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Bob Dylan, meet Ariana Grande: Here’s what’s coming to record stores in May

(Illustration: Nick Wanserski)
(Illustration: Nick Wanserski)

Every Friday, dozens of new records are released into the wild. Some make big splashes, and others sink almost immediately. For most music consumers, it’s almost too much information, and save for those precious few who spend their hours glued to reviews sites and release calendars, it’s hard to know what’s coming out when. Thankfully, The A.V. Club is ready to help those struggling souls. Each month, we’ll publish a fairly comprehensive list of what’s coming to record stores and streaming services in upcoming weeks, complete with capsule previews so interested parties can know what to expect.

May 6

Anohni, Hopelessness

On her first album as Anohni, the transgender singer formerly known as Antony Hegarty, leader of Antony And The Johnsons, swaps string-laden drama pop for glitchy electro tunes produced by Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke. The sound suits the mission: Hopelessness deals with drone warfare, terrorism, climate change, government spying, and other by-products of the patriarchal, capitalistic system Anohni seeks to destroy. Her voice is one hell of a weapon. [Kenneth Partridge]

Julianna Barwick, Will

Julianna Barwick ventured to New York, North Carolina, and Portugal to meticulously construct Will, her first album since 2013’s Nepenthe. Not much has changed in Barwick’s eerie, Lynchian musical world, aside from the fact that the songwriting stakes have been raised a notch. She’s shared “Nebula” as a teaser from the new album, an appropriately nebulous taste of what could well be one of 2016’s best LPs. [John Everhart]

Rooney, Washed Away

After a half decade of hibernation, actor Robert Schwartzman recently reactivated his beloved Cali-pop band Rooney, a staple of The O.C.-core scene of the early ’00s. Going by the sound of its first released single—the Weezer-esque chug “My Heart Beats 4 U”—new album Washed Away should maintain the chill vibes and fuzzy, synthed-out power-pop approach of the band’s previous records. [Annie Zaleski]

Little Scream, Cult Following

Laurel Sprengelmeyer runs in some pretty prestigious indie circles, but so far her solo output as Little Scream hasn’t had the same reach as the work of some of her more famous friends. Cult Following could be the record that changes that. Funner, funkier, and quirkier than her 2011 debut, The Golden Record, her sophomore effort pushes her art rock onto the dance floor with thicker grooves and candy-colored synths. Crafted like its predecessor with Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, the record also features contributions from Sufjan Stevens, Sharon Van Etten, TV On The Radio’s Kyp Malone, Owen Pallett, and Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National. [Evan Rytlewski]

Cyndi Lauper, Detour

Cyndi Lauper hunkered down in Nashville and worked with the city’s best session players to record this collection of vintage country covers. The results are faithful to the spirit of the originals: Highlights include a pedal-steel-curled take on Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight” and a sassy version of the Wanda Jackson-popularized “Funnel Of Love.” Duets with Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, and Emmylou Harris are also fantastic, though Detour most serves as a reminder that Lauper possesses one of music’s great voices. [Annie Zaleski]

White Lung, Paradise

White Lung made a pretty grand entrance for Domino Records in 2014 with the ferocious Deep Fantasy, a no-frills, polished piece of punk held in place by Kenneth Williams’ crisp and frenetic guitar work and the command of Mish Way’s presence and oppositional snarl. Of the pair of tracks thus far available from its follow-up, Paradise, the thrumming “Hungry” certainly has more sweeping crystalline hooks and a finer sheen than the majority of Deep Fantasy—but it’s no less White Lung. The band has now long been an expert at never minding compromises within its approach. [Kevin Warwick]

Goo Goo Dolls, Boxes

Johnny Rzeznik and the boys are back, delivering the lyrics Goo Goo Dolls fans have come to expect—inspirational yet angst-filled quips about love and life that, despite the band’s age, would sit comfortably on a teenager’s mixtape. Unfortunately, it follows the band’s previous effort, Magnetic, in being a bit overproduced for such seemingly earnest lyrics as “It’s hard to be yourself when everyone around is changing” from first upbeat anthem “Over & Over.” It would have behooved the Goo Goo Dolls to reject today’s production trends in favor of a more stripped-down album à la the “Name” re-recording, but the album will still undoubtedly see some radio time for the band’s efforts. [Becca James]

