12 May Albums Worth Checking Out

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12 May Albums Worth Checking Out

For much of the U.S., this was a rough winter. But spring has more going for it than budding flowers and baseball games. May is packed with some great new music. We’ve highlighted a dozen albums we’re particularly looking forward to.

1. Brandi Carlile
Live at Benaroyal Hall with the Seattle Symphony

May 3

After three stellar studio albums, Brandi Carlile decided to capture her live show on record, and enlisted the Seattle Symphony to do it. The album features Carlile originals along with covers of “Hallelujah,” “Forever Young” and the Hanseroth twins singing a little Simon & Garfunkel.

Watch an earlier performance of “Dreams” with the symphony:

2. Fleet Foxes
Helplessness Blues

May 3

“After their eponymous debut album earned a well-deserved standing ovation from critics, Fleet Foxes set the bar high for their sophomore album. The alt-folk band was up the challenge. Helplessness Blues is an album that is sweet and comforting at its worst and inspiring at its best.” – Ani Vrabel

Watch the official video for “Grown Ocean”:

3. Gruff Rhys
Hotel Shampoo

May 3

The Super Furry Animals’ Welsh frontman has already released his third solo album, Hotel Shampoo in the U.K.—along with two brilliantvideos it comes out on Wichita Records on May 3 here.

Watch the official video for “Sensations in the Dark”:

4. Manchester Orchestra
Simple Math

May 10

“Part of what made Mean Everything to Nothing, Manchester Orchestra’s sophomore coming out party, such a dynamic and attention-grabbing effort was that Andy Hull seemed hell-bent on tackling every trademarked form of rock composition, and there was a winsome, borderline tongue-in-cheek quality to the whole affair. With Simple Math, Manchester Orchestra seem to have figured out what sort of band they want to be.”—Ryan Reed

Watch the official video for “Simple Math”:

5. Okkervil River
I Am Very Far

May 10

Give Will Sheff credit. Handed a big budget for his latest album, the frontman for Austin indie rockers Okkervil River may have single-handedly propped up the Texas economy. On several songs, he’s deployed a 13-piece musical army consisting of two drummers, two pianists, two bassists, and seven guitarists, all playing live at the same time. Several other songs incorporate a string section, a woodwind section, a ghostly choir, and a tympani. It’s an audacious, ambitious, maximalistic approach, and in the process Sheff has reinvented the sound of his band. Longtime fans may be initially dismayed, but the results are dazzling just the same.” – Andy Whitman

Watch the official video for “Wake and Be Fine”:

6. Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi

May 17

Danger Mouse has already released albums with Cee-Lo Green, MF Doom, Sparklehorse and James Mercer. Of course an Italian composer was next. Brian Burton and Daniele Luppi enlisted many of the musicians who played on the original Ennio Morricone spaghetti Western scores, along with singers Norah Jones and Jack White.

Listen to the track “Two Against One,” featuring Jack White on vocals: