Telling her story.
Carrie Underwood’s Idol-winning vocals are back in force on her fifth studio album, Storyteller. From the R&B inspired “Heartbreak” (featuring Sam Hunt), to the all-too-honest “Smoke Break” and wrapping with a tribute to her newborn son, “What I Never New I Always Wanted,” she captures the spirit of small town America in 13 pitch perfect songs. –Rachel Whitney
Power trio Fuzz takes it to the next level.
For their sophomore release II, the California group – led by garage rock revivalist Ty Segall – lays down extreme psych-rock with thickly smudged riffs and snotty, harmonic vocals. It’s a bit more sinister and louder than its predecessor, from the heavy hammering opener to the epic 14-minute freak-out closer “II.” –Michelle Solomon
INDIE SUB OF THE WEEK
Wasted and wistful. Heavy and heavenly.
Shoegaze stoners Grivo wreath their eponymous debut in a thick gauze of blurred effects and spacey shimmer, the sound reminiscent of a slow-motion Swervedriver, or some woozy strain of psychedelic slowcore. Dense, atmospheric swirls collide lazily with fierce squalls of distorted guitar, all anchored by mesmerizing, hypnorock rhythms and infused with bruised, brokenhearted melodies. –Andee Connors
Drag the halls!
That age-old adage, “It’s not a real Christmas party without drag queens” rings true. RuPaul’s Slay Belles might be the only reason to play Holiday music before the Thanksgiving turkey gets stuffed. With a handful of friends, some hilarious interludes and plenty of festive carols, RuPaul and company recorded the ultimate soundtrack for your cool Yule festivities. –Eric Shea
Full disclosure: This debut album may have hypnotized us into “World’s Funniest Comedian Randy Liedtke” fandom, but this charming comedy album still features sharp writing and delivers big laughs, whether Liedtke is organizing lunch dates with celebrities, getting laughs with his cell phone or offering a choice of punchlines he’s still working out. –Kelly Anneken
Zomby returns to techno’s roots
With shiny pop-EDM ruling the charts, it’s hard to remember a time when electronic music was synonymous with an experimental, punk ethos. London producer Zomby takes us back to those days on Let’s Jam!! with an infectious enthusiasm, offering four tracks of raw techno stomp and four of melodic and menacing downtempo. –Party Ben
The Most Powerful…
The trajectory of Farruko over the last five years closely mirrors the resurgence of reggaetón and música urbana since 2010. On Visionary, he continues to push himself stylistically. Hip-hop, reggae and dance production mingle with reggaetón bangers, grounded by Farruko’s solid lyricism. A sprinkling of English song titles and verses give a hint of bigger plans ahead. –Marcos Juarez
Rockabilly luminary drops a V-8 engine into Santa’s Sled.
Anyone pining for a tin of pomade in their stocking will dig The Brian Setzer Orchestra’s hot-rodded carols featured in Rockin’ Rudolph. “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” gets the jump, jive and swing treatment, while the sprawling orchestration of “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” sounds almost like Harry Connick. Jr. –Eric Shea