Best Albums: A Queenly return, infectious Americana, and hard tropicalia

Queens of the Stone Age makes a vintage return, but with expanded quirks that play off the band’s unique palette of guitar tones.

Featuring members of Braid, Their/They’re/There, and Stay Ahead of the Weather, Lifted Bells makes a mathy indie-rock debut that impresses in only three tracks.

Pokey LaFarge warms the soul with old-fashioned Americana, with bounce and twang begging for a blow-along on any empty jugs lying around.

With perhaps its most rock-heavy release, Rob Mazurek’s Sao Paulo Underground delivers another jazz-infused dose of hard tropicalia.

Honorable Mentions

The Andreas Kapsalis & Goran Ivanovic Guitar Duo: Blackmail

Brent Amaker & The Rodeo: Year of the Dragon (Fin)

Demon Lung: The Hundredth Name (Candlelight)

Eleanor Friedberger: Personal Record (Merge)

Jon Hopkins: Immunity (Domino)

Wrekmeister Harmonies: You’ve Always Meant So Much to Me (Thrill Jockey)