The 10 Albums You Need to Hear in May


As ever, we’re starting out a new month by poring over the schedules of upcoming album releases and distilling the slew of new music on offer into the form of a convenient list of the ten records you really, really should hear over the next four weeks or so. May looks like a particularly strong month — there are at least two albums that might well end up on our year-end Top 10 list (Savages and Majical Cloudz), along with a bunch of other good stuff from the likes of The National, Beaches, Standish/Carlyon, and plenty more. (And there’s also a new album from Spin Doctors, a fact that we will be pondering deeply for days. The world is a cold, dark place.)

Beaches — She Beats (May 3)

Psych quintet Beaches hail from your correspondent’s native Melbourne, and their self-titled debut was one of the great pleasures of the ’00s — a churning, unruly monster of a record, it took the driving beats and guitar wig-outs of bands like Neu! and allied them to a melodic sensibility, creating songs both powerful and decidedly hummable. This record takes the band’s sound a step further; it features spiritual forefather Michael Rother, for a start, and from the sound of the two tracks we’ve heard so far, also contains some of the band’s best songs yet.

Savages — Silence Yourself (May 7)

In case you missed it, this album is streaming right now at Savages’ official website. Take this news as a heartfelt exhortation to go and listen to it, and grab yourself a copy ASAP once it’s out.

Deerhunter — Monomania (May 7)

With all the Bradford Cox publicity of late (Bradford hates Morrissey! Bradford terrifies Jimmy Fallon’s audience!), it’s rather easy to overlook the fact that Deerhunter have a new record out. That’d be a shame, though, because it promises to be a good ‘un — not quite on the level of Cox’s consistently excellent Atlas Sound output or peak Microcastle-era Deerhunter, perhaps, but definitely worth hearing nonetheless.

Pure X — Crawling Up the Stairs (May 14)

The whole “building anticipation” idea can be more tiresome than exciting — cf. Boards of Canada — but it feels like we’ve been waiting for this album for ages, and the three tracks that have been released so far have only served to heighten our desire to hear the whole thing already, dammit.

Pharmakon — Abandon (May 14)

Well, this is terrifying. It’s rare that an album comes along that’s genuinely disconcerting listening, but Pharmakon’s Abandon satisfies that criterion, and then some. Perhaps the best way to describe this is to say that lead single “Crawling on Bruised Knees,” which got plenty of publicity when it was released in early April, is probably the least disturbing track here. This isn’t an album you’ll want to listen to every day, but it’s pretty amazing in a very, very freaky kind of way.

Standish/Carlyon — Deleted Scenes (May 14)

Devastations were one the most underrated bands of the ’00s (and, indeed, could well have warranted a place on this recent roundup of such bands). This is the new project from Devastations songwriting duo Conrad Standish and Tom Carlyon, and it finds them embracing the sounds of techno and R&B to create a beautifully produced record that’s all empty, late-night yearning.

Eluvium — Nightmare Ending (May 14)

This has figured prominently on your correspondent’s blotting-out-the-terrifying-club-across-the-road playlist for the last couple of weeks. (This is a definite compliment, by the way.) Nightmare Ending is beautiful, delicate, slow-evolving ambient music that sounds like a perfect antidote to a nightmare or any other sort of sleep-related issues.

Majical Cloudz — Impersonator (May 21)

Impersonator pays off in spades on the promise of Devon Welsh’s previous work — if you’ve been wondering if the album is as good as lead single “Childhood’s End” (above), the answer is a resounding “yes.” If you’re not especially familiar with Majical Cloudz and are wondering if this might the place to find some quietly melancholy electronic music that falls somewhere between, say, Stephin Merritt and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, the answer is also a resounding “yes.”

The National — Trouble Will Find Me (May 21)

Also on the quietly morose music for sad sacks front, there’s a new National album! It feels like we’ve heard most of this already via various leaks, live performances, sneak previews, etc. — and, well, it sounds like The National. Don’t go changing.

Tricky — False Idols (May 28)

Yes, it’s true — basically every Tricky album since Maxinquaye has been a false dawn, promising that it might finally recapture the glory of the brooding Bristol rapper’s classic debut and then falling way, way short. But still, early rumblings suggest that this might finally be the record to prove that Tricky’s still got it: lead single “Nothing’s Changed” was excellent, new vocalist Francesca Belmonte sounds uncannily like Tricky’s old collaborator, Martina Topley-Bird… So, fingers crossed, and all that.

Also out this month:

Vampire Weekend — Modern Vampires of the City (May 7) Neither especially modern nor actual vampires, but anyway.

Karl Hyde — Edgeland (May 7) As in half of Underworld.

Little Boots — Nocturnes (May 7) We still want one of those Tenori-On things.

She & Him — Volume 3 (May 7) More radical abrasively experimental electronica from… oh, no, wait.

Talib Kweli — Prisoner of Conscious (May 7) Ropey pun for the album title, but it’s always interesting to hear from Kweli.

Primal Scream — More Light (May 14) More drugs! More everything!

Eve — Lip Lock (May 14) Remember when Eve was the great young hope of the hip hop world? The 11-year delay between this album and its predecessor pretty much put paid to that, but still, it should be worth hearing.

Spin Doctors — If the River Was Whiskey (May 14) Yes, we live in a world where Spin Doctors are about to release a new record. Verily, the End Times are upon us.

ADULT. — The Way Things Fall (May 14) A genuinely long-awaited comeback record, and one that’s definitely worth the aforementioned long wait.

Mark Kozelek and Jimmy LaValle — Perils From the Sea (May 14) Always up for more Kozelek! Never enough Kozelek!

Mindless Self Indulgence — How I Learned Not To Give a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence (May 14) Yes, those two developments would surely be intimately related. Also, Jack White ripped them off, don’t you know.

Scout Niblett — It’s Up to Emma (May 21) This new record finds Emma “Scout” Niblett sounding very PJ Harvey, and also contains a killer cover of TLC’s “No Scrubs.”

Japanther — Eat Like Lisa Act Like Bart (May 21) Hopefully the theme of the album is, “Title Like 12-Year-Old Boy Write Songs Like Significantly More Intelligent and Creative 12-Year-Old Boy.”

The Front Bottoms — Talon of the Hawk (May 21) And the coveted Risible Band Name of the Month prize goes to…

Dirty Beaches — Drifters/Love is the Devil (May 28) A double LP from Alex Zhang Huntai. He’s also collaborating with Flavorwire favorite Heathered Pearls at Glasslands in June.

CocoRosie — Tales of a Grass Widow (May 28) The return of the enduringly (and endearingly) strange Casady sisters.

Alice In Chains — The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (May 28) Sigh.

The Polyphonic Spree — Yes It’s True (May 28) … we are indeed a cult!

Laura Marling — Once I Was An Eagle (May 28) Was she really?

The-Dream — IV Play (May 28) We’ll believe it when we see it, etc.

Skinny Puppy — Weapon (May 28) Still skinny, if no longer puppies.