The 15 Albums We’re Most Excited About in February

Music Lists New Artists
Share Tweet Submit Pin
The 15 Albums We’re Most Excited About in February

Time may or may not be a flat circle, but albums historically are, and before we’re fully used to the idea of this being 2023, it’s somehow already February and time to look at this month’s new releases. And there are a lot of them. So many that we couldn’t narrow it down to 10 this month. Here are the 15 albums we’re most excited about this February.

February 3

James Brandon Lewis: Eye of the I
James Brandon Lewis’ 2021 release The Jesup Wagon introduced scores of new fans to the work of this jazz saxophonist through the music’s fusion of spiritual jazz uplift and avant garde convulsion. For 2023, Lewis is leveling up to work with venerable label Anti- Records and, in response to the bigger budget and grander expectations, working with an even broader palette of sounds and collaborators. That includes a stirring track recorded with D.C. punk trio the Messthetics, devilishly swinging bop and a cover of Donny Hathaway’s “Someday We’ll All Be Free” that grafts the R&B original to post-rock’s bombast and fuzz. — Robert Ham

Sunny War: Anarchist Gospel
Sunny War’s upcoming album Anarchist Gospel takes its title from her belief that spiritual issues of love, sin and faith are crucial topics but don’t have to contained by the rules of any established church. Let’s be realistic, she seems to say: love, politics, drugs and anything else we can become addicted to provide both transcendence and derangement. Finding the right balance is an earthly not heavenly matter. The album’s sound benefits from the call-and-response gospel vocals of Kyshona Armstrong and the gospel organ of Jo Schornikow. Anarchist Gospel boasts the fullest sound of War’s six full-length albums, thanks to producer Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Deslondes, Hurray for the Riff Raff). It will get better distribution, courtesy of her new deal with New West Records, and should be the breakthrough that lifts her to a new level in the Americana field, a prominence that is long overdue. —Geoffrey Himes

More notable February 3 releases: Ellie Goulding: Higher Than Heaven, Fantastic Negrito: Grandfather Courage, John Frusciante: . I :, Robert Forster: The Candle and the Flame, Shania Twain: Queen of Me, Sunny War: Anarchist Gospel, SYML: The Day My Father Died, The Men: New York City, The Waeve: The Waeve, The Go! Team: Get Up Sequences Part Two, Tropical Fuck Storm: Submersive Behavior (EP), Young Fathers: Heavy Heavy

February 10

Andy Shauf: Norm
Andy Shauf’s upcoming album Norm seems to bring a slight change in style for the musician, as he reworks the gentle folk and pop harmonies he is known for, bringing hints of jazz into the mix. Shauf self-produced the LP, and played every instrument, creating this body of work in the early days of the pandemic, and challenging himself every step of the way. The album tells the story of a character named Norm. The musician warns, “The character of Norm is introduced in a really nice way. But the closer you pay attention to the record, the more you’re going to realize that it’s sinister.” With a flutter of gentle piano notes and strings, Andy Shauf announced the album with “Wasted on You.” Hearing the singer’s familiar subdued timbre on the track instantly infuses you with the comfort and warmth of familiarity, while the musical arrangements push his boundaries with a dancing lightness. But in typical Shauf style, not everything is quite as it appears, as the repeating lyrics hold a heavier side to them. “Was all my love wasted on you?” he asks himself over and over again, trying to get to the root of an issue he can’t quite understand. He again threads the needle with his typical gentleness, subtle as he treads over trepidation on the second single, “Catch Your Eye.” His vocals pull everything together so carefully that you can just imagine him nervously hovering, bated breath setting the atmosphere for the track. The song turns around the story of a grocery store missed connection, the whole thing shivering with an air of melancholy undeniably covering everything as Shauf repeats, “I need to meet you / I need to catch your eye.” The singles released off Norm create a confusing logistics puzzle as we are handed pieces of a concept album, left to figure out the clues preemptively. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski

Black Belt Eagle Scout: The Land, the Water, The Sky
The Land, The Water, The Sky, coming out Saddle Creek, is an album of homecoming for Black Belt Eagle Scout, aka Katherine Paul. In 2020, she returned from Portland to her homelands in the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, finding comfort in coming back to the place that generations of ancestors before her had known as home. This is the storyline connecting the 12 songs on the album, drawing them together as she was drawn together by her community. It is certainly not a straightforward, cushy homecoming—she struggles with the harm and violence inflicted by colonialism, a heaviness that won’t leave. But she also embraces the connection to herself that she finds through engaging with her environment, touching the earth and rocks and knowing they support her every step. “My Blood Runs Through This Land” contrasts the soft dreamy wideness of “Don’t Give Up.” The fuzzy guitars creating the bed of the song make everything find its point of grounding, with the drums launching near the end to drive home the intensity of the experience. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski

Paramore: This Is Why
People around the world rejoiced when the “Still Into You” band returned to the stage with live shows last year after being on a four-year hiatus. Now they’ve released a trio of singles from their upcoming Atlantic Records album, This Is Why. Translating literally from French as “it’s like that,” “C’est Comme Ça,” follows the idea of “that’s just how it is.” The song has a narrative form, flipping between singing and smooth talking to show the difference between a life of survival and one of stability. The lyrics attest to Hayley Williams and fellow bandmates coming from a place of security, and not catastrophe: “I hate to admit getting better is boring / But the high cost of chaos, who can afford it?” It’s hard to accept a life that doesn’t warrant a constant fight-or-flight reaction when that’s all you’ve known for so long. The single packs a punch with a staccato-like rhythm to grab the listener’s attention with zipper-y tones from the initial guitar riffs. —Rayne Antrim

Quasi: Breaking the Balls of History
Portland, Oregon rockers Quasi have remained one of the most-underrated working rock bands in music. The brainchild of former Heatmiser bassist Sam Coomes and Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss, Quasi is unveiling their 10th studio album, Breaking the Balls of History, in early February. The record was written during lockdown, when Coomes and Weiss elected to play together every day after realizing that going on tour wasn’t an option. The songs were recorded live by just the two of them in a single room, capturing the raw intensity that the band was founded on 30 years ago when Coomes and Weiss were spouses. Breaking the Balls of History is a gritty rendering of Quasi’s classic garage sound, spearheaded by the blistering single “Nowheresville,” serving as a long-awaited return to form for the band—who bring a triumphant masterclass to the forefront of Sub Pop’s modern catalog 10 years after their last record, Mole City. —Matt Mitchell

Tennis: Pollen
Husband-wife indie-pop duo Tennis have announced their sixth album, Pollen, via the band’s own Mutually Detrimental label. “One Night with the Valet,” produced and recorded by Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore in their home studio in Denver, Colorado, is our first preview of their follow-up to 2020’s Swimmer. The song is as fleeting as its title suggests, flashing past in under two minutes. Over mid-tempo percussion, throbbing bass and interconnected keys, Moore sings about staring down a desire far bigger than herself: “Finding myself tempted by the face of love / Really fear that I could never get enough.” Her voice is as ethereal as the images she conjures (“We’re riding high up watching over silent things / Like pearls scattered at our feet”), and before you know it, both have disappeared. —Scott Russell

Yo La Tengo: This Stupid World
On their 17th full-length album in 40 years, Yo La Tengo reasserts themselves as the most consistent (and consistently great) band of their era. After the low-key sprawl of 2018’s There’s a Riot Going On and the early Covid-era confusion of 2020’s all-instrumental We Have Amnesia Sometimes, the trio dips a little bit more into their golden pop sensibilities on their (relatively economical) new album. (It’s only got nine songs! The longest is only seven and a half minutes! YLT’s keeping it tight.) You can hear that poppier side on the advance singles “Fallout” and “Aselestine,” which both wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘90s albums like Electro-Pura and I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. On This Stupid World Yo La Tengo does what only they can do, and brings it all in under an hour, making this the most direct and accessible thing they’ve done since 2013’s Fade. I’m totally cool with them getting as indirect and inaccessible as they want to be, but no matter what choices they make they’re usually always the right ones. Yo La Tengo has long been one of the rare bright spots in this stupid world, and thankfully their new album keeps the streak alive. —Garrett Martin

