Best Albums to Stream Now: 'Black Panther,' MGMT and more - Rolling Stone
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10 New Albums to Stream Now: ‘Black Panther,’ MGMT and More Rolling Stone Editors’ Picks

Kendrick Lamar’s musical vision for ‘Black Panther,’ MGMT’s return to their roots, Franz Ferdinand’s ascension and more albums to stream now

Various Artists, Black Panther: The Album
The Kendrick Lamar-helmed soundtrack to Marvel Studios’ latest blockbuster features K-Dot collaborations with SZA, Travis Scott and The Weeknd, as well as appearances by Khalid, 2 Chainz, Future and Top Dog Entertainment crew members Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock. “At first, [Lamar] was just going to do a few songs for the film, and then he came in and watched quite a bit of the movie, and the next thing I know, they were booking a studio and they were going at it,” Black Panther director Ryan Coogler told NPR. “Hats off to him and his production team – they made some really great songs,” he added. 
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MGMT, Little Dark Age
“MGMT are back to their roots on Little Dark Age,” Jon Dolan writes about the blog-beloved duo’s fourth album, “with concise tunes built from cushy keyboard beats and cute, kiting melodies. … But there’s a welcome new wrinkle here: ‘She Works Out Too Much’ and ‘TSLAMP’ (a.k.a. ‘time spent looking at my phone’) are funny, bemusedly cranky parodies of modern screen-obsessed solipsism.”
Read Our Review: MGMT Rediscover the Electric Feel for Little Dark Age
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Franz Ferdinand, Always Ascending
The debonair Scots’ fifth album is “a return to form the band never really lost, and if the quiet bits drag, the wit’s sharper than ever,” writes Will Hermes. 
Read Our Review: Franz Ferdinand Return and the Dapper Crew Wants to Dance
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Dashboard Confessional, Crooked Shadows
Chris Carrabba’s first Dashboard Confessional album in eight-plus years “hews to familiar formulas of Dashboard dramatics, cleverly clad in contemporizing pop production,” writes Jessica Hopper. “Carrabba’s lyrical focus has evolved some in his time away, having disregarded the diaristic ‘I’ for a unified ‘we,’ yet emo’s heroic paternalism is still present – he’s saving, he’s dedicated, he won’t let the love die. ‘I’m always going to be/About us,’ he sings on ‘About Us.’ His pledges of allegiance to his marriage are identical to the ones he makes to the scene.”
Read Our Review: Dashboard Confessional, Emo Icon, Makes Stadium-Size Return
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Brian Fallon, Sleepwalkers
The Gaslight Anthem frontman, whose revitalized band hits the festival circuit this summer in honor of their breakthrough The ’59 Sound turning 10, adds some soul to his sound on his second solo album. “Everyone always says, ‘We don’t want to be pigeonholed.’ But sometimes your pigeonhole is a great place to be,” Fallon tells Rolling Stone. “I would say that Dylan’s got his pigeon – this is what Dylan does and no one does this except for him. Grunge became Pearl Jam’s pigeonhole. They overtook it, you know? At the end of the day you can’t reinvent yourself past a point, because you are you, and there are things that are inherently you that are always going to be there.”
Read Our Feature: Brian Fallon on New Solo Album Sleepwalkers, Gaslight Anthem Reunion
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Palm, Rock Island
Bringing together candy-floss vocal melodies, stop-start rhythms and contorted riffs into a cohesive – let alone catchy – whole is a tall order, but this Philadelphia foursome does so in dazzling fashion. Their second record is an avant-pop gem that channels the exploratory spirit of the Elephant 6 Collective’s most out-there offerings into songs that shape-shift yet keep their hooks front and center. On “Heavy Lifting,” vocalist-guitarists Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt’s crystalline riffs accentuate their sweet harmonies, then fully take over and wring a dance party out of the chaos. “Dog Milk” uses electronic handclaps to tether its sun-dappled bliss to Earth. Rock Island blends the sublime and the jagged in a surprising, jubilant way. Maura Johnston
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Son Lux, Brighter Wounds
In the decade since composer-producer-bandleader Ryan Lott began recording as Son Lux, the project has expanded substantially, bringing on new members (guitarist Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang) and turning its already-widescreen sound into something completely enveloping. Son Lux’s fifth record came together in the aftermath of Lott becoming a father and losing a family member to cancer, and the lyrics on Brighter Wounds search for answers about life’s big questions amidst resplendent, headphone-worthy musical beds: “Weren’t we beautiful once?” Lott wails over the icy, swooping strings of “All Directions”; “Labor” adorns Lott’s quivering musings on mortality with Bhatia’s guitar squiggles and a warmly reflective choir; and the tumbling drum loop propelling “Surrounded” gives its existential crisis a careening-toward-inevitability jolt. Maura Johnston 
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Tal National, Tantabara
Nigerian crew Tal National play rollicking, dizzying, high-octane grooves with the joie de vivre of afrobeat and highlife, but have a hard-rocking polyrhythmic tumble reminiscent of experimental rock bands like Battles, Horse Lords and Tortoise. Their third album is their fiercest yet, full of shouts and cries and ripping desert-blues guitar solos. From a hot-sounding drumkit, jittery hi-hat explosions burst like the Police, Hella or the Time’s “777-9311.” Christopher R. Weingarten
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Various Artists, We Out Here
Forty years ago, rising U.K. improvisers like John McLaughlin and Dave Holland had to cross the Atlantic to get their jazz bona fides. But as this comp proves, a new generation of Londoners are turning that city into its own jazz destination. Much like the fabled West Coast Get Down sessions that yielded Kamasi Washington’s The Epic and a string of related releases, We Out Here is collective statement, with players such as saxist-flutist Nubya Garcia, drummer Moses Boyd, pianist Joe Armon-Jones and reed player Shabaka Hutchings – the album’s musical director – popping up on various tracks. There’s also a shared aesthetic: a vision of jazz as something lush and approachable. Insistent grooves and soulful melodies drive standout tunes like Garcia’s “Once” and Ezra Collective’s “Pure Shade,” which can suggest classic Blue Note sides re-outfitted for the club, while Boyd’s “The Balance” and Armon-Jones’ “Go See” skillfully blend acoustic and electronic textures. Other pieces, like Kokoroko’s sublimely chill Afrobeat closer “Abusey Junction” and Triforce’s sultry post-fusion guitar workout “Walls,” show that for this crew, jazz is more open-ended vibe than hand-me-down sound. Hank Shteamer
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Lea Bertucci, Metal Aether
New York composer Lea Bertucci mixes her cyclic alto sax playing with tape manipulation. Her second release for NNA Tapes mixes gorgeously shimmering Chatham-esque minimalism (“Patterns for Alto”); cavernous, dissonant squeakscapes (“Accumulations”); and high-pitched drones and hissing noise (“Sustain and Dissolve”). Christopher R. Weingarten
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