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by Linda Ryan

May 17, 2014

New Release Sampler, 5/13/14

by Linda Ryan  |  May 17, 2014

We have so much new music this week, it'll make your head spin! Michael Jackson's demos have been given the old-school disco treatment (think Daft Punk) on Xscape, with mixed results. Electro-funk duo Chromeo's White Women is yet another flashback to the '70s (again, Daft Punk), and we love the effervescent pop of "Jealous (I Ain't With It)." And it's officially time to get pumped up for the World Cup, with its official album now out, highlighted by Pitbull's "We Are One (Ole Ola)," featuring Jennifer Lopez and Brazil's Claudia Leitte. For some more big beats, check out Bay Area rapper Iamsu!, whose Sincerely Yours features 2 Chainz, Too Short and Wiz Khalifa, among others, and is full of fat, fuzzy beats that'll make your teeth rattle. Elsewhere, country music lovers will want to give Rascal Flatt's Rewind a listen, and music fans looking for some more uplifting sounds should check out Tori Amos' Unrepentant Geraldines or Michael W. Smith's Sovereign, both inspiring -- albeit in entirely different ways. We've also got new singles from Tiesto, Porter Robinson and Rixton, to name a few. Hit play to sample all this music and more, and read on for album reviews of our top five must-hear new releases:

Various Artists, One Love, One Rhythm - The Official 2014 FIFA World Cup Album
Like the global soccer championship itself, the official album of the 2014 World Cup features some of music's most valuable players. Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Brazilian singer Claudia Leitte lead the lineup with the catchy "We Are One (Ole Ola)," while Carlos Santana, Wyclef, Avicii and Alexandre Pires team up for "Dar Um Jeito (We Will Find a Way)." Along the way are tracks from Shakira, Ricky Martin and Aloe Blacc; bilingual dance pop songs with a Carnaval-in-the-stadium vibe; the Isley Bros.' sexy bossa-soul version of "It's Your Thing"; and Bebel Gilberto and Lang Lang's remake of "Tico Tico." -- Judy Cantor-Navas

Michael Jackson, Xscape
Let the critics fuss over Xscape and its relevance in the MJ canon. Does it have any decent songs? Yes, to a point. Timbaland's executive production of the late King of Pop's sundry demos makes Xscape sound like an addendum to his and Justin Timberlake's albums -- call it The 20/20 Experience 2.5 -- and sure enough, J.T. pops up on "Love Never Felt So Good." Neo-disco girds "Loving You," and "Slave to the Rhythm" is vintage Timbo twerk (if only Missy were on it). The title track finds Jacko brain-deep in paranoia, and we're not sure what a "Blue Gangsta" is. -- Mosi Reeves

Tori Amos, Unrepentant Geraldines
After releasing the art song sets Night of Hunters and Gold Dust in 2011 and '12, respectively, Tori Amos returns with Unrepentant Geraldines, an album that finds the singer-songwriter marrying her love of classical music with compositions more firmly rooted in pop. In terms of scope and ambition, the record actually recalls her Lilith Fair-era classics Under the Pink and Boys for Pele. This is particularly true of the ornate "Trouble's Lament" and "Rose Dover," the latter representing Amos' successful fusion of modern cabaret-folk (CocoRosie, Josephine Foster) and Judy Collins-style balladry. -- Justin Farrar

Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music
The title is a nod to the genre-bending Ray Charles classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, but Simpson is playing with us: There isn't anything modern about this album! If you're one to think "they don't write 'em like that anymore," you'll especially appreciate this. Should his deep, Waylon-like voice fail to make your knees melt on "Turtles All the Way Down," then take a listen to the way he channels Kris Kristofferson in his writing style, or the way he turns When in Rome's synth-pop hit "The Promise" into a dark, moody country song. This is one of the best country releases of 2014. -- Linda Ryan

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Days of Abandon
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are still time-jumping. They've followed their fizzy-fuzzy Slumberland tribute of a debut and Smashing Pumpkins-influenced follow-up Belong with Days of Abandon, which marries John Hughes-style '80s drama-pop with early '90s shoegaze and the clean-washed guitar textures of sophisti-pop, as spotless as quiet storm or jazz fusion. This means it's a success -- try the Katrina and the Waves-style bounce of "Kelly" or the massed-chorus coda of "Coral and Gold." Somehow they're still finding niches to carve in anachronistic, if well-trodden, territory. -- Dan Weiss

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