M.I.A. (John Shearer/WireImage.com)
Have we recovered from her last one yet? Her debut, "Arular," was a galvanizing hand grenade of dirty, South American beats, rebel politics and a non-stop supply of Diplo remixes. Now that she's played shows with Gwen Stefani and did her own tour of the global underground, she's returned with new tracks like the frantic village beat barrage "Bird Flu" and Baltimore Club-influenced "XR2." The rest is sure to be hot like fire.
Gabby Glaser, "Gimme Splash"
She was the quietly hot member of Luscious Jackson, rocking her side of the stage like one of the original "Charlie's Angels." And people forget how awesome Luscious Jackson could be. Her new songs retain that same dirty '70s love vibe, with full-fledged jams like "Spirit of Long Island" invoking images of Sly Stone and early Santana. "Balls Out" bashes like a long-lost Breeders tune. Solid.
Also ready to drop:
50 Cent, "Curtis" This is the big one, the summer popcorn blockbuster of hip-hop in the making. Does Fiddy still got it like that? Holla!
Mya, "Liberation" Hey, Mya's album comes out on the same day as M.I.A.'s album. That's awkward. Radio-friendly R&B with high gloss, anyone?
UGK, "Underground Kingz" After numerous release date changes, the Houston rap heroes come back hard today. At least that's what the label keeps telling us.
Art Brut, "It's A Bit Complicated" Sardonic UK art-rockers display both brains and brawn on this punchy follow-up to their brilliantly observant debut.
Velvet Revolver, "Libertad" More big rock band survivors doing what they can to live down their past legacies with Stone Temple Pilots and Guns 'N' Roses.
Justice, "Sign of the Cross"
Meet the only electronic band that matters right now, French dynamic duo Justice. They've completely ruled the underground dance floor worldwide with massive club anthems like their instant classic remix of Simian's "We Are Your Friends," the 2003 release that can still ignite a party. Their debut full-length finds them creating a hard, distorted mutant disco that bumps with the funk of early Daft Punk cut up in Aphex Twin's chop shop. The kiddie-powered "D.A.N.C.E." is already a nightlife staple, and bangers like "The Party" and "NewJack" are sure to follow suit. These guys want to dance you to death, and if you're not careful, they just might.
INTERPOL LEAD SINGER PAUL BANKS (Spencer Weiner/Los Angeles Times)
Interpol, "Our Love to Admire"
With two fantastic albums ("Turn On the Bright Lights," "Antics") already under their well-tailored belts, Interpol returns to prove that they've got what it takes to deliver under pressure. Advanced information has been scarce; a live show in Canada was the source of early leaks of songs "Pioneer to the Falls" (a stoic, downtempo dirge that's more early Cure, less Bauhaus) and "Heinrich Maneuver," a powerful blast of harmonizing guitars. "Mammoth" is just that, a hard-charging post-punk anthem. Do we have another winner from Interpol? Signs point to yes.
Also ready to drop:
St. Vincent, "Marry Me" Polyphonic Spree member and Sufjan Stevens tour buddy Annie Clark produces gorgeous and hypnotic dream-pop under this divine alter-ego.
Common, "Finding Forever" Chi-Town's rap iconturnedHollywood golden child goes soulful, with Kanye West and UK It-girl Lily Allen on board.
Smashing Pumpkins, "Zeitgeist" Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlain and two Pumpkins to be named later try to disarm long-suffering fans with the latest entry in the grunge-era comeback sweepstakes.
Mike Jones, "The American Dream" Apparently the "dream" here is making your cell phone number the hook on most of your Houston-bred hip-hop jams and blinding the world with that diamond grill.
ALSO EXPECTED THIS SUMMER:
KELLY CLARKSON (Lisa Rose/RCA)
Kelly Clarkson, "My December"
Ryan Adams, "Easy Tiger"
Chris Cornell, "Carry On"
Will.i.am, "Songs About Girls"
Check out the summer's hottest tours.
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