The year got off to a rousing start with the release of “Animal” from Ke$ha, which looks poised to knock Susan Boyle off the top of the Billboard 200 later this week. We can safely say that while there are some strong releases coming on Tuesday, Jan., 12, none of them are likely to come in at No. 1. Nonetheless, there”s a new album from Vampire Weekend, which is enough reason to rejoice.
O.A.R., “Rain or Shine” (Everfine): College favorites O.A.R. do what they do best–play live-on this 2-CD live set recorded in Chicago this summer.
OK Go, “Of the Blue Color of the Sky” (Capitol): On its third studio album, this quartet, still best known for its mesmerizing treadmill video, “Here It Goes Again,” returns with a beat-laden set. They still bring the pop, to be sure, but the band reaches back to early influences like Prince, while sounding completely progressive through its work with producer David Fridmann (MGMT and Flaming Lips).
Omarion, “Ollusion” (Starworld Entertainment/EMI): After a very short stint on Lil Wayne”s Young Money Label, Omarion started his own EMI-distributed label with this, his first solo album since 2006″s “21” (He partnered with Bow Wow for 2007″s “Face Off.” Rap go-to guest star Gucci Mane is featured on the set, as is Fabulous.
Ringo Starr, “Y Not” (Hip-O) Who doesn”t want to record with an ex-Beatle? Apparently no one. Starr”s set includes guests Paul McCartney (which marks the closest we can come to a Beatles reunion) on three tracks, Joe Walsh, Joss Stone, Richard Marx and Ben Harper. Harper and his band, Relentless 7, will also back Starr on a short set of promotional appearances behind the album. Remarkably, “Y Not” marks the first time he has produced himself.
Vampire Weekend, “Contra” (XL): Indie rock poster boys return with their second set, “Contra,” exactly two years after the release of their self-titled debut. The 10-song set was prefaced by somewhat nonsensical first single, “Cousins.” The track was recorded in Mexico City. We blame the tequila.