Natural Selection, Lasers in the Jungle (Bocumast). Natural Selection keeps itself rooted in two separate musical worlds, opening tracks with mechanical, robotic synth lines moments before invoking some of the most lush and warm tones from '70s funk on tracks like "Down Elevator." It's a combination that makes for heady moments, and Jungle boasts plenty of them. — Goldstein

On Point, One Nation Underground (Self-released). If you've been following hip-hop group On Point for the past few years, you'll notice how much it's grown in terms of lyrics, delivery and production on this mixtape. Mixed by Skip Ripken, One Nation shows growth and improvement on all levels and is a great appetizer for the act's upcoming album. — Salazar-Moreno

Only Thunder, Lower Bounds (Bermuda Mohawk). With all the verve and convicton of the style's originators, Only Thunder taps into the best elements of mid-'90s emo on its debut long-player, flying past familiar fenceposts of dramatic builds, angular riffs and soaring choruses while still managing to add its own bit of flair. — Herrera

Overcasters, Revolectrocution (Self-released). Bucking expectations suggested by the band's name, this music represents the embracing of life's experiences in all their variety as an affirmation of the vitality of existence. The electrifying dynamics, indigo atmospheres and swirling guitar interplay challenge and inspire, keeping the circuit between the head and the heart connected.— Murphy

Keith Oxman, Caught Between the Lion and Twins (Capri). Tenor saxophonist Keith Oxman absolutely kills it on his seventh album for the local imprint Capri. His tone is robust, and he swings like a madman on each of the dozen tracks, most of which were written by Oxman or pianist Marc Sabatella, who also adds some fine playing. — Solomon

Ellison Park, When Head Killed Heart (Self-released). A stunning debut from an exceptional new songwriter, this album finds Park grappling with existential matters over a bed of tasteful guitar work and subtle organ moans that leave plenty of space for him to stretch his stellar voice. — Herrera

Pee Pee, Castile Jackine Is Vooded at Broonus Mousin: Volume 1 (Self-released). Pee Pee delivers a set that mixes folk, pop and electronics into brilliant, uncategorizable and near-classic songs — and a few that make you wonder what the ensemble was thinking. Still, even in its most self-indulgent moments, such as the aptly named ten-minute "Freakout Jam," Castile is strangely fascinating and thoroughly listenable. — Casciato

Pictureplane/BDRMPPL, Trance Doll/Cyberpunk (Self-released). Charting the future of electronic music while appropriating the past, these tracks are subversively heady doses of playful sonic experimentation in which collages, synths, drums and a myriad of noises synch up with buoyant rhythms. Pictureplane makes any place a dance party, and BDRMPPL effectively creates electro-tribal chants like a jolly trickster shaman. — Murphy

The Pirate Signal, Of Gods and Gangsters (Self-released). It's been a couple of years since the Pirate Signal dropped its self-titled EP, but to hold fans over for the next year, the crew dropped this excellent mixtape. Mixed entirely by DJ AWHAT, Of Gods and Gangsters finds Yonnas spitting fire over original beats and remixes hits by 50 Cent, Kanye and M.I.A. — Salazar-Moreno

Rachael Pollard, A Good Thing (Self-released). Rachael Pollard is a gifted, thoughtful songwriter and captivating vocalist, with a unique voice and distinctive phrasing that make it easy to overlook her understated yet engaging guitar playing and the alluring poetry of the words she's singing. Good Thing was a long time coming, and definitely worth the wait. — Herrera

The Pseudo Dates, Because We Love You (Self-released). Although a good deal of this band's aesthetic is informed by the great pop bands of the '60s, there's nothing retro about their songs. The tight and incredibly catchy melodies on Because are infused with a disarming sensitivity and intelligence. Refreshingly void of irony and cynicism, Because We Love You has real heart. — Murphy

Purpose, Point Blank (Self-released). If Catch Lungs is Peyton Hillis, then Purpose is the Eddie Royal of the local scene. The first project of any kind from this rookie, Point Blank, mixed by Skip Ripken, is a solid exposé of the dude's lyrical skill and offers a glimpse of what's to come from this young MC. — Salazar-Moreno

Rabbit Is a Sphere, Hope Is a Cinder That Blinks Quietly Until You Die (Needlepoint). The running time of Rabbit Is a Sphere's four-song EP is less than twenty minutes, and not a second is wasted. Whether the band is lingering among hushed waves of droning feedback or building to a careening crescendo, it spends just the right amount of time creating compelling backdrops for incisive lyrics and strong, stirring melodies. — Herrera

Reverb and the Verse, Versatile (Self-released). The sound design conceived by producer Shane Etter, the longtime teammate of MC Providence "The Verse," more than lives up to this recording's title. His production approach encompasses the dense darkness of "Pair of Kings" and the spare funk of "Gun the Engine" without ever seeming schizophrenic. These hip-hop veterans are only getting stronger. — Roberts

Rose Hill Drive, Moon Is the New Earth (Megaforce Records). Nathan Barnes and the brothers Sproul are so young that their vintage-sounding blues-rock originals can't avoid feeling secondhand to some degree. But as their confidence grows, so does their willingness to steer off the main road and explore different genres, including psychedelia and pop. Such detours make reliable vehicles like "Trans Am" take off even faster. — Roberts

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