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03/25/2016
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New albums in stores this week

Kiran Leonard, "Grapefruit" (Moshi Moshi). The Greater Manchester borough of Oldham lives up to the area's overall reputation for off-kilter pop-rock music with Kiran Leonard, a 20-year-old whose citrus-titled second album has precocious genius redolent of early Rufus Wainwright.

Bob Mould, "Patch the Sky" (Merge). One of the most heartening rock 'n' roll revitalizations of the 21st century doesn't weaken as Hüsker Dü and Sugar frontman Mould powers his current trio through another fantastic reconfiguration of punk and pop music that's also his third excellent long-player during the present decade.

ZAYN, "Mind of Mine" (RCA). Zayn Malik, the first and so far only guy to exit the highly popular U.K. boy band One Direction, tries to prove that his stated reason for leaving the band — "there was never any room for me to experiment creatively" — is not just his excuse to hog the spotlight.

Sammy Adams, "The Long Way" (1st Round/RED). Boston hip-hop artiste who issued his first single in 2010 and two EPs between then and now finally is satisfied enough with his first full-length release, plus guest turns from the likes of Tiësto and B.o.B, to let it out.

Amon Amarth, "Jomsviking" (Metal Blade). Without drummer Fredrik Andersson, who had been behind the kit for 17 years, Swedish melodic-metal band steps forth with a 10th studio album that tells an epic tale about the "Jomsvikings," an order of mercenary Vikings.

American Head Charge, "Tango Umbrella" (Napalm). Minneapolis alt- and nu-metal band drops its fourth album and opens an "umbrella" under which it shelters its broader influences, including Tool, Ministry, PJ Harvey and Alice in Chains.

Sarah Aroeste, "Ora de Despertar" (Aroeste Music). With a title that translates as "Time to wake up," this album of children's music could alert tykes and parents alike to the talents of Aroeste, a New York-based musician who writes and sings in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish dialect developed by Spanish Jews after their 1492 expulsion from Spain.

Asking Alexandria, "The Black" (Sumerian). Metalcore band from North Yorkshire, England releases its fourth LP, which, true to subgenre classification, forms one hand into a fist to make new lead singer Denis Stoff scream and the other hand into a caress to make him soar.

Eric Bachmann, "Eric Bachmann" (Merge). After retiring Crooked Fingers, the Southern indie rocker who also led Archers of Loaf drops the first LP under his own name in a decade, working with Crooked Fingers alumni to sculpt the most earnest and polished singer-songwriter material of his career.

Bayonne, "Primitives" (Mom+Pop Music). Known as Roger Sellers to his mother and fans of his folksier music, the Austin resident is now Bayonne when presenting his layered electronic music, heard to most alluring effect on this reissue of his 2014 disc.

Beastmaker, "Lusus Naturae" (Rise Above). Fresno, Calif., isn't the most impressive locale for a macho band, but the Sabbath stomp of the power trio's current record, which feels sludgier than it actually is, means to make beasts of all hard-rock lovers who hear it.

Birdy, "Beautiful Lies" (Atlantic). English songbird, songwriter and Bon Iver cover artist is just a couple months shy of 20, but this is her third album since 2011 and the one that will probably convince fans of Lorde, Fiona Apple and Adele to add her to their playlists.

Joe Bonamassa, "Blues of Desperation" (J&R Adventures). With 2014's "Different Shades of Blue," East Coast bluesman who'd long since proved his guitar and interpretational prowess showed he could fill an LP with his own songs, a feat he does again, and better, on his new one.

Bri, "Keys to My Heart" (Marquis Boone Enterprises LLC/Tyscot). Briana Babineaux, "Bri," got attention for a cappella clips she recorded on her phone about a year ago, and now she's issuing her introductory full-length with help from creators and producers of gospel and CCM-angled hip-hop.

Jim Brickman, "Pure Cinema" (Green Hill Productions). On the fourth of his "Pure" series, Cleveland native and adult-contemporary pianist Brickman brings his loving style to versions of film songs, including "Let It Go" from "Frozen" and "Falling Slowly" from "Once."

The Currys, "West of Here" (The Currys). Brothers Jimmy and Tommy Curry and their cousin Galen Curry are, of course, the Currys, Florida kin whose second album displays family harmonies and a slicker kind of Americana.

Domo Genesis, "Genesis" (Odd Future). Dominique "Domo Genesis" Cole of the Odd Future rap collective makes solo-album debut with features from both within Odd Future, like Tyler the Creator, and without, like Wiz Khalifa.

