Now it feels like the year has started! Why a couple of these albums couldn’t have come out earlier in the month, I have no idea. At any rate, this is the type of release schedule that we’re used to with a series of releases from upstarts and established stars alike.

We are a site of music nerds. Craig Finn is the Patron Saint of a certain breed of music geeks for sure. The bespectacled lead singer of The Hold Steady makes his solo debut this week with Clear Heart Full Eyes, an album that got the review treatment just yesterday.

If you prefer a harder strain of music, you might want to go with the new one from Lamb Of God, who recently had a Metal Monday segment dedicated to them. Resolution is one of several hard rock albums that come out today, in addition to Lacuna Coil. Dark Adrenaline is the title of the new album by the Italian gothic band (hey, I learned that from Wikipedia!).

Country fans, do not fret! There are releases for you, too! The legendary Tim McGraw is making his return this week. After a lengthy legal battle with Curb Records, his label home of two decades, Mr. Faith Hill is releasing Emotional Traffic. It is his last contracted work for the label, and features a few interesting left turns-including a duet with pop/soul star Ne-Yo. On the female side, former “American Idol” finalist Kellie Pickler makes her return. 100 Proof is Kellie’s third album and her first in four years. It’s also her first album since getting married in 2010.

On the other side of that marital coin would be Seal, whose wife, Heidi Klum, just announced that she and the pop singer are getting divorced. This news, interestingly, comes just as the British singer is set to release his second album of R&B covers from the sixties and seventies. Soul 2 recently kicked off with a version of “Let’s Stay Together,” the Al Green classic that President Obama recently took viral. Divorce? An unintentional assist from the POTUS? The return of Trevor Horn? Might Seal be on the comeback trail musically? (Probably not, says me…although the return of Horn is a great move-his albums without the producer have gotten progressively less listenable over the years.)

Dance music producer Skrillex has been all over the place lately. An eight-song EP entitled Bangarang is scheduled for release today, and he’s also part of the lineup appearing on this year’s 2012 Grammy Nominees compilation. He’s joined by the equally indie Bon Iver, as well as significantly less indie artists like Coldplay, Maroon 5 and Adele.

The list of major new releases concludes with the latest set from Nada Surf. The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy (geez, y’all—could’ve thought of an easier title!) is the follow up to their 2010 album of covers, If I Had A Hi-Fi. Speaking of covers, a sea of artists ranging from Pete Townshend to Ke$ha celebrate 50 Years of Amnesty International by covering Bob Dylan songs on Chimes of Freedom. With 75 songs in total, this sounds like something that would be a total bitch to get through, and with the breadth of artists involved, I can’t say whether it would even be worth the time to listen.

You can check out a full list of this week’s releases over at Pause and Play.

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