That's basically the question the record industry has been grappling with in the age of digital downloading. Tuesdays — which is when new albums are traditionally released — tend to get even more dreary in the winter months, given that most major artists put out their albums in time for the holiday shopping season.
So, last week's new Leonard Cohen album notwithstanding, 2012 hasn't exactly been a party.
Until today that is. With new releases from a David Lee Roth-fronted Van Halen, Die Antwoord and, um, the Fray, music fans suddenly have a reason to perk up.
And retailers do, too, as suggested by all the Colorado Springs Independent Records clerks rocking Van Halen shirts today.
So to get you going, here's a quick critical rundown, followed by sample videos.
VAN HALEN, A Different Kind of Truth
What it sounds like: Way better than Chickenfoot, the band featuring VH refugees Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony. This is arguably the best Van Halen album in 28 years.
Why it matters: As the purveyor of hits like "I Can't Drive 55," Sammy Hagar was a proven rock commodity (and I use that term literally) when he took over from David Lee Roth in the mid-80s. Hagar helped sustained the franchise financially, but musically sounded about as calculated as his Cabo Wabo tequila business. The chemistry between Roth and Van Halen is still pretty magical.
DIE ANTWOORD, Ten$ion
What it sounds like: Eclectic, eccentric and excessive, with next-level hits of Zef hip-hop, rave-revival electronics, shreds of metal, and of course the inimitable vocal stylings of Ninja and Yo-Landi Vi$$er.
Why it matters: Following the massive success of the self-produced viral video, "Enter the Ninja," the South African act signed to Interscope but parted ways last fall due to the proverbial "artistic differences." But as you'll see in last night's Letterman performance, their guttural patois and sonic sucker punches are as strong as ever.
THE FRAY, Scars & Stories
What it sounds like: The Fray.
Why it matters: It doesn't.