Lincoln Durham, "Revelations of a Mind Unraveling" (Droog). Texas singer-songwriter with clear precedents in the darker back-catalog corners of Nick Cave and Tom Waits is deeply Southern and raw as a recent wound on a second full-length that deals with his inner devil.

Elliphant, "Living Life Golden" (TEN Music Group/Kemosabe). On her second studio LP and major-label debut, Swedish rapper, songwriter and singer Ellinor Olovsdotter, as Elliphant, utilizes the pop and EDM talents of Skrillex and Dr. Luke, among others.

Exmagician, "Scan the Blue" (Bella Union). Danny Todd and James Smith, Belfast collaborators in good and long standing, start new project whose first full-length is all about very lovely and usually very lush songs ranging from chill-out comedowns to flamboyantly positive old-school pop.

Fake Moss, "Under the Great Black Sky" (Ad Inexplorata). Stockholm rock band reaches for a dark sound that encompasses the bravado of the Doors, the moodiness of Sisters of Mercy and the postmodern blues of Screaming Trees.

Gramatik, "Epigram" (Lowtemp Music). Slovenian EDM purveyor Denis Jašarević, who onstage and on record goes by the more wieldy name Gramatik, follows a recent sold-out gig in NYC, and promotes a current tour that recently stopped in Milwaukee, with a heavy-bass disc guest-starring Raekwon, Laibach and more.

Anthony Hamilton, "What I'm Feelin'" (RCA). Getting back together with producer Mark Batson, a key figure in his popularity, and recording in Nashville, soul man with a strong leaning toward old-school grooves gets well into those grooves on his first non-holiday long-player since 2011.

Hammer Fight, "Profound and Profane" (Napalm). When one thinks of Atlantic City, one either thinks of casinos or of Bruce Springsteen's defeated folk song of the same name, unless one listens to the growly, drinkin'-and-thrashin' music of Hammer Fight's first LP, in which case one can think of nothing else besides Hammer Fight.

The Joy Formidable, "Hitch" (C'Mon Let's Drift/Caroline). Welsh alt-rock band especially notable for the presence of lead singer and guitarist Rhiannon "Ritzy" Brian endeavors to cage some of its live energy for headphones and speakers on its stirring third LP.

Lontalius, "I'll Forget 17" (Partisan). New Zealand 19-year-old Eddie Johnston shared sparse covers of Ciara, Beyoncé and Pharrell Williams songs with the Internet, and those covers in turn inspired sparse original indie-pop material that fills his first full-length as Lontalius.

Mark Mallman, "This Is Not the End" (Polkadot Mayhem). For 20 years, Mallman has buttressed the Minneapolis area's musical street cred and, after moving out of a sketchy neighborhood and rethinking his material, re-emerges with a teenager's wild passions and an adult's experience with underground rock.
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Metal Church, "XI" (Rat Pak). Mike Howe, the "classic-era" lead singer from this West Coast metal band's 1988-1994 run, came back to the band last year and solidifies the reunion with, as the Roman numerals indicate, Metal Church's 11th studio album of old-school noise.

K. Michelle, "More Issues Than Vogue" (Atlantic). The winner of Best Title of the Week is the third album from a Memphis-raised R&B singer, rapper, instrumentalist and reality-TV star who's profane enough to hang with Yo Gotti and sweet enough to let Jason Derulo do his second-string Usher act on "Make the Bed."

Parker Millsap, "The Very Last Day" (Okrahoma/Thirty Tigers). On his sophomore full-length album, Oklahoma singer-songwriter Millsap heads for the traditionalist Americana with rockabilly and Appalachian intensity and a fiercely pretty voice.

Khun Narin's Electric Phin Band, "II" (Innovative Leisure). On its very simply titled second album, this rotating-membership band of Thai villagers take a bit more time than before to lay down more psychedelic-rock songs built atop local folk-music forms and instruments.

NitroDive, "Shock Treatment" (Gain Music Entertainment). Rising once more from the hauntingly named Swedish town of Gothenburg, this three-piece act makes its latest record a full-on tribute to the Ramones via remakes of those classic punk songs.

Heather Nova, "The Way It Feels" (Saltwater Limited). With Canadian and Bahamian roots and a 1990s boost via her participation in the Lilith Fair female-filled festival, Nova is now in her late 40s and finding a more measured, mature wooziness.

O'Brother, "Endless Light" (Triple Crown Records/Favorite Gentleman). Atlanta quintet has pushed its alt-metal visions toward the sonic landscapes of Tool and Helmet — bigger horizons with elongated vistas — on its third full-length since 2011.