A Giant Dog, Pile

A new label (Merge) isn’t the only thing that promises to be a little different for Austin’s A Giant Dog as the band prepares to release its third full-length. New single “Get With You And Get High” suggests that the group is expanding its sonic palette in gentler directions. But some things stay the same: The band shows no signs of cutting down on the high-octane, garage-rock-meets-power-pop vibe that makes up its live show and most of its music. Lead singer Sabrina Ellis is still a consummate showman, full of take-no-prisoners, adrenaline-laced vocals, and A Giant Dog is nothing if not here to stir things up. [Alex McCown]

Aloha, Little Windows Cut Right Through

Although Aloha has put out seven albums over the course of its almost 20-year career, it’s never really made the same record twice. That bodes well for Little Windows Cut Right Through, which finds the post-rock act seeking to balance introspection and bombast, all seasoned with a little bit of ’80s prog. [Marah Eakin]

May 13

Twin Peaks, Down In Heaven

It’s doubtful the young dudes in Twin Peaks even have parents who remember 1968, and yet that’s the year the band apparently drew from for Down In Heaven, recorded in Bedford, Massachusetts, and mixed by John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile). Expect a shift from the scrappy, lightly psychedelic power pop of 2014’s Wild Onion to frillier, more flowery fare, such as the Stones-Zombies-Kinks triangulation “Walk To The One You Love.” [Kenneth Partridge]

Islands, Taste
Islands, Should I Remain Here At Sea?

Taste and Should I Remain Here At Sea? are being marketed as two totally separate, not-a-double-album albums for Islands, which would seem like a silly distinction, except that they’re each good enough to warrant individual consideration and consumption. Taste is full of big electronic sounds, pulsating drum-machine beats slid through an oil slick of guitar and showers of synth confetti. Meanwhile, Should I Remain Here At Sea? (intended as a sequel of sorts to 2006’s Return To The Sea) is a rough, loose set of guitar-reliant cuts that, while loaded with sarcasm and downtrodden musings, grooves along at a relaxed and playful pace. Thankfully, both records enthusiastically embrace the band’s pop instincts, giving songs such as “The Weekend” and “Right To Be Misbegotten” a universally enchanting vibe. [Chris Mincher]

Eagulls, Ullages

With its rolling drum rhythms and thick guitar delay, Eagulls’ “Lemontrees”—the first single dropped from their sophomore record Ullages—blends post-punk with elements of the ’80s-era rock pioneered by their English forefathers. It’s decidedly more introspective than material from their self-titled debut and wide open enough to allow the hooky vocals of frontman George Mitchell plenty of room in which to operate. Plus the lead guitar line is sneaky simple enough to make it difficult to shake the melody. [Kevin Warwick]

Oscar, Cut And Paste

With a crooning baritone and an assortment of eclectic rhythms, British indie rocker Oscar realizes what The Smiths would sound like if blended with the dance music they so purposefully rejected. Oscar’s self-produced debut, Cut And Paste, builds charming melodies into a collection of hip-hop and dance-hall beats, but it’s the melding of dub and a soaring pop chorus on “Good Things” that best showcases what his stylistic mashups are capable of achieving. [Chris Mincher]

Modern Baseball, Holy Ghost

Given how taxing the period leading up to Holy Ghost’s recording was, it’s impressive that it’s Modern Baseball’s most cohesive, accomplished record to date. After the band canceled a block of touring due to guitarist-vocalist Brendan Lukens seeking treatment for his issues with anxiety, substance abuse, and bipolar disorder, Modern Baseball hit the studio with a new lease on life. The album is essentially a split record between the band’s two songwriters, Lukens and guitarist-vocalist Jake Ewald, and the pair gets deep as they explore topics such as alienation, mental illness, and living through a life-changing loss. By its end, Holy Ghost becomes a celebration of life by plumbing the depths of the other side. [David Anthony]

