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An Early Look At 2011's Best Music

If you spend any time looking at music websites like this one, you've spent the past few weeks getting bludgeoned with best-of lists, from the results of the All Songs Considered listener poll to the decidedly more esoteric titles on Lars Gotrich's list of the year's best cassette-only releases. But most everyone would agree that 2010 is old news, which means it's time to start rolling out the best music of 2011 -- a full 11 months before it starts getting repackaged in the form of more year-end lists.

Weekend All Things Considered guest host Jacki Lyden recently brought in NPR Music editor Stephen Thompson to sample a few highlights of the 2011 release schedule -- or at least the titles that have already crossed his desk. Here, they discuss and play excerpts from R.E.M.'s refreshingly rocking Collapse Into Now (out March 8), Wye Oak's blustery and mysterious Civilian (out March 8), dubstep producer James Blake's self-titled debut (out Feb. 8), young singer Adele's sophomore album 21 (out Feb. 22, but previewed here), and Iron and Wine's atypically noisy full-band record Kiss Each Other Clean (out Jan. 25).

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