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Spring Music Preview 2014: 27 Must-Hear Albums

The season’s hottest albums – from U2’s big return to Miranda Lambert’s country-pop blowout

The cold is slowly, gradually starting to subside, the leaves will soon be budding on the trees and the album release schedule is heating up. Yep, spring is on its way. The season is shaping up to be a good one, as it'll bring new albums by rock and R&B superstars, avant-garde favorites, Internet sensations and indie heroes. These are the 27 we're most excited to hear. 

Contributors: Mike Ayers, Patrick Doyle, Cady Drell, David Fricke, Andy Greene, Kory Grow, Brian Hiatt, David Marchese, Nick Murray, Matthew Trammell and Christopher R. Weingarten

Miranda Lambert

Randee St Nicholas

Miranda Lambert, Title TBD (Late Spring)

"This is the most stressed I've been about any record," says Lambert. "Everyone's like, 'You're one of the queens, you got it made.' Yeah, but I want to stay here!" The country star went all out for her fifth LP. It's her most diverse album yet, bouncing from hook-packed, Taylor Swiftian pop (the blond-ambition anthem "Platinum") to heartfelt moments like "Priscilla" (as in Presley), a rollicking tune about having to share your husband with the world. "Insecurity and tabloids are all addressed in this album," says Lambert, who's married to The Voice star Blake Shelton. "I've never hidden anything. I'm just a little bit more high-profile now." She also made her rootsiest track ever with "All That's Left for You to Do Is Leave," a bluegrass song she first heard on SiriusXM while driving home from her fifth Beyoncé concert. "My husband had the idea to do the song Western- swing-style," she says. "I hate it when he's right."

Prince

NPG Records

Prince, ‘Plectrumelectrum,’ (Spring TBD)

"No one can play like this band," says Prince. "People are going to try, but they won't be able to." The band in question is 3rd Eye Girl, a chops-heavy, all-female hard-rock trio who've been holed up with Prince at Paisley Park, recording one of his rawest, heaviest albums. "All played live, no punch-ins," Prince says. "You do it till you get the take you like." It's a true collaboration, with the band writing songs and Bonham-esque drummer Hannah "Ford" Welton offering delicate vocals that Prince compares to Wendy and Lisa's. Styles range from fusion-y funk rock to the ballad "Whitecaps," a reminder of how Prince-ly TLC's "Waterfalls" was.

U2

Courtesy Mercury Records

U2, Title TBD (Spring TBD)

This is the current state of U2's new album, under construction with producer Danger Mouse since 2010: There are "about 30 songs we're really excited about, in various states of being finished," says guitarist the Edge. Of those tracks, "six or seven" are "mixed and ready to go." And there is a thematic connection. The first song issued from the sessions, the pneumatic electronica of "Invisible," started as a "Ramones-like" demo, the Edge says, adding that much of the album is rooted in the mid- and late-Seventies music that influenced U2 as they were starting in Ireland. "That's a rich period, one we've visited many times in the past," he notes. "But it's a very Dublin-centric record lyrically." U2 have not chosen an album title – "We have a few," the Edge says – and there is no release date yet. "But we're getting there," he promises. "We're not, as we say in Ireland, up our own arse. But we do not want to let go of anything if we are not 100 percent happy with it." 

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