Meghan Trainor, Thank You

On the heels of her Best New Artist Grammy, Meghan Trainor is wasting no time getting back down to pop business. While she told the Los Angeles Times her signature doo-wop-influenced sound won’t disappear completely, she also revealed the album has “a new hip-hop/urban sound, where I rap more” and a “classic just me and a guitar sound—on a song called ‘Hopeless Romantic.’” The first single from Thank You, the inescapable “No,” speaks to the former: It’s a rather thorough pastiche of ’90s and early ’00s mainstream hip-hop and R&B. [Annie Zaleski]

Jessy Lanza, Oh No

Canadian R&B artist Jessy Lanza was so keen on setting the mood on her 2013 debut, Pull My Hair Back, that her voice could sometimes get lost. On Oh No, she’s made strides in allowing her vocals to take up more real estate without disrupting the atmosphere. On the single “It Means I Love You,” Lanza’s quiet chants help propel a sly Caribbean beat, helping the track to crystallize into thumping pop euphoria. [Leor Galil]

Kvelertak, Nattesferd

Kvelertak’s “black ’n’ roll” denomination seems arbitrary considering the lead single, “1985,” from the upcoming Nattesferd. Sure, the lyrics are Norwegian—from the land of black metal—and the voice of frontman Erlend Hjelvik sounds like it was birthed from within the nether regions of a Tolkienian cave, but when it comes down to it, Kvelertak is simply a hard-rock band with a penchant for evil. The group’s licks can be over the top and needlessly classic-rock flamboyant, but that’s part of what makes it special. This record will be cranked, no doubt about it. [Kevin Warwick]

Pierce The Veil, Misadventures

Pierce The Veil released its last album, Collide With The Sky, in 2012, which is an eternity in Warped Tour years. However, considering how relentlessly the group toured in the interim, it’ll probably be just fine. New songs like “Texas Is Forever” see the band getting back to its punk roots at breakneck speed, while “The Divine Zero” is a melodic hybrid of heavy music that reiterates why its success hasn’t waned. [Jonah Bayer]

David Bazan, Blanco

Although it’s culled from songs David Bazan released in his limited-edition 7-inch series available only to subscribers, Blanco isn’t a mere retread of previously released material. Here Bazan sequences 10 of his favorite songs while remixing and updating them, giving them a more fleshed-out feel. The instrumentation also pushes the boundaries of Bazan’s sound, tinkering with synths and unorthodox percussion. [John Everhart]

Head Wound City, A New Wave Of Violence

A decade after the supergroup featuring members of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Blood Brothers, and The Locust released its debut EP, Head Wound City returns in grand fashion with A New Wave Of Violence. “Scraper” proves just how apt of a title that is, as it sees Head Wound City shift away from its manic raging for something more refined but no less savage. [David Anthony]

Fruit Bats, Absolute Loser

In late 2013, Fruit Bats’ mastermind Eric D. Johnson decided to hang up the moniker and end his project’s run, bumming out fans and critics alike who had followed the endeavor for five albums of breezy, distinctly American rock. Fortunately, that decision didn’t last very long. Fruit Bats are back with a new album, Absolute Loser, with the short time away proving to be all that was needed for Johnson to revive his passion for the project. To hear him tell it, the key was realizing how much of himself was tied to the band name. Hopefully, that shines through in the music, too. [Philip Cosores]

Nothing, Tired Of Tomorrow

The bleak shoegaze revivalists in Nothing return with another full-length for metal-centric Relapse Records, and the second dropped single, “Eaten By Worms”—along with its corresponding video—includes swallowing black holes of guitar and rhythms that methodically trudge along as though soundtracking the slog of a chain gang. The withdrawn vocals of frontman Domenic Palermo lack emotion in the same delightful shoegaze bent that’s been resurfacing more and more the past handful of years. Here’s to feeling like shit, now and forever. [Kevin Warwick]

