<p>Julian Casablancas of the Strokes</p>

Julian Casablancas of the Strokes

The Strokes' new album coming in March

Bassist Nikolai Fraiture explains why recording got 'weird'

The new year is barely a week old and we’re already getting excited about a number of new releases coming out. Now comes word that The Strokes’ first album in five years will come here sooner than expected.

Bassist Nikolai Fraiture told BBC’s Radio 1 on Wednesday that the album, the group’s fourth, should be out “by March.” But in some ways, fans should expect a step backwards, rather than forward. “Sonically, I feel it’s the album we should have made between [2003’s] ‘Room On Fire’ and [2006’s] ‘First Impressions on Earth.’”

“Earth” was the band’s last album and in the meantime, most of the members have released their own projects. That led to a little weirdness when it came time to come back together. “There was a lot of weird energy flowing around,” Fraiture said. “ There are different dynamics in the group in different ways.” For example, lead singer Julian Casablancas recorded his vocals without the band around. “Usually we’re always in a room and changing stuff and doing it all together,” Lowe said. “It’s all a learning experience.”

Lowe also said the band will undergo a world tour in support of the as-yet-untitled set.

We tagged The Strokes’ new set as one of the most anticipated for 2011. Check out our list here.




 

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<p>Gerry Raffterty.</p>

Gerry Raffterty.

'Baker Street' singer Gerry Rafferty dies

Scottish artist was 63

Gerry Rafferty, best known for his hits “Baker Street” and “Stuck in the Middle With You,” had died. He was 63.

The Scot passed away after a long illness, according to U.K. newspaper The Guardian. Rafferty first came to prominence in 1972 as part of Stealers Wheeler, whose “Stuck in the Middle With You” had a resurgence in the ‘90s after Quentin Tarantino featured the tune in “Reservoir Dogs.”

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<p>Jane's Addiction</p>

Jane's Addiction

Jane's Addiction recording new album with Dave Sitek's help

Sitek will play bass and help write songs on summer release

Well, this should sound interesting. TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek has linked up with Jane’s Addiction to play bass and write tunes for the forthcoming Jane’s album.

He joins singer Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins in the band. Also signed on is producer Rich Costey, who’s worked with Muse, Franz Ferdinand and Interpol. Founding bassist Eric Avery, who has come and gone before, left the band last year. Duff McKagan joined briefly, but only lasted six months and left in September.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Foo Fighters</p>

Foo Fighters

Listen: Foo Fighters finish recording new album, tease track

Break out the champagne as band completes Butch Vig-produced set

The Foo Fighters are celebrating not only the new year, but the completion of their new album.

The band tweeted a group photo on Monday with the caption, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are officially done. Champagne, anyone?”

Head Foo Dave Grohl told BBC’s Radio 1 on Tuesday that the album was “massive...There’s 11 songs and front to back there’s not one sleepy ballad.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Pink Floyd's Roger Waters</p>

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters

Pink Floyd and EMI sign on the dotted line for five more years

Roger Waters set to tape six 'The Wall' shows for possible DVD

After a contentious last few years, Pink Floyd and EMI have made up and inked a new five-year deal that allows the record company to continue to market and distribute the group’s catalogue.

The new pact also involves the settlement of any legal disputes the band had lodged against the label over royalty payments, according to a press release from EMI.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Robbie Robertson</p>

Robbie Robertson

Robbie Robertson joined by Tom Morello, Trent Reznor on new album

'How to Become Clairvoyant' features Clapton, Winwood and Robert Randolph too

Trent Reznor and Tom Morello have signed on to appear on “How to Become Clairvoyant,” Robbie Robertson’s first album in more than a decade.

The set, which also features Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and Robert Randolph, comes out April 5 on 429 Records. Clapton co-wrote three tracks with Robertson, who co-produced the album with Marius de Vries.

The album, Robertson’s first since 1998’s “Contact From the Underworld of Redboy,” explores the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s relationship with rock and includes his first song that directly addresses his departure from The Band.

To get a taste of “How to Become Clairvoyant,” check out the track “When the Night Was Young” here.

The track listing for “How to Become Clairvoyant” is as follows:
 
1.     Straight Down The Line


2.     When The Night Was Young


3.     He Don't Live Here No More


4.     The Right Mistake


5.     This Is Where I Get Off


6.     Fear of Falling


7.     She's Not Mine


8.     Madame X


9.     Axman


10.  Won't Be Back


11.  How To Become Clairvoyant


12.  Tango For Django

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<p>Avril Lavigne</p>

Avril Lavigne

Listen: Avril Lavigne's new single 'What the Hell'

No more Miss Nice Girl

Avril Lavigne is putting us on notice: she’s tired of being a good girl on new single, "What the Hell," which she debuted on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rocking Eve"  and is now streaming on her Facebook page. Okay, we confess, she had never seemed particularly like a goody two shoes to us, but whatever.

“All my life I’ve been good, but now I’m thinking what the hell.” That’s about as deep as this song gets, which is about a mile deeper than most pop fodder these days. Turns out Lavigne’s beau didn’t like it when she was making out with his friend. Well, guess what, buddy, “love hurts.”  We’re guessing she’s feeling her oats after splitting with hubby Deryck Whibley (although it must have been a very amicable parting since he worked on the new album, "Goodbye Lullaby," out March 8).

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<p>R.E.M.</p>

R.E.M.

Listen: R.E.M.'s new song, 'Oh My Heart'

Michael Stipe pays tribute to New Orleans

R.E.M. continues to give fans sneak peeks into “Collapse Into Now,” the group’s March 8 album. Today, we get “Oh My Heart,” which premiered on NPR. And listening to it makes me feel like a big old crank. The ballad is about New Orleans, post Katrina, and opens (and then quickly abandons the idea) with mournful horns, straight out of a Crescent City dirge.

As Michael Stipe told NPR, “It's a very quiet and very meditative song dedicated to New Orleans — about New Orleans. Jacknife [Lee] is great as a producer, because he saw that we were struggling with what is a very quiet song. We were standing really far away from each other in the room, and it was hard not only to actually physically hear each other, but it felt dispersed. He brought us into the middle, and instantly, of course, the song worked.”

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<p>Lady Gaga</p>

Lady Gaga

Credit: Matt Sayles/AP

Lady Gaga sets release date for 'Born This Way'

Will she debut single on the Grammys?

Little Monsters, mark your calendars: Lady Gaga’s new album, “Born This Way” will come out May 23, 2011.

Mama Monster herself tweeted the news over the weekend on her website, www.ladygaga.com.  Fans had been hoping for an earlier release date since Lady Gaga has been talking up the new album since this summer, when she debuted a few songs including “You and I,” a piano-based ballad.

The album will be preceded by the title track, which will come out just in time for Valentine’s Day on Sunday, Feb. 13...which, by the way, is the same day as the Grammys. We’re just saying...

We don’t know if it will be the album art (if so, we can all expect a Wal Mart freakout), but there’s a photo of someone from the back, whom we figure is Lady Gaga, in a jeans jacket with “Born This Way,” nude from the waist down on her website. A unicorn, LG? Really?

As we reported earlier, Gaga told the BBC backstage at a London show in December  that the album is "a marriage of electronic music with major, epic, dare I even say, metal or rock 'n' roll, pop, anthemic style melodies with really sledge-hammering dance beats."


Lady Gaga’s last album, “The Fame Monster,”  was the top-selling album on the planet in 2010, according to Media Traffic’s United World Chart, moving 5.8 million units.

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<p>Janelle Monae</p>

Janelle Monae

Top 10 albums of 2010 from The Beat Goes On

Where do Kanye West, Lady Antebellum and Vampire Weekend finish?

As we count down the hours to the end of 2010, here’s one last look back at the albums that kept me smiling throughout the year. By their very nature, such lists are subjective and I’m sure there will be readers that hated some of the albums on this list as much as I loved them. But such lists are also often about the thrill of discovery and the thought of shining the light on a perhaps overlooked gem.

My colleague Katie Hasty posted her excellent Top 10 here. Check that out as well.

1) “Broken Bells,” Broken Bells:  Danger Mouse and The Shins’ James Mercer create a beautiful, melancholy blend of synthesizers and acoustic instrumentation and sorrow all woven together in a beautiful effort. We almost hope it remains a one-off as the journey feels complete with this one, at times transcendent, effort.

2) “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,”  Kanye West: Take one of music’s most controversial and talented figures and see what happens when he rips his psyche open for all to see. West can’t hide his demons and they all join him here in living color and sheer brilliance. He’s one of the few artists whose self-indulgence is as compelling as it is narcissistic.

3) “Sigh No More,”   Mumford and Sons:
British folk rock acolytes brought the beauty and the bite with their debut. The acoustic quartet ties its disparate influences together through inspired thumping on all manner of stringed instruments, including guitars, mandolins, banjos and dobros. Hit single, “Little Lion Man,” is just the tip of the iceberg here.

4) “Archandroid,” Janelle Monae:
  She’s a chameleon who shifts shapes and musical styles with tremendous, seemingly effortless ease. On “Archandroid,” she’s retro and futuristic, pop, funk and punk all at once. Fascinating.

5) “Up on the Ridge,” Dierks Bentley: Pretty country boy veers away from the mainstream to make a bluegrass flavored album that has as much heart as it does talent. He smartly surrounds himself by real deals like  Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson and Del McCoury, whose haunting high-lonesome singing on Bentley’s cover of U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” is the album’s centerpiece.

6) “Need You Now,” Lady Antebellum:  This co-ed country trio avoided the sophomore slump and how with its second album that built on the flawless harmonies and strong melodies from its debut. The title track was one of the best songs of the year of any genre. To be sure, calling Lady A the country equivalent of Fleetwood Mac is a bit much, but they sure do make loving (music) fun.

7) “Contra,”  Vampire Weekend: Smart, literate rock that doesn’t overreach its ambitions, but never panders to the lowest common denominator.  Plus, Vampire Weekend’s music is often infused with a joy missing in so much smart rock. Having said that, after its usage in the ubiquitous Honda commercial,  I’m not sure I ever need to hear “Contra” track “Holiday” again.

8) “The Union,” Elton John and Leon Russell:
An album made for all the right reasons: John’s desire to lift up his mentor and musical hero to past heights, bolstered by no pretense of pandering to radio. Worth the price of admission for the keyboard shoot-outs and Neil Young’s appearance on the beautiful “Gone to Shiloh” alone.

9) “Count Yard Hounds,”  Court Yard Hounds:
This album, from Dixie Chicks’ sibs Martie Maguire and Emily Robison disappeared without making much of a sound (to paraphrase one of the album’s stronger tracks), which is a shame given its understated loveliness. From the Southern California loveliness of “The Coast” to the heartbreaking stomp of “Ain’t No Son” and Robison’s confessional divorce tunes, the album was a subtle joy.

10) “I Learned the Hard Way,” Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings:
These funk/soul lovers just keep getting better. They pay homage to their R&B forefathers and much of their sound can be directly traced back to acts like James Brown or Mavie Staples, but Jones and the Dap Kings still create their own shimmering, irresistible blend. And, as they say, imitation is the sincerely form of flattery.

Runners Up:  Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs,” Black Keys’ “Brothers,” Bruce Springsteen’s “The Promise,” Sade’s “Soldier of Love,” Jamey Johnson’s “The Guitar Song,” and The National’s “High Violet.”


 

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