The King Khan BBQ Show, Invisible Girl, (In the Red) – Doo-wop garage rock outfit the King Khan & BBQ Show could be the freaky offspring of Frankie Valli and the Ramones, and they’ve got the records (not to mention the semi-legendary live shows) to prove it. The Canadian duo’s latest album includes love ballads (“Third Ave”), get-up-and-dance numbers (“Do the Chop”) and even a track infused with bestial noises (“Animal Party”). Combining nostalgic melodies, surf guitars and edgy distortion, Invisible Girl would make both Frankie and Joey proud. — Hunter Fleetwood
Echo & the Bunnymen, The Fountain, (TBA) Lead singer Ian McCulloch has an ego to rival the Gallagher brothers, but with an album like The Fountain and indebted fans such as Coldplay, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Killers and the Flaming Lips, it’s hard to blame him for his lack of humility. The 11th studio release from Echo & the Bunnymen is arena-rock at its finest. Flames (or cell phones) will flicker throughout concert halls during the soulful, reflective tracks “Idolness of Gods” and “Forgotten Fields,” while heads will bop along to English-pop grooves “The Fountain” and “Do You Know Who I Am.” — H.F.
Arms, Kids Aflame, (Gigantic) New York indie rock vet Todd Goldstein, of the Harlem Shakes, pops out a solo project that, while prominently featuring guitar twangs and range-running warbles, refuses to settle on one sound, jumping between dance-driven tracks and pin-dropquiet folk. Goldstein’s styles run the gamut, but add up to an effervescent affair with a proper dose of gravity. “Oh sister, say a prayer for me,” he intones on the album highlight “Shitty Little Disco,” to which we say: Amen. — Foster Kamer
El Perro Del Mar, Love is not Pop, (The Control Group) In 2006, El Perro Del Mar, Sarah Assbring’s solo outfit, released a record brimming with beautiful songs distilled from melancholy. Assbring turned layered harmonies and instrumentals into depressing dirges (“God Knows” was the best of the bunch) that were described as Spector-esque. But compared to Love is not Pop, her over-produced third album, those two early records were relatively spare. With the exception of the mysterious “Better Love,” the mournful melodies that were Del Mar’s trademark are drowned out by the bass and percussion of her friend, dancehall producer Rasmus Hägg. Love may not be pop, but this album is; jettisoning the sad-sack act discards the very qualities that made us want to indulge El Perro in the first place. — Mimi Luse
Maps, Turning the Mind, (Mute) James Chapman, who goes by the stage name Maps, follows his acclaimed 2007 debut with a set of thoughtful, trippy space jams. Instead of transforming his melodic mental states into psychedelic snoozefests like some of his shoe-gazing elders (here’s looking at you, My Bloody Valentine and Spiritualized), Chapman injects each song with a shot of user-friendly indie pop. The result is a chemically balanced record that travels just as well on a walk to work as it would on a different kind of trip altogether. — Cayte Grieve
Malakai, Ugly Side of Love, (Domino Records) Two guys from gray-skied Bristol may seem an unlikely pair to turn out a debut record filled with sun-soaked, love-saturated beats, but we’ll take our happy where we can get it. Malakai, which is Hebrew for “angel,” have crafted a reggae-and-rock-influenced, libertine-friendly album that would be the perfect soundtrack to any feel-good summer rom-com. Ugly Side boasts some charmingly carefree tracks, including the beach-centric “Moonsurfin’,” which features the line, “You left your phones and moans behind and headed off for summer climes.” The perfect autumn escape. — Eiseley Tauginas
Harper Simon, Harper Simon, (Vagrant/Tulsi) Take the talented Harper Simon, add a troupe of big-time producers, throw in a banging band and then toss in a little help from the legendary Paul Simon — Harper’s dad — and the result is, unsurprisingly, an effortlessly engaging singer-songwriter debut. If at times the songs sound a bit similar, at least it’s all in the name of heartfelt folk. Lovelorn amateur guitarists will surely study the sheet music of “The Shine,” while “Shooting Star,” one of the album’s strongest tracks, is pure pop magic. — E.T.