The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in March

Featuring serpentwithfeet, Floating Points & Pharoah Sanders, Esther Rose and more

Music Lists New Albums
The 10 Albums We’re Most Excited About in March

The first quarter of 2021 is already drawing to a close, an observation that’s more meaningless than ever in these blurry times. We’re coping the usual way: with music, namely our most-anticipated albums of this month, rolling out as of this first New Music Friday of March. After the shortest month of the year punched way above its weight, March has a tough act to follow, but it also has lots to offer, from the buzzy second effort from serpentwithfeet to the return of Arab Strap after nearly two decades. We break down all our picks for this month’s most exciting new releases after the jump.

March 5

Adult Mom: Driver
Epitaph Records

Stevie Knipe’s Adult Mom is back, unveiling their first new record since parting ways with now-defunct label Tiny Engines. The details of Driver arrived in January alongside “Sober,” only the indie-pop project’s second new song since their 2017 sophomore album Soft Spots. Knipe co-produced Driver alongside Kyle Pulley (Shamir, Diet Cig, Kississippi), also collaborating with Olivia Battell and Allegra Eidinger on its 10 tracks. The album (which “sets out to soundtrack the queer rom-com they’ve been dreaming of since 2015,” per a press release) follows the aforementioned Soft Spots and Adult Mom’s 2015 debut Momentary Lapse of Happily, as well as five EPs they released between 2012 and 2014. Driver is their first full-length release on a label other than Tiny Engines, which collapsed after Adult Mom and a slew of other signees accused them of withholding payments and various other acts of mismanagement. It’s a new day for Adult Mom, and they’re in the Driver’s seat. —Scott Russell

Arab Strap: As Days Get Dark
Rock Action

The seventh studio album from Scottish rock duo Arab Strap—the first since 2005’s The Last Romance, not to mention their breakup the following year—As Days Get Dark finds Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton reuniting to make music that braves new sonic territory while remaining true to the band’s ‘90s/’00s output. The result is a sparse, yet sprawling album “about hopelessness and darkness, but in a fun way,” as Moffat puts it. “Dark” is simply unavoidable as a descriptor for this record, a drum machine-driven, synth-studded exploration of where human beings turn for comfort in bleak times. Producer Paul Savage, with whom Arab Strap collaborated on their first, second and sixth albums, returns for As Days Get Dark, assisting the duo in wrangling the record’s many jazz, post-rock and electronic flourishes. Moffat’s signature Sprechgesang vocal delivery, in particular, gives Arab Strap’s comeback an of-the-moment feel, as do his erudite, blackly comic, frequently horny lyrics—these are songs like short stories, well-worth getting lost in, as engrossing as they are ominous. —Scott Russell

Genesis Owusu: Smiling with No Teeth
House Anxiety / Ourness

Genre classifications can be a helpful shorthand when it comes to understanding and engaging with new music, but nowadays, more and more artists are leaving them entirely in the dust. Just take Ghana-born, Australia-based musician Genesis Owusu, whose thrilling debut record Smiling with No Teeth is consistently difficult to pin down in a way that feels nothing less than vital. The avant-garde, yet undeniably accessible album spans glitchy, Death Grips-esque electro-hip-hop, lush dark-pop and R&B, lusty synth-funk and new-wave rock, with Owusu as the charismatic presence in the eye of the stylistic cyclone. On lead single “Gold Chains” and the album as a whole, Owusu exposes “the flaws of being in a profession where, more and more, you have to be the product, rather than just the provider of the product,” emphasizing the human being under all that gold, whose peace of mind may be the price he pays. —Scott Russell

More notable March 5 releases: Bernice: Eau De Bonjourno, IAN SWEET: Show Me How You Disappear, Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird: These 13, Kings of Leon: When You See Yourself, The Spill Canvas: Conduit, Fruit Bats: The Pet Parade, Tigers Jaw: I Won’t Care How You Remember Me, Zara Larsson: Poster Girl

March 12

Valerie June: The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers
Fantasy Records

