January is typically known for being the fallow period, across the cultural spectrum; there are no crops to harvest, and there are few new albums worth your time. From the holiday and awards seasons, everything is drained. This goes for books and movies as well. Nothing classic comes out during January. Everyone knows that's the case. Most good things don't even come out now. This is the fallow period.
So far, for 2010, if this is the fallow month, it's going to be an amazing harvest season. So far, in the first four weeks of 2010, I've already got eleven (eleven!!!) albums on my to-do list. I've manged to read absolutely nothing since Jared Diamond's magnificent Guns, Germs and Steel, which I finished back at the beginning of the month (4 January, for those keeping track at home), because I picked up the unabridged version of Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, and it's just not doing it for me. But I'm stubborn, and refuse to put it down. I'd take a break, but it's intricate, and I feel like I'd forget what's happening. Too many characters, not enough going on. I just don't care.
Back to those eleven albums. Six of them are by bona fide quantities; Charlotte Gainsborough, Corinne Bailey Rae, Eels, The Magnetic Fields, Spoon, and Vampire Weekend. Three are by relatively low-radar figures, but ones with (I'm told) good past records; Beach House, Four Tet, and Los Campesinos!. Two are from newbies; Delphic and Surfer Blood. All but two are carrying eighties or above on Metacritic. This is setting up to be a good year. A very, very good one. I already reviewd Vampire Weekend's Contra. Spoon's Transference should follow within the hour.