Fresh Cuts: The sweeter side of Lemonade and the sensual vocal stylings of Laurel Halo

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Take a dip: Lemonade

This week in music sees new sights, sounds, and surprises from some of 2012's most promising players. From San Francisco to New York to France, these bright young things bring the heat and the beat.

Lemonade: Diver (True Panther Sounds)

The San Francisco-Brooklyn trio's highly anticipated sophomore album Diver is a refreshing plunge into R&B sensibilities and tropical splashes. With new videos online and in the works -- shooting just finished for second single "Softkiss" -- the boys are gearing up for a summer tour with LE1F in support of their latest effort. 

A rave siren signals the start of Diver. Warm and welcoming crescendos soon follow, courtesy of lead track "Infinite Style," and you're hooked. The next 40 minutes is a languorous wormhole ride through slow jams, culminating with dance-floor heaters "Big Changes" and "Softkiss." 

The record's first single "Neptune" (the video above is NSFW) has the makings of a classic love song, while other slow jam highlights include "Vivid" and "Sister."

Dark Ages: First Born EP (Frite Nite)

Although there are already two metal, one punk, and one ambient act known as Dark Ages, for all intents and purposes this Dark Ages refers to the collaboration project of Trouble & Bass's resident femme skittle Star Eyes and San Francisco's own 5kinAndBone5 (although Ms. Eyes has clocked in years of Bay living herself).

First Born finds each producer throwing a bit of themselves into the cauldron -- Star Eyes's haunted house aesthetic intermingles with 5kinAndBone5's propensity for sounds heavy with swag. A shared love for all things dark and bassy give these two an intersection in which they thrill and hypnotize.

Azealia Banks: 1991 EP (Interscope)

Harlem rapper Azealia Banks' debut is here, finally. Making a huge splash with last year's dirty-birdy banger "212," Banks left hip-hop fans intrigued and impatient. The title track off of her 1991 EP is a collaboration with electronic producer Machinedrum that sees Banks spitting her signature rapid fire. Sinister sounding tune "Van Vogue" follows, with previously released singles "212" and “Liquorice” rounding out the tracklist. 

1991 is available digitally now with physical copies hitting stores June 12. The Young Rapunzel's Fantastic mixture drops July 4 and will feature jam "Jumanji," produced by Hudson Mohawke and Nick Hook. Debut LP Broke With Expensive Taste will be out in September.

Banks will also be featured on a remix of M.I.A.'s "Bad Girls" with Rye Rye and Missy Elliott due out later this year.

M83: Reunion EP (Mute)

"Reunion" is the second single off M83's latest release, the epic Hurry Up We're Dreaming. Featuring remixes from the Naked and Famous, Sei A, Polly Scattergood, We Have Band, Mylo (my personal favorite), and White Sea, the Reunion EP was like a thesis project for music producers -- the result: six interpretations of a triumphant song.

Laurel Halo: Quarantine (Hyperdub)

Laurel Halo signed to Hyperdub for her debut full-length album Quarantine. The record follows Halo's two EPs for label Hippos in Tanks, a tape for NNA, and her self-released Spring EP as King Felix for Mute's Liberation Technologies imprint.

Sensual, intimate and minimal, Halo's debut is very vocal -- in stark contrast to the dance tunes on 2011's Hour Logic EP. 

Julia B. Chan is a writer and hosts "Play for Today," a program on Radio Valencia -- www.radiovalencia.fm -- every Friday from 6 to 8pm. Follow her on Twitter @onTheBeat.