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Here’s what’s coming to record stores and streaming services in March

From left to right: Jarvis Cocker, Aimee Mann, Stephin Merritt
From left to right: Jarvis Cocker, Aimee Mann, Stephin Merritt

Every Friday, dozens of new records are released into the wild. Some make big splashes, and others sink almost immediately. For most music consumers, it’s almost too much information, and save for those precious few who spend their hours glued to review sites and release calendars, it’s hard to know what’s coming out when. Thankfully, The A.V. Club is ready to help those struggling souls. Each month, we’ll publish a fairly comprehensive list of what’s coming to record stores and streaming services in upcoming weeks, complete with capsule previews so interested parties can know what to expect.

March 3

Blanck Mass, World Eater

Fuck Buttons’ Benjamin John Power returns for his third album as Blanck Mass, following the mold broken by 2015’s Dumb Flesh—a record that saw him moving beyond his earlier, watery abstractions into a more visceral form of buzzing, spliced-and-diced electronic music. World Eater is even more aggressive (symbolized by the snarling dog on its cover), simmering with animalistic anger in its surging synths and sputtering vocal loops, though it’s every bit as cathartically enjoyable. [Sean O’Neal]

Bleached, Can You Deal?

This four-song EP from Bleached is as punchy of a statement as the band’s ever made. Paired with a zine featuring essays, poetry, lyrics, and more from a laundry list of contributors, Bleached pushes back against the tired narrative of being a “girl band” that’s been thrust upon the band time and again. Bleached is at its best when it goes for the throat, and Can You Deal? does exactly that. [David Anthony]

Converge, Jane Live

At last year’s Roadburn Festival the long-standing hardcore act Converge turned in two very special sets. One was called “Blood Moon,” which saw the band and a few collaborators—Chelsea Wolfe, Cave In’s Stephen Brodsky, and Neurosis’ Steve Von Till—join Converge to reinterpret the band’s material. Converge also did a full run-through of its canonical 2001 album Jane Doe for the first time ever, and a recording of that performance will serve as the band’s latest live album, Jane Live. As the vicious version of the album’s title track proves, 15 years didn’t take the edge off, with the band sounding razor-sharp and vocalist Jacob Bannon appearing just as wounded as he did in 2001. Maybe, if we’re lucky, Converge will end up releasing the “Blood Moon” set too. [David Anthony]

Grandaddy, Last Place

More than 10 years after the release of Just Like The Fambly Cat, Grandaddy has shaken off the cobwebs and come quietly back with a new album full of gentle grooves and just-distorted-enough guitars, as though no time at all has gone by. Head songwriter Jason Lytle has been busy in the downtime, releasing solo albums and a collaboration with members of Earlimart. But early listens suggest a return to the downtempo rock he perfected all those years ago has been brewing for some time. [Alex McCown-Levy]

Tim Kasher, No Resolution

The erosion of love in monogamous relationships has been Tim Kasher’s bread and butter for over two decades now, influencing every project of his since the dissolution of his seminal Omaha band Slowdown Virginia. Whether on Cursive’s Domestica or The Good Life’s Album Of The Year, Kasher has routinely found new ways to convey the heartache of a divorce or breakup, so it’s no surprise that his latest solo effort, No Resolution, would cover some well-worn ground. What sets this batch of songs apart, however, is that it doubles as the soundtrack for Kasher’s directorial debut, also titled No Resolution, which premiered last year in Omaha. Spoiler alert: I’m guessing the boy and girl don’t stay together. [Leonardo Adrian Garcia]

Lusine, Sensorimotor

On his fourth album for Ghostly International, electronic composer Jeff McIlwain—better known as Lusine—doesn’t stray far from the skittering, dewy-eyed dance abstractions heard on previous releases, maintaining a consistently strong control of his melodic take on ambient techno. Once again, he works from a lush and lovely palette of warm, processed beats; resonant synth-pads; music-box chimes; and cut-and-paste vocal loops to create songs that vary lightly between IDM flutters and gorgeous electropop, all unified by their calm, icy beauty. [Sean O’Neal]

