Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
J. Cole (Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage via Getty Images), Lizzo (Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images), and Aldous Harding (Photo: Marc Grimwade/WireImage via Getty Images)

Here are 20 albums we can’t wait to hear in April

J. Cole (Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage via Getty Images), Lizzo (Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images), and Aldous Harding (Photo: Marc Grimwade/WireImage via Getty Images)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

March was a great month for music, delivering some of 2019’s greatest highlights so far, and April looks to follow suit. Finally, the gorgeous new Weyes Blood album will see the light of day, as well as promising new LPs from Inter Arma, Mountain Goats, and Aldous Harding. In pop, Marina returns, Diamond-free, with a sprawling double LP, while D.C. punks Priests make their own left turn toward the genre. In hip-hop and R&B, we’re looking forward to J. Cole’s third Revenge Of The Dreamers compilation and Lizzo’s overdue breakout, plus new projects from rappers Rico Nasty and Bbymutha. Here are 21 records we look forward to hearing this month.

April 5

Daniel Avery, Song For Alpha: B-Sides & Remixes

In our list of 2018’s best albums, we wrote that Daniel Avery’s Song For Alpha felt like a “small expanding universe unto itself,” due to its several offshoot EPs and the continuous supply of remixes and bonus tracks that trickled out across the year. This month the London DJ/producer pushes the reaches of that universe out even further, offering up more riffs on Alpha’s moody, cathartic tech house in nine B-Sides and 14 remixes from the likes of Actress, Four Tet, Anastasia Kristensen, Jon Hopkins, and more. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Lady Lamb, Even In The Tremor

Lady Lamb, the musical project of Brooklyn-based songwriter Aly Spaltro, describes Even In The Tremor as her “most sonically soaring and brutally honest album to date,” one that “is the push and pull between calmness and chaos, joy and anxiety, self-loathing and self-love.” Early singles like “Deep Love” and the title track demonstrate different sides of Spaltro’s songwriting, with the latter thrumming with deep bass and pop melodies and the former evoking her early, guitar-driven folk rock. “I’ve never let myself be this exposed before,” she said, “but this whole album is about facing who you are and fighting your way toward self-acceptance.” [Randall Colburn]

Priests, The Seduction Of Kansas

The Seduction Of Kansas sounds like a classy ’70s porno, and the song of the same name from Washington D.C. punk trio Priests has more than enough slick, seductive dance-floor energy to live up to that particular aesthetic. Fans of their first record may be surprised to hear those adjectives applied to Priests’ post-punk sound, but as vocalist Katie Alice Greer describes it, the departure of bassist Taylor Mulitz was a game-changing event for the band, inspiring its remaining members to go for broke with a new pop sound. “It’s almost like the version of Priests that made Nothing Feels Natural really died; we didn’t have time to grieve about that and also had to build a Frankenstein’s monster of a new version of Priests,” she says. The resulting rebirth was produced by John Congleton, whose résumé includes a who’s who of indie luminaries like St. Vincent, Sleater-Kinney, Anna Calvi, and Xiu Xiu. [Katie Rife]

PUP, Morbid Stuff

The beauty of PUP is that the band writes confident, catchy punk songs that are fueled, almost exclusively, by anxiety and indecision. On its third album, PUP offers up a new batch of songs that all play like stadium-punk anthems, but Stefan Babcock is still singing about every stupid thing he’s ever said or done. While songs like “Kids” show a slightly more self-assured Babcock, the band remains at its best as it picks through every one of life’s little indignities and uses them as fodder for catharsis. [David Anthony]

Visible Cloaks, Yoshio Ojima & Satsuki Shibano, FRKWYS Vol. 15: Serenitatem

Serenitatem, the 15th installment of RVNG’s intergenerational collaborative series, FRKWYS, pairs Portland duo Visible Cloaks with Yoshio Ojima and Satsuki Shibano, two pioneers of Japan’s avant-garde music and arts scenes in the ’80s and ’90s. Working from a few different processes including generative music software and improvisation, the quartet aimed to make something that was “not specifically ambient (or environmental), but something more multi-hued.” The many layers of “Stratem,” from cloud-like synth pads to jarring piano flourishes, certainly bear that out. Recommended if you couldn’t get enough of Light In The Attic’s recent Kankyō Ongagku compilation. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Weyes Blood, Titanic Rising

Lead single “Andromeda” evokes smooth ’70s soft-rock sounds beamed over empty expanses of purple desert, and Natalie Mering keeps the AM Gold energy flowing throughout Titanic Rising, her fourth album under the moniker Weyes Blood. It’s a big, lush album, one that takes the intimate piano confessions of Carole King and adult-contemporary cheese of Nicolette Larson, blends them with the singular expressiveness of Kate Bush, and launches them into orbit, a regular international space station of visionary women singer-songwriters gently swaying to the cosmic grooves as they orbit high above the Earth’s surface. Mering herself describes the record as “Bob Seger meets Enya” in a press release; add a dash of This Mortal Coil’s “Song To The Siren” in her dreamy, layered ode to the magic of “Movies,” and we’d be inclined to agree. [Katie Rife]

Also due April 5: The Drums, Brutalism; Ioanna Gika, Thalassa; Khotin, Beautiful You; Martha, Love Keeps Kicking; Prins Thomas, Ambitions; Rozi Plain, What A Boost

April 12

Big Business, The Beast You Are

On its sixth album, the lumbering two-piece known as Big Business doesn’t attempt to reinvent its formula. Bassist-vocalist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis still sound absolutely massive on The Beast You Are, turning in songs that transform the band’s classic sludge metal into something triumphantly anthemic. Fifteen years in, Big Business is still as engaging as it was when the band started, and still finding new ways to pummel with a purpose. [David Anthony]

Inter Arma, Sulphur English

Inter Arma will not be taking the “Baroness route,” as vocalist Mike Paparo puts it in the press notes for Sulphur English. Which is to say, the band’s forthcoming fourth LP betrays no crossover or radio aspirations, no signs that it’s phasing out the heavier side of its doom-sludge-death-rock equation. Quite to the contrary, this may be the most savage, bludgeoning collection of songs yet from the Richmond metal alchemists, who mostly forgo milder and more melodic passages (sparingly employed on previous triumphs like Sky Burial and Paradise Gallows) in favor of nonstop ferocity. Thankfully, a tight, almost tribal sense of rhythm remains integral to the Inter Arma sound, assuring that even the most destructive kaiju rampages (like album standout “Howling Lands”) keep your head bobbing and banging in about equal measure. [A.A. Dowd]

Anderson Paak, Ventura

The lead-up to Oxnard, Anderson Paak’s 2018 Aftermath debut, was long, and the result a little anticlimactic, particularly following an album like Malibu. But we’re still looking forward to the singer’s next stop along the California coastline: Ventura’s first single, “King James,” folds heavy truths into its summery funk, and the album’s collaborations—always highlights on Paak releases—include André 3000, Smokey Robinson, Lalah Hathaway, and Nate Dogg. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Emily Reo, Only You Can See It

Emily Reo’s come a long way since her early, lo-fi recordings, with 2013’s weird, wonderful Olive Juice illustrating how her DIY mind-set could manifest itself in exuberant pop. The lush, busy songs on Only You Can See It represent a step forward from a production perspective, but the singer’s lyrics are also foregrounded. “Strawberry,” for example, boldly calls out music-industry sexism, while “Ghosting” finds a clear-eyed Reo confronting her own struggles with mental illness. Really, though, it’s just thrilling to hear her melodies really, truly exhaling, blossoming with a grandeur that her previous work could only tease. [Randall Colburn]

Shovels & Rope, By Blood

Even in the long lineage of married musical duos, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent share a rare chemistry, writing alt-country songs with grit and gut-wrenching harmonies. By Blood will be their seventh album in 11 years as Shovels & Rope, and the record, self-produced at the pair’s home studio, finds them in top form, seamlessly merging traditional and pop elements. Most importantly, their raw live energy is completely in tact, as heard in rousing single “Mississippi Nuthin.” [Kelsey J. Waite]

Also due April 12: Joshua Abrams & Natural Info Society, Mandatory Reality; Glen Hansard, This Wild Willing; Lowly, Hifalutin; LSD, Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present… LSD

Every Friday we highlight our top five music recommendations, or A-Sides, with a Spotify playlist. Tune in and subscribe here.

