I love this stuff!!

This year’s music mantra is: Gimme something fine in 2009 . . . an album, and not just a piddling ringtone riff or a catchy single featuring Akon.
So far, the artists ready to meet that challenge include veterans like Springsteen and U2, newcomers such as the seductive Erin McCarley and even last year’s chart busters Coldplay. Here’s a rundown of some albums to groove to in the coming months.
“Love, Save the Empty,” Erin McCarley (Jan. 6): This California girl, transplanted to Nashville, will easily have the best album of the year when it’s released Tuesday. She may only hold that record a week, but her songs – reminiscent of a young Tori Amos or Fiona Apple – will stay with you for much longer. Bonus: Hear her live on “Letterman” Tuesday.
“Already Free,” The Derek Trucks Band (Jan. 13): At 29, slide master Trucks is the youngest ace on Rolling Stone’s list of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time . . . and he deserves the slot. He proves it again with his sixth CD, an album where he spreads his wings as a songwriter. The record’s first single, currently available on iTunes, is a searing cover of the Dylan/Band collaboration “Down in the Flood,” from “The Basement Tapes.”
“The Empyrean,” John Frusciante (Jan. 20): Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist Frusciante describes his introspective concept album as a CD where “the story takes place within one person.” RHCP fans take note: Bassist Flea is on the record along with ex-Smiths keys player Johnny Marr, so expect the music to be a psychedelic experience. Lower the lights and pump up the volume.
“Working on a Dream,” Bruce Springsteen (Jan. 27): If the Boss’ “Magic” was too dark for you, the optimistic Jersey rock of “Working on a Dream” might match the hope-for-change attitude of the United States of Obama. In fact, the title track debuted at one of the President-elect’s campaign rallies. Springsteen’s 16th record is born to run up the charts, getting a post-release boost from his halftime gig at the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.
“Tonight: Franz Ferdinand,” Franz Ferdinand (Jan. 27): After more than a year in a Glasgow recording studio, Scotland’s FF is done with their third studio disc. Similarly to Vampire Weekend’s rock infused, sub-Saharan rhythms disc, this record also pays homage to African influences, making it a natural for the dance floor.
“The Fray,” The Fray (Feb. 3): After debuting as background music on “Grey’s Anatomy” two years ago, they’ve since become Warp Tour stars. Their second disc, while similar, is said to be more extreme than the first. Frontman Isaac Slade says, “The quieter stuff is a little quieter and the rock stuff is a little rockier.” How extreme, indeed.
“No Line on the Horizon,” U2 (March 2): The buzz on this disc is it incorporates hand-played arrangements that rely heavily on electro elements. Translation? Bono has said, “The songs show a real departure from the themes of the last two albums, with trance influences.” Veteran U2 producer Daniel Lanois says the album will “push the limits of the sound arena much like ‘Achtung Baby’ did.” The best news? A new record means a U2 tour this summer.
“Quiet Nights,” Diana Krall (March 31): On her 12th album and first full-length release since 2006’s acclaimed crossover jazz disc “From This Moment On,” Mrs. Elvis Costello imports Brazilian sway to her regular and romantic West Coast jazz stylings. To this end, the record features three covers of songs by bossa nova legend Antonio Carlos Jobim.
“Relapse,” Eminem (TBD): It’s been four years since Em released his last solo album and almost half that since he started talking about this new one. But alas, the wait for Slim Shady’s latest is almost over. The rapper claims the album’s already been recorded, but the holdup is because he and Dr. Dre are still deciding on song selection and track sequencing. Expect “Relapse” by the spring thaw.
Also in the coming year: new tunes from Coldplay and the Dave Matthews Band. Matthews hasn’t cranked a disc since 2005, and Chris Martin’s outfit wants to “Viva la Vida” while the band’s iron is blazing hot.