It goes without saying that this has been a pretty crazy week for music. Coachella wrapped up this week, Lemonade finally made it to Spotify, and we got new singles from everyone from FKA twigs and Japanese Breakfast to Taylor Swift and The Boss. But that’s not why we’re here. We’ve got some records to go through, and we here at Paste thought we’d narrow down this week’s windfall of releases into a nice, palatable list of 12 essential albums to check out today, including another couple of our most-anticipated April albums.
1. Aldous Harding, Designer
New Zealand songwriter Aldous Harding is back with her third studio album Designer. At first glance it’s another album of her signature soft-spoken folk sound, but this time around there’s more meat on the bones. It’s her first record with drums on almost every song, and a broader instrumental palate lends the album a newfound sense of gravity. The emotional lows are lower and the highs are even higher than before.
2. The Cranberries, In The End
In The End
is the Cranberries’ swan song for Dolores O’Riordan. It’s the last album to feature vocals from the beloved singer after she passed away suddenly last year. Sonically, it feels like a survey of the Irish band’s almost 30 year career. The velvety pop hooks of hits like “Dreams” can be found here, but it’s also got some of the more acoustic textures of the Cranberries’ later work. The one constant is O’Riordan’s pure, stunning voice that’s as strong as ever over her band.
3. Guided by Voices, Warp and Woof
Wildly prolific rock heroes Guided by Voices have returned with yet another studio album, Warp and Woof. They already put out a 32-track album called Zeppelin Over China in February this year, but their hot streak continues with this new record. Songwriter Robert Pollard generally sticks to his guns here, but the album’s quick, punchy songs and on-the-go recording style keep it feeling fresh even after all these years.
4. Josh Ritter, Fever Breaks
The week’s best Americana release comes from Idaho-born songwriter Josh Ritter. Fever Breaks is his 10th studio album, and it’s a brighter, louder collection of songs than his last album Gethering. The 10-track record finds Ritter dealing with issues of love, politics and violence with his trademark compassion and wit.
Listen to the recent Josh Ritter episode of The Paste Podcast below or on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify or Himalaya.
5. Kevin Abstract, ARIZONA baby
Brockhampton ringleader Kevin Abstract has released his first solo record since 2016’s American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story. It follows the blueprint of that first record with its blend of deeply personal rap and indie pop, but this time around it feels a bit closer to a Brockhampton detour, with the collective’s own Romil Hemnani handling production alongside Jack Antonoff.
6. Kevin Morby, Oh My God
Kevin Morby is back with another album of understated, idiosyncratic rock tunes called Oh My God. It’s somehow even more ambitious than his last record, 2017’s City Music, and deals with themes of religion, reckoning, nature and heartbreak. Morby has largely replaced the guitars of his past with pianos and horns, and the result is an album much more concerned with staring up at the sky in awe than putting feet to the pavement.
7. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Fishing for Fishies
King Gizzard have finally returned with their 12th studio album Fishing for Fishies. It’s been just over a year since their last record Gumboot Soup landed in December 2017, but that’s a fairly long time for a band that released five albums in one year. Fishing for Fishies finds the group taking a sharp turn for the blues in between left-field synth cuts like “Acarine” and “Cyboogie.”
8. Lamb, The Secret of Letting Go
British electronic duo Lamb are back with a new album called The Secret of Letting Go. The pair are still finding new ways to evolve after more than 20 years together, and The Secret of Letting Go is one of their most exciting releases in years. It’s also one of their most accessible records, with slightly less glitchy production and moments that bring the duo the closest they’ve ever been to real pop hooks.
9. Local Natives, Violet Street
Los Angeles indie veterans Local Natives have returned with a new album called Violet Street. It finds the band returning to some of the recording and writing practices of their earlier albums while still maintaining the lush, vibrant production of their most recent effort Sunlit Youth. The five-piece also explores dynamic shifts here in a way they haven’t before, and Violent Street combines the loudest, most explosive moments in the band’s discography with the softest and most tender.
10. The Mountain Goats, In League With Dragons
The Mountain Goats
prove they can do anything they set their minds to on In League With Dragons, even a rock opera inspired by Dungeons and Dragons. The Mountain Goats’ 17th studio record includes character studies on everything from sad wizards to a drug dealer at a Waylon Jennings gig at a casino. It might be hard to take these subjects seriously if John Darnielle and crew weren’t so astoundingly tight together musically, even after all these years.
11. Rodrigo y Gabriela, Mettavolution
Mexican acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela have returned with a stunning collection of songs called Mettavolution. The album showcases their virtuosic playing, as per usual, but it also comes with some more twists and turns that reveal a pair of artists just simply having fun making music together. The album’s six original tracks are capped off with a 19-minute interpretation of Pink Floyd’s experimental excursion “Echoes.”
12. SOAK, Grim Town
Northern Irish musician Bridie Monds-Watson has released her second album as SOAK, titled Grim Town. The Mercury Prize nominee crafts arresting, cerebral pop that explores her feelings of displacement, loss of identity and loneliness. Bolstered by the singles “Knock Me Off My Feet,” “Valentine Shmalentine” and “Déjà vu,” Grim Town is her most focused and refined effort yet.