April 19

Cage The Elephant, Social Cues

Cage The Elephant, the best rock band winning Grammys these days, is back with its first studio release since 2015’s Tell Me I’m Pretty. Recorded in the aftermath of lead singer Matt Shultz’s divorce, the album was reportedly born from “a fair amount of self-medication and intense isolation.” Early singles “Ready To Let Go” and “House Of Glass” most certainly signal a more turbulent direction, as do influences like Nick Cave, John Carpenter, ’50s-era gangster Ronnie Kray, and the Netflix series I Am A Killer. “Cigarette Daydreams,” these songs are not. [Randall Colburn]

Lizzo, Cuz I Love You

Is the world finally catching up to Lizzo? It sure seems like it: The “Good As Hell” singer preemptively claimed “song of the summer” status with the fresh-squeezed retro bop “Juice” back in January, leading to a series of TV appearances as well as her debut on the Billboard R&B and U.K. Top 40 charts. Now, with a sold-out tour and a flute battle with Ron Burgundy to look forward to, Lizzo is preparing for the release of her third album, Cuz I Love You. The three singles that have been released so far are all wildly different—in addition to the sunny ’80s vibes of “Juice,” she’s dropped the soulful ballad “Cuz I Love You” and the trap-influenced club banger “Tempo”—so the contents of the rest of the album are, for the moment, anyone’s guess. But whatever she does, one thing’s for sure: Lizzo’s going to shine doing it. [Katie Rife]

Also due April 19: Jade Bird, Jade Bird; Fat White Family, Serfs Up; Kelsey Lu, Blood; Daniel Norgren, Wooh Dang; TR/ST, The Destroyer – Pt 1

April 20

Bbymutha, Muthaland

Chattanooga rapper Bbymutha, née Brittnee Moore, follows up a prolific 2018—in which she released EPs Muthaz Day 2 and 3, BbyShoe, Free Brittnee, and The Bastard Tape, Vol. 1—with Muthaland. It’s not Christine, the eminent debut LP Moore described to Ssense as a “concept album [centered] around a woman who’s in love with the devil”—which we can’t wait to hear. But judging from titles like “Roaches Don’t Die” and “Bbymutha’s Body,” it will hold us over with more of Moore’s raw takes on sex, love, and motherhood, delivered in her syrupy Southern flow. [Kelsey J. Waite]

April 26

Aldous Harding, Designer

Aldous Harding is a spellbinding singer-songwriter with rare lyrical and vocal range. Her sophomore album, 2017’s Party, was intensely spare, and marked a clear evolution for the New Zealander as she moved to 4AD. She and producer John Parish (PJ Harvey) return to the label for follow-up Designer, which was announced in February with the delightfully odd video for “The Barrel.” The song is fuller and brighter than anything on Party, and a welcome reminder of Harding’s unique perspective in modern indie folk. Designer, it seems, will be bolder in that vision than ever. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Local Natives, Violet Street

Local Natives, the California-based purveyors of earnest, melancholic pop, return with their fourth studio LP and first since 2016’s major-label debut Sunlit Youth. Those looking for a left turn, stylistically speaking, are advised to look elsewhere: If you were a fan of the increasingly groove-heavy and synth-laden sounds of the last record, this one appears to continue the trend, at least if lead-off single “When Am I Gonna Lose You” is any indication. Barring any unexpected reinventions, Violet Street should continue the group’s tradition of soulful indie rock pitched straight toward a sunset-at-Bonnaroo vibe. [Alex Mclevy]

