Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Here are the new albums to expect this April

From left to right: Father John Misty, Joey Badass, Feist

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.

April 7

Arca, Arca

Venezuelan producer Arca (real name Alejandro Ghersi) delivered one of the most complex, idiosyncratic electronic releases of 2015 in Mutant, a record that was at turns hypnotic and hammering, and one that finally promised to shed “Björk collaborator” as an obligatory appellation to his bio. Or maybe not: On his third album, the self-titled Arca, Ghersi credits the Icelandic singer with giving him the courage to put his own voice into the mix, which he does with a haunting emotiveness that spiritually mirrors her own. Singing in a tenderly operatic Spanish on teaser singles “Piel” and “Anoche,” Ghersi finds a similar elegiac beauty over deeply reverbed synth tones and twisted snatches of strings and guitar. It’s a completely unexpected evolution, one that promises to push him into his own rightful spotlight. [Sean O’Neal]


Michelle Branch, Hopeless Romantic

Michelle Branch emerged in the early 2000s as a preternaturally talented songwriter with an ear for hooks on songs like “Everywhere” and “Breathe.” After detouring into country and largely retreating from the spotlight, she returns with her first full album in 14 years. Branch never really needed to grow up—her music always felt adult—but the titular single carries with it a newly simmering edge, while remaining catchy as ever. Some of that can be attributed to production from The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney (whom Branch also happens to be dating), a reinvention that, by her own website’s admission, seeks to establish Branch’s indie cred. [Esther Zuckerman]

Clark, Death Peak

A former rookie of the Warp Records roster turned label stalwart, Chris Clark—now simply known as Clark—began by synthesizing elements of its most venerable ’90s artists like Autechre and Aphex Twin, but quickly established himself as one of its most progressive and varied artists. His eighth album, Death Peak, diverts from the urgent, dizzying space-rave highs of his 2014 self-titled album toward a sound that feels both more cinematic (building on his recent score work for The Last Panthers) and much more human, carried throughout by ethereal vocal samples. It’s a sound that’s ever-changing, yet at this point not likely to be mistaken for anyone else. [Sean O’Neal]


Cold War Kids, L.A. Divine

The sixth studio release from Cold War Kids promises to continue the plaintive earnestness of 2014’s Hold My Home, with a bit of gospel revival thrown in for good measure. Nathan Willett’s forceful vocals is once more punctuated by abrupt staccato drumming and threaded through with loose, wandering guitar provided by newest member David Quon. L.A. Divine sounds sincere and propulsive in equal parts. [Nick Wanserski]


Diet Cig, Swear I’m Good At This

Swear I’m Good At This is Diet Cig’s debut LP, though 2015’s Over Easy EP already put the New York group on plenty of people’s radar. Expect more high-energy, catchy pop punk, delivered by the duo of singer-guitarist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman, as well as the feminist bent of Luciano’s lyrics. Here those serve as a blistering, rollicking indictment of the dude-centric punk scene, making a case for those who deserve to not only be heard but also have fun. [Leonardo Adrian Garcia]


Father John Misty, Pure Comedy

The erotic glow of 2015’s delightfully filthy I Love You Honey Bear has evaporated, and Josh Tillman is moving on to bigger, more existential concerns with his third album as Father John Misty, Pure Comedy. Bringing his style of mangy acoustic ballads to deeper thoughts about love, society, and family, Tillman even wrote a brief dissertation to accompany the release announcement, describing his approach as an exploration of how our “species becomes the purveyor of increasingly bizarre and sophisticated ironies.” In keeping with that, the video for the title track centers on an extended pan across a visually dense, scratchy Shel Silverstein-style pen-and-ink illustration depicting mankind’s countless perversions, contradictions, and evils (which is to say, it’s pretty great). [Nick Wanserski]


Future Islands, The Far Field

Future Islands’ 4AD debut, Singles, was a surprise breakout for the synth-pop outfit, helped along after a performance on The Late Show exposed the world to frontman Samuel Herring’s theatrics. The two singles off The Far Field, the band’s first album since that profile boost, pack all the same harrowing expressiveness, colored with glimmering synths and a ruthlessly driving rhythm section amping up Herring’s dramatic vocals. It also includes a duet with Debbie Harry, an implicit signifier of success if there ever was one. [Matt Gerardi]