More notable February 10 releases: CIVIC: Taken By Force, Famer Jason: Fish Wish, Kelela: Raven,
Pearla: Oh Glistening Onion, The Nighttime Is Coming, Pink: Trustfall, Quasi: Breaking the Balls of History, Supreme Beings of Leisure: 22, The Brian Jonestown Massacre: Your Future Is Your Past

February 14

Caroline Polachek: Desire, I Want to Turn Into You
What better release date than Feb. 14 for Caroline Polachek’s new album, Desire, I Want To Turn Into You to that list. Happy day of love, indeed. On the single “Welcome To My Island,” Polachek’s pure and piercing vocals arc over the intro to the song, becoming a scream that explores a range of octaves. Electric guitars mix in for the artist’s signature sound, with elements of hyperpop, choral music and supporting undertones of indie rock. With a number of producers—Dan Nigro (who worked with Polachek before on her break out track “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings”), Danny L Harle, A. G. Cook, Jim E-Stack and Polachek herself—the track is a mix of flavors, most of them distinctly Polachek. The tone bounces between deeply in love and claustrophobically obsessive, with that wry twist of humor that marks Polachek’s lyricism. And when Polachek sings “Flew / The ocean blue,” she truly does sound like she’s taking off. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski

February 17

Runnner: Like Dying Stars
Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Noah Weinman has announced his debut album as Runnner, Like Dying Stars, We’re Reaching Out, on Run For Cover Records. Lead single “i only sing about food” is out now alongside a music video. The song finds Weinman continuing to refine his sound, splitting the difference between the ghostly indie-folk of his peer (and collaborator) Skullcrusher and the hooky bedroom-pop confessionals of Field Medic. Looping banjo plucks and acoustic guitar chords fade in over a rapid-fire drum loop, with whirling synths flickering in and out of the mix. Meanwhile, Weinman wrestles with his own internal monologue, struggling not only to express himself, but also to deal with the emotions that disconnect engenders (“I cried in your car / When I couldn’t find the words I was looking for”). Hooky and brief, the track pairs its lightness with the urgency of a search for badly needed relief from the pitfalls of one’s own mind. Piano and wordless vocal harmonies carry the track through its home stretch, Weinman’s vocal falling silent as if he’s focused on imagining a future in which he can just be understood. —Scott Russell

More notable February 17 releases: Anna B. Savage: in|Flux, Avey Tare: 7s, Pile: All Fiction, Ron Sexsmith: The Vivian Lane, Screaming Females: Desire Pathway, Secret Machines: The Moth, The Lizard, And the Secret Machines, V/A: Birthright: A Black Roots Music Compendium

February 24

Algiers: Shook
With new single “Irreversible Damage” that comes at you like an exploding truck during the fiery climax of an action movie, Algiers have announced a new album. SHOOK, coming out on Matador, is the victory cry from a band who, on the brink of breaking up, decided to go back and put large chunks of their being into a fresh album instead. With the city of Atlanta, where the record was conceived of, at the heart of this project, guitarist Lee Tesche says, “It feels like the most Algiers record that we’ve ever made.” It has a long line of musicians standing in belief and support of it, too. Features abound in large numbers, including names such as Big Rube (The Dungeon Family), Samuel T. Herring (Future Islands), Zack de la Rocha, billy woods, Backxwash and many more. Their fourth album will clock in at 17 tracks, with the latest, “Irreversible Damage,” featuring de la Rocha. It’s tight with intensity, with the beat buzzing between your teeth. —Rosa Sofia Kaminski

En Attendant Ana: Principia
I feel like a cliché drooling over another record on Trouble in Mind, but it’s been a while since any one label has so consistently put out the good stuff like this. The French band En Attendant Ana will be releasing their third LP on the label in February, and it’s an uncommonly great piece of work—a gorgeous, heartfelt, pop-minded indie rock instant classic that churns together all manner of recognizable influences into something unique and unmistakable. It’s catchy, it’s jangly, it’s droney, it’s got robotic rhythms straight out of krautrock driving delicately human pop songs—it’s something special. And I’ve got to single out “Wonder,” an intricately structured miniature epic that is easily my most listened to song in 2023 so far. En Attendant Ana have been around for a spell but aren’t that well-known in the States yet; this should be the one to fix that. —Garrett Martin

