May 31, 2010 12:00 PM

Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots |

ROCK

Roaring back with their first all-new album since 2001-as if lead singer Scott Weiland’s stint fronting Velvet Revolver never happened-Stone Temple Pilots get our early pick for comeback of the year. The disc’s opening track and first single, the No. 1 rock hit “Between the Lines,” leaves no doubt that they’ve got their mojo back. A swaggering stomper that revives the glory days of grunge, it boasts a killer lyric that nods to Weiland’s struggles with substance abuse: “You always were my favorite drug/ Even when we used to take drugs.” There’s plenty more to hook you, from the jangle-pop sweetness of “Cinnamon” to the psychedelic spaciness of “First Kiss on Mars.”

Debi Nova

Luna Nueva |

LATIN POP

This Costa Rican singer landed a prime spot on Dancing with the Stars last month, performing her Shakira-lite single “Drummer Boy.” That hip-gyrating move aside, Nova’s bilingual debut is more breeze than bump on tracks like the lilting, Brazilian-kissed “Don’t Wanna Forget.”

Janelle Monae

The ArchAndroid |

CRITIC’S CHOICE

ALT-R&B

Coming off like a cross between Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and a fembot member of OutKast, Janelle Monae makes an audacious, genre-defying debut. With a vision that is cinematic in scope, she creates a futuristic world, from the Princess Leia-inspired overture to the nine-minute Barbarella-meets-Bond closer, “BaBopByeYa.” If that sounds like a wild stretch of the imagination, well, it is. But Monae-a protegee of both Diddy and OutKast’s Big Boi (who appears on the funk workout “Tightrope”)-backs up this epic fantasy with some thrilling music that embraces the inner freak in all of us.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Locked Inside,” a mind- and-booty-freeing jam

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