Tennessee-born singer/songwriter Valerie June “takes the dreamer’s path” on her first new album since 2017’s The Order of Time, expanding the scope of her already-nuanced folk/soul stylings to incorporate elements of funk, pop and psychedelia—adding a touch of the cosmic to her Americana. June, who co-produced her new record alongside Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Alicia Keys, John Legend), wastes no time in setting its tone, opening with three-song suite “Stay” / “Meditation” / “You and I,” and drawing inspiration elsewhere from the likes of Afrobeat giant Fela Kuti and David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti. “With this record, it finally became clear why I have this dream of making music. It’s not for earthly reasons of wanting to be awarded or to win anybody’s love—it’s because dreaming keeps me inquisitive and keeps me on that path of learning what I have to share with the world,” said June in a statement. “When we allow ourselves to dream like we did when we were kids, it ignites the light that we all have within us and helps us to have a sort of magic about the way we live.” —Scott Russell

More notable March 12 releases: Allie Crow Buckley: Moonlit and Devious, Baby Boys: Threesome, Blake Mills & Pino Palladino: Notes with Attachments, DJ Muggs the Black Goat: Dies Occidendum, Eyehategod: A History Of Nomadic Behavior, The Horrors: Lout EP, Lake Street Dive: Obviously, Perfume Genius: Immediately Remixes, Really From: Really From, Sorry: A Night at the Windmill

March 19

Notable March 19 releases: Arcade Fire & Owen Pallett: Her (Original Score), Becca Mancari: Juniata EP, Black Honey: Written & Directed, Benny the Butcher & Harry Fraud: The Plugs I Met 2, Chad VanGaalen: World’s Most Stressed Out Gardener, dad sports: I AM JUST A BOY LEAVE ME ALONE !!! EP, Lana Del Rey: Chemtrails over the Country Club, Loretta Lynn: Still Woman Enough, Middle Kids: Today We’re the Greatest, Ringo Starr: Zoom In, Serj Tankian: Elasticity, William Doyle: Great Spans of Muddy Time

March 26

Clever Girls: Constellations
Egghunt Records

Burlington, Vermont’s Clever Girls, the indie-rock songwriting project of Diane Jean, have been waiting a long while to release their second album Constellations. They started writing the record in early 2018, before they’d even finished recording their debut, Luck, and after Jean had come out as queer and gender-nonconforming. These songs find the songwriter working towards personal autonomy and acceptance, and surround their unflinching emotional journey with versatile, always-compelling guitars and dynamic arrangements that keep the listener off balance, unsure of what’s around the corner of the next measure. Constellations is music for those who look inside themselves and are unsure of what it is they see, but refuse to turn away. —Scott Russell

Esther Rose: How Many Times
Father/Daughter Records

Esther Rose announced her new album How Many Times back in January. It’s her third full-length, and it follows her 2019 album You Made It This Far. The announcement also came with a Sarrah Danziger-directed music video for the title track. “How Many Times” mixes Rose’s tried-and-true country roots with a doo-wop-esque sway and some sha-la-la’s for good measure. Add fiddle, lap steel and acoustic guitar to Rose’s winsome, compassionate vocals and timeless tale of heartbreak that needs to be numbed, and what’s not to love? “It’s not really just about feeling better, it’s about feeling it, whatever it is,” Rose says of her forthcoming album. Paste praised You Made It This Far for “seamlessly mixing musical nostalgia with the pressures of being a young-ish adult in 2019.” —Lizzie Manno

Floatie: Voyage Out
Exploding in Sound

Chicago rock quartet Floatie will make their full-length debut this month, releasing Voyage Out via Exploding in Sound on March 26. The second single from the LP debuted on Wednesday, with “Shiny” following in the footsteps of lead track “Catch a Good Worm” in more ways than one. Both songs blend “piquant indie-pop and sharp math rock,” as Lizzie Manno previously put it, making the most of both the former subgenre’s sneaky hooks and the latter’s spirited, shifting rhythms. Lightly palm-muted guitars wend their way around Sam Bern’s vocals, with dreamy psych-rock riffage taking over between verses. The track’s lyrics are as intentionally considered as its instrumentation: Floatie say “Shiny” is “about finding the drive to make choices that will give you self-assurance and help you to feel worthy of others’ companionship. It is about forcing your own luck by committing to your decisions.” If Floatie are taking their own advice and faking it till they make it, let’s just say it’s working. —Scott Russell

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra: Promises
Luaka Bop

Everything about Promises—the forthcoming collaboration between English electronic producer Sam Shepherd (aka Floating Points), legendary jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and The London Symphony Orchestra—is, first and foremost, dreamlike. This began even with the album’s announcement: The body of the press release consisted only of a pair of conversations between Shepherd and Sanders, presumably transcribed during the Promises sessions; in one, Sanders speaks about music coming to him in dreams (“I’m on a ship. In the ocean. Bears coming around smoking cigars. The bears are singing, ‘We have the music. We have what you’re looking for’”), while in the other, Shepherd describes a just-concluded take as “two musicians […] trying to guide each other.” That wavelength, one of wide-eyed wonder and unconscious communion, entirely pervades Promises, a nine-movement collection that blends Sanders’ spiritual jazz with Shepherd’s elegant ambient production. It’s as if the two are in conversation throughout the album, exchanging the secrets of the universe, and sometimes deferring to forces larger than themselves, rendered via sweeping stretches dominated by the LSO. Promises is an abundant, celestial, majestic piece of music—you’re unlikely to hear anything else quite like it this year. —Scott Russell

Lost Girls: Menneskekollektivet
Smalltown Supersound

After collaborating for more than a decade, the Norwegian duo of artist and writer Jenny Hval and multi-instrumentalist Håvard Volden will release their first album as Lost Girls, Menneskekollektivet (“Human collective,” from the Norwegian). The album draws on the creative chemistry Hval and Volden honed via their time performing together in Hval’s live band, as well as their 2012 collaborative album as Nude on Sand, but sounds quite unlike either of those efforts. Lost Girls began recording in March 2020, before the songs felt ready, and as a result, improvisation factors heavily into Menneskekollektivet, a surreal blend of synth loops and drum machines with Hval’s sometimes-spoken, sometimes-sung monologues, through which she brings her subconscious to the surface. “Making me an opposition,” she murmurs on “Love, Lovers,” entangled in her own mind, yet determined to capture her innermost wonder. —Scott Russell

serpentwithfeet: DEACON
Secretly Canadian

The second album from Baltimore-raised, Los Angeles-based artist serpentwithfeet is on its way: The details of DEACON arrived in January alongside lead single/video “Fellowship,” a tender and contemplative track featuring Sampha and Lil Silva, who co-wrote and -produced it alongside serpentwithfeet. DEACON is serpentwithfeet’s sophomore album, following his 2018 debut soil. “With DEACON, serpent is not only imagining but exploring a world wherein Black love is paramount. It’s a study rather than a story delving into Black, gay love and the tenderness present in the best companionships, romantic or otherwise,” a press release explained, later adding, “DEACON allows compassion to be the backbone of serpent’s art as he communes with his most loving self.” serpentwithfeet said of his Christian official-inspired album title in a statement, “I wanted to create something that felt calm and restrained. This was my way of tapping into the energy many deacons possess.” Between “Fellowship” and “Same Size Shoe,” serpentwithfeet is on a roll with his new singles, and excitement for the full album couldn’t be much higher. —Scott Russell

More notable March 26 releases: Anna Fox Rochinski: Cherry, The Antlers: Green To Gold, Ben Howard: Collections from the Whiteout, Carrie Underwood: My Savior, Death from Above 1979: Is 4 Lovers, Genghis Tron: Dream Weapon, Jack Symes: Tompkins Park, Liquid Tension Experiment: Liquid Tension Experiment 3, Minor Moon: Tethers, Neil Young: Young Shakespeare, Real Estate: Half a Human EP, Sara Watkins: Under the Pepper Tree, The Juliana Theory: A Dream Away, Tune-Yards: sketchy, TUNS: Duly Noted, Xiu Xiu: OH NO

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