Sounds like: The innocent pop princess rightly diversified for this one, mixing anthemic pop with bits of ‘90s house, world sounds and hip-hop.
Free association: Could do without that Juicy J spot, but overall, it’s far from terrible.
For fans of: Gaga/Britney/Ke$ha/Rih, Carly Rae x Far East Movement, bubblegum preacher’s daughters.
(Slate Creek Records)
Sounds like: The extraordinary solo debut of a seasoned songwriter who, at 36, seems poised to step into the female country folk canon with her own, flawless sensibility.
Free association: These songs really are stories, and they’re gently poignant and perfect.
For fans of: Miranda Lambert/The Band Perry, Carrie Underwood, folksy smart country.
Sounds like: Ryan Lott’s a piano-trained professional, employing talented helpers on his third, but honing his icy, stunning vision of R&B-flavored chaotic ambient noise.
Free association: Soundtracking Loopers, the dude’s a versatile sound manipulator.
For fans of: Spiritualized/Vacationer, Why? x Young Magic, joyful maniacal controlled madness.
Sounds like: The charming 20-year-old California girl’s survived Star Search and Idol, has more than 670,000 YouTube subscribers, and her second EP is perfectly pretty.
Free association: Apple-picking the cutest parts of a handful of girl pop darlings.
For fans of: Lily Allen x Selena Gomez, Keri Hilson + India.Arie, cute and hustlin’ up-and-comers.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
The Speed of Things
Sounds like: The second LP from the Detroit duo is another airy, electro pop confection full of lush production and dreamy synths, but lacking the energy of their debut.
Free association: It’s like they took one too many notes from the Beatles playbook.
For fans of: Baths/Architecture in Helsinki x the Ruby Suns, nostalgia meets studio wizardry.