The season in music will be a busy one. Big-name acts of long standing such as Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the reunited Beach Boys, and, it's expected, the Rolling Stones, will be on tour.
And everyone from Super Bowl headliner Madonna to agit-pop singer M.I.A. to Philadelphia street rapper Meek Mill will be releasing new albums.
The accompanying list highlights a selection of hotly anticipated albums, with newcomer Lana Del Rey and old lion Leonard Cohen starting off the season this week.
Lana Del Rey, "Born to Die" (on sale Jan. 31). Does Lana Del Rey have just one great song in her? The debut album by the artist who used to call herself Lizzy Grant will answer the question. With her woozy, narcotic, addictive "Video Games," the singer jacked up expectations, but a lifeless performance on "Saturday Night Live" has harshed her buzz considerably.
Leonard Cohen, "Old Ideas" (on sale Jan. 31). "I'd love to speak with Leonard, he's a sportsman and a shepherd / He's a lazy bastard living in a suit," 77-year-old Leonard Cohen sings of his own persona in "Going Home," on his first studio album in eight years.
Dr. Dog, "Be the Void" (on sale Feb. 7). The second album on the Anti- label by the Philadelphia sextet led by Scott McMicken and Toby Leaman doesn't sacrifice catchiness in the slightest as it rocks out and adds touches of paranoid psychedelia to the band's repertoire.
Sharon Van Etten, "Tramp" (on sale Feb. 7). Brooklyn songwriter Sharon Van Etten kick-started her career in 2010 with her haunting song "Love More," recorded at a session with Fishtown's Weathervane Music. Her third album backs up her luxurious voice most effectively without losing the intimacy that can bring a listener up short.
Paul McCartney, "Kisses on the Bottom" (on sale Feb. 7). The title, not as pervy as you might think, comes from the 1935 Fats Waller hit "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter." It's one of the 14 pre-rock 'n' roll era covers on the cute Beatle's new album, which expands on the show-tune proclivities he demonstrated as far back as 1963's cover of "Till There Was You."
Van Halen, "A Different Kind of Truth" (on sale Feb. 7). Anyone who saw the 2007 Van Halen tour in which genius of camp David Lee Roth came back into the fold knows that these '80s rockers can still be ridiculous entertaining. But are they capable of making worthwhile new music? Early signs are inconclusive.
Sleigh Bells, "Reign of Terror" (on sale Feb. 21). With their 2010 debut "Treats," the confrontational noise-pop duo of guitarist-producer Derek Miller and charismatic front woman Alexis Krauss made one of the year's best albums, marrying aggressive hip-hop production and cathartic power chords with catchy pop tunes. They're back with Reign of Terror, which has been hyped as having an even heavier sound, a claim that is so far borne out on the singles "Born to Lose" and "Comeback Kid."
Chiddy Bang, "Breakfast" (on sale Feb. 28). At last, it's time for "Breakfast." The Philadelphia hip-pop duo Chiddy Bang -- former Drexel University students Chidera "Chiddy" Anamege and Noah "Xaphoon Jones" Beresin -- first caused a commotion with their 2010 MGMT-sampling single "Opposite of Adults." The group, known for sampling alternative acts like Sufjan Stevens, will finally let loose its full-length debut, with renewed momentum from the single "Ray Charles."
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