The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
Literary-minded quintet the Decemberists may have outdone themselves this time. Like hipster time travelers, the band maintains a highly stylized persona, comprised largely of military-esque costumbry and words that havent been uttered aloud for over a century. For their next trick, lead singer Colin Meloy found inspiration in a long forgotten Brit-pop album from the 1960s of the same title. Meloy embarked on a journey to write a folk-rock opera, rife with nods to Greek myths, Meloys slightly nasal tenor, and plenty of material for their Scrabble-loving fans to parse. Featuring a duo of Diamonds (as in Lavender, and My Brightest) singing the lead female parts, and help from My Morning Jackets Jim James and veritable Renaissance Man Robyn Hitchcock. Warning: Not for the faint of twee.
Keri Hilson, In A Perfect World
In said perfect world, Keri Hilson would have found fame and fortune a while ago. The 27-year-old is one of the more talented hired guns in the world of R&B, writing tracks for Britney Spears, Usher and Ludacris, and has long been a Timbaland protg. After years of delays and pushbacks, Hilsons debut is finally being released, with enough star power to run NASA. Hip-hop kingpins Kanye West and Lil Wayne join Hilson, and Timbaland returns many favors with several writing and producing credits. With four already-massive singles released since the Spring of 08, Hilsons has successfully dominated the airwaves. Onto the world.