One of the advantages of hailing from a country with the population of about half of New York City is that the odds of knowing your musical countrymen is greatly increased, at least in the case of Norways Royksopp. Reading like an all-star line-up for the hipster set, the glitchy duo are joined by Lykke Li, the Knife and Robyn on their third album. Known for their beat-driven sonic landscapes and down-tempo explorations, Royksopps first album in four years is a hybrid of both styles, and showcases lighter, more fluid tracks without steering clear of emotionally wrought territory, like Lykke Lis sweet heartbreaker Miss It So Much and the tense, shimmering You Dont Have A Clue. Bonus: The band will release their more, er...mature follow-up, Senior, at the end of this year. The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
Literary-minded quintet the Decemberists may have outdone themselves this time. Like hipster time travelers, the band maintains a highly stylized persona, comprised largely of military-esque costumbry and words that havent been uttered aloud for over a century. For their next trick, lead singer Colin Meloy found inspiration in a long forgotten Brit-pop album from the 1960s of the same title. Meloy embarked on a journey to write a folk-rock opera, rife with nods to Greek myths, Meloys slightly nasal tenor, and plenty of material for their Scrabble-loving fans to parse. Featuring a duo of Diamonds (as in Lavender, and My Brightest) singing the lead female parts, and help from My Morning Jackets Jim James and veritable Renaissance Man Robyn Hitchcock. Warning: Not for the faint of twee. Keri Hilson, In A Perfect World
In said perfect world, Keri Hilson would have found fame and fortune a while ago. The 27-year-old is one of the more talented hired guns in the world of R&B, writing tracks for Britney Spears, Usher and Ludacris, and has long been a Timbaland protg. After years of delays and pushbacks, Hilsons debut is finally being released, with enough star power to run NASA. Hip-hop kingpins Kanye West and Lil Wayne join Hilson, and Timbaland returns many favors with several writing and producing credits. With four already-massive singles released since the Spring of 08, Hilsons has successfully dominated the airwaves. Onto the world.