Gorillaz: Cracker Island
After releasing a track called “Cracker Island (feat. Thundercat)” last summer to very little fanfare, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s animated band Gorillaz announced a new album of the same name, coming out on Warner Records. “New Gold (feat. Tame Impala & Bootie Brown),” was our second preview of the record. Gorillaz’s eighth studio album, and their first since 2020’s Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez, Cracker Island features collaborations with Stevie Nicks, Bad Bunny, Beck and Adeleye Omotayo, in addition to Thundercat, Tame Impala and the band’s longtime collaborator Bootie Brown (of The Pharcyde). Recorded in London and L.A. last year, the 10-track LP is produced by Gorillaz, eight-time Grammy winner Greg Kurstin, and Remi Kabaka Jr. —Scott Russell

U.S. Girls: Bless This Mess
In 2020, U.S. Girls, Meg Remy’s electro-pop stage name, released Heavy Light, one of the year’s sweetest experimental records. It would garner an Alternative Album of the Year nomination at the Juno Awards in 2021 and set expectations high for whatever Remy’s next record would become. Fast-forward to 2023 and Remy has returned with Bless This Mess a sign-of-the-times project conducted in the wake of a still-going pandemic and Remy’s pregnancy in 2022. From the seething guitars of “Futures Bet” to the scaled-back, stringed balladry of the title track, Remy is uninterested in making the same record twice. Bless This Mess, the Toronto-based musician’s eighth studio album since 2008, is daring, diverse and enchanting. If Bless This Mess marks an apex for Remy, whose 2018 record In a Poem Unlimited remains one of the best electronic projects of the last decade, may it continue burning on in perpetuity. —Matt Mitchell

shame: Food For Worms
South London rockers shame have announced their third album, Food for Worms, coming out on Dead Oceans. Frontman Charlie Steen describes the band’s Drunk Tank Pink follow-up as “the Lamborghini of shame records,” while a press release says the album, produced by Flood (Nick Cave, U2, PJ Harvey), “marks a sonic departure from anything they’ve done before, and—for the first time—the band are not delving inwards, but seeking to capture the world around them.” Steen says of this shift in focus, “I don’t think you can be in your own head forever. It’s weird, isn’t it? Popular music is about love, heartbreak, or yourself. There isn’t much about your mates.” On the first single, “Fingers of Steel,” Steen and company pair this new perspective with a fresh sense of purpose and restraint. The brute force post-punk of their 2018 debut Songs of Praise is gone, replaced by more clear-eyed precision and complex instrumentation. A distant piano is soon joined by staccato guitar and backing vocals, as Steen observes an avatar of our modern plight: Alone, indoors, days devoid of meaningful connection, chasing fake validation online—always wanting, never fulfilled. “Well, this time you feel that you’ve been found / But when you look there’s no one around,” shame sing in unison, their singalong punctuated with spidery riffs. Looming synths cast a shadow over the song halfway in, like the sun going down at the end of an already-dark day. An explosive solo races like an anxious mind, shortly before the song drifts to an abrupt end. —Scott Russell

More notable February 24 releases: Adam Lambert: High Drama, Braxton Cook: Who Are You When No One Is Watching?, Death Valley Girls: Islands in the Sky, Dierks Bentley: Gravel & Gold, Gina Birch: I Play My Bass Louder, Godsmack: Lighting Up the Sky, Heinali: Kyiv Eternal, Iris DeMent: Workin’ on a World, John Lee Hooker: Burnin’, Logic: College Park, Lucero: Should’ve Learned by Now, Miss Grit: Follow the Cyborg, Neutral Milk Hotel: The Collected Works of Neutral Milk Hotel, Philip Selway: Strange Dance, The Church: The Hypnogogue, The Necks: Travel, Tiësto: Drive