The Magnetic Fields, 50 Song Memoir

If anybody’s perfected gimmicks, it’s Stephin Merritt, who has made albums like i and 69 Love Songs, which transcend their premises to make for solid pop records. Merritt’s 50 Song Memoir contains one song for each of his 50 years, and he played over 100 instruments on the album to make it happen. You’ll also be able to buy a version of the album that includes an interview with Daniel Handler, who has played accordion with The Magnetic Fields and wrote A Series Of Unfortunate Events. [Laura M. Browning]

Minus The Bear, Voids

Since the release of Omni in 2010, Minus The Bear has largely left its math-rock sounds in the rearview. The band is still progressive, but lately it’s had a penchant for ’80s-styled synth-pop instead of the dancing arpeggios of its early days. As songs like “Last Kiss” show, the band is capable of carving memorable hooks all the same, showing a command that transcends genre. [David Anthony]

Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, Drool

After years of dropping albums and mixtapes seemingly at random—and jumping from rap to math-rock to whatever-the-fuck in the process—Chicago’s Nnamdi Ogbonnaya will release Drool, his most cohesive and coherent record to date. Ogbonnaya has always been a self-described weirdo, but those tendencies are tempered here, making for a record that’s still insular and obtuse, but in ways that are charming instead of alienating. [David Anthony]

Ed Sheeran, ÷

Pronounced “Divide,” Ed Sheeran’s new record finds the 26-year-old British redhead in what he says is his finest form yet. Whether that’s true has yet to be seen, but the record’s first two singles, “Shape Of You” and “Castle On The Hill,” are pretty much Sheeran at his most Sheeran-esque. If you’re into that, you’ll probably like ÷. If you’re not, tough shit, because you’re going to hear these songs everywhere you go anyway. [Marah Eakin]

Sleaford Mods, English Tapas

A British duo that’s part rap, part punk, and part who-knows-what, Sleaford Mods kind of sound like the comedian bit in the middle of Blur’s “Parklife.” That’s not a bad thing, though. Sleaford Mods take their Streets-like raps and push them a bit further, bringing in more dance-floor vibes, political subjects, and punk aesthetic. It’s an enchantingly weird and wonderful mix, and something that deserves more fans. English Tapas will hopefully get more eyes on the Mods, who will also mount their first-ever U.S. tour this spring. [Marah Eakin]

March 10

Bush, Black And White Rainbows

Unlike most of its ’90s alt-rock counterparts, Bush has never broken up. The group’s frontman, Gavin Rossdale, might have gone through some personal drama with his ex, Gwen Stefani, but the group remains relatively stable, save for a couple of new members. Black And White Rainbows is pretty much what you’d expect from the group that made Razorblade Suitcase and Sixteen Stone, but for listeners who still pull out those old chestnuts, that’s probably okay. [Marah Eakin]

Darkest Hour, Godless Prophets And The Migrant Flora

“Yeah, we know who we are.” Those are the words of Darkest Hour founding member/guitarist Mike Schleibaum, who in a behind-the-scenes featurette about the band’s upcoming album Godless Prophets And The Migrant Flora talks about how, now that the band has eight albums under its belt, they know exactly who they are. There’s a certain truth to that; if you were a fan of the band’s 2003 breakthough Hidden Hands Of A Sadist Nation, you’ll likely find this latest batch of songs enjoyable, as Darkest Hour’s approach to metal hasn’t really changed. If you needed more of reason to listen: Converge’s Kurt Ballou produced this album with the band. [Leonardo Adrian Garcia]

Greg Graffin, Millport

When punk frontmen look to branch out genre-wise, they tend to duck into the alley of folk, as it allows them to marry the anthemic qualities of punk with softer, though no less chugging, acoustic guitar. Zigging where others have zagged, Bad Religion lead singer Greg Graffin has chosen to go full-on country on his third solo effort, Millport. Despite being written and sung by one of punk’s elder statesmen (and Cornell PhD), tracks like “Making Time” and “Backroads Of My Mind” feature harmonies that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Dixie Chicks album. And that’s not meant to be a put-down. [Leonardo Adrian Garcia]

