Before I Awoke

[Tres, June 21]

Life's not easy for the most underrated rapper in L.A. A wistful dreaminess imbues Co$$'s debut, whether he's boasting of his prowess in the Exile-produced “Da Meanest” or bemoaning the struggle of the hustle in the title track. Over a beat singed with nostalgia, “Love Is” defies the stereotypical rap relationship advice to “toot it and boot it” by offering the startlingly adult outlook of losing a woman to “stupidity, mixed with immaturity.” The gifted lyricist has so much fun on the jazzy “Spaceman,” though, we're pretty sure most of those clouds have platinum linings.



[Kompakt, June 21]

The famed L.A. producer weaves an element of magic into every song on his latest album. “Farther and Fainter,” the gorgeously lush opening track, blankets the room with a heady musicality that refuses the traditional hard-edged definition of techno. He makes that trend a through line, even on metallic tracks or those more heavily laden with beats. And the midrecord highlight of “The Mess and the Magic” is all spell, no shambles. Essential listening for anyone with even a passing interest in house music.



[Graveface, June 21]

John Congleton's name should be familiar to any indie fan with a penchant for liner notes — the producer's C.V. reads like a Pitchfork reader's gushingly wet dream. After several quirky releases with the Paper Chase, Congleton now is trying a new, wordy persona as leader of the Nighty Nite, an intriguing (and satisfying) project influenced by John Cale and late-period Scott Walker but sounding very different from either. Three moody, complex originals of sprawling ambition, plus a reinvention of the Magnetic Fields' “Meaningless” as, yep, a lo-fi U2 anthem.


The Light of the Sun

[Warner Bros., June 21]

Just like the best you've ever had, the R&B singer takes her time warming up. While the splashier numbers come early, she settles into what she does best — bedroom anthems that find her shoring up her mind to resist the magnetic pull of his body — around “So Gone (What My Mind Says).” And she is feeling awfully sexy this time out. “Making You Wait” will steam up your windows, and the double team of “Until Then (I Imagine)” and “Missing You” will get you so twisted up in your bedsheets you might as well just leave the door unlocked for that lover coming over.

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