Reigning Sound

Reigning Sound, Shattered

As a member of ‘90s garage-punk trio Oblivians, Greg Cartwright was more concerned with speed, S&M, and the pleasures and pains of hard living. With Reigning Sound, the Memphis-born songwriter is older, wiser (maybe a bit gentler) but no less aggrieved. Behind a crack backing band, he manages to hawk soulful rock & roll without any hokeyness or affect—a rare skill these days. (Out July 15)
Essential track: “Falling Rain”


 

Sam Smith

Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour
The voice of house duo’s Disclosure’s breakthrough track, the ubiquitous “Latch,” young British soul man Sam Smith has done a sterling job of parlaying that flare into a full on blaze. On the first single, “Stay with Me,” Smith asks a fling to extend the romance, and the song fulfills his promise, lingering with inviting harmonies and a familiar melody (try humming along with the notes to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”). (Out now)
Essential track: “Stay with Me”

 

Sia

Sia, 1000 Forms of Fear
Sia is the Australian pop singer who cowrote Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” sang on David Guetta’s megahit “Titanium” and is somehow still known as a notorious recluse (see the head-in-paper-bag publicity photo above). With “1000 Forms of Fear,” she delivers a peerless vocal performance, full of quirks, imperfections and huge swelling moments that belie her destiny as a pop diva. (Out July 8)
Essential track: Eye of the Needle”

 

Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence
If the summertime is for sugary, should-I-shouldn’t-I pop (remember “Party in the USA”?), few do it better than Lana Del Rey. Sure, her man’s-world approach is retrograde—and the new LP might not best her 2012 debut, Born to Die—but underneath the singular rage-provoking quality there are essential pleasures worth exploring. (Out now)
Essential track: “Brooklyn Baby”

 

Total Control

Total Control, Typical System
Leave it to five fine folks from Melbourne to reinvigorate New Order–indebted post-punk with a smattering of creative takes. The group launches into New Wave dance pop, powerhouse guitar rock, mechanical Orwellian dystopias, steady-driving hypnotism and other permutations in 10 tracks that whiz by. (Out now)
Essential track: “Flesh War”