Hurray For The Riff Raff, The Navigator

New Orleans folk outlet Hurray For The Riff Raff is known to underpin its sultry folk arrangements with social commentary, and The Navigator only deepens this practice. Frontwoman Alynda Segarra has written a record that tells “an interwoven, cinematic story of a wandering soul at a crossroads of identity and ancestral weight. It finds a street kid named Navita traversing a perpetually burning city in search of herself.” Navita may be fictional, but her story sounds a bit like Segarra’s own and is based on very real and pressing issues of social justice and equality. Segarra had in mind the Standing Rock protesters and the people of Peńuelas, Puerto Rico (whose water supply was contaminated with coal ash), when writing single “Rican Beach,” and she minces no words in conveying the weight of putting one’s life on the line to assert one’s existence and legitimacy. The Navigator will be a frank exploration of resistance that traverses a bit of new musical territory for the band. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Jay Som, Everybody Works

The title of Jay Som’s debut album speaks to the human nature that Melina Duterte finds herself fascinated by. Throughout Everybody Works Duterte digs into simple moments, like riding the bus (“The Bus Song”) or the intersection of creativity and gainful employment (“Everybody Works”). Duterte at times recalls Alex G, another artist that utilizes a smorgasbord of effects to color in the empty spaces. [David Anthony]

Laura Marling, Semper Femina

The English musician returns with her sixth studio album, the first since 2015’s wanderlust-filled Short Movie. This latest effort finds her moving even further afield musically from her roots, experimenting with different instrumentation and song structure, as shown in the bluesy, slinky leadoff single “Soothing.” Thematically, it looks to continue the exploration of femininity the artist delved into with her recent podcast series, Reversal Of The Muse. Of course, knowing Marling’s muse, it’ll be all of that, but just a little bit weirder than you expect. [Alex McCown-Levy]

Pillorian, Obsidian Arc

For 20 years Agalloch was at the forefront of the American black-metal scene. Last May, the band split in a rather tumultuous way, and its members splintered into two different projects. Pillorian was formed by John Haughm, the founder of Agalloch and the band’s guitarist-vocalist. Obsidian Arc is Pillorian’s debut, and while it’s easy to see hints of Agalloch creeping in, songs like “A Stygian Pyre” are much more traditionally black metal. Though given Haughm’s penchant for experimentation, Obsidian Arc will surely be anything but straightforward. [David Anthony]

The Shins, Heartworms

The Shins haven’t released a record in five years, which is almost an eternity in indie-rock years. That’ll change when Heartworms drops. Only the band’s fifth record, if you can believe that, Heartworms was written and produced almost entirely by the group’s frontman, James Mercer, something that could mark the band’s move back toward a simpler aesthetic. The first single, “Name For You,” is especially charming, with Mercer finding inspiration for the feminist anthem in his three young daughters. [Marah Eakin]

The Spirit Of The Beehive, Pleasure Suck

While Philadelphia’s The Spirit Of The Beehive previously dealt in shoegaze-flavored punk, its debut album for Tiny Engines skews toward overt psychedelia. “Ricky (Caught Me Tryin’)” is a prime example of the band’s ability to get a little trippy without losing the plot, as Spirit hides hooks in the background, the kind that slowly seep into your brain even if it takes a few listens to fully comprehend them. [David Anthony]

Tennis, Yours Conditionally

The Denver-based duo returns for its first album since 2014, with more sweet melodies carried by Alaina Moore’s clear, pure voice. Soul undertones in the single “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar” are a nice counterweight to the group’s twee tendencies, and though it doesn’t seem like the album will break entirely new ground, the two released songs suggest more perfectly pleasant listening. [Laura M. Browning]

Your Old Droog, Packs

Your Old Droog is unfairly known for sounding almost exactly like Nas, spitting with the same throaty rasp and spiritual eloquence that Queensbridge’s finest does at his (intermittent) best. Unlike Nas, though, who has chased the mainstream for decades now, Your Old Droog has proven to be a grade-A rap weirdo, dropping an EP about his favorite rock bands as well as a full song about his love for news anchor Tamron Hall. His upcoming second full-length, Packs, already has promising singles—including one with the long-missing Edan—which gives reason to believe the emcee is stepping into his talent. [Clayton Purdom]

