Portugal. the Man, Evil Friends (Atlantic). This experimental Portland-by-way-of-Alaska band released Evil Friends, one of the slickest-sounding indie-rock albums in recent memory, courtesy of famed producer Danger Mouse. "Creep in a T-Shirt" mixes synth-driven beats with attitude-filled lyrics, while "Holy Roller" takes you to church with its background vocals. The band even tosses in a little hip-hop for good measure. — LS

Chris Potter, The Sirens (ECM). Inspired by Homer's Odyssey, saxophonist Chris Potter set out to write a composition related to different episodes of the book. While there are stunning yet subtle moments here that jell particularly well with ECM's aesthetic, tunes like "Stranger at the Gate" show what a powerful improviser Potter is. — JS

Queens of the Stone Age, ...Like Clockwork (Matador). Featured guests certainly don't hurt ...Like Clockwork, the first full-length release from Queens of the Stone Age in nearly six years. But appearances by Dave Grohl and Trent Reznor aren't the highlight of this record. That would be frontman Josh Homme's fine return to the fuzz tones and rock structures that made the band great in the first place. — AG

Robert Glasper Experiment, Black Radio 2 (Blue Note). Pianist Robert Glasper has long had one foot in jazz and the other in hip-hop and R&B, so it's a no-brainer that he would continue what he started on last year's Black Radio, a release that included a number of guest vocalists. This time around, he recruited heavy hitters Common, Faith Evans, Lupe Fiasco, Brandy and Jill Scott. — JS

Rhye, Woman (Universal Republic). Confession: Woman earns accolades largely because of its first tracks, "Open" and "The Fall." Singer Mike Milosh shamelessly embodies a Sade vibe that has been updated for 2013. His colleague, Danish multi-instrumentalist Robin Hannibal, does minimalist electronics like no other. — MS

Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels (Fool's Gold). Fresh off their critically acclaimed collaboration R.A.P. Music, Killer Mike and El-P unite again behind the powerful production of the latter — this time featuring his rapping, as well. Run the Jewels is hard-hitting and exciting, both because of the MCs' surprisingly compatible fast rapping and because of El-P's always potent and underappreciated soundscaping. — NH

Shai Hulud, Reach Beyond the Sun (Metal Blade). Shai Hulud combines the ethic of hardcore with intricate guitar work and intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics delivered expertly by Chad Gilbert, who returned after two albums away. Shai Hulud does not write bad songs. All hail Galactus. — BL

Skeletonwitch, Serpents Unleashed (Prosthetic Records). Metal fans should always be skeptical of bands and albums that are hyped this much in the press, but Serpents Unleashed justifies the attention as one of the must-hear blackened-thrash albums of this decade. — BL

Skinny Puppy, Weapon (Metropolis Records). Synching the simplicity of its work for Remission with the sound-design approach of its side projects, Skinny Puppy crafted its strongest effort since 1992's Last Rites. Taking aim at the current international climate of fear and violence, the act poses important questions rather than providing pat answers. — TM

Vince Staples, Stolen Youth (Blacksmith, A.G.). Though Vince Staples may be best known as the rapper pressured out of Odd Future, he stakes his claim as perhaps the best MC of the bunch on Stolen Youth. Featuring surprisingly great production from a pseudonymed Mac Miller (aka Larry Fisherman), Vince is poetic and vividly descriptive while remaining as raw as he first appeared on Earl's "Epar." — NH

Marnie Stern, The Chronicles of Marnia (Kill Rock Stars). Marnie Stern's finger-tapping guitar-playing style creates a frenetic sound here that makes for extremely boisterous jangle rock. This album is a little more drawn-in than her work in the past, with longtime drummer Zach Hill having to dedicate himself full-time to Death Grips, but this just allows Stern's vocals to come through even more. With precision, her vocal lines fly around her fretwork like a butterfly, resulting in a unique and upbeat sound. — LS

The Stranger, Watching Dead Empires in Decay (Modern Love). One of the most unsettling albums ever recorded that could fall under the umbrella of "ambient," this latest from James Leyland Kirby is an essay — composed as a short story in sound — on the folly of modern humanity's technocratic hubris. It is beautiful and enigmatic, like artifacts from Göbekli Tepe. — TM

Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience (RCA). At this point in his career, JT didn't need to make an album this good to prove his worthiness as Michael Jackson's heir apparent (sorry, Usher). But he did, and he clearly had fun in the process. While most R&B artists sing endlessly about bedding whomever, Timberlake takes the high road here, preaching the virtues of commitment. — MS

Frank Turner, Tape Deck Heart (Interscope). There's an overwhelming pathos in Frank Turner's confessions, an earnestness that makes lyrics about self-immolation charming. Somehow, the lyrical bleakness on Tape Deck Heart never manages to weigh down the record. That's all thanks to the sheer rhythmic and melodic charm of Turner, who treats even the bluest words as opportunities to let his audience in on a little secret. — AG

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1 comments
mcramahamasham
mcramahamasham

You guys should also post the local acts "moovers & shakers" online.

 
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