The 10 Albums You Need to Hear This April

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For some reason, this April seems loaded with shitty artists. If you’re after albums by New Found Glory, The Chainsmokers, and (shudder) that Father John Misty guy, then you’ll be happy to hear that they’re coming your way — but you won’t find them on this list, I assure you.

Arca — Arca (April 7)

We’ve written a lot about Alejandro Ghersi, aka Arca, on Flavorwire over the last year or so, for the simple reason that he’s one of the most exciting and fascinating talents in music today. His previous albums — 2014’s Xen and 2015’s Mutant — have been wonderful and strange, exploring alternate personas and identities. In view of this, the title of this record — simply “Arca” — suggests a more personal work, as does Ghersi’s accompanying statement: “Here’s my voice and all my guts: feel free to judge it.”

Kendrick Lamar — TBC (April 7? April 14)

See our post on “Humble” from a couple of days back. Basically: can’t wait.

Joey Bada$$ — ALL-AMERIKAN BADA$$ (April 7)

Joey Bada$$ — or someone at his record company, at least — is probably kicking himself for choosing April 7 as the release date for this, because it’s going to be awfully hard to drum up any attention if Kendrick’s album also drops on the same day. [Edit: It didn’t! Hooray for Joey!] This is a shame, because Joey’s work is great — he’s not a stylistic visionary like Kendrick, and his work’s debt to ’90s hip hop icons (especially Nas) has been well-documented, but he can rhyme with the best of them.

GAS — Narkopop (April 21)

Holy shit! There’s a new GAS album! If you’re at all given to liking ambient techno, you’re probably familiar with Wolfgang Voigt’s four wonderful albums under this moniker from the late ’90s (and if not, listen to them immediately, because four blissful hours await you.) There was no indication that there’d ever be a follow-up to 2000’s Pop, but suddenly, 17 years later, here we are. Quite what it’ll sound like remains to be seen — will it be classic GAS, i.e. layers of samples built into a dark, glistening shape that’s almost recognizable, but whose meaning sort of slips away when you try to grasp it? Will it be an evolution from that? Will it be something else entirely? — but whatever the answer, I can’t wait to hear it.

Woods — Love Is Love (April 21)

Woods are one of the most wonderfully consistent bands in music today: they put out an album every 12 months or so, and it’s almost inevitably beautiful, folk-tinged guitar music with enough experimentalism to keep things interesting. Love is Love is their 10th album in a career that’s spanned a little more than a decade, and first single “Love is Love” is a sunny, melodic affair that offers comfort and, well, love in the darkest of times.

Ray Davies — Americana (April 21)

A concept album about America from the most English of songwriters? Americana is based on Davies’ 2013 memoir, which had the double-coloned title Americana: The Kinks, the Riff, the Road: The Story, and it’s about his experiences on this side of the Atlantic. Those experiences are tumultuous, to say the least — in 2004, while living in New Orleans, Davies was shot during a robbery — and the book catalogued what’s very much a love/hate relationship with America. The album apparently uses the book “as both source material and jumping off point,” and features backing arrangements from very American band The Jayhawks.

Juliana Hatfield — Pussycat (April 28)

The fact that this album contains tracks called “Short-Fingered Man” and “Kellyanne” suggests that its concerns might just have something to do with the tangerine nightmare currently inhabiting the White House. And, indeed, Hatfield says she wrote the majority of the songs on this album as a response to last year’s Presidential election, emerging from a long hiatus to record her rage and confusion at what America had just done: “All of these songs just started pouring out of me. And I felt an urgency to record them, to get them down, and get them out there.”

Yarn/Wire — Currents Vol. 0

Yarn/Wire describe themselves as a “percussion/piano quartet,” and their membership divides neatly between these two poles, comprising two percussionists and two pianists. Their Currents series is an ongoing bunch of collaborations with like-minded experimental types, and this installment — which features, inter alia, former Battles member Tyondai Braxton — bills itself as an “antecedent” to the series as a whole. Quite what this means, I couldn’t tell you, but the music is beautiful, especially Braxton’s contribution, which is an airy, entrancing piece called “Music For Ensemble & Pitch Shifter/Delay.”

Mark Lanegan Band — Gargoyle (April 28)

If there was a word like “onomatopoeia” that described music that sounds like its title, then Gargoyle would be a pretty perfect example thereof in relation to Mark Lanegan. His voice is like weathered stone, its form eroded by the years, and yet more beautiful still in its own damaged, broken way. This is his 10th solo album, and while his later career has never quite reached the heights of 2004’s masterpiece Bubblegum, his voice and songs continue to be amongst the most compelling music has to offer.

Gorrilaz — Humanz (April 28)

A cartoon band called “Gorillaz” made up of fake humans making an album called Humanz? It’s not like 2017 needs any more post-modern surrealism, but OK, sure.