Lee Harvey Osmond, "Beautiful Scars" (Latent Recording/Megaforce/RED). Tom Wilson, the man who is Lee Harvey Osmond, has played in bands like Junkhouse and written songs for folks like Mavis Staples, and his own LHO acid-folk music, produced on this third solo disc by Cowboy Junkies' Michael Timmins, has the weather-beaten feel of Leonard Cohen.

Paul J, "No More Pain" (Paul J). From Detroit, where of course Eminem came from, another aspiring rapper pushes to be heard on a scrappy, yet smoothly produced, collection of tracks.

Jason Paulson, "Crow River Ramble" (Campervan). Waconia, with a population of a little over 10,000, isn't quite the Minnesota music mecca that Minneapolis is, but Waconia resident Jason Paulson makes a solid alt-country racket on these 12 songs.

Plague Vendor, "Bloodsweat" (Epitaph). The California city of Whittier, where Richard Nixon spent much of his childhood, is currently less toxic because the Whittier quartet known as Plague Vendor has leached out many poisons via its second album of post-punk rock for desert-road speeds.

Margo Price, "Midwest Farmer's Daughter" (Third Man). Recording at the notorious Sun Studio — home to early Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee — Illinois-born Nashville resident Price makes her first solo long-player a shoo-in for comparisons to sophisticatedly down-home female artistes from Patsy Cline to Emmylou Harris and Kacey Musgraves.

Radical Face, "The Family Tree: The Leaves" (Nettwerk). After 2011's "The Roots" and 2013's "The Branches," Radical Face's center, Florida musician Ben Cooper, continues telling his "Family Tree" story with more expansive songs and more cinematic sounds.

The Ragbirds, "The Threshold & the Hearth" (Rock Ridge Music). On the latest record from an Ann Arbor, Mich., quintet is the (fictional) story of Betty and Bill, who fall in love in college and try to figure out how to last a lifetime while the Ragbirds' poppy take on traditional country waltzes and jigs around them.

The Range, "Potential" (Domino). Brooklyn producer James Hinton, as the Range, assembles his new LP entirely from a mix of electronica backgrounds and, in the foregrounds, raps and phrases and other vocal fragments derived from YouTube searches.

Rare Futures, "This Is Your Brain on Love" (Cerebral Music Group/InTheClouds). With former Taking Back Sunday player Matt Fazzi at the head of Rare Futures, the band's debut album has the post-rock breeziness of the Sea and Cake with muted emo-rock vocals.

Red Sky July, "The Truth and the Lie" (Shadowbirds). A husband, a wife and friend from bands like Texas, Alisha's Attic and the Alice Band maintain a tartly sweet and steadily jangling pop-rock charm on their third LP together as Red Sky July.

RJD2, "Dame Fortune" (RJ's Electrical Connections). If you've watched "Mad Men," you might have heard an opening theme by Ramble Jon Krohn, or RJD2, a Philly beat-crafter whose latest solo tip processes indie-prog electronica through Philly-soul and Philly-funk stimuli.

Haroula Rose, "Here the Blue River" (Little Bliss/Thirty Tigers). A woman who's maybe spent more time as writer and producer for film and TV than as a folk-club singer-songwriter takes a more literary, slightly bolder approach on her second album.

Spiritual Beggars, "Sunrise to Sundown" (InsideOut Music). Twenty-two years after their first album, the Swedish stoners of Spiritual Beggars put out their ninth album of music that is still suitable for devotees of late Soundgarden and early Queens of the Stone Age.

Take 6, "Believe" (SoNo Recording Group). One of the favorite vocal groups of Quincy Jones might also be a favorite vocal group of Stevie Wonder, because the latter shows up on the latest from the a cappella sextet that formed during the 1980s in Huntsville, Ala.

The Thermals, "We Disappear" (Saddle Creek). Portland indie-rock band reaches its seventh full-length with somewhat-successful attempts to rekindle earlier thrills via handfuls of punk chords, a nasal voice and simple words about not-so-simple topics.

Various artists, "American Psycho (Original London Cast Recording)" (Concord). About a month before its delayed American premiere, the musical based on the bloody-Yuppie Bret Easton Ellis novel comes out in recorded form thanks to the original London cast, including former "Doctor Who" lead Matt Smith as the titular psychopath.

Various artists, "I Saw the Light (Music From the Motion Picture)" (Legacy Recordings). Despite hints that it's another too-conventional biopic, this Hank Williams-centered movie does have Tom Hiddleston doing his best with Ol' Hank's uber-classic country songs.

White Denim, "Stiff" (Downtown). For its seventh album, Austin foursome calls upon an outside producer for the very first time, but that producer is the expert Ethan Johns and the results reframe White Denim's garage-rock encyclopedia in a shiny leather binding.