This one snuck up on us: There was so much fuss leading up to this week’s biggest release, Vampire Weekend’s Father of the Bride, that it was hard for many other records to get a word in edgewise. As a result, the windfall of great albums out this week took us somewhat by surprise, and today’s list is as much for you as it is for us to help sort through everything we’re hearing. Here are 10 essential albums to check out today.
1. Barrie, Happy to Be Here
This Brooklyn five-piece fronted by Barrie Lindsay takes a fresh, dreamy approach to classic pop that’s at its most captivating on their debut record Happy to Be Here. Awash with major-key synth hooks, and tight, discerning lyrics about moving to New York and finding your people, Happy to be Here is a record you won’t want to miss.
2. Big Thief, U.F.O.F.
Big Thief’s third record holds some of Adrianne Lenker, Buck Meek and company’s most confident and revelatory songwriting to date, and that’s saying something when your last two records were Capacity and Masterpiece. The band has spent so much time on the road together in the last few years that they seem to have learned to anticipate each other’s ideas, embracing sonic left turns and off-kilter hooks with ease.
3. Empath, Active Listening: Night on Earth
Empath’s exhilarating blend of psych rock, noise and punk is in rare form on their first proper album together, Active Listening: Night on Earth. The record kicks off with raucous, buzzing synths and sampled bird sounds on “Soft Shape,” and doesn’t let up until the arena-sized “Rodeo Fever” brings the house down 20 minutes later.
4. Filthy Friends, Emerald Valley
The alt-rock supergroup led by Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney and R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck has returned with a new album called Emerald Valley. It’s a sprawling, nostalgic shot of hearty rock songwriting bolstered by the noisy splendor of early singles “November Man” and “Last Chance County.”
5. L7, Scatter the Rats
LA’s legendary all-female punk band L7 have returned with their seventh studio album and first since reforming the band in 2014. The members of L7 clearly haven’t lost any of their snarling grunge spirit in the two decades since they last put out a new record, and the lead single “Burn Baby” would sound right at home on their 1992 breakout album Bricks Are Heavy.
6. Pile, Green and Gray
In certain circles in the Northeast, Pile might as well be the first and only rock band on Earth, and they’ve shown why on their sixth proper album Green and Gray. Frontman Rick Maguire has come through with some of his most personal and varied songwriting to date, moving seamlessly between the unbridled rage of centerpiece “The Soft Hands of Stephen Miller” to the emotive, orchestral swells of tracks like “Hair” and “No Hands.”
7. Tacocat, This Mess Is a Place
Seattle punk band Tacocat have returned with their fourth studio album and first on Sub Pop, This Mess Is a Place. They’ve still got all of their fun-loving spirit from past records, but this time around it’s more focused on making sense of our current political climate and the often overwhelming role that the news cycle can play in our daily lives.
8. Tank and The Bangas, Green Balloon
The transcendent new album from Tank and The Bangas is finally here, and it somehow manages to exceed our already-high expectations. Featuring production from Robert Glasper, Mark Batson, Jack Splash and more, Green Balloon brings together the best elements of modern hip-hop, funk and soul to create a stunningly expressive and unique package.
9. Vampire Weekend, Father of the Bride
After years of speculation and anticipation, Vampire Weekend’s fourth album Father of the Bride has arrived at last. They’re short a member—although Rostam does appear here and there throughout the album—but they more than make up for it with guest spots from the likes of Steve Lacy and Danielle Haim. Father of the Bride is a sprawling collection of ideas that showcases Ezra Koenig’s immeasurable talent for pop songcraft and lyrical brevity.
10. Versing, 10,000
Seattle quartet and recent Hardly Art signees Versing have dropped their third studio album 10,000. It’s a youthful, uninhibited set of songs that reveals the band’s love for nimble melodies and fuzzy guitar textures. There are a lot of comparisons to be drawn here to fellow Seattle rockers like Car Seat Headrest and Chastity Belt, but the nervy, freewheeling energy of tracks like “Tethered,” “Offering” and “Renew” make it clear that Versing have hit on a sound entirely their own.