This week, a king and queen of controversy drop new records to try and reclaim top status, two of Philadelphia’s finest put out new material, and an EP hits stores that’s named after one of Boston’s beloved neighborhoods.


1. Eminem – “Marshall Mathers LP 2″
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a full-length from everyone’s favorite Detroit rapper, and in that time, plenty of other MCs have declared themselves king. With tunes like “Rap God,” it’s clear that Eminem is out to reclaim his throne. First tastes of this record, like first single “Berzerk,” have been difficult to grasp but still very intriguing. Seems like classic Eminem.

2. Swearin’ – “Surfing Strange”
Philly pop-punks Swearin’ broke on the scene late last year with its self-titled debut. Returning with “Surfing Strange,” the band maintains equal parts singer-songwriter sentiment as it does community center-style recklessness. It gives the quartet a best-of-both-worlds appeal and establishes Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride as two awesome rising songwriters.

3. Melvins – “Tres Cabrones”
The experimental sludge-rock heroes are back with their 21st release, and it definitely doesn’t skimp on the weird or the heavy. Riddled with feedback and aggressive wails, “Tres Cabrones” delivers tunes that range from pit-openers like “City Dump” to bizarre takes like “In the Army Now.” It’s definitely not for everyone, but classic Melvins fans shouldn’t be disappointed.

4. M.I.A. – “Matangi”
One of the most interesting figures in music over the past decade, M.I.A. has always been ahead of the curve musically and unafraid to push the boundaries of censorship. While “Matangi” is less of a continuation than it is a new invention, the British-Sri Lankan rapper does flex her production muscles, throwing in a heavy mix of cultured beats, and spits some pretty crazy verses on tracks like “Only 1 U.”

5. Kurt Vile/Sore Eros – “Jamaica Plain EP”
Philadelphia songwriter Kurt Vile nailed it earlier this year with “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze,” but his work for the year isn’t done. “Jamaica Plain EP” is a much different side of Vile, as he teams up with Robert Robinson of western Massachusetts-based Sore Eros. The songs were all recorded in the early part of the millenium in Jamaica Plain when both men lived there. While much more ambient and experimental, there are hints of the Kurt Vile that many have come to love, and of course, there are local roots.

6. Connan Mockasin – “Caramel”
The stylings of New Zealand psych-popper Connan Mockasin may be an acquired taste but they certainly are inventive. The intrigue of Mockasin’s synth-y haze lies somewhere between the oddball lo-fi of Ariel Pink and the smooth falsetto R&B of Prince. There are moments of brilliance on “Caramel” and moments of utter confusion.

7. Cut Copy – “Free Your Mind”
The Australian electro-pop quartet has always been notable for making infectious dance music come alive with rock band synergy. “Free Your Mind” follows up 2010’s “Zonoscope” and moves everywhere from vintage ‘90s-style dance burners to more dark and menacing jams.