Photo: Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

Andrew W.K., “Ever Again”

There’s getting excited about an upcoming album, and then there’s getting excited about an upcoming Andrew W.K. album. Given that it’s been basically a decade since the guy released any new music (the piano album 55 Cadillac from 2009 was charming, but not exactly an Andrew W.K. record), I’m somewhat surprised that I got such a tingle of anticipation upon hearing the news of his forthcoming release, You’re Not Alone, out March 2. I didn’t expect to still care, honestly. But that changed as soon as I heard the opening verse of new single “Ever Again.” His music has gotten steadily more bombastic and theatrical, and the intervening 10 years have finally done what I always thought should happen: Andrew W.K. has become the 21st-century version of Meatloaf. He’s a guy turning every song up to 11, with the most over-the-top engineering imaginable, and completely eroding the lines between rock song and Andrew Lloyd Webber production. It’s gloriously cathartic, a song where it’s okay to either laugh while listening or head-bang while singing along. W.K. doesn’t care either way, as long as you’re still down to party. [Alex McLevy]

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Sam Most, “Jungle Fantasy”

I found this shockingly funky number while doing a little digging for an upcoming site project, and I’ve had it buzzing in my head constantly since the moment I heard it. Sam Most was a pioneering jazz flautist, a concept he helped popularize with his bebop flute performances as a band leader and sideman for the likes of Buddy Rich. Most of his recordings are worlds away from this interpretation of “Jungle Fantasy,” a cover of the signature song of Esy Morales, a Puerto Rican musician and bandleader once touted as “The World’s Most Unique Flutist.” The original is sparse and spooky, with Morales’ nimble flute lines cutting through brush while the rhythm section, all scrambling hand percussion and muted bass, bangs away like distant, chasing drums. The Most band’s cover differentiates itself immediately, kicking off with a sticky bass line and complex hard-bop drum beat. The other big addition is the horn section, with trombones growling ominously and a troupe of trumpets blaring alongside Most’s wild riffing. Chances are this is not the sort of thing you think of when you hear the words “jazz flute,” but it is a banger. [Matt Gerardi]

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Maxo Kream, “Work”

Maxo Kream’s Punken has that great, rare energy of a debut record, in which the young Texas rapper seems determined to pack two decades’ worth of lived experiences into 45 minutes of music. As a rapper, he tends toward a dense, syncopated flow, but he stretches this out over a spate of interesting production choices, ranging from horror-flick paranoia to booming, druggy bass pulses. But, god, what life he packs into these verses, full of family members and anecdotes and richly specific details; the rapper comes off like something between a Studs Terkel chronicler of American life and the most absorbing guy at the party, with a seemingly bottomless bag of stories to pull from. Opening track “Work” captures him at his best, recalling his brother Ju, cousin Pooh, the math teacher who got to him, twice-weekly phone calls from his dad, the first car that caught his eye, the first profit he pulled flipping bags of weed—all over a bright, wavering beat that morphs into something even brighter halfway through. We’re only one month into 2018 and we’ve already got a record this good? [Clayton Purdom]

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