March 17

Anohni, Paradise

Teaming up once again with Hudson Mohawke and OneOhtrix Point Never, Anohni offers up a companion EP to last year’s critically acclaimed Hopelessness. Paradise’s six songs will continue to explore hefty themes, as on its title track, where feminism and environmentalism intersect. “Paradise” draws you in with its irresistible dubstep/trap rhythms only to make you want to clutch your stomach over the nauseating starkness of its subject matter, much like being fooled by the “kaleidoscope / without escape” of its choruses. But we come to Anohni for that kind of beautiful rawness. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzales, Room 29

Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker joins pianist and songwriter Chilly Gonzales for a concept album about the ghosts living in Room 29 of the Château Marmont. Cocker’s baritone sing-song—often with absurd lyrics like “You don’t need a girlfriend / You need a social worker”—pairs nicely against Gonzales’ spare piano melodies. Expect some more lush orchestrations and performative aspects, as the album includes a flautist, a French horn player, and a film historian. [Laura M. Browning]

Depeche Mode, Spirit

It’s good that Depeche Mode’s upcoming 14th album was already positioned as a political album, given that it would have to rebuke claims that it was the official band of the “alt-right” during its promotional cycle. The band’s been fairly consistent over the last decade, and Spirit appears to stay right on track. “Where’s The Revolution?” is built on the dour synths that always served the band well, showing that, even as it ages, Depeche Mode still has plenty left in the tank. [David Anthony]

Jacaszek, KWIATY

Polish composer Michal Jacaszek tends to treat his electroacoustic suites like art installations, building each release around rigorously defined themes or techniques. It’s warmer and more inviting than that sounds, and never more so than on the Ghostly International-released KWIATY, which draws its inspiration from a book of 17th-century metaphysical poetry, yet finds actual, human life in its pairing of guitar drone and warm synth lines with ethereal guest vocalist Hania Malarowska. Fans of Grouper’s hushed, haunting aesthetic should find plenty to like here. [Sean O’Neal]

Conor Oberst, Salutations

Salutations, Conor Oberst’s eighth solo album, is a companion piece to its predecessor, Ruminations, featuring new recordings of all 10 of that album’s tracks. It turns out the album that became Ruminations was originally intended as a set of demos for Oberst’s next album. But when friends heard the sparse, lo-fi recordings, they urged the singer-songwriter to release them as is. Oberst, however, wasn’t done with those tunes and decided to give them full-band workups, as well as invite guests such as Jim James, M. Ward, and Gillian Welch along for the ride. The album also includes seven tracks not featured on Ruminations, so please refrain from calling this a cash grab. [Leonardo Adrian Garcia]

Ty Segall, Emotional Goblin EP

Following the “bizarre ride” of 2016’s Emotional Mugger and January’s self-titled album, San Francisco garage rocker Ty Segall continues his scuzzed-up Marc Bolan love affair with the limited-release EP Emotional Goblin. A-side “Pan” is a chill and chugging, head-bob-inducing tune that starts at a stroll with deadpan, self-aware singing (“You are one of the people that I love / You are one of the people I’m thinking of”), then climbs to a fuzzy guitar peak alongside Segall declaring, “I don’t want to fly / I don’t want to fly / I don’t want to fly / With you no more.” Overlapping guitar solos end the simple yet satisfying song. Seattle-based Suicide Squeeze is only pressing 1,000 of these 7-inches—on half blue, half yellow vinyl—so get ready, completists. [Laura Adamczyk]

Sorority Noise, You’re Not As _____ As You Think

Each new release from Sorority Noise has increased in intensity, even as the band’s music has become more streamlined. Where the band was once lighthearted fun, on You’re Not As _____ As You Think vocalist-guitarist Cameron Boucher lays himself bare, publicly grieving the deaths of his friends and trying to make sense of his own life in the process. It’s far from an easy listen, but it’s a rewarding journey all the same. [David Anthony]

