21 Savage, "American Dream"
21 Savage may have built his early fame on a series of blockbuster guest spots, but 2018’s I Am > I Was established him as a rapper entirely worthy of attention on his own. Quite a bit has happened in the years following, with 21 becoming embroiled in a high-profile immigration case and releasing a joint album with Drake since then, but on first listen, American Dream proves he’s lost none of his sharpness during the interval, with memorable yet unobtrusive guest spots from Young Thug, Doja Cat and Summer Walker helping get 2024 hip-hop off to a strong start. -- Andrew Barker
Trevor Horn, "Echoes – Ancient & Modern"
The beautiful thing about being Trevor Horn in 2023 is that, having accrued an insane back catalog of work as a musician, producer, and songwriter, the world is your oyster. In fact, he literally once produced a song called “The World Is My Oyster,” so if there’s anyone who knows something about that sort of thing, it’s Horn. This is all a slightly long-winded way of saying that if Trevor Horn in 2023 wants to release albums filled with cover songs performed by slightly unlikely individuals, then he damned well will, and we might as well just sit back any enjoy them. Fortunately, there is much to enjoy – or at the very least be amused by – on his latest LP, which finds Iggy Pop crooning “Personal Jesus,” Rick Astley tackling “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” Seal singing “Steppin’ Out,” and Marc Almond belting out “Love is a Battlefield,” just to name a few. You’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s a must-own, but we hereby declare it to at least be a must-investigate. -- Will Harris
Buffalo Tom, “Helmet”
Buffalo Tom are back in the best sense with “Helmet.” Bill Janovitz is all jangly guitar and force- of-nature vocal with a looping, muscular backbeat courtesy of Chris Colbourn and Tom Maginnis that belies the seriousness of the lyrics. It’s a signal that even after all this time in the alt-rock canon, Buffalo Tom are letting the songs speak for themselves and we’re most assuredly listening. -- Amy Hughes
"The Book of Clarence: Original Soundtrack"
There's plenty to get excited about on this soundtrack to Jeymes Samuel's new Lakeith Stanfield-starring biblical comedy: a meeting of the minds between Lil Wayne and reggae luminaries Buju Banton and Shabba Ranks; a verse from Kid Cudi pondering diving grace; and a lovely track from Jorja Smith. But it's hard to look past the album's centerpiece: a nine-minute psychedelic soul jam featuring the ever-elusive R&B genius D'Angelo, and an almost spoken-word-style verse from Jay-Z. "I Want You Forever" represents the first time those two giants in their respective fields have collaborated on a track, and it doesn't disappoint. -- A.B.