The 15 Albums You Need to Hear in May

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First things first: if you haven’t watched Radiohead’s allegorical claymation clip, stop what you’re doing and give it a whirl. The bizarro land it depicts is spooky and familiar enough, but its pace is perfectly in sync with the plodding rhythms of the first new music we’ve heard from the band in five years.

May also marks the beginning of the massive summer touring season, and even though these days most middle-of-the-road artists make a large chunk of their income on the road, they still need a record to push while they’re out there. This month sees American hero Edward Snowden jump on a French electro record, a dose of catharsis from Nothing, and a breakout from a British grime star. We can also expect several face-punches from the new Death Grips, and some pop-punk singalongs from NYC stalwarts the So So Glos.

But first, the long-anticipated emergence of Anohni from her chrysalis:

Anohni – Hopelessness (May 6, Secretly Candian)

We’ve been counting down the days until ANOHNI’s two-night stand a the Park Avenue Armory pretty much since the day it was announced. Those sure-to-be-legendary performances are still a couple weeks away, but at least her new album, Hopelessness, is upon us. The dramatic “Drone Bomb Me” video starring Naomi Campbell is on Apple Music, and you can get a taste of Hopelessness via its second single, “4 Degrees,” above.

Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise (May 6, Columbia)

As its title suggests, Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise is the second in a two part opus that Jean-Michel Jarre started last year, after an extended hiatus from music. The guest spots on the wizened Frenchman’s new LP include Cyndi Lauper, Primal Scream, soundtrack maestro Hans Zimmer, and yes, Edward Snowden. Even if the video is a bit of a joke, Snowden’s track is hot, and we’re pumped to hear what else he’s come up with.

Skepta – Konnichiwa (May 6, Boy Better Know)

The zeitgeist’s latest genre recycle is grime, the distinctly British talk-rap spiritual progeny of hip-hop, and Skepta is its currently reigning crown prince. Fresh off his golden ticket Drake cosign, he’s set to drop his fourth studio album, and the first since 2011. We’ll chalk up his shoutout to his “white niggas” on his latest single, “Man,” to a quirk of British race relations, as his flow is ferocious and meticulous, all at once. Expect to hear a lot more about Konnichiwa once it drops.

Death Grips – Bottomless Pit (May 6, Thirdworld)

We love Death Grips because sometimes we feel like smashing our face against a brick wall, over and over and over again, but we also enjoy avoiding disfiguring injury. Death Grips lets you have both; their music is an unapologetic assault, yet you can enjoy it without serious injury (provided you’re not at one of their shows). Their latest is a dismissive barrage of jabs that feels good, kinda like a massage. If you’re not totally offended by “Hot Head,” above, you can find a download link on the Youtube page, and/or also dial 1-844-278-7255 to hear another new song, “Trash.” If you (understandably) need help with the lyrics, you can find them here.

Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow (May 13, Relapse)

Back in the great Collect Records scandal of 2015, Philadelphia’s Nothing were so disgusted to be associated with Martin Shkreli in any way that they abandoned their plans to release the followup to their debut Guilty of Everything on the label, and put as much distance between them and Collect as they could. But we’re grateful to finally get to listen to new Nothing, and Tired of Tomorrow does not disappoint. The record drips with beautiful angst, the result of Domenic Palermo’s anguish at the loss of his estranged father and the recovery from his own physical assault.

Twin Peaks – Down in Heaven (May 13, Grand Jury)

With their debut album Wild Onion, Chicago’s messiest rockers Twin Peaks earned more than enough goodwill to make up for that pop culture-cribbing name. With Down in Heaven, the band embraces the swinging side of things, packing the disc with 13 jams that sound at times like wasted cuts from early Stones or Kinks. It’s music made to be played behind neon lights, perfect for breaking bottles while drinkin’ and dancin’ and letting loose face-wrinkling snarls. Early single “Butterfly” neatly ties together all of the band’s strengths, and goes to show that even after a little bit of success and refining, the band can still be a little gnarly. —Shane Barnes, Associate Editor

Mark Pritchard – Under The Sun (May 13, Warp)

English-Australian producer Mark Pritchard has been in the game for a minute (Link, N.Y. Connection, Harmonic 313), but has only been releasing his music under his own name since 2013. His latest release on Warp is atmospheric instrumental music with some vocal collaborations with Linda Perhacs, Thom Yorke, and more. Pritchard worked with Jonathan Zawada on the visuals for the album, and is presenting an audiovisual installation for Under the Sun with him as part of the Red Bull Music Academy Festival in New York from May 12-15.

So So Glos – Kamikaze (May 20, Votiv)

The So So Glos have been carrying the torch for NYC punk for almost ten years now, and show no signs of slowing down. Brash, loud, and bratty, the So So Glos have nevertheless always had an ear for catchy, sing-songy hooks, and bring their palpable energy to every show they play. This clip for early Kamikaze single “A.D.D. Life” features some foul found footage cut with some live shots of them performing at their lair, Brooklyn’s Shea Stadium.

Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Denial (May 20, Matador)

Prolific bedroom songsmith Will Toledo (not his real name) has been touring his butt off since signing to Matador a year ago. His first Matador release, Teens of Style, was mostly a repackaging of his Bandcamp greatest hits, but Teens of Denial is the first record he’s written and recorded like the actual rock star he’s becoming. It’s been fun watching him come out his shell, growing as a writer and performer since graduating from self-publishing to the Malkmus heir apparent. Each new song sounds better than the next.

Radiohead – ??? (???, XL Recordings)

Yeah, we don’t really know if the new Radiohead is coming this month, but judging by their social media white-out and the release of their first new recordings in years, we’re nothing if not hopeful. “Burn The Witch” and its stabby strings somehow sounds fresh while still being unmistakably Radiohead, if that makes any sense. The allegorical roots of the song and its bizarre claymation video are up for debate, but the wonderful thing about Radiohead is that regardless of what is they’re trying to say, they’re saying something. And it sounds beautiful.

Honorable Mentions

Gold Panda – Good Luck and Do Your Best (May 27, Universal)

The Hotelier – Goodness (May 27, Tiny Engines)

White Lung – Paradise (May 6, Domino)

Eagulls – Ullages (May 13, Partisan)

Modern Baseball – Holy Ghost (May 13, Run For Cover)