Guided By Voices, August By Cake

Not many musicians can claim to have recorded 100 studio albums, and fewer still can boast that their 100th is a double album. But the relentlessly prolific Robert Pollard can, of course, as his longtime creative outlet Guided By Voices prepares for the release of August By Cake. The Dayton, Ohio indie-rock stalwarts have gone through a lot of lineup changes in more than 30 years of existence, and this time around GBV newbies Bobby Bare Jr. and Mark Shue join Pollard, Kevin March, and Doug Gillard for 32 more tracks of the lo-fi guitars and eccentric lyrics that have made the band famous. Not everything is stuck in the past, though: References to naps and food now coexist alongside beer-swilling party anthems, suggesting that even GBV can mellow with age. [Katie Rife]


Joey Badass, All-Amerikkkan Badass

Joey Badass’s 2015 debut, B4.DA.$$, was mostly shrugged off as pleasantly competent Native Tongues revivalism upon its release. But the record has aged better than those dismissals would suggest, showing that dusty jazz samples, pitch-perfect drums, and smart, easygoing emceeing can still sound relevant outside of the golden age. The upcoming All-Amerikkkan Badass has been preceded by two fine singles, both of which nod toward bigger hooks and brighter sonic palettes. Once again, neither have exactly set the world on fire—but then, the pleasures of Joey Badass’ music are usually a slower burn. [Clayton Purdom]


San Fermin, Belong

While indie-rock octet San Fermin is fronted by Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate, Ellis Ludwig-Leone is its true mastermind. The classically trained multi-instrumentalist dominated the band’s self-titled 2013 debut, but the group’s sound opened up considerably on 2015’s Jackrabbit by highlighting Kaye’s and Tate’s emotive vocals. That balance remains on the preview tracks from the forthcoming Belong, where “Open” and “No Promises” marry pop hooks to heavenly orchestration. [Danette Chavez]


The Blaze, Territory

Last year, unknown French duo The Blaze jump-started its career with a single video. “Virile” captivated with its tender portrayal of a male relationship—just two guys enjoying themselves, each other, the music, and the night, free of any machismo insecurity. The Blaze (since revealed to be cousins Guillaume and Jonathan Alric, both producers and, tellingly, directors) first returned this past February with “Territory,” already a frontrunner for the best video of the year. Beautifully shot in Algiers, it portrays a particularly emotional homecoming, again with male relationships front and center, that’s generated excitement for a full EP of the group’s spacious, lovely electro productions. [Kelsey J. Waite]


The Flatliners, Inviting Light

Canada’s The Flatliners have led a varied existence, genrewise, for the past decade, evolving from the ska-punk of their debut, Destroy To Create, through the Hot Water Music-tinged anthemic punk of 2010’s Cavalcade, and into the catchy midtempo numbers of their last full-length, Dead Language. Inviting Light continues that trajectory by being as straightforward a rock record as one could devise. Tracks like “Human Party Trick” and “Infinite Wisdom” wouldn’t seem out of place on a Foo Fighters album—a fact that will thrill fans of the band’s constant progression and possibly bring The Flatliners even wider exposure, but will likely disappoint all those who giddily fell for the band’s inside joke hashtag, #MakeFlatlinersSkaAgain. [Leonardo Adrian Garcia]


The New Pornographers, Whiteout Conditions

One of the Pacific Northwest’s finest (and longest-running, at this point) purveyors of effortless pop-rock hooks returns with its seventh studio album. From the sound of early single “High Ticket Attractions,” The New Pornographers continue to infuse their traditional instrumentation with more electronics, following the path taken by 2014’s Brill Bruisers. The band may not have the same spitfire intensity of its early output, but it’s found a path toward maturity that doesn’t sacrifice any of the classic songwriting smarts. [Alex McLevy]


Timber Timbre, Sincerely, Future Pollution

Timber Timbre’s music—a smoky, cinematic take on fundamental sounds like blues, folk, and early R&B—is a nice fit for tackling the shocking state of America, as singer Taylor Kirk and company aim to do on their sixth album, Sincerely, Future Pollution. But rather than spinning out another record of hauntingly hazy tunes built from the spirits of genres long past, Pollution’s first singles showcase some new sounds. The pointedly political “Sewer Blues” is stark and ominous, while “Grifting” has all the synthed-up swagger of Bowie at his funkiest. [Matt Gerardi]


