If anyone can claim Miriam Makeba’s mantle, it’s Rokia Traoré.

1_Rokia TraoreMali’s biggest export since Ali Farka Touré, Rokia Traoré has achieved a similar status of musical ambassador from the great continent of AfricaNé So is a smooth and funky album with grooves for days. It bubbles with West African traditions as well as hints of R&B and French pop. –Diego Gonzalez


Going Home

Joey + Rory’s2_JoeyRory Hymns was recorded last summer as Joey recovered from surgery for cancer. It debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Country chart as she faces a terminal diagnosis. Their voices echo the beautiful simplicity of love and home on this spiritual, bluegrass-infused collection. Here they share their most intimate moments with us. Our prayers are with them. –Rachel Whitney


The F**king Elephant in the room…

3_AFkingElepahntJersey duo A F**king Elephant mine similar territory as their sonic forebears in Lightning BoltDon CaballeroHellaNoMeansNo and Melvins, unleashing twisted tangles of grinding distorto-bass and loose-limbed, octopoidal drumming. But on Seven Inches those elements are pushed even further into the realms of WTF technical prog-metal and far-out, math-sludge head spin. –Andee Connors

Shoegaze darlings record for the first time in 20 years.

Slowdive4_Lush and RIDE graced fans with reunion tours in 2015, but Lush beat both bands in delivering new recordings. “Out of Control,” the single from their forthcoming EP Blind Spot veers from the overly pointed pop of 1996’s “Ladykillers” to recall a time when Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie produced them. –Eric Shea

Mavis Staples continues to do it her way, 66 years on.

5_Mavis StaplesThe soul legend gets a little help from her friends on Livin’ On A High Note with material written especially for her by Ben HarperNick CaveSon LittleNeko CasetUnE-yArDs and Aloe Blacc that is gracefully adapted by producer/guitarist M. Ward to fit her passionate, unembellished voice. –Michelle Solomon

Audri Nix sounds so nice on the beat.

6_Audri NixThe 21-year-old rapper/vocalist and San Juan, Puerto Rico native carved out a place for herself without a crew or a cosign. El Nuevo Orden, Vol.1 is a glimpse of the tremendous potential ahead, offering a wholly satisfying listen, grounded in bass, ample warm melodic texture and lyrics to go throughout. –Marcos Juarez

The final album: a beautiful legacy.

7_SVIIBAlejandra Deheza of On!Air!Library! and Benjamin Curtis of Secret Machines were long-time bandmates in School of Seven Bells. While battling lymphoma, Curtis kept recording between treatments/hospitalizations before passing away in 2013. Their new album SVIIB is the product of Deheza processing the loss of Curtis and creating a loving final artifact of their partnership. –Mat Bates

Shoegaze sludge supergroup boasts a rhythm section to die for.

8_Low Flying HawksFrom L.A. (by way of Mexico) comes brooding, slowcore, dream-doom power trio Low Flying Hawks, which counts among its membership Dale Crover (Melvins) and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle)! Kofuku is a mutant strain of heavy (indie) rock, rife with drowsy, downer dirges, moody metallic heft and hazy, psychedelic guitar swirl. –Andee Connors

Assassin’s Roots Equation

9. AssassinThe Theory of Reggaetivity proves Assassin is adept at crafting outstanding modern-roots without compromising the raw power we’ve come to expect from the dancehall star. He growls uplifting lyrics over rich riddims while illustrating the binary of reggae as a source of inspiration and entertainment in songs like “Feel Highrie” and “Stronger.” –Diego Herrera

Odd is the New Normal

10_Odd NosdamThirty-nine-year-old elder statesman of experimental hip hop and electronica Odd Nosdam (Ohio-born David Madson) has perhaps mellowed with age (unlike pals Boards of Canada, increasingly lost in their paranoid soundworld). After countless leftfield mixtapes and edgy remixes, new full-length Sisters is just straight-up gorgeous, balancing sampladelic intricacy with spacious grandeur—and some booming bass. –Party Ben


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