English folkie Ben Howard has several EPs and a 2011 album to his name, but this follow-up is his strongest statement yet. From the first discordant strains of "Small Things" to the meditative "All Is Now Harmed," Howard strikes a sure-footed balance between the lilting ballads we've come to expect from......
A few months ago, 24-year-old Andrew Hozier-Byrne was a little-known Irish singer-songwriter. But his YouTube hit "Take Me to Church" won him a wave of insta-hype, and his debut LP earns it. Blessed with a sensual singing voice and a seemingly bottomless well of lapsed-Catholic-style conflict, Hozier channels Van Morrison's......
Decades after emerging as the "Sneer of the Year," Billy Idol's face seems to have gotten stuck that way. On the singer's first album in nearly 10 years, he's still brooding on the schmaltzy "Ghosts in My Guitar" and on the title track, an autobiographical mini rock opera. He even......
Jessie Ware wants to talk about love, but she's not sugarcoating how difficult it can be. "I had to shatter to pieces/It made me reveal myself," the recently married London singer admits on "Pieces," an emotive highlight of her second album. But for all its vulnerability, Tough Love is tenacious,......
Like her pals in Icona Pop – not to mention Robyn, Lykke Li, First Aid Kit and who knows how many more Swedish prodigies waiting in the wings – 26-year-old Tove Nilsson is a pop adept fond of big hooks and self-aware emoting. Yet for sheer sucker-punch verse-slinging, no one's......
Tinashe's summer club hit "2 On" might have drawn on rote material – going out, turning up – but the way she delivered it was anything but. The 21-year-old singer-producer's ginger, breathy delivery made her sound like a cat slinking through the party, deftly avoiding any and all male buzzkills.......
Surprises are few on ex-Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore's latest solo LP, which finds him mining the leisurely, dissonant chug that has defined much of his work. But nobody does dissonant chug like Moore, and The Best Day offers plenty of SY-ish thrills. Now living in London, Moore has tapped......
Slipknot were the craziest, and some might say funniest, band to come out of the early- 2000s nu-metal scene – nine children of the Iowa corn in horror-clown masks, like the demon spawn of Sepultura and the Blue Man Group. They've outlasted many of their peers, and their fifth album,......
Jessie J is huge in the U.K., but she's never quite managed to break out stateside (last year's Alive didn't even get a U.S. release). "Bang Bang" – the omnipresent first single from her third LP – suggests she might finally be on the brink of a crossover. If she......
These Florida pop punks are best known for their peppy breakup ballads, but this year, NFG throw down. Their fiercest release to date is also their first album without guitarist and lyricist Steve Klein, who checked out in 2013. (He was later charged with lewd conduct with a minor; he......
Annie Lennox's ongoing evolution from New Wave ruler into U.K. queen of blue-eyed soul isn't exactly surprising – her magnificent voice has always had an R&B foundation, on display in this orchestral set of jazz and blues standards. "Summertime," "Strange Fruit" and "God Bless the Child" show reverence and impeccable......
British indie-pop revivalists Allo Darlin' are the band for you if you like softly sung vocals, jangly guitars and tempos that will get you turned up enough to drink tea with your cat. Their third album continues in this mild fashion, and though always pleasant, it's often unmemorable. The band,......
Foxygen seem to know a good idea when they see it, but that doesn't mean they ignore the bad ones. Their third album is both diamonds and rough – an 82-minute combo plate of half-finished songs, choruses unmoored from verses, bursts of skyscraping beauty and long passages of sonic murk,......
For his first album post-"Blurred Lines," T.I. has brought on that song's mastermind, Pharrell Williams, as executive producer. Nothing seems off-limits here – an X-rated slow grind alongside Chris Brown, a post-Trayvon political rant with Public Enemy-ish lyrics, and two unlikely Williams concoctions that sound like robo-Vegas Curtis Mayfield. The......
The former Cat Stevens recently released a memoir, and his first album in five years often feels like it should've been included with copies of the book: "I was born in the West End/In the summer of '48," he sings on "Editing Floor Blues," in which he describes his conversion......
Sly Stone's short-lived Stone Flower imprint began as an outlet for kindred acts: his sibling Vet Stewart's band Little Sister, Family Stone doppelgangers 6ix, California soul man Joe Hicks. But flush with Sly's songwriting, arranging, production and playing, these rare tracks essentially constitute a lost solo set from the pioneering......
Very few people in music – or on Earth – are having as much fun right now as Young Thug. This is the ascendant Atlanta rapper's third great mixtape of 2014, and as usual, "rapping" only approximates what he does: Check "Flava" and "730" to hear Thug stretch his voice......
Thanks to The Voice, country star Blake Shelton has enjoyed massive fame beyond Nashville without messing much with his straight-ahead sound. A decade-plus in, he's still the same likable good ol' bro – the kind of dude who can sing about "workin' on that twerkin'" without totally embarrassing himself ("Buzzin'"),......
We could question the gods' decision to make only one Neil Diamond, but maybe one of him is all this planet can handle. At 73, the man still touches insane amounts of warm. There are no duds on his first all-new album since 2008 – just 12 stripped down soft-rock......
Best known for her work with Pistol Annies, Angaleena Presley is the latest hard-nosed country traditionalist to challenge Nashville's frat-party tendencies. On the first half of her impressive solo debut, Presley fills her disappearing middle-class blues with sharp, compassionate tales of unfulfilled pensions and steep tuition bills. Later on, the......