April 14

Actress, AZD

When Darren Jordan Cunningham released 2014’s Ghettoville, he included a mournfully elegiac poem that many interpreted as a farewell to his acclaimed Actress project. But whether that was just a head-fake or Cunningham changed his mind, he’s back with a new label, Ninja Tune; a new record, AZD; and a new host of cryptic statements referencing dystopian futurism, Jungian analysis, and the theme of “chrome.” However you want to interpret that, any new Actress album is a welcome one—particularly when it’s such a shift away from Ghettoville’s occasionally lugubrious, slowly decaying hip-hop grind toward the more bubbling, watery, playful techno deconstructions of his earlier work. [Sean O’Neal]

Little Dragon, Season High

Vocalist Yukimi Nagano has been honest about how the recording process was more difficult than ever for Little Dragon’s fifth full-length. The struggle to wrangle four strong creative personalities could mean both good and bad things for Season High—maybe there are uncompromising musical statements, maybe there’s a lack of cohesion—but singles “High” and “Sweet” suggest you can still count on some irresistible R&B grooves. Here those are devoted to pure escapism, partly as a coping mechanism for the long dreary season in the group’s hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, and partly just as a return to why they make music in the first place. [Kelsey J. Waite]


April 21

Alessandro Cortini & Merzbow, Alessandro Cortini & Merzbow

Former Nine Inch Nails key-master Alessandro Cortini wrung plenty of dynamic sounds from a single modular synth across records like his Forse series, and on his latest—a collaboration with Japanese noise musician Merzbow—he turns his affections toward one of the most legendary instruments ever built, the EMS Synthi. The duo bonded over their shared appreciation of the early ’70s British model beloved by Brian Eno for its patch matrix and unmistakable tone (if maybe not for the suitcase you have to lug it around in), recording an entire album based around pushing the 40-year-old machine to its very limits. Early teases sound a lot heavier than the subtle swells of Cortini’s usual stuff, treading closer to Merzbow’s darker, dirtier work. But for fans of experimental music, this pairing is a momentous one. [Sean O’Neal]


Ray Davies, Americana

Kinks legend Ray Davies’ new release focuses on the Brit’s love for Americana, sharing a title—and even some spoken-word pieces—with his 2013 memoir. Featuring a collaboration with The Jayhawks, a quintessential Americana band if there ever was one, Davies continues his road-trip journey across the U.S.A., gazing out at, as he ponders in “Poetry,” all the “big neon signs telling us what to eat” while asking, “Where is the poetry?” If there’s some beauty to be mined from this bleak neon landscape, Davies is the one to find it, particularly when augmented by some winsome steel guitar, in this wise and weary look at the land of supposed opportunity. [Gwen Ihnat]


Gas, Narkopop

Last year, Kompakt finally reissued its co-founder Wolfgang Voigt’s genre-defining works as Gas, whose gentle, immersive ambient techno soundtracked many a comedown session in the late 1990s and early 2000s. That was all apparently just clearing the decks for something even more exciting: Voigt’s first Gas album in 17 years, marking a reemergence from one of the most elusive yet influential electronic projects of the past several decades. Narkopop thankfully doesn’t stray far from the formula of such seminal albums as 1999’s Königsforst or 2000’s Pop, his compositions still consisting of deep-forest textures of synthesized, symphonic watercolors blurring beautifully over gentle heartbeat thrums, and providing the kind of reflective stillness the world needs now more than ever. [Sean O’Neal]


Joe Goddard, Electric Lines

Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard hasn’t released a solo album since his debut in 2009, but his sophomore effort appears to be worth waiting for. The English producer is better known as part of Hot Chip, and Electric Lines gently pulls at the threads of the glass-smooth electronica that Hot Chip has been making for the last decade and a half. With songs like “Home,” a hypnotic journey from club to home just after daybreak, Goddard’s simple lyrics belie complex, pulsing beats. Though most of the songs on Electric Lines wouldn’t be out of place on a Hot Chip album, Goddard brings soul and whimsy to this sophomore effort. [Laura M. Browning]


Have Mercy, Make The Best Of It

Have Mercy’s previous record, A Place Of Our Own, leaned heavily on the emo touchstones of quiet-loud dynamics, post-hardcore breakdowns, and growled declarations of feelings, essentially taking a page out of Hopeless Records labelmates Taking Back Sunday’s playbook. Make The Best Of It seems to traipse in those very same tropes. In lead single “Coexist,” Brian Swindle, the lone full-time member of the band, shifts from hushed whispers to howls of “To tell you the truth / I’m not the person you knew.” If you’re in the mood for some early ’00s-style emo tunes, look no further. [Leonardo Adrian Garcia]


Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn Hitchcock

Singer-songwriter, former Soft Boy, and paisley shirt enthusiast Robyn Hitchcock calls his new self-titled record “an ecstatic work of negativity,” but he forgot to tell that to the hooks on the album’s lead single, “I Want To Tell You About What I Want.” Evoking the playful glam-rock posturing of Bowie and T. Rex, the song presents Hitchcock’s spoken-word vision for a more evolved future, backed by psychedelic guitars and a toe-tapping beat. [Katie Rife]


Kamaiyah, Don’t Ever Get It Twisted

Oakland’s Kamaiyah topped lists last year with the breezy, bold debut A Good Night In The Ghetto and a Drake-adjacent cameo on YG’s Still Brazy. Unfortunately, the most that’s known about her sophomore mixtape, Don’t Ever Get It Twisted, is what the cover doesn’t look like. Still, given that it’s only been 13 months since A Good Night, expect the 22-year-old rapper to deliver more of the same candid and carefree energy that made her one to watch right out of the gate. [Kelsey J. Waite]


Arto Lindsay, Cuidado Madame

Arto Lindsay has been making solo albums at a steady clip since the mid-’80s, with typically solid records grounded in the Tropicália music of Brazil, where he lived for many of his formative years. He’s been making music longer than that, though, as a founding member of the no-wave group DNA, and later The Golden Palominos. Those experiences converge once again on Cuidado Madame, an album that cloaks its pulsing beats and screeching electronica with evocative aural imagery of beaches and sunshine and Caetano Veloso tunes. It’s less challenging a listen than earlier avant-garde efforts, with Lindsay’s soft voice bridging the waters between experimentation and Tropicália. [Laura M. Browning]


The Black Angels, Death Song

Paranoid scuzz-rock revivalists The Black Angels got their start doing the same thing over and over again and doing it well—finding a psychedelic riff and riding it over moody incantations until the devil shows up. The group’s last two records shifted away from hell-raising toward a slightly sunnier, flower-power form of ’60s songcraft, but the title of the forthcoming album implies a return to their bleary, droning Velvet Underground-derived roots. [Clayton Purdom]


April 28

Feist, Pleasure

It’s been six years since the last studio album from Feist, and while the Canadian chanteuse hasn’t exactly disappeared during that time—and even released an unlikely split with MastodonPleasure still carries the excitement of a long-awaited comeback. Not much is known about her new album, other than it was produced with previous collaborators Mocky and Renaud Letang. Though if the title track is any indication, another heady concoction of smart art-pop is forthcoming to remind everyone why Feist was once inescapable on so many radio playlists and commercials. [Alex McLevy]


Gorillaz, Humanz

Something seems off about still being excited over a new Gorillaz record in 2017—surely this fictional side project should’ve sputtered out after two albums or so, right? But Damon Albarn’s far too gifted a curator for that, and his rotating group of collaborators over the last decade and a half has included a who’s who of underground rap, indie rock, dub, and Britpop. None of the collective’s previous albums have aged particularly well, but they always sound great in their moment: an effervescent, loosely cohesive mixtape of state-of-the-art production, goofball sci-fi, and enormous pop hooks. The upcoming Humanz features best out-there rappers like Vince Staples, Danny Brown, Popcaan, and Pusha T alongside artists as varied as Grace Jones, Savages’ Jehnny Beth, and Mavis Staples. The result may not be timelessly great, but it’ll sure as hell be fun. [Clayton Purdom]


