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Ten Albums You Should Listen to in 2011

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Ten Albums You Should Listen to in 2011

New albums from The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, Kanye West, and others

Jay-Z and Kanye West

Kanye West & Jay-Z, Watch the Throne

After a monster 2010, 2011 looks like it might be just as epic for Kanye. What was initially supposed to be an EP of collaborations with Jay-Z has been expanded to an full-length album, just months after West’s last release, the much acclaimed My Dark Twisted Fantasy. No official release date has been set, although Kanye hinted it might be as soon as mid-January. So keep an eye out for these two hip-hop titans duking it out.

Listen: "H.A.M"

Kanye West & Jay-Z

The Decemberists, The King is Dead

The Decemberists, The King is Dead

After overindulging their prog-rock tendencies on the bloated rock opera, The Hazards of Love, The Decemberists will get back to their folksy roots on The King is Dead. Thankfully, the band sounds reinvigorated, and yet more laid-back than ever before, with acoustic tunes and catchy melodies that remind us why we loved them in the first place. January 18, 2011

Listen: "Down by the Water"

The Decemberists

Tennis, Cape Dory

Tennis, Cape Dory

There's been a lot of buzz around the debut album by husband-wife duo Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore. If the first few singles are any indication, we're in for a dreamy set of lo-fi and indie-pop goodness. Just ignore the horrendous 80s-style glamour-shot album art. January 18, 2011

Listen: "Cape Dory"

Tennis

Iron & Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean

Iron & Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean

Sam Beam, a.k.a. Iron & Wine, recently said his upcoming album “sounds like the music people heard in their parents’ car, growing up." Which, to me at least, is ‘70s-style FM radio. With Beam’s groovy beard and soothing voice — basically the aural equivalent of rocking a baby to sleep — that doesn't sound too far off target. January 25, 2011

Listen: "Tree by the River"

Iron & Wine

Destroyer, Kaputt

Destroyer, Kaputt

Songwriter Dan Bejar is a wordsmith of the highest order. Kaputt will feature more of his verbose ruminations on everything from communism to the pointlessness of writing songs. Plus, he's touring with an eight-piece orchestra, which will make this one of his most lush and intricate endeavors yet. January 25, 2011

Listen: "Kaputt"

Destroyer

Cut Copy, Zonoscope

Cut Copy, Zonoscope

It's been a few years since these sexy Australians graced our ears — and our feet — with their retro-sounding dance-pop. If this batch of songs is as good as their last (and all signs suggest it will be), it'll sound just as good on your iPod as it would in a John Hughes prom scene. February 8, 2011

Listen: "Take Me Over"

Cut Copy

...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Tao of the Dead

…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Tao of the Dead

The Texan psych-rockers are back with their seventh album. Unsurprisingly, it abounds with blistering riffs and epic songs about, well, death. It should fit in perfectly with their rich and morbid discography. February 8, 2011

Listen: "Summer of All Dead Souls"

…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

P.J. Harvey, Let England Shake

P.J. Harvey, Let England Shake

For nearly two decades, P.J. Harvey has excelled at writing gorgeous, brooding songs, so we're naturally excited for her latest album. Fortunately, she looks and sounds better then ever. February 25, 2011

Listen: "The Last Living Rose"

P.J. Harvey

The Mountain Goats, All Eternals Deck

The Mountain Goats, All Eternals Deck

This umpteenth album (honestly, who's keeping track anymore) by John Darnielle and co. will features the contributions of producer Erik Rutan, who’s the frontman for death-metal band Hate Eternal. And while Darnielle assures fans that All Eternals Deck is by no means a metal album, I hope Rutan lends the band a heavier edge, especially after the quiet, piano-driven somberness of their last few albums. March 29, 2011

The Mountain Goats, All Eternals Deck

The Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2

Excluding 2007's all instrumental record, The Mix Up, it's been nearly seven years since the Beasties' last proper album. If the title is any indication, Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2 (don't ask where “Part 1” went) should maintain the boys' irreverence and wit. It will be an especially welcome return given Adam Yauch's cancer battle — which rendered the band inactive for the past year. Summer 2011