FIONA APPLE, Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Epic): ★★★★

Every print I left upon the track/ Has led me here/ And next year, it’ll be clear/ This was only leading me to that.”Unsentimental and sublimely intolerant of bullshit, Apple traces the development of her own voice. Her fragmented, relatable journey’s embellished with ear-opening chants, rhythmic shifts and homemade percussion, from navigating formative social traumas with the stormy “Shameika” (“I didn’t smile, because a smile always seemed rehearsed/ I wasn’t afraid of the bullies, and that just made the bullies worse”) through kinship with lovers of abusive exes (“Newspaper”), arriving at “Relay” wisdom earned: “I’d love to get up in your face/ But I know if I hate you for hating me/ I will have entered the endless race.”


IRREVERSIBLE ENTANGLEMENTS, Who Sent You? (Don Giovanni/International Anthem): ★★★
A blast of progressive jazz and spoken word from a band with roots in multiple cities. “At what point do we stand up? At the breaking point? At the point of no return?” Camae Ayewa (aka Philadelphia’s Moor Mother) demands to know during “The Code Noir/Amina” as saxophonist Keir Neuringer and trumpeter Aquiles Navarro duel angrily over bassist Luke Stewart and drummer Tcheser Holmes’ frenetic rhythms. It’s a defiant strut down streets riven by injustice, across five lengthy compositions that respond to chaos with creativity (“No Más,” “Blues Ideology”) and question the status quo in life and music.

HAZEL ENGLISH, Wake UP! (Polyvinyl Record Co.): ★★★
Dreamy ’60s-style pop bright with ringing guitars, harmonies, and sunny LA haze. The Aussie songwriter, now based in LA, worked with Angel Olsen producer Justin Raisen as well as Animal Collective producer Ben H. Allen and it shows, with smart, ear-pleasing arrangements kissed with reverb and cooing harmonies. They act as a tonic to the stubborn anxieties and desires given voice by the thrumming title track and the more introspective “Like a Drug” and previously released “Five and Dime.”

TAMIKREST, Tamotaït (Glitterbeat): ★★★★
The nomadic Saharan ensemble continue to advance the roiling “desert blues” hybrid — traditional West African folk fused with American rock and blues — with their fifth album. Balancing the percussive urgency of “Awnafin” and “Amidinin Tad Adouniya,” lead vocalist/guitarist and songwriter Ousmane Ag Mossa’s earthy vocals and lilting guitar patterns sound melodic notes of hope during standout tracks “Tihoussay” and revolution-themed “As Sasnan Hidjan”; the title, he says, translates as “hope for a positive change,” something direly needed in the exiled band’s native country of Mali and elsewhere.