This Month's Best New Music

A ranked selection of notable new albums we heard in October, by pop music critic Chris Richards. Read more/listen here: http://wapo.st/1MwIAWF
  1. 1.
    Kelela, “Hallucinogen”
    The quiet storm surges into the 21st century through the immaculate voice, expert phrasing and inventive harmonies of this woman, whose new six-song EP contains the most vivid R&B to surface this year.
  2. 2.
    Protomartyr, “The Agent Intellect”
    As if recorded in the rubble of the United States’ collapsed rock-and-roll capital, the third album from this excellent Detroit post-post-punk outfit offers a coughed up, deadpan humanity we haven't really heard before.
  3. 3.
    Selena Gomez, “Revival”
    This month’s prize for Best Album by an All-Grown-Up Apprentice to Barney the Dinosaur was supposed to go to Demi Lovato, but then Gomez swooped in with these nuanced pop baubles about burned hearts, second tries and life on the high road.
  4. 4.
    Joanna Newsom, “Divers”
    If you believe in listening as an act of surrender — to strange voices, to rushes of unexpected information, to commonly held notions of beauty gently twisted into something else — Newsom’s best and newest album of neo-parlor music is for you.
  5. 5.
    Janet Jackson, “Unbreakable”
    There are three truly terrific songs here: the ecstatic title track; a disco homage to her late brother titled “Broken Hearts Heal”; and a barely-there ballad, “After You Fall.” The rest is hummable humdrum from a former innovator, but it’s still graceful and alert in a way that this year’s Madonna album was not.
  6. 6.
    Alex G, “Beach Music”
    The songs Alex Giannascoli pens presumably in his Philadelphia bedroom already sound like inverted echoes from some bizarro-’90s Pacific Northwest. But when he sings, “Don’t make me hurt you,” in a creepy-wimp falsetto, that’s when things truly flip inside out.
  7. 7.
    Martin Courtney, “Many Moons,” and Alex Bleeker and the Freaks, “Country Agenda”
    CSNY. Wu-Tang. Real Estate? The members of this breezy New Jersey rock group seem to make as much fine music apart as they make together these days, and Courtney’s shimmering solo debut and Bleeker’s aptly titled “Country Agenda” are both welcome additions to the band’s extended discography.
  8. 8.
    White Widows Pact, “True Will”
    Over the course of 10 tracks, this Brooklyn metal quintet sounds as if it can’t decide whether it would rather pummel or swing. So it does both. Expect bruises.
  9. 9.
    Heroes Are Gang Leaders, “The Avant-Age Garde I Ams of the Gal Luxury”
    Come for the shouted words of D.C.-raised poet Thomas Sayers Ellis. Stay for the pliant touch of saxophonist James Brandon Lewis. And the bass work of Luke Stewart. And all of the left turns from vocalist Margaret Morris. And the cool cameos from Thurston Moore and Lydia Lunch.
  10. 10.
    Kranium, “Rumors”
    This New York-based reggae singer is honing a weird kind of stealth on his debut, singing slippery dance-hall songs in a voice so sleek it’s as if he’s trying to vanish inside them.