May 20

Car Seat Headrest, Teens Of Denial

Will Toledo and his band astounded with 2015’s proper debut, Teens Of Style. Style was cherry-picked from copious Bandcamp albums Toledo had released sporadically and primarily recorded solo, lending it a lo-fi, homespun feel. Teens Of Denial, recorded in full-band mode with Steve Fisk, is the hi-fi yin to Style’s shambolic, off-kilter yang. It’s also worlds better than anything Toledo’s written to date and may well catapult him to indie superstardom. [John Everhart]

The So So Glos, Kamikaze

Brooklyn’s The So So Glos have an enviable knack for hooking fans by the eardrums without tampering with or compromising their DIY principles. Case in point: “A.D.D. Life.” The first single from the band’s soon-to-be-released fifth full-length, Kamikaze, bops about with garage-pop energy as singer Alex Levine sneers at our collective overreliance on viral videos and other social media junk food. Assuming this is a taste of what’s to come, Kamikaze sounds primed to build on the solid foundation laid by 2013’s excellent Blowout. [Ryan Bray]

Bob Dylan, Fallen Angels

2015’s Shadows In The Night, covering selections from the Great American Songbook popularized by Frank Sinatra, was unexpectedly well received, so, hey, why not more from Bob Dylan? Appropriately recorded at Capitol Studios, Fallen Angels offers up a mix of old-fashioned standards and obscurities—most also previously done by Sinatra—reinterpreted via modern-day Dylan: fragile, raspy, and grim. [Chris Mincher]

Various Artists, Day Of The Dead

The members of The National have been teasing the upcoming tribute to the Grateful Dead for the last year, but no one had any idea just how extensive the actual release would be. Featuring 59 songs over three volumes and artists ranging from The War On Drugs and Angel Olsen to Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett, the scope of Day Of The Dead matches the heft of a Dead concert. Its proceeds benefit the HIV/AIDS non-profit Red Hot. [Philip Cosores]

Tim Heidecker, In Glendale

Tim Heidecker is a comedian, but In Glendale isn’t a comedy album. It’s being released by Rado Records, a new Jagjaguwar imprint, and they’re describing it as “a post-normcore delight of exuberant bar rock, morning after parlor ballads, and tragicomic folk novelties.” This shouldn’t come as a surprise to the Heidecker faithful, who know that, over the last few years, he’s established himself as a fairly prolific songsmith with a trove of ’80s-inspired yacht-rock tunes with composer Davin Wood as well as a concept album about drinking hot piss under the name The Yellow River Boys. He’s currently touring with a 10-piece band (including a stop at the Sasquatch! Music Festival in May), who will presumably help him debut some of these new tracks. Whether or not they veer into his particular brand of comedy is almost besides the point. Even the most satirical of Heidecker’s songs (see: “Our Values Are Under Attack”) are crafted with a keen ear and an unflinching earnestness that helps them transcend mere novelty. [Randall Colburn]

Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman

Although Ariana Grande has said her slightly darker third album is about truth and self-empowerment, its 16 different writers (and counting) are reason enough to take that claim with a grain of salt. That doesn’t mean a listener can’t feel empowered by the commodified authenticity, which is all that really matters in a good pop song. And critics be damned, “Dangerous Woman” is a damn good pop song—its tempo slow and slinky and never bogged down, largely thanks to measured guitar distortion, spaced-out chanting, and Grande’s stratospheric voice. If the rest of the album is this charismatically dramatic, it won’t matter if the honesty is real or manufactured by a committee. [Dan Caffrey]

Blake Shelton, If I’m Honest

A lot has happened since Blake Shelton released his last record, Bringing Back The Sunshine, in 2014. He’s been through a divorce with Miranda Lambert and appears to have found love again with Gwen Stefani, all while getting increasingly popular as one of the coaches on The Voice. It’s that kind of drama and backstory that should bring listeners to If I’m Honest. All that catharsis is reflected on “Came Here To Forget,” a track that’s both Shelton’s latest single and attempt at explaining how to get over someone. [Marah Eakin]

