Enough with the retrospectives and best-of lists. It’s time to look ahead to the music of 2011, starting with some impending releases for January and February.

The Decemberists
The King is Dead
January 18

Erudite folk rock from Portland band who could be due for some kind of breakthrough this year. “Down by the Water” is available for a free download.

Social Distortion
Hard Times and Nursery Crimes
January 18

In the punk world, this is an event. Mike Ness and crew have been around since 1978 and this is only the band’s seventh proper album.

Cold War Kids
Mine is Yours
January 25


Third album from literate Long Beach quartet. Their website offers a 15-second trailer of the record. Expectations are high.

Young the Giant
Young the Giant
January 25

Multi-ethnic (one Brit, two Indians, one Persian and one French-Canadian) outfit from Orange County who are gifted writers of Big Songs.

Party Store
February 1

Wait: a Detroit garage-rock band devotes an entire album to covering classic Detroit techno songs? Judging by “Sharevari,” an early leak from the sessions, this may not be as weird as it sounds on paper.

Young Galaxy
February 8

Their third album was a transatlantic affair: The band worked on the music in Montreal while the producer did his job in Sweden. Ain’t Skype cool?

PJ Harvey
Let England Shake

February 15
Polly Jean never likes to stick with one style for too long. “Written on the Forehead,” the dreamy first release from the record, is nothing short of a dream-pop masterpiece.

The Dears
Degeneration Street
February 15
I can honestly say this Montreal band has made the album of their career. If it’s not up for the Polaris Music Prize in 2011, something’s wrong.

Next week: A deeper look into 2011 with a preview of some superstar releases. This should be a very good year for rock.

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