The 10 Albums You Need to Hear in April

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Another month, another packed release schedule — and, as ever, we’ve picked out the ten best albums in the month ahead, along with a roundup of everything else that’s worth hearing or worth running like the wind from. On the whole, April is shaping up as a pretty excellent month for album releases — among other things, there’s the return of The Flaming Lips and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, beautiful new music from The Besnard Lakes and Iron & Wine, weird dance-floor-friendly horrorcore from Xander Harris, the continuing renaissance of James Williamson-era Iggy and the Stooges, and at least one album of the year contender. (Spoiler: The Knife.)

Xander Harris — The New Dark Age of Love (April 2)

As we’ve noted several times here, Austin-based producer Xander Harris made one of the most underrated records of 2011 with his faux-horror soundtrack Urban Gothic. We loved that record and have been interested to see what he’d do with its follow-up — there are only so many ersatz Carpenter soundtracks one can make, after all. Happily, The New Dark Age of Love represents an interesting progression — it’s definitely more upbeat and dance-floor-minded than its predecessor, and it’s streaming right now at Fact.

The Besnard Lakes — Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO (April 2)

We’ve always rather liked The Besnard Lakes, and this is as lushly beautiful as ever. You can stream it here.

The Knife — Shaking the Habitual (April 9)

We were excited enough about this from the interviews the band has been giving — what other musical act in 2013 touches upon fracking, feminism, intersectionality, and the Swedish welfare state in the course of a casual 20-minute chat? And then we heard it. And it’s sooooooooooooo gooooooooooood.

M.I.A. — Matangi (April 15 — supposedly)

With M.I.A. now better known for truffle fries and generally engaging her mouth while her common sense is in neutral, it’s easy to forget just how good Arular and Kala were. If this is any sort of return to the quality of those albums, it might just make its creator relevant again. Here’s everything we know about it so far. Fingers crossed.

Iron & Wine — Ghost on Ghost (April 16)

To be honest, we’ve not really enjoyed the more polished sound that’s characterized Sam Beam’s records from about The Shepherd’s Dog onwards, but what we’ve heard of this new album so far has given us hope that the old, lo-fi Iron & Wine is still out there somewhere. And really, who else covers a song from the mid-1800s for their new record?

The Flaming Lips — The Terror (April 16)

Their new video features a baby being put in a meat grinder. What more is there to say at this point?

Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Mosquito (April 16)

It’s not all gospel choirs and bombast, but there’s enough of interest on the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs record to make it worth your time. The title track features bongos and a curious kinda Latin flavor, there’s perhaps the best ballad the band has written since “Maps” (namely “Subway,” which comes with a sample of a passing subway train), and if nothing else, it’s generally a stronger record than It’s Blitz. The cover art still gives us a headache, though.

The Veils — Time Stays, We Go (April 23)

The Veils are one of those bands whose music has never quite found the audience it deserves — the UK act’s 2006 record Nux Vomica is one of the great lost records of the 2000s, and all three of their albums are worth investigating if you like what might, for want of a better term, be called classic indie guitar music. Anyway, we’re hoping that this is the album that finally brings them their belated dues.

Iggy and the Stooges — Ready to Die (April 30)

Contemplating the idea of a new Stooges album in 2013 feels somewhat strange, to be honest. You know it’s not gonna be as good as the band’s holy trinity of late ’60s/early ’70s records, but you also hope that at least it’ll be better than half the lily-livered stuff that passes for rock ‘n’ roll these days. Basically, if this turns out better than The Weirdness, then we’ll be pretty happy — anything more and we’ll be pleasantly surprised.

!!! — Thr!!!er (April 30)

The sublime “Me and Giuliani Down By the School Yard” aside, we’ve always found !!! to be more of a live experience than a band whose studio albums have thrilled, but still, we’ll be interested to hear this. Bonus points for the pun-tastic title.

Also out this month:

Tyler, the Creator — Wolf (April 2) See here for our thoughts on this.

New Kids on the Block — 10 (April 2) More avant-garde experimentalism from one of the most groundbreaking bands of the ’90s.

Charles Bradley — Victim of Love (April 2) We saw him live at ATP. He hugged everyone. It was amazing.

Ólafur Arnalds — For Now I Am Winter (April 2) Not to be confused with Ólöf Arnalds. Key differences: male, does not sound like Joanna Newsom.

James Blake — Overgrown (April 9) Mummy, what’s a dubstep?

Kurt Vile — Walkin’ on a Pretty Daze (April 9) Just in time for a long, hazy summer.

Todd Rundgren — State (April 9) “A fusion of rock, soul, R&B and electronica that is at once danceable, groundbreaking, spiritual, challenging and infectious,” apparently.

Gunslinger — Breaking Through (April 16) Rock/electronica crossover music is fraught with danger, but this up-and-coming LA duo do it beautifully — the songs are great, and the arrangements are suitably banging without ever sounding cheesy. Recommended.

The Melvins — Everybody Loves Sausages (April 16) A covers album, apparently. Amongst other things, it features a version of David Bowie’s “Station to Station” with JG Thirlwell on vocals. We can’t even begin to imagine what such a thing might sound like, but we can’t wait to find out.

Fall Out Boy — Save Rock and Roll (April 16) Is that title a declaration of intent or a desperate plea? We’re gonna go ahead and believe it’s the latter.

Meat Puppets — Rat Farm (April 16) The fact that the Meat Puppets are even remotely functional in 2013 is cause enough for celebration. From what we’ve heard though, this sounds pretty great.

The Thermals — Desperate Ground (April 16) Shouty.

Phoenix — Bankrupt (April 23) Very far from bankrupt, we suspect.

Snoop Lion — Reincarnated (April 23) May contain references to smoking marijuana.

Beacon — The Ways We Separate (April 30) Late night R&B-tinged alienation from Brooklyn duo. If you like The Weeknd, you’ll probably dig this.

Mudhoney — Vanishing Point (April 30) Don’t ever, ever go changing.