Eric Clapton, I Still Do

As a solo artist, Eric Clapton has always been more reliable than thrilling. Even as he’s explored everything from New Orleans jazz to reggae, he’s done so with a casualness that never breaks him completely free from his lived-in brand of blues rock. I Still Do, his 23rd studio album, will likely be no different, which shouldn’t be a problem for most of his longtime fans. After all, they’ve embraced this kind of thing—a collection of new tunes and reworked covers—from him plenty of times before. There are a couple of potentially exciting touches worth pointing out: Clapton’s reunited with producer Glyn Johns for the first time since 1978’s Backless, and there’s a guest appearance by someone named Angelo Mysterioso, who may or may not be the late George (or Dhani) Harrison. [Dan Caffrey]

Mudcrutch, 2

For years, Mudcrutch seemed fated to serve as little more than a pop-music footnote. The Heartbreakers before Tom Petty rechristened them as such, the band was given new life when Petty brought the band back together to record its first proper full-length in 2008. 2, the Gainesville, Florida, band’s aptly titled sophomore outing, looks to deliver another slate of Southern rock earworms. The record will feature seven Petty originals, including “Trailer,” a sweet heartland ode to a long-lost love. [Ryan Bray]

Richard Ashcroft, These People

The only consistent element on any of Richard Ashcroft’s solo albums is his instantly identifiable indie-soul voice. On his fourth outing since his iconic group The Verve’s disbandment, Ashcroft opens by unleashing his inner dance maniac on “Out Of My Body,” but he hasn’t lost touch with the heart-wrenching side of himself, as evidenced on “These People.” Wil Malone, who arranged the strings on Urban Hymns, adds some flourish to otherwise simple songs that focus on straightforward storytelling, Ashcroft’s strongest skill. [Lily Moayeri]

Iska Dhaaf, The Wanting Creature

For its sophomore effort, Iska Dhaaf explores the human condition and vastness of life over the course of The Wanting Creature. With this new record built on keys, acoustic guitars, and electronic flourishes balanced with folky elements, the urgency that marked much of the group’s debut has been replaced with measured introspection. Right out of the gate, the album delivers a spike of energy with single “Invisible Cities” before reaching Simon And Garfunkel territory in its closing, title track. [Nilina Mason-Campbell]

Andy Shauf, The Party

Hailing from small-town Saskatchewan, Andy Shauf is a singer-songwriter with an ear for the sort of tender, melancholy songs that Harry Nilsson produced a world away in Los Angeles. The arrangements on The Party bring together acoustic guitar, piano, strings, and synthesizers, while the lyrics invite in a host of strange characters to this titular party, with Shauf conjuring all sorts of troubled lives, a colorful parade of down-and-out strugglers finding what comfort they can, together. [Eric Swedlund]

Marissa Nadler, Strangers

Boston folkie Marissa Nadler joined the ranks of Brooklyn indie Sacred Bones Records in 2014, bringing her unimpeachable sense of the contours and dimensions of the ethereal to a label keen on gothic moves and darkened corners. Strangers is Nadler’s seventh album, and from the sound of the spectral, sashaying single “Janie In Love,” the veteran is still finding ways to make otherworldly sounds feel exceptionally mystical. [Leor Galil]

Pantha Du Prince, The Triad

The Triad is Berlin producer Hendrik Weber, a.k.a. Pantha Du Prince, first proper studio LP since 2010’s Black Noise. Lead track “The Winter Hymn,” featuring Queens, suggests minor deviations in his minimalist electronic sound, with ethereal vocals wafting over the ether of elegiac, shimmering instrumentation. If the rest of the album is this good, it could well better the astounding Noise. [John Everhart]

