Can the albums scheduled to be released in 2011 match the stellar albums released in 2010? They just might be better.

And so it is that we're done with 2010. Kind of a bittersweet adieu, too.

But, impressive and enjoyable as this past year may have been from a local music fan's standpoint, the early outlook on 2011 shows a year likely to rival even the last, which, it could be argued, was the best year in recent local music memory.

The immediate horizon is especially cluttered.

First, the Super Bowl comes to town bringing with it a whole slew of national acts to placate the masses. What's up, free Maroon 5 concert at Victory Plaza? How's it going, Kid Rock? Oh, hey, Black Eyed Peas...

Then in March comes Denton's four-day pre-South by Southwest bash. The 35 Conferette scored a major coup last week with the announcement that Big Boi, one half of Outkast and one of the more intriguing solo performers of 2010 thanks to his phenomenal Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty release, would be joining the bill.

And right after that to-do comes another: the annual cluster eff that is SXSW, which actually has its benefits, considering all the spillover shows that North Texas annually receives around the time of that festival.

But what of the recorded output expected in 2011? Surely, it can't match the quality of music released in 2010, which saw regional powerhouses such as Erykah Badu, the Old 97's, Midlake and the freshly anointed Sarah Jaffe all put out stellar albums. Or can it?

Looks that way, believe it or not. Assuming all goes as planned, 2011 should see releases again from the 97's and Jaffe, plus albums from once-prominent talents Eisley and Fair to Midland, as well as follow-up albums from recent breakthrough acts Telegraph Canyon, True Widow, The O's and others.

And those are just the ones we know about. Powerhouses Badu, Midlake, St. Vincent, the Toadies, Tim DeLaughter and Neon Indian are all said to be working on new material as we speak. Meanwhile, we're also safely expecting debut releases from recent attention-grabbers such as punk-rock duo Leg Sweeper, hipster-hop purveyors Sore Losers and A.Dd+, and lo-fi retro-popper Sunnybrook.

With that, we present you with this courtesy list of the 11 album releases we most anticipate in the coming calendar year:

Artist: Seryn

Album: This Is Where We Are

Release Date: January 25

Why We're Stoked: Feels like we've been waiting on this disc forever now, haven't we? Well, not really: The band first started earning attention just a little over a year ago, thanks to some choice opening performance slots before Telegraph Canyon, which was drawing pretty major crowds at the time. Still, the album's release has been delayed a few times—because, no doubt, this intricate, young, rousing folk collective is obsessing over every detail before releasing its debut.

Artist: The O's

Album: Between the Two

Release Date: February 11

Why We're Stoked: Expect the still-fresh bromance between Taylor Young and John Pedigo to continue impressing and endearing in a big way in 2011, as The O's follow up their debut release 2009 with a new effort that, if recent live shows are any indication, finds the country-folk twosome playing with a little more flair than showcased last time around.

Artist: Eisley

Album: The Valley

Release Date: March 1

Why We're Stoked: There's a lot riding on this, the Tyler-based DuPree family band's third full-length release and first without major label backing. Fortunately, soaring pop songwriting has never been a problem for this collective, which once upon a time opened for the likes of Coldplay. Recent performances and early leaked tracks show that much hasn't changed.

Artist: True Widow

Album: As High As The Highest Heavens and From The Center to the Circumference of the Earth

Release Date: March

Why We're Stoked: In 2008, True Widow's self-titled debut came pretty much out of nowhere, striking a chord with area audiences thanks to its heavy, deliberately paced, and surprisingly beautiful, noise. This follow-up, the band's first for Kemado Records, which made stars out of Austin metal act The Sword, should only further the band's ascent.

Artist: Fair to Midland

Album: TBA

Release Date: Spring 2011

Why We're Stoked: It's been four years since this Sulphur Springs-sprung progressive metal quintet released Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True, a breakthrough release that saw lead single "Dance of the Manatee" reach as high as No. 19 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart. Some three years in the making, this as-yet-untitled follow-up is likely to feature material as perplexing, challenging and rewarding as the band's earlier material.

Artist: Old 97's

Album: The Grand Theatre, Volume Two

Release Date: Spring 2011

Why We're Stoked: The follow-up to 2010's The Grand Theater, Volume One, this second installment in the series comes from the same pool of material that the band recorded last summer. And, given the incredibly positive reaction to that first batch, there's no reason to expect less of this crop—especially since, once upon a time, the seminal area alt-country band had hoped to release the two installments as a single double-album release. Frontman Rhett Miller has gone on record warning fans to expect a slower, less rousing affair this time around—if we're being honest, not the news we were hoping for—but, given the return-to-form on display in the first release, we're keeping our hopes up for this one, too.

Artist: Sarah Jaffe

Album: The Way Sound Leaves a Room EP

Release Date: Early 2011

Why We're Stoked: While her Suburban Nature debut was gaining acclaim across the country this past year, Jaffe used her spare time to experiment with new instruments and recording techniques. This EP promises to reflect that experimentation, which the folk-pop songwriter says will feature an even rawer approach to her already intimate offerings.

Artist: Matthew and the Arrogant Sea

Album: You Can't Tame a Wild Rabbit

Release Date: Early 2011

Why We're Stoked: Like Seryn's debut, this sophomore record from Matthew and The Arrogant Sea has been a long time in the making. But, considering the swirling psych-pop seen on the band's debut from 2008, Family Family Family Meets the Magic Christian, we're expecting big things from this disc, too. Frontman Matthew Gray promises that much, too—but, then again, humility's never been his strong suit.

Artist: Calhoun

Album: Heavy Sugar

Release Date: Early 2011

Why We're Stoked: Fort Worth's pop-rocking Calhoun is perhaps the region's most underappreciated musical treasure. Frontman Tim Locke is among the best songwriters that North Texas can claim, and his tender vocal delivery of often grandiose concepts matches his songwriting talents step for step.

Artist: Air Review

Album: TBA EP

Release Date: TBA

Why We're Stoked: North Texas' bombastic answer to Muse has been hard at work, recording tracks for the follow-up to its 2009 debut, Landmarks. Perhaps the most talented, well-rehearsed and ambitious act that the area has seen in a long time, Air Review, long on the radar of local music fans, stands to break out in a major way in 2011, simply by staying the course it has already set.

Artist: Telegraph Canyon

Album: TBA

Release Date: TBA

Why We're Stoked: Frontman Chris Johnson promises that his Fort Worth-based seven-piece will have new material for release in 2011, and, surely, that's good news to most any music fan's ears. After 2009's The Tide and The Current earned universal praise locally and received a shout out from Rolling Stone, the band, which eloquently and inspiringly combines alt-country and baroque folk-rock into an intoxicating brew, looks to continue to rise.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Pete Freedman
Contact: Pete Freedman