Summer doesn't officially begin for a month or so, but, like the movie industry, the music biz trots out a ton of new products when the weather turns warm. As usual, the next three months include dozens of releases across all genres. Here are a few highlights (but note that release dates can change).
"American Idol Season 9": The TV giant's weakest season to date collects covers from its top 10, led by Lee DeWyze's "Treat Her Like a Lady" and Siobhan Magnus' "Paint It Black." No, it doesn't include Andrew Garcia doing "Straight Up."
"Sea of Cowards," Dead Weather: There were identity issues on the first album by this Jack White project. The second time out is a stomping monster.
"High Violet," the National: A 10-year build has led to the best album by the Ohio-rooted band that creates a beautifully icy type of indie rock.
"Tear the World Down," We Are the Fallen: Ben Moody and much of Evanescence team up with Carly Smithson of "American Idol" on this collection of dramatic goth-pop-metal.
Also out: "The Powerless Rise," As I Lay Dying; "On Approach," Everest; "Li(F)e," Sage Francis; "Totalled," Indian Jewelry; "Hang Cool Teddy Bear," Meat Loaf; "Welcome to the Dark Side," Tila Tequila.
"Brothers," Black Keys: The blues duo has yet to release a stinker. Producer Danger Mouse is on it, which bodes well.
"Infinite Arms," Band of Horses: Even with some strings and a few big pop melodies, these Horses don't go middle of the road.
"This Is Happening," LCD Soundsystem: The single "Drunk Girls" has given us high hopes for James Murphy's latest.
"Distant Relatives," Nas and Damian Marley: Finally, a rap-reggae fusion that doesn't settle for danceable grooves and dunderheaded lyrics.
"Skin Collision Past," Wild Moccasins: This first full-length album is darker than the band's EP but has wonderfully layered and hooky pop songs dusted with lounge and glam.
Also on May 18: "The Foundling," Mary Gauthier; "Suburban Nature," Sarah Jaffe; "Love and Its Opposite," Tracy Thorn.
"Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook," Betty LaVette: This is the sort of record Rod Stewart could be making. Thankfully, he's not. LaVette sings as if her life depends on it.
"Teargarden by Kaleidyscope 1: Songs for a Sailor," Smashing Pumpkins: A lock for most obnoxious title of the year. Still, it's nice to have Billy Corgan back, even if he's alone in the pumpkin patch.
Also out May 25: "Rebel Within," Hank III; "My Soul," Leela James; "Stone Temple Pilots," Stone Temple Pilots; "Dirty Side Down," Widespread Panic.
"Tried & True," Clay Aiken: Another "Idol" finalist, another set of covers -- these from the '50s and '60s. It's as if he never left the show.
"To the Sea," Jack Johnson: As if he ever left the sea. He's reliable, so expect the hairdo to be the biggest change.
Also out June 1: "Rokstarr," Taio Cruz; "The Chaos," Futureheads; "Skeletons," Hawthorne Heights; "Bom Tempo," Sergio Mendes.
"Bionic," Christina Aguilera: The big-voiced pop star's fourth studio album includes collaborations with DJ Premier, Sia, Ladytron, M.I.A. and Santigold.
"Up on the Ridge," Dierks Bentley: The country star goes bluegrass, with help from Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Del McCoury and Kris Kristofferson. Wow moment? A cover of U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)."
"History From Below," Delta Spirit: Making good on the promise of its debut, this San Diego band has a masterwork on its hands.
Also out June 8: "White Crosses," Against Me; "Further," Chemical Brothers; "Shout It Out," Hanson; "Sweet and Wild," Jewel; "How I Got Over," the Roots; "She Won't Be Lonely Long," Clay Walker.
"Thank Me Later," Drake: After a seemingly endless wait, the Canadian rapper drops his full-length album, which is said to feature Kings of Leon, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and The-Dream.
"The Laws of Illusion," Sarah McLachlan: The Lilith Fair founder's first album in seven years is preceded by the first single, "Loving You Is Easy."
"Mojo," Tom Petty: Here's hoping his latest lives up to the title. Since parting ways with Rick Rubin, his songs have lacked punch.
"Armando," Pitbull: The Cuban-American rapper releases his first Spanish-language album after steady pop success.
Also out June 15: "The R.E.D. Album," the Game; "American Slang," Gaslight Anthem; "Scream," Ozzy Osbourne.
"Venom," Chamillionaire: According to the Houston rapper, this one might move to July. Its "Spider-Man"-influenced title also suggests a darker side will be shown.
"Recovery," Eminem: A year after releasing his least satisfying album, Eminem is back. He'd planned a sequel to "Relapse" but then came up with a new record.
"The Sellout," Macy Gray: The loopy songstress returns with a joyous collection of R&B jams, led by the single "Beauty in the World." The disc also features Velvet Revolver and Bobby Brown.
"Memphis Blues," Cyndi Lauper: The "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant returns to music with this collection of blues covers and appearances by B.B. King, Jonny Lang, Allen Toussaint, Ann Peebles and Charlie Musselwhite.
"Ten," Jason Moran: The musical wunderkind has over the past decade become the hottest pianist in jazz. His new one touches on parts of his career with daring originals, a tip to a hero (Thelonious Monk's "Crepuscule With Nellie") a tip to a mentor (Jaki Byard's "To Bob Vatel of Paris") and a stretch with Leonard Bernstein's "Big Stuff." Daring and dazzling.
Also out June 22: "We Walk This Road," Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
"The Heart of a Champion," Paul Wall: Don't expect many surprises, but the deep-voiced Houston rapper is a reliable hip-hop workhorse.
"Street Songs of Love," Alejandro Escovedo: It's not the monster that his "Real Animal" was but it's another great set that will please the true believers.
Also out June 29: "Night Work," Scissor Sisters; "Laws of Power," Three 6 Mafia; "Just Across the River," Jimmy Webb.
"Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty," Big Boi: Andre 3000 had the pop hits, but Big Boi was always the better rhymer in OutKast.
"Aphrodite," Kylie Minogue: Anything new from the Aussie diva is cause for dance-floor celebration. A wordless, 30-second clip of the forthcoming single "All the Lovers" has fans clamoring for more.
"Plays Blues, Ballads and Favorites," Jimmie Vaughan: It's been nine years since the guitar wizard released a solo album. This one is a rich, old-school rock and blues record, impeccably played.
"Dark Night of the Soul," Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse: Widely circulated online, this collaboration between super producer Danger Mouse and Mark Linkous is somber but beautiful.
"100 Miles From Memphis," Sheryl Crow: All she wants to do is have some fun again.
"Without Regret," Kimberly Caldwell: It's hard to believe this "American Idol" Season 2 finalist has never released an album. This collection of rock-fueled pop songs is a terrific showcase for her booming, bracing voice.
"King Uncaged," T.I.: To paraphrase the parole officer in "Raising Arizona": "Have you learned anything, T.I.? OK, then."