February, while not being super-exciting, has some interesting releases, particularly from the now Noel-less Oasis renamed as Beady Eye, an acclaimed new album from PJ Harvey, and the debuts from James Blake and Alexis Jordan.
Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding (2/28). Brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher were never known for having an amicable relationship. Their infamous spats were the fiery undertow of Oasis, the Britpop band that ruled British music during the mid-to-late '90s and continued to be popular for most of the last decade. Two years ago though Noel had finally had enough and exited the band after a particularly heated exchange with his brother. The remaining band members have decided to continue under a new name, Beady Eye, signaling a fresh start, although from the likes of first single "The Roller," not a new sound.
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (2/13). The acclaimed British singer-songwriter releases her eighth album, the follow-up to her 2007 album, White Chalk. Harvey has said this album's themes are more political and historical. Critical reaction to the album has already been very positive: Q Magazine awarded the album its rare highest 5-star rating, calling it a stunning "state-of-the-nation" address.
James Blake (2/7). British electronic music artist James Blake releases his self-titled solo album next month. The musician ranked second in the BBC Sounds of 2011 poll and achieved modest chart success with his recent single, "Limit to Your Love." Blake has said the album's sound, called "post dubstep," was influenced by The XX, which is a good sign, considering that album was one of my favorites of 2009 (it went on to win last year's Mercury Award and is a nominee for the Brit Award for Best British Album).
Alexis Jordan (2/27). Everytime I hear a new Alexis Jordan song, I fear it's going to be pop/R&B, and the dance song is just a remix. Refreshingly, Jordan appears to actually be a dance artist, not another urban clone, despite having come to the limelight under the guidance of Stargate and Jay-Z. Her first single, "Happiness," was a #1 US dance hit and a #3 single in Britain. Her second single, "Good Girl," is dance pop too, although I wouldn't be surprised if her debut hits on some pop, R&B and ballads too.
Ricky Martin - Musica + Alma + Sexo (2/1). The latin pop singer, who (finally) came out of the closet last year, releases his ninth album. This one is mostly Spanish with a couple of English tracks. The album is produced by Desmond Child, the guy behind such Martin hits as "Livin' La Vida Loca" and "She Bangs."
The Streets - Computers and Blues (2/7). Mike Skinner releases his fifth and reportedly final album under the name The Streets. Although once quite popular, The Streets' star has faded significantly, as this album arrives with little fanfare. Claire Maguire does a guest vocal on one track.
Now That's What I Call Music, Vol. 37 (U.S. Edition) (2/8). Wow. I hadn't realized this series is up to #38 already. This edition kicks off with seven recent #1 hits from Eminem & Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, P!nk, Ke$ha, Rihanna and Far*East Movement.
Roxette - Charm School (2/11). Swedish pop duo offers its first album in 10 years. Will it be a comeback for them?
Bright Eyes - The People's Key (2/15). Conor Oberst's band releases its 10th album. It's described as having a more electronic sound, akin to the band's 2005 release Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.
Akon - Akonic (2/21). His fourth album, featuring recent single "Angel."
Thirteen Senses - Crystal Sounds (2/21). Third album from the British rock group.
Clare Maguire - Light After Dark (2/27). Fifth-place artist in the BBC Sounds of 2011 poll releases her debut album.
Despite February being a bit dull, March promises the be very exciting, with new albums by Kanye West & Jay-Z, R.E.M., Elbow, Pet Shop Boys, The Naked and Famous, Avril Lavigne, The Vaccines, Katy B, Jessie J, The Strokes and Britney Spears.