Mike Adams At His Honest Weight, Casio Drone

Mike Adams should’ve been on The Ed Sullivan Show. There’s something delightfully vintage about the Midwestern songwriter’s signature style of power pop, which he sings with swaying hips and a twinkle in his eye. If this were 1964, teen girls would be screaming for it. On 2014’s Best Of Boiler Room Classics, Adams sailed into his infectious, starlit hooks with a genuine smile, and the tracks he released on 2015’s Preparation Age EP felt like heartfelt confessions from a close friend. Casio Drone promises more of the same but this time with an emphasis on his home state of Indiana. “I feel like a self-appointed torchbearer,” he says. “I want to turn what’s good about the Midwest into something that’s artistically valuable.” That’s a tall order, but there’s power in these hooks. [Randall Colburn]

Honey Radar, Blank Cartoon

New York City label What’s Your Rupture?, which has released debuts by Parquet Courts, Love Is All, and Royal Headache, delivers another gem with Blank Cartoon. Honey Radar’s newest (its first was limited to 250 self-released copies) is commensurate to those band’s superb albums but in an altogether different manner. Blank Cartoon is dirty garage rock via vintage Paisley Underground via early Guided By Voices, its melodic grooves seemingly held together by Scotch tape. This looseness suits the album like a glove, and after a few listens you’ll be waking up with its songs in your head. [John Everhart]

May 27

Pup, The Dream Is Over

The title of Pup’s second album directly addresses the fact that it’s a record that shouldn’t exist. After a rigorous touring cycle in support of the group’s debut album, vocalist-guitarist Stefan Babcock developed a hemorrhaging cyst in his throat. The doctor who treated him said that his dream of being in a full-time, touring band was over, but Pup spat in the face of that. The Dream Is Over is not only a collection of Pup’s best songs, but it’s also performed with the urgency of a band that’s cheated death and is that much stronger because of it. [David Anthony]

Holy Fuck, Congrats

Look at that, a new Holy Fuck album. The Canadian experimental-electro group hasn’t released one since 2010, but its teaser single, “Tom Tom,” which features a thumping, crackling beat and ominous, clipped vocals, is a nice reminder of all that the group’s capable of when it’s at a full march (or sometimes jog, and other times sprint). It’s unclear whether an elder Holy Fuck will retain—or will even want to retain—the same fanatical energy it displays on previous albums, but it’ll be a bit of a shame if not. [Kevin Warwick]

Beth Orton, Kidsticks

Although Beth Orton’s early records were forward-thinking hybrids of folk and electronica, her most recent work has tended to lean solely toward the former, and with mixed results. The new Kidsticks, which was co-produced by Orton and Fuck Buttons’ Andrew Hung, finds the songwriter embracing her digital muse once again, in the form of electronic loops and haunting, percussive songs such as “Moon.” [Annie Zaleski]

Mark Kozelek, Mark Kozelek Sings Favorites

If you saw Mark Kozelek’s most recent solo tour, you probably saw him greet the audience with an a cappella rendition of “Moon River.” He would wander the stage, mic in hand, simply crooning. That might sound like some kind of a bit, especially coming from a guy whose sense of humor is nothing if not alienating, but there was a reverence to his performance, a gentle earnestness. He’s no stranger to covers, after all (see: his AC/DC and Modest Mouse cover albums or cover of “Send In The Clowns,” which he first released on 2008’s The Finally LP), and this latest record is a collection of his takes on canonical songs from the likes of Waylon Jennings, Bob Seger, and 10cc. Joining him is an eclectic range of vocalists that run the gamut in terms of style: Will Oldham, Minnie Driver, and Mike Patton, as well as Rachel Goswell and Low’s Mimi Parker. Consider it another sharp turn in the twisting highway that is Kozelek’s latter-day career. [Randall Colburn]

Broncho, Double Vanity

Fully indulging the moodier, mellower, post-punkier leanings of its excellent sophomore album, Just Enough Hip To Be Woman, Broncho aims for dark and sexy ’80s nostalgia on this latest set. The Oklahoma foursome gets there with “Fantasy Boys,” an exquisitely achy dream-pop tune that sums up young love: “I wanna eat you up / I wanna drop your name.” [Kenneth Partridge]

