No matter how much the record business changes, one thing stays the same: The best records come out in the summer. From hard rock to crunk, these releases are sure to sooth the savage beast.
Out of Exile
Interscope (May 24)
Audioslave's debut album juxtaposed hard-as-it-gets radio rock with steel-plated ballads, but only occasionally betrayed the band's roots in two of the '90s' heaviest rock groups (if you're just tuning in, steel-pipes singer Chris Cornell fronted Soundgarden, and his current backing band is everybody but the singer from Rage Against the Machine). Out of Exile touches both extremes, from the melodic lead single "Be Yourself" to the crushing fury of "The Worm."
City of Evil
Warner Bros. (June 7)
Flashing image and chops, Avenged Sevenfold plays gothic metalcore even your girlfriend might like -- assuming she's not the one who turned you on to it in the first place. City of Evil, its major-label debut, is full of epic jams that pack an emotional wallop.
Black Eyed Peas
A&M/Interscope (June 7)
The late-blooming hip-hop stars had an unstoppable hit with NBA anthem "Let's Get It Started." They waste no time following up 2003's Elephunk with a new menagerie of playful beats. The impressive list of guest appearances includes James Brown, Sting, Dick Dale, and Justin Timberlake.
X & Y
Capitol (June 7)
Coldplay's third album, X & Y, is the guaranteed smash album of the summer. 2002's enduringly popular A Rush of Blood to the Head brought the band favorable comparisons to Radiohead. Now frontman Chris Martin's lilting vocals and gorgeous piano crescendos have grown so big that the band might make the jump to stadiums.
Jagged Little Pill
Maverick/Warner (June 13)
Beck and Nine Inch Nails have us rocking like it's 1995, so let's keep the party going with Alanis Morissette. The Canadian anti-diva sold over 15 million copies of her landmark breakthrough, Jagged Little Pill, and VH1 anointed it as that decade's definitive album. Now she celebrates its tenth anniversary by releasing an acoustic version. You oughtta know: Starbucks stores will have the disc Monday, June 13. You can't get it elsewhere until August.
Sub Pop (May 24)
Seven good albums in a row? It's almost unprecedented, but Sleater-Kinney is back, and these grrrls are still a riot. Bracing and nervy, the iconic Washington trio's post-feminist indie rock isn't militant, though it packs a wallop. After an unusually long break between discs, the trio returns with The Woods, a guitar-heavy rave-up that's a shoo-in for year-end Top 10 lists.
Discovering the Waterfront
Victory (August 16)
Silverstein sold over 100,000 copies of 2003's When Broken Is Easily Fixed. Showcasing a hard-won maturity, Discovering the Waterfront promises to be less strident, more technical, heavier, but also poppier. If that sounds contradictory, you don't know screamo. And if you don't know screamo, this is a great place to start.
The White Stripes
Get Behind Me Satan
Third Man/V2 (June 7)
Get Behind Me Satan isn't the Detroit duo's third album, but it will definitely be the White Stripes' third big album. The new garage rock royalty defy expectations by swaying into blues, country, folk, and whatever else comes to mind. While you can't be exactly certain what they'll throw at you next, one thing's for sure: Listen long enough, and it'll get loud.
Ying Yang Twins
U.S.A. (United State of Atlanta)
TVT (June 28)
The Ying Yang Twins' fortunes have risen with the wave of crunk that's overtaken the nation. This Atlanta duo reunite with golden-toothed crunk king Lil Jon for their fourth album, U.S.A. (United State of Atlanta), a platter of party music. Don't forget your pimp cup.