New Multitudes (on sale Feb. 28). Woody Guthrie sure left a lot of lyrics behind. Jay Farrar of Son Volt, Will Johnson of Centro-matic, Anders Parker, and Jim James of My Morning Jacket (under his annoying pseudonym Yim Yames) go where Wilco and Billy Bragg have gone before in converting old Guthrie lyrics into ringing new folk-rock songs on their self-titled album "New Multitudes."
Bruce Springsteen, "Wrecking Ball" (on sale March 6). Advance word on Springsteen's 17th album is that it's aggressive and angry in a presumably political way. The anthemic "We Take Care of Our Own" would seem to underscore that, though its intentionally ambiguous chorus leaves itself open to "Born in the U.S.A."-style misinterpretation.
Magnetic Fields, "Love at the Bottom of the Sea" (on sale March 6). Ever since the wondrous three-CD "69 Love Songs" was released in 1999, fans have been hoping that pop-savant sourpuss Stephin Merritt would again apply his funereal voice to such irresistibly droll synth-pop nuggets. Judging by the song "Andrew in Drag," this could be the time.
The Shins, "Port of Morrow" (on sale March 20). After the diversion of his Broken Bells side project with Danger Mouse, Shins' leader James Mercer is back in action with Port of Morrow. Its first single, "Simple Song," is an encouraging blast of aggressive power pop from the Portland-based band.
Amadou & Mariam, "Folila" (on sale March 27). The "Blind Couple of Mali," who make effervescently pleasing music that reaches across geographic and musical borders, return with an album recorded in New York and Bamako. It features contributions from Santigold and members of TV on the Radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Nicki Minaj, "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded" (on sale April 3). This one's not an expanded version of Minaj's 2011 debut, "Pink Friday," but a full-length showcase for the furiously foulmouthed rapper's raging male alter ego, Roman Zolanski. The Trinidad-born rapper's "Super Bass" was a contender for 2011's song of the year.
Bonnie Raitt, "Slipstream" (on sale April 10). Bonnie Raitt's been a redheaded stranger of late, but the singer -- one of only two women named to Rolling Stone's 100 greatest guitarists -- returns with her first album in seven years. Partly produced by Joe Henry, it features songs by Bob Dylan, Loudon Wainwright and Al Anderson, among others.
Alabama Shakes, "Boys & Girls" (on sale April 10). Southern-fried soul woman Brittany Howard grabs you by the shoulders and rocks you with the force of her vocals on "Hold On," the single that ignited a brushfire of buzz for the Alabama Shakes late in 2011. The Muscle Shoals-steeped quartet makes its full-length debut on Dave Matthews' ATO Records.
Norah Jones, "Little Broken Hearts" (on sale in early May). Sultry-voiced sweetheart Norah Jones has been busy with musical projects, including her second album with country-covers band the Little Willies. Next up: "Little Broken Hearts," with knob-twiddling handled by Danger Mouse, aka Brian Burton.
Santigold, "Master of Make Believe" (on-sale date to be announced). Santigold's genre-splicing debut album came out in 2008, so long ago that it was called Santogold -- the name that Philadelphia-born avant-pop songwriter Santi White went by before she got sued by another Santogold. "Master of Make Believe" faces the challenge of staying ahead of the future-pop curve, and its first single, "Big Mouth," suggests she'll be up to the challenge.
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