Free The Universe
(Secretly Canadian/Mad Decent)
Sounds like: It’s here! And it’s a little flat. The much-anticipated sophomore from Diplo’s dancehall project sees new personnel and a slew of bizarre guests.
Free association: There are a few keepers, but nary a “Pon de Floor” in sight.
For fans of: Dirty Projectors/Vampire Weekend x Jamaica, twerking, Mary Jane. (Bill Chenevert)
Sing to the Moon
Sounds like: Last month’s eye-opening debut from an exciting new London talent, a soulful and capable vocalist who deftly uses handclaps, orchestration and wit.
Free association: London soul yields some of the most exciting new artists ever.
For fans of: Amy Winehouse/Estelle x Lianne La Havas, brilliant young talent.
Sounds like: The sixth from the Portland power-punk lite trio does revisit the former thrashier records we love, but they just don’t have the same anger.
Free association: Their third, The Body, The Blood, The Machine, set the bar way too high.
For fans of: No Age + Bratmobile x Beat Happening, anti-establishment angst.
(Yep Roc Records)
Sounds like: An excellent follow-up to their killer Say It, Luke LaLonde and his Toronto mates continue to mature, with melody, bright guitars and dancey drums.
Free association: Another Canadian treasure—and one that’s not going anywhere.
For fans of: Fleet Foxes/Local Natives x Ween, Clap Your Hands, pleasant quirk.
Twelve Reasons to Die
(Soul Temple Entertainment)
Sounds like: Hell, yes! Ghostface is in top form, and the production is sick, using RZA’s style of dusty old vinyl reverence but sharpening it with crisp soul sounds.
Free association: Emceed stories of dying and the afterlife—this is Killah’s specialty.
For fans of: Wu-Tang/Raekwon/Inspectah Deck/Cappadonna, Staten Island OGs.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Sounds like: A lovely and weird mixed bag from Karen, Nick and Brian, with nods to each of their capably-handled genres: punk, art pop, electro and garage.
Free association: Unbelievably balanced; from shrieking to a wedding song.
For fans of: Gossip/PJ/Siouxsie + Wire/ The Rapture, smart girls, relevance maintenance.