The 10 Albums We're Most Excited About in April

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The 10 Albums We're Most Excited About in April

At last, April is upon us! There’s no guaranteeing anything any more, but we can at least look forward to the month’s new releases, which, as of Wednesday, includes the long-awaited new Fiona Apple album! Praise be to the indie gods. Also arriving this month is the new release from The Strokes (!!), a spirited album from brother-sister folk group Watkins Family Hour and a few fire new records from up-and-coming groups like Peel Dream Magazine and Why Bonnie. Chaos reigns, but with dark and wild times comes good art, and we’ll be here bringing you the best of it as long as we’re standing. I’d wish you “happy listening,” but “happy” seems like a stretch, so, yeah—just go forth and listen!

April 3

Peel Dream Magazine: Agitprop Alterna


Slumberland Records

Peel Dream Magazine, the project of NYC musician Joe Stevens, began in 2018 with the release of their debut album Modern Meta Physic, 13 pacifying shoegaze tracks marked by background hisses and hushed vocals. The band’s 2020 follow-up Agitprop Alterna is much broader, thanks in part to the live members that appear here like vocalists Jo-Anne Hyun and Isabella Mingione and drummer Brian Alvarez, and also due to its emphasis on a more dynamic sound. It’s still minimal like its predecessor, but the droning is bolder, the pop melodies reach a higher peak and the avant-garde and electro-pop elements are more pronounced. It’s a caressing record with satisfying moments that are felt long after they pass—take for instance the innocent, fluttering keys that close “Brief Inner Mission,” which transition into the wonderfully filtered vocals and blown-out guitars of “NYC Illuminati.” Agitprop Alterna is a loungey, droning, space-age odyssey that might help even the most anxious among us escape for a bit. —Lizzie Manno

Scott Hardware: Engel


Telephone Explosion Records

Engel, the sophomore album from Toronto singer/songwriter Scott Hardware, was inspired by Wim Wenders’ 1987 film Wings of Desire, which follows angels in pre-unified Berlin as they listen to the thoughts of humans and comfort them. “I sought with this album to capture the film’s velvety feeling—funny, depressing, dark and mundane—in LP form,” Hardware says. “These songs imagine Wenders’ angels buzzing around my friends, my family and I. Writing from their point of view allowed me unfettered access to my own thoughts about them and myself.” Engel is filled with touching, elegant art-pop that evokes the flaws and triumphs of everyday people. Plush strings and piano are perfectly suited to this brush with angels while the occasionally jarring electronic textures that adorn this LP point to the world’s beautiful yet cruel disarray. Hardware’s rich vocals are so gorgeous that they embody the noble, supernatural and biblical qualities of these winged healers. —Lizzie Manno

TOPS: I Feel Alive


Musique TOPS

On the cusp of releasing I Feel Alive, their fourth LP and first released on their own label, TOPS are already one of the best bands from Montréal. One could argue that countless copycats have emerged on their heels in recent years, trying to replicate their breezy, retro vibe-inflected francophile pop, but really nobody does it better. TOPS’ music oozes with romance, and it starts with singer Jane Penny’s delectable vocals. On recent single “Direct Sunlight,” Penny mindfully plays on the dichotomy of sunny days with the darkness that eventually always falls upon them. But as with most TOPS songs, the unified sailcloth of synths the band creates never leads us to the dark corner, and instead keeps us firmly under sun rays of joy. —Adrian Spinelli

Thundercat: It Is What It Is


Brainfeeder

When considering the resurgent jazz music movement and its undeniable convergence with hip-hop, Thundercat is the undisputed bass god. Like a new-age Bootsy Collins with George Clinton bravado and Flying Lotus by his side, the LA-based Thundercat readies his fourth album, It Is What It Is, for release this week amid some considerable life shifts. Very close friends with dearly departed rapper Mac Miller, Thundercat devoted himself to a life of sobriety following Mac’s passing and says in a statement that “This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that.” On the chorus of single “Black Qualls,” ‘cat ranges to a high register and affirms an actualization of how he’s transformed himself: “No more living in fear!” He echoes the same emotions without words, as his bass guitar pulsations tread alongside Kamasi Washington’s sax and a FlyLo-painted canvas on the just-released “Interstellar Love,” and I’ll be damned if this isn’t what we’re all after on a Thundercat record. His is music of the future and bless us all, because the future is here. —Adrian Spinelli

More notable April 3 releases: M. Ward: Migration Stories, Anna Burch: If You’re Dreaming, Ellis: Born Again, Born Ruffians: JUICE, Peach Pit: You and Your Friends, Ashley McBryde: Never Will, Yves Tumor: Heaven To A Tortured Mind, Empress Of: I’m Your Empress Of, Melkbelly: PITH, Purity Ring: WOMB

April 10

Hamilton Leithauser: The Loves of Your Life


Glassnote

The teaser videos for the first two singles from Hamilton Leithauser’s third solo LP, The Loves of Your Life, are some of the coolest album promo clips you’ll ever see. In the videos, the former frontman of The Walkmen paints himself to be a bit down and out as he traverses New York to play a new song for his friends Maggie Rogers (“Isabella”) and Ethan Hawke (“Here They Come.”) As the tracks play, Rogers cuts Leithauser’s hair, while Hawke casually beats him up. Just as much as the uncanny wail that’s been at the crux of so many of his stellar albums, Leithauser’s wits are very much still present. The singles are filled with upbeat folk rhythms and layered arrangements that beg for the repeat button. The album was recorded and produced over three years in Leithauser’s home studio, and his solo catalogue is definitely building into a similarly solid gold collection to the one that made The Walkmen so great. —Adrian Spinelli

