May 18, 2009 12:00 PM

>IDA MARIA Fortress ’round My Heart The year’s most exciting debut comes from this Norwegian dynamo. A cross between Courtney Love, Karen O and Avril Lavigne, she’s one of the baddest rock chicks to come around in a long time.

BOB DYLAN Together Through Life On his vibrant new album, Dylan goes from Tex-Mex (with Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo on accordion) to zydeco. But it’s the blues he’s feeling—musically and lyrically—on songs like “Life Is Hard,” an aching-all-over ballad.

CHESTER FRENCH Love the Future These two Harvard grads come from the same quirky school as another duo, MGMT. Their debut is a delightfully whimsical pop pastiche that nods to the Beach Boys, the Beatles and Prince.

YEAH YEAH YEAHS It’s Blitz! Sounding more new wave than punk, the indie rockers launch a dance-floor attack on their third album. They still maintain their New York City cool; it’s just that now instead of CBGB, they’re ready to hit Studio 54.

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