Mount Eerie, "Pre-Human Ideas" Phil Elverum's music oozes the mystical, majestic surroundings of his home base in Anacortes, Washington. For the past few years, Elverum's Mount Eerie project has been added crushing black-metal textures and Twin Peaks-inspired keyboards to his toolbox, resulting in music that's as menacing as it is beautiful. Here he's cribbed tracks from previous releases, adding pitch-shifted and autotuned vocals for a chilling layer of robotic otherworldliness. Essential track: "The Hidden Stone"
Francis and the Lights, "Like a Dream EP" Revisit Drake's whisper-quiet torch song "Karaoke" for a primer on the songwriting and production chops of Francis Farewell Starlite, the one-man team behind Francis and the Lights. This new collection is worth careful consideration, especially considering that its songs—from quiet stormy ballad "If They Don't Come Tomorrow" to the hooky emotional "Like a Dream"—have been incubating since his last release, the excellent 2010 EP "It'll Be Better." Essential track: "Like a Dream"
Blood Orange, "Cupid Deluxe" Songwriter Dev Hynes has used his chameleonic talents for his post-punk band Test Icicles and anthemic pop project Lightspeed Champion, as well as production and songwriting work for Solange, Sky Ferreira, Florence and the Machine and others. Hynes's newest genre-hopping pop project, Blood Orange, is a neon-flecked throwback, loaded with saxophone flares and butt-wiggling grooves. Essential track: "You're Not Good Enough"
Magik Markers, "Surrender to the Fantasy" What good things have come out of Connecticut? Mystic Pizza? Hartford Whalers? The shortlist would have to include noise-rock outfit Magik Markers, who have been playing together since 2001. On this effort, the trio of Elisa Ambrogio, Pete Nolan and John Shaw trade some of their feral fierceness for jammy, stoned meditations, skronky improvised solos and plenty of wrong notes. Essential track: "Bonfire"
R. Kelly, "Black Panties" You know you've reached an upper echelon of pop culture when Sherlock Holmes is giving a dramatic reading of your newest song on late-night TV. But such is the life of Kels, the sex-obsessed, controversial, absurdly talented singer with a finger on the zeitgeist's...well, never mind. If you're the type to count the days until new Trapped in the Closet episodes, this is the R. Kelly album you've been waiting for, with the pied piper in hypersexual mode and the track list packed with top-flight guests (Ludacris, 2 Chainz, Future). Essential track: "Genius"
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