Now that we’ve left winter behind — technically, anyway — it’s time to start looking ahead to some of the spring’s big rock releases. Sadly, though, there aren’t a lot of them.

Pop still rules the music cycle and many major bands are either coming to the end of their release-and-touring schedule (Nickelback, Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Green Day) while others have gone to ground completely (Nine Inch Nails comes to mind).

This, however, offers bands with new releases a path of lesser resistance. Here are some highlights.

Plastic Beach, Gorillaz (Out now): The cartoon band created by Damon Albarn (Blur) and Jamie Hewlett (the comic book artist behind Tank Girl) is back with a third album said to have been recorded on an island made of floating trash somewhere in the Pacific. EMI is praying that it does as well as the last two albums which sold a combined total of 14 million copies.

Out of Our Minds, Melissa Auf der Maur (March 30): After an eternity in Record Contract Purgatory, MAdM — ex-Hole and ex-Smashing Pumpkins — is finally ready to reveal an extremely ambitious and solo project that involves music (in both digital and physical forms), film, photography, a comic and live performances. As she told me, “I wanted to offer an artistic experience with multiple points of entry.”

Congratulations, MGMT (April 13): Faced with having to follow up Oracular Spectacular with something, er, equally spectacular, MGMT elected to veer off into a completely different direction, creating a record that’s meant to be consumed as a hole rather than in bite-sized chunks of singles. Bold.

Red Light Fever, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders (April 20): While his boss is off playing with Them Crooked Vultures (among others), Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins leads a band through a record filled with ’70s-inspired power pop. Guests include Brian May and Roger Dean of Queen, Elliot Easton of the Cars and, of course, Dave Grohl.

Nobody’s Daughter, Hole (April 27): She’s baaacck! Courtney Love is finally ready with a Hole album, the first since 1998’s Celebrity Skin. Although she’s the only original member of Hole in the band, what I’ve heard so far sounds pretty solid. Skinny Little B— has done quite well as the first single. Listen for a Billy Corgan co-write called Samantha very soon.

And there’s more. News on U2, Deftones and STP next week.