For the first time in the years since we got into this racket, we haven't heard a single critic complain that 2010 was a shitty year for music—an unusual occurrence given just how bitchy most critics can be. But it makes a lot sense: 2010 was awesome, with great albums coming from all sorts of genres. Will 2011 be an inevitable letdown? With the slate of artists scheduled to release new music, maybe not.
Coldplay, Title + Date TBA
While it will no doubt be filled with more of the same lifeless arena rock we've come to expect from Mr. Paltrow and the gang, this is a notable release if for no other reason than it's basically mainstream rock music's last great hope for relevance. Which of course does not bode well for mainstream rock music.
The Strokes, Title tba, March (tentative)
In 2009, Julian Casablancas told Rolling Stone that early tracks for The Strokes' fourth album sound like a mix of 70s rock and "music from the future." We're not sure what this means exactly, except that people in the future will probably have awesome hair and wear leather jackets.
Radiohead, Title + Date TBA
No one seems to know what this record will be called, or when it will come out, or what record label, if any, it will come out on. One thing seems certain, though: 10.1, at least.
Bright Eyes, The People's Key, February
Now that indie-rock earnestness is less in vogue than it's been at any other point since Conor Oberst first came crashing onto the scene a decade ago, how will the public react to indie rock's proudest peddler of said earnestness?
Hot Sauce Committee Vol. 2, Spring
We count ourselves as fans of the Beastie Boys, but we've got to say, we're a little confused about just who will buy a new record by them in the year 2011. Do young rap fans care about them? Have the aging frat boys who liked them in college completely forgotten?
Lady Gaga ,
Born This Way, Spring
Forgive us, Ms. Gaga, but we thought you were born as an NYU student of middling taste, performing covers of Led Zeppelin songs at bars downtown. No? Wrong lady? Fair enough.
Kanye West and Jay-Z , Watch the Throne,
It's currently scheduled for a February release, but, admittedly, Kanye West and Jay-Z's collaborative effort, Watch the Throne, feels like the kind of record that could never quite come. If it does, though, there's no telling how much it could sell. This is not unlike, say, the Beatles and Stones teaming up for a record in 1966.
Dr. Dre, Detox, February
Here's another one we'll believe is coming out no sooner than the day we see it on a record store shelf. Dre's long-delayed, much-hyped Detox can't possibly live up to expectations at this point-that is, unless everyone else's expectations have become as low as ours have.
Beck, Title + Date TBA
At this point, we'd be fine with it if Beck just focused on his production work-he did a fantastic job on Charlotte Gainsbourg's IRM, and we're extremely, almost creepily, excited about news that he's working on Thurston Moore's next record. But what the hell? Bring it on.
R.E.M., Collapse Into Now, March
That last record was super blah, so our hopes are not terribly high, but as is always the case with these guys, there's all sorts of talk about a "return to form" or whatever with Collapse Into Now. Would be nice, but we ain't holding our breath.