Spoon, Hot Thoughts

Hot Thoughts marks Spoon’s return to Matador Records, the label that released its debut, Telephono, 21 years ago. A fairly solid minimalist psych record, Hot Thoughts is Spoon doing classic Spoon, from funky drum lines to Britt Daniels’ crooning wail. There are some increased elements of drama on tracks like the titular “Hot Thoughts,” but longtime Spoon fans should find much to like across the board. [Marah Eakin]

March 24

Craig Finn, We All Want The Same Things

The third solo record from The Hold Steady frontman, We All Want The Same Things is inspired by love, partnership, and loneliness, as well as by what Craig Finn says he “remembers 1994 being like,” from going away to college to finding his place in the adult world. It’s not an entirely autobiographical record, but some tracks are, including “Preludes,” which Finn says is about “trying to figure out [his] place in a world that didn’t seem to have a lot of room for” him. True to Finn’s style, We All Want The Same Things is also a fairly literary record, with dark humor and glimpses at humanity strung throughout. [Marah Eakin]

Johnny Flynn, Sillion

A folksy British songwriter who also pops up in movies and TV shows from time to time, Johnny Flynn is a bit of a 21st-century renaissance man. Sillion attempts to document Flynn’s attempts to balance everything in his life, including his burgeoning family. Songs like “Raising The Dead” are inspired by Flynn’s experiences getting to know his infant daughter, something he said in press materials was deeply emotional, given the fact that Flynn’s dad died when he was just 18. [Marah Eakin]

The Jesus And Mary Chain, Damage And Joy

It’s been nearly two decades since brothers Jim and William Reid stopped fighting long enough to put out Munki, the last—and presumed final—album from their genre-defining shoegaze group. Time, a series of successful reunion tours, and the natural desire to reclaim its legacy has inspired The Jesus And Mary Chain to return with an all-new record of songs that, thankfully, don’t sound especially contemporary. Rather, if lead single “Amputation” is any indication, JAMC is still squarely stuck in that out-of-time melding of blissful ’60s pop chug and early-’90s squall. Thanks, Jesus. [Sean O’Neal]

Mount Eerie, A Crow Looked At Me

Last year, Mount Eerie’s Phil Elverum lost his wife, the artist Geneviève Castrée. That heartbreaking turn of events inspired Elverum to both crawl inside himself and seek to direct his pain into his art. The result is The Crow Looked At Me, a record that’s soul-crushingly brutal and heartbreakingly honest. It’s deeply personal—almost uncomfortably so—and unbelievably devastating, the aural equivalent of Joan Didion’s The Year Of Magical Thinking. Even Elverum’s most diehard fans will find A Crow Looked At Me hard to get through on one listen, but that doesn’t mean the record doesn’t have merit. It’s a record that will make you cry, but sometimes that’s just what you need. [Marah Eakin]

Kelly Lee Owens, Kelly Lee Owens

Welsh-born singer, composer, and producer Kelly Lee Owens makes her full-length debut this month courtesy of Smalltown Sound. Since contributing vocals and writing to Daniel Avery’s Drone Logic in 2013, Owens has revealed a little more of her own minimal aesthetic with each new EP or single release, several of which reappear on Kelly Lee Owens—her two-year-old tribute to Arthur Russell, the spellbinding cut “Lucid.” After reworking “Kingsize” from Jenny Hval’s 2015 record, Apocalypse, Girl, Owens reconvenes with Hval for KLO’s lead single “Anxi.,” a song of sudden, ambiguous weather where radiant choruses serve as sort of sky-parting sun showers to the track’s dark synth rhythms. It’s about time we had a full-length collection of Owens’ ethereal productions. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Pallbearer, Heartless

Arkansas doom-metal outfit Pallbearer has consistently offered up artisanal dirges that capture the sounds of vintage Black Sabbath without merely worshipping at the altar of Tony Iommi. But as “Thorns” shows, the band has begun moving through metal’s evolutionary timeline. It’s still doom metal, but there are twinges of Metallica circa Master Of Puppets, not so much in the riffing but in the big solos and prog-like expanse that enters around the song’s midway point. It’s a new sound for Pallbearer, but it’s one that’s certainly welcome. [David Anthony]

