A weekly roundup of must-hear music from The Times staffers. This week's picks include the latest from young R&B singer Tinashe, as well as dance artist-to-watch Avalon Emerson and the most recent bid by a Jonas brother to enter adulthood.
Tinashe, "Nightride" (RCA)
Los Angeles R&B singer Tinashe's career has been on a graceful rise since "2 On," her collaboration with rapper Schoolboy Q, hit in 2014. Her new mixtape, "Nightride," was two years in the making and is a teaser for her upcoming studio album "Joyride."
As the double-entendre title implies, "Nightride" mixes themes of both cruising and loving, and does so through tracks produced by notables including the-Dream, Boi 1da and Dev Hynes. On opener "Lucid Dreaming," the 23-year-old sings of "moving from state to state," and across its 15 tracks "Nightride" does just that. She sings of "leaving the city at dawn" to chase good weather during "C'est la Vie," and of walking in the snow and having "ice in my head 'cause I'm coldish" during "Soul Glitch." — Randall Roberts
Avalon Emerson, "Narcissus in Retrograde" (Spectral Sound)
Avant-garde techno rarely yields crossover superstars, but Avalon Emerson may become one soon. The young Berlin-via-San Francisco producer (and computer-coding autodidact) just released a breakthrough EP, "Narcissus in Retrograde." It takes simple tools – pulse-quickening sub-bass, melancholy synth chords – and wrings more emotion and "what-the-heck-was-that" moments than most producers find in a year of singles.
Her work is catchy enough for big stages but with its thoughtful virtuosity and rejection of tech-bro sterility, it's political enough to stand firm in these darkening times. — August Brown
DNCE, "DNCE" (Republic)
Since the breakup of their squeaky-clean brother act in 2013, Joe and Nick Jonas have been locked in a battle to see who can leave more of their boyhood behind.
Last year Joe seemed to be winning with "Cake by the Ocean," the suggestive debut single by his new funk-pop group DNCE. But then Nick put out an album with a song called "Bacon" that's not really about breakfast. So now Joe's back again with DNCE's first full-length, and this time he's dispensing with metaphor altogether: "I wanna be naked with you," he sings, "We'll leave our clothes on the floor, put a sock on the door." Any questions? — Mikael Wood