Juliana Hatfield, Pussycat


Putting early truth to the idea of the Trump era being good for art, Juliana Hatfield’s new concept album Pussycat is a rant against the enemy of pussy hats everywhere. After releasing a 2015 album with The Juliana Hatfield Three and another last year as The I Don’t Cares with Paul Westerberg, the singer-songwriter was planning on taking a break. But after the election, she said, “All of these songs just started pouring out of me. And I felt an urgency to record them, to get them down, and get them out there.” Some of those songs, like “Kellyanne” and “Short-Fingered Man,” take obvious aim at Trump and his cronies, but others like “Wonder Why” offer a more reflective, nostalgic look back in an attempt to trace where everything went wrong. [Gwen Ihnat]

Mark Lanegan Band, Gargoyle

Never let it be said that Mark Lanegan doesn’t keep his fans guessing. From Screaming Trees on, his records have spanned a variety of styles and sounds, as have his ongoing collaborations with everyone from The Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli to Isobel Campbell, but the one constant has been Lanegan’s moody, melancholic soul-shaker of a voice. In this latest outing, he is once again joined by guests like Dulli and Josh Homme, with the music being described as “a more expansive progression from the moody Krautrock-influenced electronica textures of his two previous albums.” Progressing to where, no one knows—but as always, that’s part of the appeal. [Alex McLevy]


Mew, Visuals

The offspring of prog rock don’t always find a welcome home on American shores, but Mew’s idiosyncratic brand of operatic rock struck a chord with fans who sparked to its lush blend of swooning melodies and elaborate instrumentation. Thankfully, the Danish group retains a fundamental sweetness that avoids falling into saccharine pap, meaning the latest should continue to strike the confident balance of expansive and sincere found on 2015’s + -. [Alex McLevy]


New Found Glory, Makes Me Sick

The fact that Makes Me Sick is New Found Glory’s ninth full-length might lead one to presume that the band has surely long since grown up after recording “Hit Or Miss” nearly 20 years ago. But if the video for lead single “Happy Being Miserable” is any indication—what with its copious amounts of vomit, an homage to the pie-eating contest scene in Stand By Me—the group hasn’t matured a single iota. And that’s likely for the best, seeing as how the specific brand of pop-punk NFG traffics in doesn’t require a lot of overthinking, to its benefit. [Leonardo Adrian Garcia]


Ryuichi Sakamoto, async

Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto returns with his first solo album in eight years, years that have hardly been quiet, marked by various art installations and soundtracks for films such as Living With My Mother and The Revenant. Film scoring seems to have stuck with him: His new async was conceived as an accompaniment to an “Andrei Tarkovsky film that does not exist,” with Sakamoto paying tribute to one of his favorite directors by creating a typically complex arrangement of acoustic and electronic sounds that evoke a similar, stilling contemplativeness. Take that, Edward Artemyev. [Sean O’Neal]


Colin Stetson, All This I Do For Glory


Colin Stetson is the rare jazz musician to find mainstream interest—in part because of his collaborations with artists like Arcade Fire and Bon Iver, and in part because of the dazzling, ambient circularity of his techniques, which sound more like they came from a Tim Hecker or William Basinski composition than a hunk of brass. All This I Do For Glory is his first solo album in almost five years (the rest have all featured some sort of collaboration), and it fits into the greater narrative arc of his widely acclaimed New History Warfare trilogy. Oh, and Aphex Twin is apparently a big influence, because this guy can do anything with a saxophone. [Clayton Purdom]

Sylvan Esso, What Now

Following up its 2014 self-titled album and amid a torrent of growing buzz around its latest singles, Sylvan Esso’s What Now expands the duo’s electro-pop sound to an even more interesting and layered place. The new songs already released display a definite maturation for duo Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, building on the carefully crafted songwriting that made them a standout. “Die Young” is an ideal showpiece for their minimalist approach to its sonically rich palette; its subtle, yet impressive expansion brings to mind the transition of Bon Iver from For Emma, Forever Ago to his self-titled release. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]


The New Year, Snow


With Snow, The New Year will surpass, quantitatively, the output of the band that spawned it, Bedhead. But fans of the Kadane brothers—Matt and Bubba, who form the core of both bands—understand that the differences are incidental: Their subdued, smart songs are all part of one grand catalog, born and bred in the ’90s but increasingly timeless. Although there were dozens of bands playing their sort of melancholy, sung-spoken indie rock back then, none have held up as well and certainly none continue. The pace is still glacial—Snow is The New Year’s first album in nearly a decade—but it’s always worth the wait. [Josh Modell]

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