, Heaven Is Whenever (May 4): How many killer albums in a row does it take for America’s best bar band to become an American’s best band contender? Whether you dug Separation Sunday, Boys and Girls in America or Stay Positive the most, let’s at least agree that all three helped raise our spirits along with our beer cans.
LCD Soundsystem, This Is Happening (May 18): It is indeed happening ... and then it won’t be anymore. Main man James Murphy has said his electronic-rock band’s third album will be its last. We’re guessing it’s true, ’cause when a dude’s already released songs like “Someone Great,” “Losing My Edge” and “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House,” he doesn’t need to hype his stuff up.
Band of Horses, Infinite Arms (May 18): Your boss listens to Band of Horses. Your neighbor listens to Band of Horses. Your cat listens to Band of Horses. Blame it on that infernal Ford commercial, or chalk it up to the mellowish rockingness of the band’s Neil Young-y tunes. Just don’t be surprised if your grandma is blasting one of the new tunes the next time you stop by.
Stone Temple Pilots, Stone Temple Pilots (May 25): The Stone Temple Pilots reunion has been thoroughly road-tested since the band members got back together two years ago, and now STP is set to release its first album since 2001. The self-titled disc is said to have a psychedelic ’60s feel, and after singer Scott Weiland’s stint with hard-rock supergroup Velvet Revolver, something a little looser and more laid-back is probably just the right thing.
Christina Aguilera, Bionic (June 8): Aguilera’s last album, 2004’s double-disc Back to Basics, was an homage to big band sounds with a modern twist, but for Bionic, Aguilera is taking off in yet another direction. She’s worked with dance-oriented indie acts like Ladytron, Le Tigre and Goldfrapp to craft a more futuristic sound, trading the sounds of the past for something more current.
Big Boi, Sir Luscious Leftfoot … Son of Chico Dusty (July 6): The last time Big Boi released a “solo” disc, it was half (the better one) of much-lauded ’03 OutKast set Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. This one has been delayed and then some, but whenever it does hit the streets, hopefully it’ll reflect the time it took to finish.
Tom Petty, Mojo (date tbd): Petty’s last solo outing, 2002’s The Last DJ, served as a scathing assault on the record industry. His latest, originally slated for spring but now more likely a summer release, is reported to be more mellow. Like, waaay more mellow, man.
Also: Hole, Nobody’s Daughter (April 27); Gogol Bordello, Trans-Continental Hustle (April 27); Broken Social Scene, Forgiveness Rock Record (May 4); Deftones, Diamond Eyes (May 4); The New Pornographers, Together (May 4); The Dead Weather, Sea of Cowards (May 11); The National, High Violet (May 11); We Are the Fallen, Tear the World Down (May 11); The Black Keys, Brothers, (May 18); Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Distant Relatives (May 25); Smashing Pumpkins, Teagarden by Kaleidyscope—Vol. 1: Songs for a Sailor (May 25); Widespread Panic, Dirty Side Down, (May 25); Jack Johnson, To the Sea (May 1); The Chemical Brothers, Further (June 8); Dierks Bentley, Up on the Ridge (June 8); The Roots, How I Got Over (June 8); Drake, Thank Me Later (June 15); Sarah McLachlan, The Laws of Illusion (June 15); Herbie Hancock, The Imagine Project (June 22); Kelis, Flesh Tone (July 6).