M.I.A., "Matangi"Still dealing with a $1.5 million lawsuit from the NFL for her 2012 Super Bowl middle finger, M.I.A. seems fired up for her fourth album and ready to expand on her previous release's mix of political and personal. At a recent show, WikiLeaker Julian Assange appeared, apparently Skyping from the UK to address the crowd. Pair that with album track "Sexodus," which samples R&B narco-Casanova the Weeknd, and you get the idea.Essential track: "Bring the Noize"
Action Bronson, "Blue Chips 2"The ginger-bearded Queens rapper is an outsize personality in a field of larger than life characters. Yet to release a formal debut record, Bronson's appetites and obsessions have filled half a dozen mixtapes and self-released albums since 2011. Each is all-you-can-eat buffet of culinary metaphors, sexual degustation and high-life ruminations, and "Blue Chips 2" is no exception. A sequel to his similarly titled 2012 mix, the collection features the YouTube-happy production of Party Supplies a.k.a. Justin Nealis who taps both Peter Gabriel and Tracy Chapman. It's a hefty audio lunch and it's also free.Essential track: "Practice"
"Sky Ferreira, Night Time, My Time"The pop singer's debut LP arrives after numerous label delays, but the result is worth the wait. Studio man Ariel Rechtshaid, whose successes this year include records by Charli XCX and Haim, heads the production and instrumentally there's a lot happening, from aggro-synths to compression-smashed guitars. Those grimy sounds would be fine by themselves, if the singer wasn't so committed to the downer anthems (see titles like "You're Not the One" and "I Blame Myself")Essential track: "Nobody Asked Me"
Nobunny, "Secret Songs: Reflections From the Ear Mirror"Justin Champlin, who dons a scuzzy rabbit mask when he takes on the alter-ego of Nobunny, is a twisted master of the misanthropic love song. His new collection of garage-pop nuggets, "Secret Songs: Reflections From the Ear Mirror," on Memphis staple Goner Records, is more ramshackle than his 2010 masterpiece "First Blood," but the tunes come out no worse for the wear. In fact, they thrive on being lived in, sweated in, and positively reeking.Essential track: "True Vultures"
Majeure, "Romance Language EP"Drummer A.E. Paterra has a thing for moody '70s horror soundtracks, as evidenced by his part in analog instrumental duo Zombi. He's also a synth wizard in his own right, and this solo EP is similarly cinematic in approach, housing two lush soundscapes that each clock in at about 11 minutes. Pure headphone music, the tracks are transporting, moody and elegantly simple.Essential track: "Romance Language" (just listen to both already)