Sounds like: The verdicts are out, and lots of folks are hating hard on this slightly disjointed, overworked and over-hyped fourth from the Sri Lankan pop priestess.
Free association: Thing is, “Bad Girls” is almost two years old, and the LP’s just out now.
For fans of: Santigold/Lady Sovereign/Major Lazer, Rye Rye x Switch, international pop chaos.
Free Your Mind
Sounds like: The Aussie dance trio’s fourth isn’t exactly on par with their astounding last two, but it’s still ebullient, disco-worshiping and ecstatic electro beauty.
Free association: The hell’s with that cover? Zonoscope was one of the coolest of 2011.
For fans of: Ladytron/Goldfrapp x Erasure/Pet Shop Boys, Simian Mobile Disco, dance comas.
Cate Le Bon
Sounds like: An awe-inpsiring third set from the Welsh talent is electric, eclectic, psychedelic, stirring and creative—and all with a little frightening, haunting beauty.
Free association: Powerful and silent assassin of do-it-all lady rock swoops in for year-end best-of lists.
For fans of: St. Vincent x Nico + PJ Harvey, Eleanor Friedberger on acid in Denmark.
The Marshall Mathers LP 2
Sounds like: The veteran angry hip-hop superstar’s back with a vengeance and a handful of fiery polemics, a few too many gay slurs and a great staff of producers.
Free association: Harkens back to the first (2000), addictions and metldowns be damned.
For fans of: Dr. Dre and Rubin, Beasties x TRL drama, toying with politics for records sales.
Sounds like: Her husband Chad Kroeger (yup, Nickleback dude) wrote half of these either alt party anthems or weak-ass attempts at morbid, sultry darkness.
Free association: Could the cover art be the coolest thing about her fifth attempt at artistry?
For fans of: Tracy Bonham x Michelle Branch, the great tradition of wack Canadian radio schlock.
Sounds like: The natural offspring of MellowHype (Left Brain with Hodgy Beats) includes Domo Genesis on a trippy ride of dank, mirky weirdo stoner hip-hop.
Free association: Some strong guest game with bizarro interludes and skits. Solid!
For fans of: Tyler, the Creator x Earl + Curren$y, How High x the Warped Tour.