Bat for Lashes, Two Suns
If Bat for Lashes debut "Fur and Gold" was an earthen, whimsical affair, her follow-up picks up where her 2007 album left off -- which is to say, right where we want it. After Natasha Khan (better known by her nom de rock) unleashed her blend of glittering indie rock, all spectral fairytales and dream fragments, she was catapulted into the stratosphere that consumes "Two Suns." In the space between the albums, Khan moved to New York, got her heart broken and acquired a bleached-blonde alter-ego, all of which proved integral ingredients to the making of this album. Khan channels "Gold Dust Woman"-era Stevie Nicks over up-tempo beats from Brooklyn psychedelics Yeasayer, and writes songs rife with heartbreak and self-discovery. Somewhere, Tori Amos is contemplating throwing in the towel. Junior Boys, Begone Dull Care
When uber-cool duo Junior Boys first blew in from the Great White North, their frosted beats and upper-register vocals were a hit in Brooklyn lofts and on tastemakers iPods. By all accounts, their third album is a decidedly less chilly affair, guaranteed to pack dancefloors with their blend of de-personalized white boy funk. Named for a short film by animator Norman McLaren, the less-senior gents felt a kinship to McLarens meticulous etchings on to actual film cells in order to create both audio and visual components, thus naming their latest in a nod to the fellow Canadian. Thanks to the Junior Boys, we can almost forgive Canada for that Sum41 unpleasantness. Almost. Bob Mould, Life and Times
Youd think one might rest on the laurels of being one of the creators of grunge and an OG in the hardcore community, but after thirty years, Bob Mould is still making music. After cutting his teeth with seminal punk rock outfit Husker Du, and later in alt-rock band Sugar, Mould has been turning out solid albums under his own name for years. His ninth abandons his recent electronica fascination for the guitar heavy emotionality of his roots, splicing acoustic guitar and hushed vocals with moments of electric guitar squalls and the rough-hewn scratch of his louder vocals.