Bear in Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool
For a band that has chosen such a pointedly nonchalant title for their latest album, the Brooklyn-based Bear in Heaven offers up some pretty earnest electro rock. You can simultaneously space out, dance around and pine to their blend of synth beats and soaring male vocals. (But just a warning, the video below is not recommended for epileptics or anyone prone to headaches/nausea.)
De La Soul – De La Soul’s Plug 1 and Plug 2 Present…First Serve
The members of De La Soul have always been on the slightly bizarre and boho side of hip hop stardom. In that vein, it makes sense that their first original material since a 2009 mixtape collaboration with Nike is a concept album featuring two of their three members taking on the personas of aspiring rappers. Peppy beats and observant narratives ensue.
Lux – We Are Not The Same
Like many as-of-yet unknown bands, Lux has set expectations high by claiming some outright indie legends as influences, from The Velvet Underground and New Order to Pavement and Sonic Youth. But the Seattle-based duo’s moody synth-pop aesthetic lends a bit more credibility to those comparisons, piquing interest in this debut — especially among those of us with a soft spot for ‘80s alternative.
Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded
On her sophomore effort, the world’s most neon female rapper seems to be trading in her milieu of aggressive alter egos for a more radio-friendly identity as party rock queen. Young Money pals Weezy and Drake make an appearance, along with Nas and dancehall reggae veteran Beenie Man. But regardless of these big names, it all comes down to Nicki’s skills as an MC to determine whether she’s going to stay relegated to the world of rap mediocrity.
Orbital – Wonky
So apparently electro is kind of a big deal right now? With a DJ-centric Fling approaching and a movement continually growing out of electro culture, it couldn’t hurt to check out a group that was rockin’ the techno circuit when it was barely a genre. Orbital’s first studio album in eight years, Wonky signals a timely comeback from a duo whose original affiliations with the punk scene serve as a reminder that "dance music" can means lots of different things.