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Albums: July 29, 2011

Reviews of new releases by Joss Stone, 311, and more

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Joss Stone, LP1
The 24-year-old soulstress-turned-sometime actress (Showtime’s The Tudors) returns with her fifth album. After 2009’s overproduced Colour Me Free!, she’s back to the smoky cellar blues that first made her a sensation as a teen; ”Drive All Night,” with its chilled-out jazz backbeat, is a standout among her sultry tales of love. BBrad Wete

Brandy & Ray J, A Family Business
This companion to the R&B siblings’ reality show takes an expansive view of the family’s talent base. (Skip the treacly kiddie-soul jam by Brandy’s daughter.) Fortunately, Ray J’s ”Turnin’ Me On” bolsters Business with a booming Eurodance groove. C+Mikael Wood

311, Universal Pulse
Like Phish with a fuzzbox, 311 use their reggae-metal tunes as jumping-off points for exploratory jams at their shockingly well-attended live shows. No hooks on their 10th album are big enough to snag newbies, though melancholy anthem ”Weightless” comes closest. B-Kyle Anderson

Imelda May, Mayhem
The arse-kicking Irish rockabilly revivalist’s latest is ready-made for Quentin Tarantino’s next soundtrack, mashing Gene Vincent with shuffling jump blues and jazzy burlesque. BJoe Lynch

MellowHype, BlackenedWhite
The debut LP from Odd Future’s tag team Hodgy Beats and Left Brain is a little less horrorcore-ish than the villainous sci-fi set that breakout member Tyler, the Creator released in May. Still, cuts like ”64” and ”Deaddeputy” prove that they too enjoy lyrically attacking everything in their way. BBW

Ronnie Milsap, Country Again
The title of the Nashville legend’s new disc suggests a return to roots following recent forays into gospel and the Great American Songbook. Yet Country Again actually peaks with ”If You Don’t Want Me To (The Freeze),” a Doobies-worthy white-soul gem. BMW

Little Dragon, Ritual Union
Straddling the line between slinky funk and outsider electronica, the Swedes’ third LP is full of pheromone-drenched surprises: It’s ambient R&B for restless nights. B+JL