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2012 Winter Music Preview

Clockwise from top left: Sleigh Bells, Stew, Sharon Van Etten, Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater.
Courtesy of the artists
Clockwise from top left: Sleigh Bells, Stew, Sharon Van Etten, Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater.

On last week's All Songs Considered, we rang out 2011 with a show of holiday music that featured the sounds of sleigh bells. This week, we ring in the new year with Sleigh Bells of a different sort: Bob Boilen, Ann Powers, Stephen Thompson and Jacob Ganz flip the release-date calendar forward to look at a dozen new songs from albums that come out in the early months of 2012.

That crop includes the first blasts of sound from Reign of Terror, the sophomore album from Sleigh Bells, which puts a studio sheen on the duo's machine-gun beats and flame-thrower guitars. A few more favorites offer new twists on familiar sounds: Clear Heart Full Eyes, the first solo album from The Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn, sounds thoughtful and almost depressed. Tramp, the third album from Sharon Van Etten, shows off the songwriter's rough side. La Grande surrounds Laura Gibson's haunted voice with muscular drumming.

In the first few months of 2012, we'll also greet the long-awaited return of the veteran indie-pop band Imperial Teen, while the guitar-drums-and-violin trio Dirty Three will break a seven-year hiatus to release the typically stormy Toward the Low Sun.

Also on the program: releases from Adam Arcuragi and Shearwater (both set to build on the longtime support of Bob and Stephen, respectively), burly roots-rock from The White Buffalo, gospel-inspired jazz from Charlie Haden and the late Hank Jones, and more.

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