The Strokes: The New Abnormal


Cult/RCA

Well, we weren’t sure we’d see the day. With all the recent side projects and unfulfilled rumors of new material, the prospect of a new Strokes album began to seem more and more unlikely. But we finally have the good news—The Strokes are releasing their first new album since 2013’s Comedown Machine, and it’s called The New Abnormal. So far, we’ve received two singles, “At the Door” and “Bad Decisions,” with the former veering into the electro-pop of The Voidz and late Strokes material and even melancholy new wave, and the latter recalling the anthemic, stylish rock of their first two albums. At this point, it’s probably safe to assume that we’ll receive a full-length that falls somewhere in between these sounds, much like their 2016 EP Future Present Past. But the most encouraging news is that both songs are some of the best examples of both frameworks in a while—going toe-to-toe with the strongest selections from Comedown Machine and Future Present Past. —Lizzie Manno

Watkins Family Hour: Brother Sister


Family Hour Records/Thirty Tigers

Sara Watkins just can’t keep still. You may know her as a member of beloved indie folk group Nickel Creek, or, more recently, as one-third of the bluegrass supergroup I’m With Her, who released their acclaimed album See You Around in 2018. She’s also a member of what you might call a more tight-knit collective: Watkins Family Hour, the group made up of Sara and her brother Sean Watkins. The pair will release their spirited new album Brother Sister this month, and so far the singles have been energetic acoustic jams featuring the kind of harmonies only family can create. This is Watkins Family Hour’s first release in five years. “It felt really good to dig into the potential of two people…the primary goal of this record became to see what we could do when it is just the two of us,” Sara said of the release in a press statement. “The arrangements and the writing were all focused on that. Listening now, I’m really proud of what we did. These are songs that would not have come out of either one of us individually and it feels like a band sound, like this is what we do, the two of us.” The more the merrier. —Ellen Johnson

Why Bonnie: Voice Box


Fat Possum

Occasionally when a hip new band starts to get considerable buzz there’s usually one single in particular tied to the hype. For Austin-based indie rock group Why Bonnie, that song just might be the blistering “Athlete,” a recently released single from their forthcoming Voice Box EP. It’s truly an attention-grabber, full of fortified feedback fuzz, screeching guitars and the unmistakable power of frontwoman Blair Howerton’s soft yet deep voice. It begins with scratchy violin strings straight out of a horror flick before the band pokes at the idea of athletic prowess “‘Athlete’ is the most ‘rock and roll’ track on the EP so we wanted to make a video that embodied that, but also felt like casual, day-in-the-life footage,” the band said in a statement. “Kind of like watching a home movie that you found in a box in your parents’ attic, but instead of you as a three-year old on the soccer field, you’re a grown adult with about the same skill level.” “Athlete” isn’t the only star single, though: The Voice Box title track is just as attractive, but a bit closer to the dream-pop side of things. Any band who can squeeze this much beautiful noise into such a small amount of output is one to keep your eyes on. —Ellen Johnson

More notable April 10 releases: Maddie & Tae: The Way It Feels, Jackie Lynn: Jacqueline, Laura Marling: Song For Our Daughter, Flat Worms: Antarctica, Trace Mountains: Lost in the Country

Notable April 17 releases: Sarah Siskind: Modern Appalachia, RJD2: The Fun One, Fiona Apple: Fetch the Bolt Cutters, The White Buffalo: On The Widow’s Walk

April 24

Hazel English: Wake UP!


Marathon/Polyvinyl

Australian-born and L.A.-based musician Hazel English has shared a few new singles and lyric music videos ahead of the release of her debut album Wake UP!, the follow-up to 2017’s double EP Just Give In / Never Going Home. “Combat” follows the singles “Shaking” and “Off My Mind” from the forthcoming album, with music videos that give off an undeniable ‘60s vibe. While the music video for “Combat” is only composed of stark black words over an iridescent background, it gives off just as much sunny nostalgia as the other singles, but with a hint of heartbreak behind the dreamy sound. “‘Combat’ is about the push and pull of two people dealing with conflict in a relationship,” says English in a statement. “It’s about how sometimes winning an argument can actually mean losing the real battle—maintaining intimacy with a partner.”—Natalia Keogan

Lucinda Williams: Good Souls Better Angels


Thirty Tigers

Alt-country icon Lucinda Williams is returning this month with a scorching new album, Good Souls Better Angels, that’s all about the entanglement of our ugly sociopolitical moment with that of everyday life. The lead single, “Man Without A Soul,” doesn’t mention a certain president outright, but it’s pretty obviously a protest song about the man in office (though, technically, couldn’t it be about any number of soulfully bankrupt men in Washington?). Good Souls Better Angels finds Williams at her most politically outspoken, but the songwriting and smoky drawl you’ve come to expect from her more intimate love songs and personal stories from her life are still in tact. One of America’s greatest and most trusted songwriters is returning just when we need her most. —Ellen Johnson

More notable April 24 releases: NOVA One: Lovable, Indigo Girls: Look Long

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