March 31

Bob Dylan, Triplicate

Bob Dylan has released a hell of a lot of records over the course of his lengthy career, but he’s never released a triple LP until now. Another of Dylan’s forays into classic American songs, Triplicate finds Dylan acting as both singer and bandleader. The tracks are a bit of a snooze, unless you’re into hearing Dylan’s take on “Stormy Weather” and “The Best Is Yet To Come,” but if you’re a Dylan purist—or a Dylan hater—you’ll probably find something at least worth casually thinking about over the course of this record’s 30 tracks. [Marah Eakin]

Hauschka, What If

Composer Volker Bertelmann received an Oscar nomination for Lion (whose score he composed with A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s Dustin O’Halloran), which promises to bring extra attention to What If, his 14th album as Hauschka. Bertlemann works in the “prepared piano” technique popularized by John Cage, expanding the sonic capabilities of his classically trained skills by manipulating its strings to create bizarre textures and counter-melodies. On What If, he expands that further by bringing in warped player pianos and vintage synthesizers, creating a record that is his most varied exploration yet of his instrument’s possibilities. [Sean O’Neal]

Aimee Mann, Mental Illness

A plucky, wry record, Mental Illness was inspired by Aimee Mann’s love of ’60s and ‘70s folk-rock records. It’s full of guest performances from Mann’s pals, including Jonathan Coulton, John Roderick, and Ted Leo—her cohort in The Both—and isn’t inherently about Mann’s struggles (or lack thereof) with mental illness. According to a press release, Mann says that the title is instead a play on peoples’ assumptions about who she is based on her quiet, delicate songs. If the general consensus, she says, is that she makes depressing, downtempo tracks, then she felt like it would be freeing to just give herself “permission to write the saddest, slowest, most acoustic, if-they’re-all-waltzes-so-be-it record” she could. [Marah Eakin]

Mastodon, Emperor Of Sand

Though Mastodon has spent its last couple of records exploring the limits of Thin Lizzy-indebted hard rock, Emperor Of Sand feels a bit like a return to the band’s outright riff-worship. While “Show Yourself” retains the classic-rock stylings of its last couple of records, “Sultan’s Curse” sounds like a lost cut from Leviathan. On the whole, Emperor Of Sand shows Mastodon isn’t interested in sticking with any one sound for long, and the album is better off for it. [David Anthony]

Nana Grizol, Ursa Minor

Ruth, Nana Grizol’s second full-length, is a low-key classic. But it’s been seven years since then and, aside from a one-off cassette tape release, it’d be easy to think the band was no more. But Ursa Minor sees the band from Athens, Georgia, springing back to life and sounding like not a day has passed since Ruth. Nana Grizol’s driving force has always been Theo Hilton, who makes the kind of twee-inspired punk that fans of The Weakerthans should welcome with open arms. [David Anthony]

Pharmakon, Contact

The release of Contact serves as a celebration for Margaret Chardiet, as much as a Pharmakon record can be described as celebratory. Contact marks 10 years of Chardiet working under the Pharmakon moniker, and while she’s always dealt in harsh, electronic-based noise, she’s always been able to capture the space where human and synthetic elements intersect. Contact is far from accessible, but it offers as warm of an introduction to Chardiet’s cacophonous work as any. [David Anthony]

Pile, A Hairshirt Of Purpose

Pile has yet to make the same record twice, with each new entry in the band’s discography exploring a different facet of the Boston band’s sound. While that’s equally true of A Hairshirt Of Purpose, the album feels like the best summary of the band’s disparate pursuits. Songs have the country influence of Jerk Routine, the throat-grabbing immediacy of Dripping, and the heartbreaking intensity of You’re Better Than This. A single listen to “Dogs” shows how much Pile packs into its songs, putting Rick Maguire’s masterful songwriting on full display. [David Anthony]