Magna Carta Holy Grail
Sounds like: Hov’s well-produced 12th is getting panned, but there are some gems, with strong features from his wife, Frank Ocean and Justin Timberlake.
Free association: Perhaps a few too many references to luxury goods and lifestyles.
For fans of: Nas x Kanye + Biggie, Timbaland/Pharrell/The-Dream, Lambos & Hublots.
Don’t Look Down
Sounds like: She wrote and sang on hits for Eminem, Dre and Lupe Fiasco; now she steps into the spotlight as a singer, with Em exec-producing her Dido-y pop folk moment.
Free association: “C’mon Let Me Ride” is funny, funky and snarly. Girl can curse.
For fans of: Jessie J + Lana Del Rey, Hayley Williams, “Love the Way You Lie.”
The Weight of Your Love
Sounds like: Birmingham, U.K.’s moody rock heroes are back after four years with their fourth, and it’s an excellent, back-to-basics ambient guitar rock effort.
Free association: If you love Interpol, these guys are practically a cover band.
For fans of: British Sea Power/Kaiser Chiefs/Bloc Party, bass-y male vocals.
Sounds like: Label scuffles land her back with L.A. Reid, and the 27-year-old sickening dancer/R&B persona delivers more body and sultry, sexy radio jams.
Free association: Yup, “Body Party” was an apt single—a lil’ hood and a lil’ raunchy.
For fans of: Aaliyah/Missy/Beyonce/Keri Hilson, Pussycat Dolls, poppin’ & lockin’.
Where Does This Door Go
Sounds like: Totally solid hybrid of old school soul and modern, soul-heavy pop from the Michigan white boy whose well-meaning shtick’s just a little cheesy.
Free association: This one’s got some spot-on production. Gives it sophistication.
For fans of: Hall & Oates x Steely Dan + Motown, The Chi-Lites, retro everything.
The Blackest Beautiful
Sounds like: The fourth LP from this L.A. post-hardcore metal quintet is packed full of energy and volume, with a touch of pop-tainted punk that purists won’t forgive.
Free association: It’s dangerous territory when punk approaches whiney and/or emo.
For fans of: At the Drive-In x Thursday, the Blood Brothers/the Used, screams of agony.