By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Ten spring CDs blooming now. Or maybe in April. Or May. Or even later if the record company decides to fiddle with the date at the last second. They do that a lot.
JUDAS PRIEST Angel of Retribution[Epic, out now] You know the other guys in Judas Priestthe ones who aren't Rob Halfordwere down on their knees thanking Gay Jesus for delivering the greatest leather- queen frontman of all time back to their heavy-metal parking lot.
ALBERT AYLER Holy Ghost (three-LP version)[Revenant, out now] Less elaborate and gorgeous than last year's box setalso less expensive. Turntable owners imagining Ayler's free jazz sounding awesome when mashed up with Merzbow or Mylo are already freaking the neighbors with this one.
TWEET It's Me Again[Elektra, March 22] I know this guy who made an iTunes sex playlist. He's got a lot of Mogwai on there but also Tweet's 2002 masturbation anthem "Oops (Oh My)" because it's not spazzy like "She Bop." He's really excited about this record.
OUT HUD Let Us Never Speak of It Again [Kranky, March 22] Making reliable dance rock since 1998, before the Rapture were the Rapture. Their 11-minute-plus "Dear Mr. Bush, There Are Over 100 Words for Shit and Only 1 for Music. Fuck You, Out Hud" (if it actually gets released) could be the "Lean Back" of 2005.
MERLE TRAVIS & JOE MAPHIS Country Music's Two Guitar Greats JAMES BURTON & RALPH MOONEY Corn Pickin' & Slick Slidin[Sundazed reissues, both March 22] When it's Sunday morning and pancakes are on the griddle, these gentle country old-schoolers will ease you into the day.
KANYE WEST Late Registration[Roc-A-Fella, April 5or sometime in May, depending on who you read] Dancefloor hits about Jesus = three Grammys, which also = a Get Out of Jail card for at least the next 12 months.
THE BOOKS Lost and Safe[Tomlab, April 5] When indie kids develop those springtime crushes and start burning CDs for each other, this is how they pull out the big guns. Their self-penned liner notes say, "It's like Nilsson meets glitch." Which is true, but you don't want to be the guy who said it, you know?
HOT HOT HEAT Elevator[Reprise, April 5] Their Attractions organ is less prominent this time around but the happiness is way out front. This'll be the barbecue CD of the summer, so pace yourself.
NEW ORDER Waiting for the Sirens to Call[Reprise, April 12] So beloved even in their third decade that when they go too long without releasing a record, fans start beating their breasts and fretting that the band has broken up for good this time. If this sucks, all they'll have to do is toss out a couple of 2005 "Blue Monday" remixes and all will be forgiven.