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, 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”