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Every month, our expert staff will bring you the best of what's new in our physical and digital collections.

Check out our music recommendations for May 2016!

Rachel Platten, Wildfire
Wildfire, Rachel Platten’s major label debut album, reveals that hiding under all that earnest intention is a savvy pop star itching to be heard. Growing up in Boston, Rachel recalls harmonizing with her family to finely crafted pop songs, from Sam Cooke to The Beatles. As a teenager, Rachel gravitated towards hip hop and female singer-songwriters. After finishing college, she immediately set out for New York's Greenwich Village. She struggled to get recognition for a few years, but now, it seems, is her time to shine in the spotlight. You can hear her whole album on Freegal.

Randy Houser, Fired Up
Randy Houser is a singer/songwriter from Mississippi. Like his contemporaries Trace Adkins and Luke Bryan, Randy specializes in what is known as “bro-country." That genre is basically country music influenced by hip hop, hard rock, and electronic music. It won’t play at the Grand Ole Opry, but you’re sure to hear it at NASCAR events. His latest album is Fired Up and you can stream it on Freegal.

2 Chainz, ColleGrove
Tauheed Epps, better known as 2 Chainz, is a rapper from Georgia. He’s been on the scene for almost 20 years, moving from label to label before founding his own, The Real University (T.R.U.). His latest release is actually a duet album with Lil Wayne, but because of ongoing legal issues only 2 Chainz is credited. The two engage in wordplay akin to a heavyweight boxing match, but you can tell that they are having a lot of fun. That is certainly evident on the album track "Bounce." Listen to it here.

Nevermen, Nevermen
The Nevermen are actually three frontmen—Adam Drucker, Mike Patton, and Tunde Adebimpe—who have been collaborating since 2009. It took seven years, but this "leaderless trio" has finally released their self-titled debut, and the result is an indie pop, post-grunge, industrial funk, rock-rap odyssey. It isn’t for everyone, but fans of the singers’ other bands (Faith No More and TV on the Radio) will certainly find a lot to enjoy here. Sound interesting? Listen to the whole album on Freegal.

Anthony Hamilton, What I'm Feelin'Anthony Hamilton, What I’m Feelin’
“Have you ever read an R&B obituary where R&B is pronounced dead?” Anthony Hamilton jokingly asks. The answer, according to Vibe magazine, is of course no. The Charlotte, North Carolina native is back with his fifth studio album, What I’m Feelin'. His voice, according to NPR, “is undeniably and unabashedly thick with Southern rasp and charm, passion overflowing every note he sings." The songs remain rooted in the unmistakable influence of the church, but the vibe is pure, alive R&B. You can hear the entire album on Freegal.

Birdy, Beautiful Lies
The daughter of a concert pianist, Birdy learned to play piano at the age of seven. At age 12, she won the Grand Prize in the UK talent contest Open Mic UK against 10,000 other competitors. Her commercial breakthrough came at 14, when she covered Bon Iver's "Skinny Love." Beautiful Lies, her third studio album, is already garnering raves stateside from the likes of Entertainment Weekly, who cite highlights such as "Keeping Your Head Up." Watch that song's video here.

Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered.
After winning five Grammy awards at this year’s ceremony, rapper Kendrick Lamar decided to release untitled unmastered., a compilation of demos from his previous album To Pimp a Butterfly, and it perfectly complements the live performance that was a highlight of the Grammys show. Kendrick continues to push boundaries by incorporating styles like free jazz, funk, and avant-garde with his lyrical social commentary. It is obvious that he is an artist at the peak of his creativity when even leftovers sound this good. Listen to “Untitled 1 & 2."

Weezer, Weezer (2016)
Since coming together in Los Angeles in 1992, the members of Weezer have gone from dorky alt-rock heroes to absentee cult figures to arena-filling megastars. Their tenth album is also their fourth self-titled album, and like the others it will be better known by the color of its cover, in this case "The White Album." It's been called an all-out Beach Boys parody, with song titles like “Endless Bummer” and “L.A. Girlz." There are plenty of synth-shimmering guitars, gooey double-tracked vocals, crashing drums, and Rivers Cuomo lyrics about Darwin, Sisyphus, and cumulonimbus clouds. In other words, it is classic Weezer. Listen to the single “King of the World."

Dream Theater, The Astonishing
After roughly three decades of redefining the parameters of hard rock and progressive heavy metal, Dream Theater has released their 26th album, The Astonishing. It is a rock opera set in a retro-futurist, post-apocalyptic dystopia ruled by medieval-style feudalism. Like any opera, it has a cast of characters and a fantastical plot. The heavy rock sound is accompanied by lush orchestrations and digital age bleeps, reminiscent of vintage Pink Floyd. They even made a mini-movie that you can watch here.

Anthrax, For All Kings
Nearly as much as Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer, Anthrax were responsible for the emergence of speed and thrash metal. Their 11th album, For All Kings, is sure to please their legions of fans. Lead singer Joey Belladonna's melodic voice has never sounded better, and the guitar attacks are as fast and heavy as ever. There are some songs that would fit on hard rock radio stations, but for the most part it is an album of full-on aggression. Get ready to bang your head when you stream the album from Freegal.