August 31, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

Animal Collective, Centipede Hz
While the Technicolor art-rockers flirted with accessibility on their woozily melodic 2009 disc Merriweather Post Pavilion, their follow-up is less immediate — and less controlled, too often trailing away into ambient sonic fuzz. But the band’s manic creativity can still dazzle, as on ”Father Time” and ”Wide Eyed,” a pair of psychedelic slacker-pop tracks as addictive as they are indefinable. BDarren Franich

Matchbox Twenty, North
Since their 12-times-platinum 1996 debut, Matchbox have continually tweaked and polished their big-tent sound. Here, they double down on faux-funky frippery, earnest piano balladeering, and singer Rob Thomas’ ”What’s a tousle-haired bro to do?” attitude — and in its own swerve-to-the-middle way, it mostly works. Ladies and gentlemen, the alt-rock Bon Jovi! B — Kyle Anderson

DJ Khaled, Kiss the Ring
The shouty rap ringmaster ropes in a better-than-average cache of MCs and producers on his sixth effort: Top-shelf heavyweights Rick Ross and Kanye West yield predictably great results (see standout ”I Wish You Would”), vets Nas and Scarface deliver a memorable collab, and young bucks Kendrick Lamar and producer Hit-Boy lend the album some fresh flavor. Kiss drags in the second half, but Khaled’s relentless yelling makes sure you’ll at least stay awake. BRay Rahman

Melissa Etheridge, 4th Street Feeling
Though the title nods to Dylan, Melissa Etheridge’s 12th album is totally Springsteen: With her signature chesty yelp and a bottomless bucket of Americana (cigarette-smoke blues on ”Rock and Roll Me,” toe-tapping back-porch bluegrass on ”Falling Up”), she consistently finds the darkness on the edge of Anytown, USA. B+Kyle Anderson

Two Door Cinema Club, Beacon
The sleek second album from the Irish trio — best known for last year’s spiky ”What You Know” and its accompanying hot-majorette video — tempers its galloping pop gait with frontman Alex Trimble’s Ben Gibbard-y confessionals. And at their best, tracks like ”Sleep Alone” and ”Wake Up” come off like a less grandstanding Killers — human and dancer. B+Ray Rahman

Busta Rhymes, Year of the Dragon
It’s no coincidence that Busta is putting out his best album of the 21st century just as the production tricks of his mid-’90s prime are coming back into vogue. Dragon is full of slow-riding neck-snappers like ”Do That Thing” and ”Sound Boy” that would have sounded at home on his 1996 debut. B+Kyle Anderson

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