Summer doesn't officially begin for another month or so, but like the movie industry, the music biz trots out a ton of new products when the weather turns warm. If the album is dying as a format, the industry hasn't read the obit because, as usual, the next three months include dozens of releases across all genres.
Here are a few highlights. Note: Release dates can be nomadic, so there's always the possibility of changes.
American Idol Season 9 . The TV giant's weakest season to date collects covers from its top 10, led by Lee DeWyze's Treat Her Like a Lady and Siobhan Magnus' Paint It Black. No, it doesn't include Andrew Garcia doing Straight Up.
Sea of Cowards , Dead Weather. There were identity issues on the first album by this Jack White project. The second time out the band created a stomping monster.
High Violet , The National. A slow 10-year build has led to this, the best album by the Ohio-rooted, Brooklyn-based band that creates a beautifully icy type of indie rock.
Tear the World Down , We Are the Fallen. Ben Moody and much of Evanescence team up with American Idol's Carly Smithson on this collection of dramatic goth-pop-metal.
Brothers , Black Keys. The blues duo from Akron, Ohio, has yet to float a stinker. Producer Danger Mouse is on some of this, which bodes well.
Infinite Arms , Band of Horses. Even with some strings and a few big pop melodies, these Horses don't go middle of the road like another (blank) of (blank) band.
This Is Happening , LCD Soundsystem. The single Drunk Girl has given us high hopes for James Murphy's latest.
Distant Relatives , Nas and Damian Marley. Finally, a rap + reggae fusion that doesn't settle for danceable grooves and dunderheaded lyrics.
Skin Collision Past , Wild Moccasins. This first full-length album is darker than the band's EP but with wonderfully layered and hooky pop songs dusted with a bit of lounge and a bit of glam.
Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook , Betty LaVette. This is the sort of record Rod Stewart could be making. Thankfully, he's not. LaVette sings as if her life depends on it.
Teargarden by Kaleidyscope 1: Songs for a Sailor , Smashing Pumpkins. A lock for most obnoxious title of the year. Still, it's nice to have Billy Corgan back.
Tried and True , Clay Aiken. Another Idol finalist, another set of covers — these from the '50s and '60s. It's like he never left the show.
To the Sea , Jack Johnson. As though he ever left the sea. He's reliable, so expect the hairdo to be the biggest change.
Bionic , Christina Aguilera. The big-voiced pop star's fourth studio album includes collaborations with DJ Premier, Sia, Ladytron, M.I.A. and Santigold.
Up on the Ridge , Dierks Bentley. The country star goes bluegrass, with help from Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Del McCoury and Kris Kristofferson.
History From Below , Delta Spirit. Making good on the promise of its debut, this San Diego band has a masterwork on its hands.
Thank Me Later , Drake. After a seemingly endless wait, the Canadian rapper drops his full-length, which is said to feature Kings of Leon, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and The-Dream.
The Laws of Illusion , Sarah McLachlan. The Lilith Fair founder's first album in seven years is preceded by first single Loving You Is Easy.
Mojo , Tom Petty. Here's hoping Petty's latest lives up to the title. Since parting ways with Rick Rubin, his songs have lacked a little punch.
Armando , Pitbull. The Cuban-American rapper releases his first Spanish-language album after steady pop success.
Venom , Chamillionaire. According to the Houston rapper, this one might move to July. Its Spider-Man-influenced title also suggests a different, darker side will be shown.
Recovery , Eminem. A year after releasing his least satisfying album, Eminem is back. He'd planned a sequel to Relapse, but then came up with a new record.
The Sellout , Macy Gray. The loopy songstress returns with a joyous collection of R&B jams, led by single Beauty in the World. The disc also features Velvet Revolver and Bobby Brown.
Memphis Blues , Cyndi Lauper. The Celebrity Apprentice contestant returns to music with this collection of blues covers and appearances by B.B. King, Jonny Lang, Allen Toussaint, Ann Peebles and Charlie Musselwhite.
Ten , Jason Moran. The musical wunderkind has become the hottest pianist in jazz during the past decade. His new one touches on parts of his career with daring originals, a tip to a hero (Thelonious Monk's Crepuscule With Nellie) a tip to a mentor (Jaki Byard's To Bob Vatel of Paris) and a stretch with Leonard Bernstein's Big Stuff. Daring and dazzling.
The Heart of a Champion , Paul Wall. Don't expect many surprises, but the deep-voiced Houston rapper is a reliable hip-hop workhorse.
Street Songs of Love , Alejandro Escovedo. It's not the monster that his Real Animal was but still another great set that will please the true believers.
Sir Lucious Left Foot : The Son of Chico Dusty , Big Boi. Andre 3000 had the pop hits, but Big Boi was always the better rhymer in OutKast. He steps out on his own here.
Aphrodite , Kylie Minogue. Anything new from the Aussie diva is cause for dance-floor celebration. A wordless, 30-second clip of forthcoming single All the Lovers has fans clamoring for more.
Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites , Jimmie Vaughan. It's been nine years since guitar wizard Vaughan last released a solo album. This one is a rich old-school rock and blues record, impeccably played.
Dark Night of the Soul , Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse. Widely circulated online, this collaboration between super producer Danger Mouse and the late Mark Linkous is, as billed, somber but beautiful stuff.
100 Miles From Memphis , Sheryl Crow. Life's Detours out of the way, all she wants to do is have some fun again.
Without Regret , Kimberly Caldwell. It's hard to believe this American Idol Season 2 finalist has never released an album. This collection of rock-fueled pop songs is a terrific showcase for her booming, bracing voice.
King Uncaged , T.I. To paraphrase Raising Arizona's parole officer: "Have you learned anything, T.I.? O.K. then."