Ten May Albums Worth Checking Out

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According to popular rhyming legend, May is a month typically rife with beautiful flora. But this fifth month of 2010 is also pretty stacked with great new releases. Below are 10 of the best:

Josh RitterSo Runs the World Away [Pytheas, May 4]
Review (8.3/10) excerpt from Paste’s April/May issue: “Josh Ritter hits a beautiful stride on his sixth album, a soulful combination of conversational folk ballads and powerful gut punches. He’s not the only one channeling the greats, but he does it better than almost anyone else today.” Jenna Woginrich

The Hold SteadyHeaven is Whenever [Vagrant, May 4]
Review (8.0) excerpt from Paste’s April/May issue: “One might suspect that The Hold Steady’s rock repurposing would eventually chafe, but they’re achieving the opposite effect, again pulling off with heroic sincerity the idea that heaven is lying on the floor listening to records—even if you’re well past 16.” Jeff Vrabel

The New PornographersTogether [Matador, May 4]
Review (8.0) excerpt from Paste’s April/May issue: “Learning that the band’s fifth album, Together, is their most oddly cohesive and stickiest yet is great but hardly remarkable news—the same has been said for almost all of their previous releases. What’s surprising, though, is how loose and comfortable it all feels; the record is punchy, but it breathes easily with a kind of windows-open grace.” Jeff Vrabel

Elizabeth Cook – Welder [31 Tigers, May 11]
Review (8.4/10) excerpt from Paste’s June issue: “Hilltop funerals, soup kitchens and backcountry hoe-downs become the stuff of legend in Welder’s expansive tales, and though it features production by Don Was and guest appearances by Crowell and Buddy Miller, this album is all about Cook finally finding her voice—irreverent, hilarious and gritty as Appalachian soil.” Rachel Dovey

The National – High Violet [4AD, May 11]
Review (8.1) excerpt from Paste’s April/May issue: “The National’s unique brand of torture-chamber pop and fascination with 21st-century paranoia and psychological unrest provide an evocative thematic template; it’s not a blueprint for mainstream crossover success, but High Violet has the potential to elevate the band’s profile.” Jason Killingsworth

LCD SoundsystemThis is Happening [DFA/EMI, May 18]
Review (9.3/10) excerpt: “Make no mistake: Murphy and his crew are fully committed to this album. There’s a remarkable sustained energy to this collection; its electronic textures thrum and shimmy, and wall after sonic wall is built up and torn down with impeccable precision.” Rachael Maddux

Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid [The Wondaland Arts Society/Bad Boy, May 18]
Review (9.1/10) from Paste’s June issue: “The ArchAndroid is especially impressive for how early it arrives in Monáe’s career. OutKast’s similarly ambitious Speakerboxx/The Love Below came almost a decade after their debut; Stevie Wonder had recorded almost 20 albums before his mind exploded into Key of Life. Monáe may be an alien or an android, but if this is just the beginning, she may wind up a legend.” Justin Jacobs

Band of HorsesInfinite Arms [Brown Records/Fat Possum/Columbia, May 18]
Review (9.2/10) excerpt from Paste’s June issue: “Band of Horses finally sound comfortable being what they are: A rock band. A really fucking good rock band.” Bart Blasengame

Nas and Damian Marley – Distant Relatives [Universal Republic, May 18]
Review (7.9/10) from Paste’s June issue: “This is a solid, serious collection of songs—the product of two thoughtful and ambitious musicians.” Mark Krotov

Bettye LaVette – Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook [Anti-, May 25]
Review (7.3/10) excerpt from Paste’s June issue: “She doesn’t just cover The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Who, Led Zeppelin and more—she wholly re-imagines the songs. LaVette’s raw singing chops revitalize transcendent lyrics that many of today’s top female singers wouldn’t be able to handle.” Sara Libby

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