Young the Giant, "Mind Over Matter" (Fueled by Ramen)

Young the Giant surprised the rock world with its smashes "Cough Syrup" and "My Body" in 2010, unusual anthems that connected with huge audiences. When it came time to follow up the successful debut, though, the California band froze for a bit. "Mind Over Matter" is its post-writer's-block effort, and it feels oddly unsure and confined. There's clearly some worry the band is trying to shake off, especially in the single "It's About Time," which discusses paralysis and lurches into Incubus territory. Oddly, Young the Giant is at its poppiest on the dance-beat-driven "Paralysis," making the band's disaster fears work for it.

Glenn Gamboa, Newsday

Streaming audio

On his band's second album, Augustines singer-guitarist Billy McCarthy comes to grips with the deaths, in close succession, of his brother and mother. "Augustines," out on Tuesday, has sweeping, almost epic rockers that sound classic and contemporary. It's streaming at the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog.

Jon Bream