SBTRKT, Save Yourself

SBTRKT—who, like many Silicon Valley startups, seems averse to vowels—is a mystery. The lone producer performs behind a mask and seems to conjure beats out of noises he hears on a future AM radio station that only plays in his head. If that sounds like something you’d never want to play, you’d be wrong. His latest EP, Save Yourself, delivers one cacophonous ear-worm after another. Also, this time around he’s working with R&B impresario The-Dream, whose voice and gift for melody bless three tracks. Need new music for that Heading Home from the Club playlist? Start here. —Angela Watercutter

SBTRKT

SBTRKT—who, like many Silicon Valley startups, seems averse to vowels—is a mystery. The lone producer performs behind a mask and seems to conjure beats out of noises he hears on a future AM radio station that only plays in his head. If that sounds like something you’d never want to play, you’d be wrong. His latest EP, Save Yourself, delivers one cacophonous ear-worm after another. Also, this time around he’s working with R&B impresario The-Dream, whose voice and gift for melody bless three tracks. Need new music for that Heading Home from the Club playlist? Start here. —Angela Watercutter

A$AP Ferg, Always Strive and Prosper

His compatriot Rocky might be the marquee name of Harlem’s A$AP Mob, but with his second official album Darold Ferguson, Jr. has officially become the emotional polestar of the crew. He’s still dealing humor and sincerity in equal measure, and things move so quickly—of 15 songs, only one breaks the four-minute mark—that even saggier moments pass before you notice. The guest list is a long one, and it’s not coincidental that others feature on the album’s standout tracks (“New Level” with Future, “Strive” with Missy Elliott, “Let it Bang” with Schoolboy Q). In fact, Ferg’s greatest asset might be his embrace of the ensemble; by refusing to be a standalone entree, he gives makes sure there’s more than one side to every story. —Peter Rubin

RCA Ferg

His compatriot Rocky might be the marquee name of Harlem’s A$AP Mob, but with his second official album Darold Ferguson, Jr. has officially become the emotional polestar of the crew. He’s still dealing humor and sincerity in equal measure, and things move so quickly—of 15 songs, only one breaks the four-minute mark—that even saggier moments pass before you notice. The guest list is a long one, and it’s not coincidental that others feature on the album’s standout tracks (“New Level” with Future, “Strive” with Missy Elliott, “Let it Bang” with Schoolboy Q). In fact, Ferg’s greatest asset might be his embrace of the ensemble; by refusing to be a standalone entree, he gives makes sure there’s more than one side to every story. —Peter Rubin

A Giant Dog, Pile

Pile, the third album from Austin glam-shamans A Giant Dog, will surely wind up being the most 1976-ish record of 2016. Frontwoman Sabrina Ellis is blessed with an air-raid-ready voice and T. Rex levels of swagger, while guitarist Andrew Cashen churns out hook-afflicted riffs that would have dominated FM-rock playlists during the Ford administration. But Pile isn’t a purely retro pleasure: Even a party-hardy anthem like “Sex & Drugs” has flashes of healthy introspection mixed in with all the tales of rock n’ roll excess, making for a bacchanalia-boogie stomper that looks to the past while blazing into the future. —Brian Raftery

Merge Records

Pile, the third album from Austin glam-shamans A Giant Dog, will surely wind up being the most 1976-ish record of 2016. Frontwoman Sabrina Ellis is blessed with an air-raid-ready voice and T. Rex levels of swagger, while guitarist Andrew Cashen churns out hook-afflicted riffs that would have dominated FM-rock playlists during the Ford administration. But Pile isn’t a purely retro pleasure: Even a party-hardy anthem like “Sex & Drugs” has flashes of healthy introspection mixed in with all the tales of rock n’ roll excess, making for a bacchanalia-boogie stomper that looks to the past while blazing into the future. —Brian Raftery

Aesop Rock, The Impossible Kid

The music on Aesop Rock’s newest isn’t a departure for the rapper credited as having the largest vocabulary in hip-hop. What’s different is the story-telling. Back in 2003 when I was an undergrad singing along at his concerts, the lyrics largely valued wordplay over sense; my friends and I may have argued over what they meant, but their point was to please the ear. The 5-dollar words are still here, but they do more than just sound good: they take clear narrative form. My two favorite songs are “Kirby,” a track about his cat, and “Lotta Years,” about regretting tattoos, feeling old, and ordering juice—all of which I can relate to, natch. —Emily Dreyfuss

Rhymesayers Ent.

The music on Aesop Rock’s newest isn’t a departure for the rapper credited as having the largest vocabulary in hip-hop. What’s different is the story-telling. Back in 2003 when I was an undergrad singing along at his concerts, the lyrics largely valued wordplay over sense; my friends and I may have argued over what they meant, but their point was to please the ear. The 5-dollar words are still here, but they do more than just sound good: they take clear narrative form. My two favorite songs are “Kirby,” a track about his cat, and “Lotta Years,” about regretting tattoos, feeling old, and ordering juice—all of which I can relate to, natch. —Emily Dreyfuss

Beyoncé, Lemonade

So much has been written about Beyoncé’s sixth solo album that the Internet has very few words left. So in the interest of concision, let me just say this: Lemonade is really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really fantastic. —Angela Watercutter

Columbia Records

So much has been written about Beyoncé’s sixth solo album that the Internet has very few words left. So in the interest of concision, let me just say this: Lemonade is really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really fantastic. —Angela Watercutter

Tancred, Out of the Garden

Jess Abbott plays guitar in Minneapolis band Now, Now, but she’s also cultivated a solo career under the moniker Tancred. April’s Out of the Garden is technically Tancred’s third album, but it plays like a new beginning—Abbott originally wanted to start a completely new band and call it Selma Blair, but lawyers advised against it. The punchy, frenzied sound on “Joey” or “Sell My Head” is markedly different from Tancred’s previous low-key records, which Abbott attributes to drawing inspiration from films like Scream and 10 Things I Hate About You. —K.M. McFarland

Polyvinyl Record Co.

Jess Abbott plays guitar in Minneapolis band Now, Now, but she’s also cultivated a solo career under the moniker Tancred. April’s Out of the Garden is technically Tancred’s third album, but it plays like a new beginning—Abbott originally wanted to start a completely new band and call it Selma Blair, but lawyers advised against it. The punchy, frenzied sound on “Joey” or “Sell My Head” is markedly different from Tancred’s previous low-key records, which Abbott attributes to drawing inspiration from films like Scream and 10 Things I Hate About You. —K.M. McFarland

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