Star Wars
WILCO
(Anti/Epitaph)

Enter the maniac psychedelia of Wilco. The furry white cat and pink flower on the album cover is a mirage to the sounds that stretch across this eleven-track palette of spacey rock. The suspicious title may bear some sentimentality to the set: “Random Name Generator” turns up spicy guitar strokes on colossal garage rock while “More..” plays with ‘70's psychedelia. “Cold Slope” is deliciously teased with sweet pace of funky rock as frontman Jeff Tweedy slips into a David Bowie coolness. It's amazing to know that what feels like yet another Wilco treasure, with very little to frown at, that this was released free to fans.

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Every Open Eye
CHVRCHES
(Glassnote)

Elaborate experimental synths abound on CHVRCHES' sophomore effort, Every Open Eye. It pushes indie synthpop to newfound edges with LCD Soundsystem-meets-Betty Who kicks (“Never Ending Circles”), glorified Cyndi Lauper (“Leave a Trace”) and bubbly Robyn-like exercises (“Make Them Gold,” “Clearest Blue”). Even though much of the lead vocals are handled by Lauren Mayberry, co-vocalist Martin Doherty brings dreamy crooning to “High Enough to Carry You Over,” a tune that plays with remnants of Ellie Goulding's “Writer.”

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Don't Lose This
POPS STAPLES
(dBpm)

Pops Staples, father of Mavis Staples and patriarch of the Staple Singers, has been gone from this world since 2000. Fifteen years since his passing, a posthumous tape surfaces and out comes the bluesy gospel opener “Somebody Was Watching,” a track that sounds like it's been culled from The Black Keys garage. With Wilco's Jeff Tweedy in the producer's chair and the Staples Singers' sound on board, these songs shine like an authentic collection and not as vault B-sides. Mavis and Pops with guitar in tow go for Mississippi blues on “Sweet Home,” a classic Staples re-do (“Will the Circle Be Unbroken”) and a revival of Blind Willie Johnson's wartime gem “Nobody's Fault But Mine.” There's even some stellar R&B-brushed handouts, like “Friendship,” the Stax-stoked “The Lady's Letter” and the Curtis Mayfield-sounding “Love on My Side” with a gritty Mavis controlling the lead. It's such a blessing that this collection saw the light of day; Pops must be grinning from Heaven.

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How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE
(Island)

Florence + the Machine's third LP continues the ascension of her popularity and the soul-rock concoction she's noted for. She pulls off some of the dark magic of Ceremonials on the title cut and “Long & Lost,” but she makes room to whip up her best uptempo rock jam to date (“Ship to Wreck”), more Motown-meets-Annie Lennox gems (“Delilah,” “Queen of Peace”) and imaginative baroque pop pilgrimages (“Third Eye,” “Caught”). Despite not having something as explosive as “Dog Days Are Over” or “You've Got the Love,” Florence Welch and her solid band remain true to their stunning work ethic of building soaring anthems full of mature lyricism and illustrious sounds.

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Froot
MARINA & THE DIAMONDS
(Elektra)

Marina Diamandis puts aside the top-tier producers of Electra Heart and assembles her third LP, Froot, all on her own. This time around, the Welsh singer-songwriter is totally surrounded by bolder and louder creations, from rapping about daring sex (“Froot”) to comparing exs to pesky garden undesirables (“Weeds”) and to strutting it out on synthy disco (“Blue”). Psychedelic pop roams over “Gold” and “Better Than That” while “Forget” elevates her smoldering indie pop profile. This time around, Diamandis sounds like a Florence Welch on icy pop.

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Love + War
KWABS
(Warner Bros.)

Ghana-born Kwabs walked out his debut LP Love + War with a UK-only release. He's heard on Disclosure's Caracal and is now starting to make a little noise in the States. But it's always best to roll out great talent with ease, especially if they have the talent to hit stardom. Think of how Clive Davis did Whitney. Kwabs, with a voice that sounds like a baritone Seal and a lyricism that channels Sting, hits on those high expectations with tracks like “Forgiven,” “Cheating on Me” and the Fetty Wap-featured “Walk.” He goes for dreamy orchestral R&B on “Perfect Ruin” and channels Timbaland-on-Aaliyah prowess on “My Own.” Most of the songs lift tracks from Kwab's previously released EPs and does a good job in gathering his earlier highlights. A fitting disc that's deserving of an official American release and most certainly needed for today's R&B, in what some forecasters feel is a dying genre (It was just released in the US on January 29 2016).

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After It All
DELTA RAE
(Sire)

This Durham, North Carolina family + friends band adds more colors to their rainbow of musical diversity, giving their crafty showcase of Americana songwriting a case of sharper, poignant edges. There's rhythmic pop (“Scared,” “Outlaws”), Celtic-meets-Mumford & Sons adventure (“Run”) and gloriously twanged Tennessee soul (“Dead End Road”) to filter through. Adding to the album's enjoyment is the fiery vocal performances of Ian, Eric and Brittany Hölljes, alongside the siren-like pipes of Elizabeth Hopkins. Together they sound like the Pentatonix of bluesy country rock.

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I Cry When I Laugh
JESS GLYNNE
(Atlantic)

No pop artist in 2015 showed off a robust collection of enjoyable radio-ready music as Jess Glynne. On her debut disc, the Brit newcomer, the voice on last year's Grammy-winning mega-dance hit “Rather Be,” is showered with rhythmic showcases (“Ain't Got Far to Go,” “You Can Find Me Here”) and a celebration of brilliant pop (“Don't Be So Hard on Yourself,” “Gave Me Something,” No Rights No Wrongs”). Though ballads are hard to find in the eleven-track set, she lands an Adele-inspired one on the surrendering “My Love.”

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Recreational Love
THE BIRD AND THE BEE
(Rostrum)

The super duo of vocalist Inana George and accomplished producer and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin are known for their allegiance to the indie pop genre. Much of their stuff never seems to fit the candy cane lanes of conventional pop radio. Recreational Love changed all of that. Sure, the lyrics of “Young and Dumb” sounds too trippy for the average ear, but it's deliciously produced and fat with melody. The dreamy pop heard on the title track and the amazing ‘80's bait of “Runaway” is just as tantalizing. “Los Angeles” and the Paisley Park workouts of “Jenny” are also noteworthy. This out-of-the-box effort feels like the great awakening Sara & Tegan experienced on Heartthrob, minus the commercial exposure.

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Delilah
ANDERSON EAST
(Elektra)

Seeped in the warm sepia of Southern soul and that subtle twang of neo-Americana, the gutsy, gravelly-voiced Anderson West arrives on the scene with tales of stone cold scorn (“Lonely”), fiery temptation (“Quit You,” “Only You”), Stax brass (“Satisfy Me”) and even a little slow dance romance (“Lying In Her Arms”). Delilah sounds so much like a treasured production from Rick Hall's Fame studios that he later cut a five-song EP teaser from the North Alabama studio just to promote his experiment. This is St. Paul & the Broken Bones, but with better songs and minus the rock star adrenaline.

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