Tom Waits has the kind of voice that might scare the hell out of you if you hear him shouting outside at 3 am under your window, but that’s just part of his towering talent and dark charm. Bad As Me (ANTI-Records) is more than an album; it’s an all-engrossing psychological event.

So many of my fond memories contain Justice: racing around dark rural streets with “We Are Your Friends” blasting, drunken impromptu dance parties to “D.A.N.C.E.,” “Tthhee Ppaarrttyy” singalongs on dancefloors. † was a revolutionary album in mainstream electro-house and will sit on my harddrive till Christ himself returns.

The key word for the new album, Ceremonials, from Florence + The Machine is “anthemic.” This is true in almost every aspect of this disc. Producer Paul Epworth, fresh off creating hits for Adele’s “21” earlier this year, is back at it for Florence and he holds nothing back for these tracks. The album begins with “Only If For A Night” which soars to great heights with its chours and layered backing vocals. Next is the first single from the album, “Shake It Off,” which seems to begin a bit muddled with the an accompanyment of an organ but then breaks into something that would fit into a gospel record with a full choir.

Björk, perhaps the most sophisticated of musical banshees, returns this fall with Biophilia, her latest album since 2007’s Volta. The gimmick for Biophilia is that it’s billed as the world’s first iPad “app album,” meaning that you can buy a matching app for each song on the album. But that’s not all: Björk has promised installations, orange afros and special performances with musical instruments built in her tiny chamber of dreams. These include a gamelan and celesta portmanteau called a Gameleste, as well as a gravitational pendulum harp, and a badass tesla coil bass machine.

I remember, vaguely, the talk in Hanover High School when it became known that Ben Ruttner, a couple years younger than I, had found success as a DJ. Christened in the music world “B-Roc,” there was talk of opening for DJ Shadow and Beyonce. But these were the days of punk rock and Biggie and I turned my attention to more saccharine diversions. Flash forward to now: you can imagine my happy surprise when I discovered that Mr. Ruttner, along with James “JPatt” Patterson, was one of the two core members of the DJ duo the Knocks. He’s also the CEO of HeavyRoc music, which produced, among other successes, College’s “A Real Hero” from Drive. Between gold medalist Hannah Kearney and B-Roc, it should be clear that Hanover, NH has something good in the water.

Quebecois singer Coeur De Pirate, aka Beatrice Martin, just came out with a quality acoustic cover of The Weeknd’s song “Wicked Games.” It’s a refreshing contrast to the more rock-heavy sound we typically asosciate with The Weeknd – Martin gives it a rawer, bare-bones feel. It’s engaging enough that you end up surprised she only uses a piano as her entire accompaniment – honestly, it sounds like a Casio or, at best, a tinny standup. The track also represents one of her few English language songs; for the most part she sings in French. “Brutal Hearts,” a collaboration with Bedouin Soundclash released last year, was her first venture in English.

Tha Carter brand name has evolved into one of the most bulletproof in rap. Three-plus years, two forgettable albums and one eight-month prison sentence after the release of Tha Carter III, anticipation surrounding Lil’ Wayne’s fourth installation in the series rivals that of any other release in 2011. Tha Carter put Wayne on the map. C2 made him a superstar. And C3 solidified his place as “the best rapper alive” when it dropped. Does C4 see Weezy return to his 2008 Marshawn Lynch-type “beast mode” production?

Marc Ronson & The Business International’s 2010 LP, Record Collection, largely flew under the mainstream music biz’s radar. This is a shame and a surprise – to begin with, Ronson was the mastermind behind Amy Winehouse’s success with Back To Black. He’s also an objectively top-notch producer. You can see his influence on Winehouse when you compare her raw, unrefined footage to what came out of the studio: she wrote the music and the lyrics, but many argue that he was just as responsible for the retro-soul Amy Winehouse “sound” so many people fell in love with.

Lenny Kravitz has always composed outside the box. In 1993, his third studio album asked “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” and listeners largely did: it became his first Top 20 album on the United States Billboard 200. On Black and White America, Kravitz’s ninth studio release (Roadrunner/Atlantic), his skill for mashing styles has been honed to the degree where you can’t tell exactly when within a song the transition happens; you just know the coupling’s happened. And no matter what direction he goes in, you’re usually going to get the best and most authentic parts of what any given style has to offer.

The whole world is wondering (or should be wondering): “What’s coming out of Rio?” A better question might be, “what hasn’t been coming out of Rio?” While the city – Brazil’s second largest, after Sao Paulo – does not possess the deep, immediate Afro-Brazilian musical roots one more often associates with Bahia, its music is unmistakably grounded in those same Afro-Portuguese strains that define the country’s musical DNA. I could spend a lifetime talking about Bahian genres – really, they’re more like the genres of Brazil itself due to the infusion of African strains in its music – but today let’s focus on Rio as of late. Axe, maracatu, and candomble will have to wait for their own AudioCred spotlight.

damon2 Damon Albarn Collaborating With Congolese Musicians In New Project Musician and producer Damon Albern has had a varied past couple years. He’s seen the end of the Gorillaz franchise, he’s recorded, mixed, and produced an impromptu album – The Fall – entirely on the fly while touring the US, all using an iPad. The result was uneven, but compelling – certainly a worthwhile experiment in narrative LP form. He’s just completed, with director Rufus Norris, an English language opera entitled Doctor Dee about John Dee, Elizabeth I’s adviser, scientist, and purported magician. His orchestrations betray what seems to be an emerging career arc – the use of instrumentation from several continents. Its main players include the kora, a Malian string instrument most notably played by Toumani Diabate, harmonium, viol, theorbo, organ, drum set, and acoustic guitar. The Guardian called it ”elegant and full of a sense of warmth and intimacy.”

The luxurious folks over at Nowness were kind enough to host the video for Tom Vek’s single “Aroused.” The clip, which features hip twenty-somethings dancing and going to third base with cigarettes, was directed and conceived of by Saam Farahmand. In Vek’s words: