Unsurprisingly, this week features some solid Florence + The Machine and Kendrick hype; two albums to be on the look out for as 2015’s most anticipated releases continue to hit full force.

Headphones

Upon the recommendation of a friend, I checked out Headphones — it was love at first listen. Their one and only, self-titled album is comprised of three simple elements: synths, drums, and vocals; however, utilized in an unconventional manner. The synths are campy; the drums, loud; the vocals, yearning. Even still, it all comes together nicely—exceptionally so, in fact. Few albums can captivate an audience as quickly as Headphones does. – Elias J. Tracy

Florence + The Machine

After a long hiatus, Florence + The Machine’s newest single brings back the soulful voice we’ve missed. The song takes its time to work up to a classic rock and roll, almost angrily separating the intense vocals. The group echoes back to their album Lungs with heavy drums and a heavily backed melody. The chorus unleashes every aspect of Florence’s talent, with her signature “oh”s reaching every note perfectly and deeply. If any indication for their upcoming album, Florence and the Machine is departing a little more into rock and a little less into pop. – Lizzie Porter

Vladimir Martynov (as performed by The Kronos Quartet)

After seeing the Kronos Quartet Tuesday night in Krannert I was truly inspired. The quartet sat in a dark theatre with only lights on their music stand while performing early 20th century music with World War I film playing in the background. The intensity all came to a conclusion as they played the “Beatitudes” for their encore, completely encapsulating the audience. The Russian composer, Vladimir Martynov, wrote this tranquil piece for voice and later arranged a string version for the Kronos Quartet. And I have difficultly listening to anything else. – Maddy Marsan

Sonic Youth

“Tunic (Song For Karen)” is Sonic Youth’s haunting tribute to the late, great Karen Carpenter. Kim Gordon sings (or speaks, rather) from Carpenter’s perspective as she says her last goodbyes. The band’s iconic, often off-kilter tuning and instrumentation compliments Gordon wonderfully, and the end result is a mesmerizing elegy to a musician who left us far too soon. – Christine Pallon

Petite Noir

This groove-soul epic from South African artist Petite Noir sounds ethereal and uplifting without really resolving any of its central conflicts. Singer Yannick Ilunga sounds like TV on the Radio crooner Tunde Adebimpe’s doppleganger. He stretches out his formidable vocal range over a tumbling mix of shuttered guitars, swirling synthscapes and breakbeat drums. The titular chess is being played between the two lovers Ilunga inhabits throughout the song, switching between falsetto and baritone, between girl and boy, arguing with himself until the two finally come together with massive choruses pleading to “go back” to before the mind games started. – Justin Kamp

Kendrick Lamar

Conflicted between a (finally) imminent Death Grips record and Kendrick Lamar’s long-anticipated follow-up dropping close to each other, I have to give the edge to the latter based on how little we’ve heard from Kendrick outside of a couple singles and his still untitled track debuted on Colbert last December. Whether To Pimp a Butterfly sticks to ‘s old-school Compton-rooted beats or forms its own sense of production, I can only hope spiritual successors to tracks like “The Art of Peer Pressure” make the cut. We know that Kendrick’s dipped his fangs in some venom on this record with “The Blacker the Berry,” but if the album features tracks that have both musical and lyrical duality like “The Art of Peer Pressure” – a track that at one point satirizes the “high life” hip hop of the early 90s only to delve into Kendrick’s teenage struggles with drug use and theft – To Pimp a Butterfly very well may be able to live up to and surpass the hype. – Austin Gomez

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