Marina, Love + Fear

Marina leaves The Diamonds behind for Love + Fear, her fourth studio album and the result of a four-year musical hiatus where she sought to reinvent herself as an artist and “rediscover her authentic self.” Apparently, she found it: The record will be a double album, with two parts each consisting of eight tracks based around psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ theory that love and fear are the two most basic human emotions. The songs on Love all deal with what Marina calls the “longing to enjoy life,” while Fear, perhaps predictably, deals with weightier issues like gender equality and the meaning of human existence. Marina’s latest single, “Orange Trees,” is definitely in the former mode, a sun-kissed synth-pop track perfect for lounging poolside with drink in hand. [Katie Rife]

Mountain Goats, In League With Dragons

In League With Dragons started off as a rock opera in the mind of Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle, but as he delved into his latest ambitious foray into musical storytelling, it morphed into something else entirely. This “dragon noir,” the first of its kind (or at least, to be referred to by that term), is a mix of palace intrigue and shadowy plots brought to light by brave adventurers, cut from molds made by Gary Gygax and Leonardo Sciascia alike. The themes are universal: courage in the face of overwhelming odds paired with Darnielle’s own path toward greater trust in his musical partners. Lead single “Younger” has an almost pastoral feel, while “Cadaver Sniffing Dog” is darker, faster, more urgent. They’re both strong leading tracks, suggesting this “dragon noir” is more a work of alchemy. [Danette Chavez]

Marissa Nadler & Stephen Brodsky, Droneflower

Gloomy goth-folk and mind-bending progressive metal are like chocolate and peanut butter for the clinically depressed. So perhaps it’s not surprising that Marissa Nadler and Stephen Brodsky, two luminaries in their respective subgenres, became fast friends after meeting for the first time at a goth bar in Brooklyn. Now, five years later, the two come together for Droneflower, a collaborative album on Nadler’s home label of Sacred Bones Records that weaves Nadler’s ethereal vocals in and out of Brodsky’s clanging, doom-metal-influenced guitar like a cold wind passing through bare tree branches. Although we’ll be deep into sunny springtime by the time Droneflower is released, this bracing blast of chilling ambience should cheer those who start counting down to Halloween on November 1. [Katie Rife]

Also due April 26: JJ Cale, Stay Around; Hannah Cohen, Welcome Home; Craig Finn, I Need A New War; Foxygen, Seeing Other People; Kevin Morby, Oh My God; Otoboke Beaver, Itekoma Hits; SOAK, Grim Town

TBA in April

Rico Nasty, Anger Management

Rico Nasty’s sixth mixtape, Nasty, was one of our favorite hip-hop releases of 2018. As our own Clayton Purdom described it: “Kenny Beats throws Neptunes funk, screaming electric guitars, and atomic bass booms at Rico Nasty, and she tears literally every one of them to shreds.” So it’s a given that when the D.C.-area rapper re-teams with the prolific producer (Vince Staples, Freddie Gibbs, 03 Greedo) for Anger Management, we’re going to cue it up. In the Instagram post announcing the project, Rico promised “stuff that’s never been heard before,” and at minimum we expect it to rip like recent single “Sandy.” [Kelsey J. Waite]

Various Artists, Revenge Of The Dreamers III

The third Revenge Of The Dreamers compilation under J. Cole’s Interscope imprint, Dreamville Records, promises to be as ambitious as its predecessors. And even if it turns out as spotty as the last one, there should be some moments worth witnessing: In addition to recording Dreamville signees Bas, Lute, Ari Lennox, and J.I.D., Cole invited over 100 artists and producers to the Atlanta session (famously known as “rap camp”) from No I.D. to Mike Will Made It to Saba to 9th Wonder. Apparently 124 different tracks and ideas were generated, and we’re certainly curious to learn what makes the final cut. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Also TBA in April: Sunn O))), Life Metal