10 Albums You Need to Hear in April

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Spring is here, and so is the spring release schedule. Rejoice! May and June are both shaping up to be excellent months as far as album releases go, and while April doesn’t have quite the same volume of goodness, there’s still going to be plenty of good music to hear over the next four weeks. We’ve pored over the schedule to select the ten records we reckon are going to be worth hearing — there’s everything from the return of Orbital and Spiritualized to Malian songhaï blues, spooky pop music, and punishing, nasty hip hop. We’d love to know what you’re looking forward to, so do let us know via the comments section.

Orbital — Wonky (April 3)

We’ve been hoping for several years that the Hartnoll brothers’ reunion would eventually bear sufficient musical fruit to warrant a new album, and now — three and a half years after they first got back together — our wish has been fulfilled. Wonky is the duo’s first album since 2004’s The Blue Album, and among other things, it comes complete with a Zola Jesus cameo and a dubstep reworking of “Satan” — both signals that the Hartnolls haven’t stopped paying attention to what’s going on in the world of music.

Clark — Iradelphic (April 3)

We’d love to know just how iconic UK label Warp manages to keep its cupboard of genre-hopping polymaths so well-stocked. Chris Clark (or just Clark, as he’s known now) has been one of the label’s more underrated artists over the years, and Iradelphic is his sixth album for Warp. It’s constantly fascinating listening, starting with a short instrumental piece that sounds distinctly Greek or Eastern European, and moving through a series of cerebral electronic textures.

Screaming Females — Ugly (April 3)

As we noted in last week’s MP3 round-up, few bands are more appropriately named than Jersey band Screaming Females, even if it’s only their singer Marissa Paternoster who’s an actual screaming female. There’s something distinctly Sleater-Kinney about the trio’s gloriously loose and occasionally shambolic songs, which is absolutely OK by us. Warning, though — the video above is kinda disturbing, especially if you like cats (or people, for that matter).

Nicki Minaj — Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (April 3)

It’s fair to say that Nicki Minaj divides the Flavorpill editorial staff, but those in the pro-Minaj camp are pretty excited about the arrival of the pink-haired firebrand’s second album. Early signs, at least, are promising — Minaj describes the album as forming quite the contrast to the largely underwhelming Pink Friday: “My first album I was very guarded. I felt like I was making music to please everyone else. I had to be politically correct, but this album I am just creating music, and it there’s such a big difference.” The proof will be in the pudding, but we guess this bodes well.

Alabama Shakes — Boys & Girls (April 10)

This is streaming at NPR right now, and at first listen, we reckon it does a better job of capturing Alabama Shakes’ coruscating live show than the four-song EP you might have got at one of said shows (or via BandCamp). Who’d have thought that 2012’s biggest buzzband might be an unheralded rock ‘n’ soul four-piece from Athens, Alabama, eh? Maybe there’s hope for the music industry yet.

Zambri — House of Baasa (April 10)

We featured Zambri’s Berlin-samplin’ opus “Hundred Hearts” in our MP3 round-up last week, and it pretty much encapsulates everything about the Zambri sisters’ music — it’s dark and atmospheric, but still with a distinct pop sensibility. By the sounds of new track “ICBYS,” which we’ve embedded above, the duo may well be indulging their pop-oriented leanings further on their debut album House of Baasa. We’ll listen to the results with interest.

Spiritualized — Sweet Heart Sweet Light (April 17)

Few artists have got as much mileage out of subtle variations on a theme as Jason Pierce. In one way, you know exactly what you’re gonna get with a Spiritualized record: a roughly equal mix of Velvet Underground-esque guitar freakouts and gospel-tinged balladry, with lots of lyrical references to fire, Jesus, and drugs. But each album has its individual charms, and Sweet Heart Sweet Light is no exception — it’s rarely left our stereo since we scored a promo copy a couple of weeks back. While nothing Pierce has done since has ever quite rivaled the majesty of 1997 masterpiece Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, this is a worthy addition to the Spiritualized canon.

Sidi Touré — Koima (April 17)

As big fans of the desert blues, we were rather gratified last year to see one of our favorite US labels, Thrill Jockey, diversifying beyond its usual indie/post-rock field to sign Malian songwriter/guitarist Sidi Touré. Touré’s first album for the label, Sahel Folk, was a delight — an album of duets, all recorded in single takes. Now that‘s musicianship. Koïma is similarly involving listening, deploying a more fleshed-out band while losing none of Sahel Folk‘s sparse charms.

Jack White — Blunderbuss (April 24)

The majority of his work over the last few years has been somewhat underwhelming, but we’re hoping that Jack White’s solo debut will be more De Stijl and less Zorro on donuts. First single “Love Interruption” is certainly a step in the right direction, eh?

Death Grips — The Money Store (April 24)

Forget your Odd Futures — if you want some really dark and nasty hip hop, then look no further than Bay Area group Death Grips, who make music that sounds like being locked in a dark room with a man wielding a chainsaw. The Money Store is the group’s debut album proper, following on from last year’s bludgeoning Exmilitary mixtape, and if debut single “Lost Boys” is anything to go by, it’s going to be a similarly intense ride. Buckle up.