March is a surprisingly slow month for album releases, and after the TIDAL wave of “surprise” releases of some of pop’s biggest albums, maybe that’s a good thing. But there’s still plenty of beautiful music to bask in as the spring thaw eats away at winter’s frost.
For our March preview, we’ve rounded up 10 albums we’re most excited to hear (or have already heard, shhhhh!). There’s a bass goddess, a country legend, Danish synths and Scottish indie legends. There’s a new Direction for a former boy bander, a new collaboration from Iggy Pop, and a young producer trying to Harlem Shake off his viral reputation. Happy listening.
Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution (March 4, EMI)
Pronounced “D-plus evolution,” Esperanza Spalding’s latest LP sees her taking her jazz roots and pumping them up with rocking guitars and rolling rhythms. It’s not quite a concept album, but it does feature the character of Emily — either a spirit that possesses Spalding, or a muse that inspires her, depending on when you ask her. “I see her and am informed by her,” she told NPR. Her technicolor videos bring day-glo psychedelia into the computer age, and her rock star stance with her five-string gives hope to aspiring Bass Heroes everywhere.
Guerilla Toss – Eraser Stargazer (March 4, DFA)
While Guerilla Toss has always been a bit of a lovable mess, Eraser Stargazer, their latest LP on DFA, sees them tighten up a bit. A 30-minute assault over seven tracks, it follows up a sub-two-minute opener with a single that’s almost seven minutes long. But it never quite hits a lull, and lends itself quite well to repeat spins. As Pitchfork helpfully points out, in the context of DFA’s lineup, they skew more towards Black Dice than The Rapture, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you can’t dance to it — provided your criteria for dancing are quite liberal.
Loretta Lynn – Full Circle (March 4, Legacy)
If you want a clue into Loretta Lynn’s perspective on her music as she releases her latest LP, Full Circle, look no far than the name of her record label, Legacy. After releasing dozens of albums over six decades, Lynn’s gaze looks back on her storied career, with some updated versions of her classics, including “Whispering Sea,” the first song she ever wrote. Full Circle sits Appalachian folk songs and gospel standards alongside her classics, but from the wizened perspective of a country music OG.
Nada Surf – You Know Who You Are (March 4, Barsuk)
We’re still reeling from the psychological impact of seeing Nada Surf’s “Popular” video in school, but the veteran New York three-piece (now a four-piece, with the addition of Guided By Voices’ Doug Gillard), has been steadily churning out records since their mid ’90s breakout. You Know Who You Are saw some delays earlier this year as they tweaked the final product; it’s considerably less angsty than their earlier work. Perhaps age has mellowed them a bit.
Baauer – Aa (March 18, LuckyMe)
Mad Decent prodigy Baauer was just another up-and-comer making his name in the dance music scene when his sample-heavy break “Harlem Shake” became a massive (and annoying) viral sensation. He’s been trying to shake the rep ever since. Aa is his first full-length LP, and what we’ve heard sounds like he might be on his way to doing just that. GoGo! sounds a bit wubbier than we’re used to hearing from him, but “Kung Fu,” the Future and Pusha T-featuring jam embedded above, slides comfortably into the electro hip-pop lane he’s so comfortable in.
Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression (March 18, Loma Vista)
Josh Homme may not be our cup of tea, but he gets a pass here for his choice of collaborators. For Iggy Pop’s latest LP, Post Pop Depression (his 17th!), Homme teamed up with his Queens of the Stone Age compadre Dean Fertita, as well as Arctic Monkeys’ Matt Helders. Homme and Pop, who self-financed the album’s production, worked on the record together, with Homme no doubt harboring fantasies of Pop’s famed collaborations with David Bowie in the ’70s. Post Pop Depression’s first singles sound scuzzy, echo-laden, and limber — the perfect backdrop for an Iggy Pop resurgence.
Lust For Youth – Compassion (March 18, Sacred Bones)
Lust For Youth’s synth-heavy pop aesthetic places them in a well-traveled musical space, but their sweet pop melodies carry a twinge of darkness that’s anything but boring. As the Copenhangen-based trio told the FADER upon the release of their single “Stardom,” “It’s about being so happy that you automatically become sad and it is at once a very familiar and a very strange feeling.” Indeed.
Primal Scream – Chaosmosis (March 18, Ignition)
We’re regularly amazed by so-called legacy acts that keep chugging along, well after their commercial or critical peak. Chaosmosis, the 11th LP from Primal Scream, is no exception; they’ve been going strong since 1982, and it might just be some of their best work. It also features a couple of contemporary female indie acts in Haim and Sky Ferreira — one sure way to get people talking about your band again. The Ferreira jam, “Where The Light Gets In,” puts a slick sheen on their brand of jangle-pop. Look for some inside dope from Bobby Gillespie himself in the upcoming 33 1/3 book about a record by his former band, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychocandy, out later this year on Bloomsbury.
RJD2 – Dame Fortune (March 25, RJ’s Electrical Connections)
RJD2, known to the government as Ramble Jon Krohn, was an early signee to El-P’s Definitive Jux records, and has since put out a grip of records on a handful of labels, including Rhymesayers Entertainment and XL Recordings. But his latest LP, Dame Fortune, is out March 25 on his own RJ’s Electrical Connections, the label he founded in 2009. He’s always found a discomfiting balance between organic soul and robotic whirr; Dame Fortune carries on this grand tradition.
Zayn Malik – Mind Of Mine (March 25, RCA)
Oh Zayn, we hardly knew ye. Since his early departure from the now-on-hiatus One Direction, Zayn has been doing his best to convince us he’s all growed up. First step, new hair (bottle blonde, brown beard). Second step, model girlfriend (Gigi Hadad). Third step? Making out with said model with said hair in a heavy handed music video fraught with yonic symbols and tears of blood. The song knocks, but it’s clear Zayn still has some growing up to do. Time will tell if this Mind of Mine fits the bill.