Sonny And The Sunsets, Moods Baby Moods

The chameleonic San Francisco bandleader Sonny Smith has gone Technicolor neon on his fourth album for Polyvinyl, enlisting producer Merrill Garbus (of Tune-Yards) on a funky, new-wave sound collage of an album. On first pass, this latest guise isn’t necessarily any more or less intriguing than Smith’s recent stabs at country rock, spaced-out synth-pop, and psychedelic folk, but it’s more evidence of how his restless experimentation can consistently yield thrilling results. [Eric Swedlund]

D.A.R.K., Science Agrees

The surprising triumvirate of The Cranberries’ lead singer Dolores O’Riordan, Andy Rourke of The Smiths, and Olè Koretsky stemmed from the latter’s New York DJ-production duo, Jetlag. A chance meeting with O’Riordan led to her ethereal vocals joining their immersive, experimental sonic environment. Science Agrees, the trio’s first album as D.A.R.K., pays tribute to euphoric New Order and Pet Shop Boys dance beats, with O’Riordan adding some light to the group’s darker shades. The band’s hybrid concoctions build on everything from new wave to the alt rock of “Loosen The Noose” and the bendy electronic grooves of “Curvy.” D.A.R.K.’s harrowing themes of isolation, death, and drug addiction provide fertile ground for these seasoned musicians to illuminate their individual identities. It might be more experimental or offbeat than Smiths or Cranberries fans are ready for, but D.A.R.K. delivers a powerfully tender simplicity. [Lior Phillips]

Fifth Harmony, 7/27

With One Direction on pause, Fifth Harmony is poised to be the most famous (and successful) reality-show troupe going. With its second full-length, the fizzy-pop quintet nods to its girl-group heritage on hit single “Work From Home” (featuring Ty Dolla Sign), which boasts sturdy melodic lines, percussive finger snaps, and lyrical double entendres, bringing new meaning to the concept of “remote employee.” [Annie Zaleski]

Gold Panda, Good Luck And Do Your Best

“Time Eater,” the first single off of Gold Panda’s upcoming LP, is simultaneously static and fluid. Its uptempo beat and discordant string notes remain constant as subtle layers of percussion and noise flit through the song like clouds in a restless sky. Next to Blockhead, Gold Panda’s music is just about the closest thing to tripping without actually ingesting drugs. Good Luck And Do Your Best is a hallucinatory electronic forest that might impair your ability to drive. [J.J. Anselmi]

Thrice, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere

When Thrice went on hiatus in 2012, it left a hole in the post-hardcore world it had helped build up via classic albums like Vheissu and Beggars. Thankfully, the group’s break didn’t last long, and its ninth album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, is a reinvigorated blast of catharsis. “Blood On The Sand” features sing-alongs and a radio-ready sensibility without sacrificing the artistic nature Thrice has always cultivated. The rest of the album sounds just as inspired. [Jonah Bayer]

The Hotelier, Goodness

Over the course of its career, The Hotelier has been pegged both as a pop-punk act and as being part of the so-called “emo revival,” but neither description has captured the band’s essence. With Goodness, a sprawling masterwork broken up by spoken-word interludes and songs that are nearly seven minutes long, The Hotelier pushes back against each label ascribed to it. The result is a far more restrained but no less punchy album. Although Goodness might not be enough to lift occasionally derisive tags, it shows that the band has found a way to age gracefully without losing the fire in its belly. [David Anthony]

Kristin Kontrol, X-Communicate

Dum Dum Girls’ last LP, 2014’s Too True, was heavily influenced by ’80s post-punk and synth-goth. In light of this, frontwoman Dee Dee’s reinvention as the glamorous new wave/electro goddess Kristin Kontrol makes perfect sense. Her debut album under this new moniker places her Siouxsie Sioux-reminiscent vocals at the forefront atop pulsating synthpop, ’80s R&B, and chilled dream pop. The results often land somewhere between Kate Bush and Kylie Minogue—a very good place to be, indeed. [Annie Zaleski]