Sounds like: The second from the UK X Factor supergroup of four fierce Brit girls double down on popularity in America with a stateside release and press blitz.
Free association: These girls have had lots of Red Bull, and love that song “Tag Me.”
For fans of: Spice Girls + Gwen Stefani, Little Boots x David Guetta, Ariana Grande with silver hair.
Sounds like: The title’s a Tuareg word for “heat on the breeze,” and the legendary Saharan world music magicians know heat, guitars and fear from political terror.
Free association: Mali’s a hostile place for a band, where music and making it is illegal.
For fans of: The Dap-Kings in Chad/Zep in Libya/Dire Straits in Algeria, Mid-East blues rock.
Gardens & Villa
Sounds like: West Coast synthy weird pop favorites who excel at a bizarre blend of funk, pop, psychedelics and dance-friendly indie rock kill a sophomore slump.
Free association: When their debut came out, I did a triple take—like “Wait, this is dope!”
For fans of: Milagres + Youth Lagoon x Steely Dan with Tame Impala, drugs ‘n shades.
Sounds like: The Japanese mistresses of food funk emerge out of hiding with a creepy hotel-themed collection, like a zombified vacationing Luscious Jackson.
Free association: Tried to come up with a delicate Asian female fetish quip, but couldn’t.
For fans of: Brazilian Girls x Laurie Anderson + David Lynch, Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
After the Disco
Sounds like: It’s like the Shins never went away, just got funkier with the help of Brian Burton (Danger Mouse); their second’s just more solid, lushly dance-friendly fun.
Free association: This is what happens when James Mercer gets coaxed away from Portland.
For fans of: Gnarls Barkley in plaid, TV on the Radio x Junip, “The High Road” to “Holding On for Life.”
Sounds like: It’s been pretty steeply downhill since his 2003 debut (the year he won Idol) with asides in gospel and R&B; he’s proven too reliant on covers and schtick.
Free association: So basically, Velvet Teddy Bear, you are the supreme karaoke talent?
For fans of: Stevie/Luther/Barry/Marvin/Teddy, Kindred the Family Soul goes to Red Lounge.