Album: “Welcome Oblivion”

Grade: B

The title track of How to Destroy Angels’ debut album, “Welcome Oblivion” (Columbia), comes tantalizingly close to the return to industrial dance pop that fans of Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor have sought for years. Massive and thudding at the low end, pretty and synthy at the top, with Mrs. Reznor, Mariqueen Maandig, handling the vocals, “Welcome Oblivion” shows how much Reznor influenced EDM and how easily he could take it over. He won’t, of course, following that song with “Ice Age,” which sounds like “Hurt” revisited by a demented Mumford & Sons, and lots of sweeping, icy instrumentals. The guessing continues.

— Glenn Gamboa, Newsday


Album: “Woman” (Innovate Leisure/Loma Vista)

Grade: A

The definition of Rhye: the electronic Sade.

Rhye, the new duo made up of musicians Mike Milosh and Robin Hannibal, channel the veteran soul singer on their debut, “Woman.” The album is full of smooth and soothing vocals on top of beats that are dreamy and dance-y. The 10-track set is electronic-flavored silky R&B and plays like a warm jazz session, as Milosh sings softly about love and life. He kind of sounds like a lady. And we love it.

It’s hard to resist “Woman,” especially songs like “Last Dance,” which is both bold and jamming with lyrics like: “Tell me lies and lullabies, but don’t tell me to change.”

This here is a winner.

— Mesfin Fekadu, Associated Press

Ashley Monroe

Album: “Like a Rose” (Warner Bros.)

Grade: A

“You Ain’t Dolly [And You Ain’t Porter],” a single from Ashley Monroe’s album, “Like a Rose,” finds her trading tongue-in-cheek lines with country star Blake Shelton on a witty duet soaked in Nashville traditions.

Despite what the lyrics contend, Monroe shares many traits with Dolly Parton. She comes from a struggling family in East Tennessee. She sings in a fetching, tender-yet-strong warble. She writes story-songs steeped in real-life drama, yet with a sunny underpinning. And she has a natural, down-home charisma that shines through on everything she does.

A member of the Pistol Annies, Monroe’s big-name supporters are many: Vince Gill co-produced her album and she’s already collaborated with Jason Aldean, Ronnie Dunn, Wanda Jackson, Ricky Skaggs, Jack White, Dwight Yoakam and the rock band Train. No wonder “Like a Rose” has the audacious sound of a newcomer whose talent already is in full bloom.

— Michael McCall, Associated Press

Madeleine Peyroux

Album: “The Blue Room” (Decca/Universal)

Grade: B

After performing mostly original songs on her last two albums, Madeleine Peyroux returns as a masterful interpreter of classic songs. Her longtime producer Larry Klein felt Peyroux, whose music blends jazz, blues, country and pop, would be well suited to reimagine Ray Charles’ landmark “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” that broke down musical and racial barriers.

Half of the 10 tunes — including “Born To Lose,” “You Don’t Know Me” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” — are from Charles’ two 1962 albums. But Peyroux’s rich tone, emotional depth and expressive story-telling — enhanced by Vince Mendoza’s refined string arrangements and the sensitive accompaniment of keyboardist Larry Goldings and guitarist Dean Parks — seem more evocative of Patsy Cline’s crossover country-pop recordings from the same era.

Charles J. Gans, Associated Press

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