Marvin Gaye (Photo: Rob Verhorst/Redferns via Getty Images), Andrew Bird (Photo: Gaelle Beri/Redferns via Getty Images), Little Simz (Photo: David Wolff-Patrick/Redferns via Getty Images), Jenny Lewis (Photo: Lorne Thomson/Redferns via Getty Images)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples
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We told ourselves we weren’t going to get our hopes up again about Solange for this month’s preview, and then, of course, the R&B star drops When I Get Home on us at midnight March 1. But seeing as our excitement about the follow-up to A Seat At The Table is well-documented, we haven’t scrambled to add it in here. Album releases finally hit full stride in March, and it’s an exciting, eclectic lineup—Jenny Lewis, Little Simz, William Basinski, a lost Marvin Gaye record—even without Solange, or possibly the new Lana Del Rey and whatever Frank Ocean might be cooking up. There’s far more to look forward to beyond this list, but the 30 or so records below look especially promising. Here’s the new music we’re most looking forward to this month.


March 1

Devil Master, Satan Spits On Children Of Light

When black metal started, it was closer in both sound and ideology to hardcore than any metal subgenre. Bands like Venom and Bathory took punk’s primal urges and wrapped them in satanic cloths, pushing tempos as fast as they could while keeping the production value as low as possible. Philadelphia’s Devil Master uses those bands as a jumping-off point, but it brings in the influence of Japan’s G.I.S.M., a hardcore band that flirted with black metal and was never shy about throwing in a shredding lead part to help expand its sound. With a little D-beat added in for good measure, Satan Spits On Children Of Light is vitriolic, theatrical, and catchy in the ways that all the best first-wave black metal releases were. [David Anthony]

Hand Habits, Placeholder

After the release of Hand Habits’ 2017 debut, Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void), the L.A.-based band fronted by Meg Duffy seems to have only grown more reflective and introspective. But if the honest lyrical observations about the ways people can affect one another for good or ill are even more starkly potent, the music has gotten a lush upgrade, richer in both tone and texture as the artist has added instrumentation and sounds to create a record that evokes everything from ’70s folk to ’50s country, but with Duffy’s distinctly modern interpretation. [Alex McLevy]

Little Simz, Grey Area

Though her star has been rising for years back home, U.K. rapper Little Simz hasn’t quite broken through in the States. That could very well change with Grey Area, her third studio LP, whose singles so far—“Boss,” “101 FM,” “Offence,” and “Selfish”—are among the 25-year-old Londoner’s most refined and ambitious yet. The effervescent “101 FM” bangs harder than ever, while “Selfish” finds Simz in exquisite jazz-rap territory, surrounded by strings and a velvety hook from singer Cleo Sol. The singles have been vibrant and eclectic, and we expect the rest of Grey Area to follow suit. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Pond, Tasmania

We might be deep into winter here in the Midwest, but down in Australia it’s the blazing height of summertime. But despite the the warm, hazy sound on its latest single, “Daisy,” Perth pop-psychedelic outfit Pond has weightier issues than a lazy Sunday afternoon glass of lemonade on its mind. That should be no surprise to fans of the band’s last album, The Weather, which similarly contrasted kitschy sounds with dark lyrics. Unsurprisingly, then, Pond describes Tasmania as a companion piece to that album, as well as a “dejected meditation on planetary discord, water, machismo, shame, blame and responsibility, love, blood and empire.” [Katie Rife]

Weezer, The Black Album 

Only two months have passed since the bespectacled boys of Weezer dropped The Teal Album, a surprise collection of boringly faithful covers, surely slapped together to capitalize on the chart-climbing success of “Africa,” their boringly faithful Toto cover. The good news is that The Black Album isn’t another bid to play your cousin’s wedding—these are original songs and everything! They’re also some of the weirder Weezer songs in recent memory, marrying the Cali-pop breeziness of the recent Pacific Daydream to more unusual arrangements, with synth flourishes sometimes subbing in for the band’s signature guitar crunch. The production, by TV On The Radio’s David Sitek, is spacey and spacious. The lyrics, on the other hand, represent some of Rivers Cuomo’s most arbitrary word salad; “Blah blah blah” he actually sings during the chorus of the pleasant but inane “Zombie Bastards.” Not your preferred shade of Weez? Fear not: Cuomo and company are already working on two more, neither color-coded nor packed with pre-existing ’80s hits. [A.A. Dowd]


March 8

William Basinski, On Time Out Of Time

William Basinski’s breakthrough composition (or decomposition, if you want to get cute about it) is a document of destruction, with tremendous historical significance and poignancy. His latest work is all of those things, but on an intergalactic scale: The enveloping drones of On Time Out Of Time are based in part on laser interferometer recordings of two black holes merging 1.3 billion years ago. Basinski couches the project in metaphors romantic and bawdy—in some tellings, the black holes are falling in love, in others they’re fucking—and the results are all-around transportive. It’s gravitational attraction repurposed as ambient mating calls, the ebb and flow spanning eons. [Erik Adams]

The Coathangers, The Devil You Know

If The Coathangers are softening up in their second decade together, it’s only slightly, and possibly for the best: “Bimbo,” the first song off the Georgia punk trio’s sixth studio album, finally takes the band’s riot-grrrl sound and its occasional flirtations with pop punk all the way, managing to be the catchy kind of pissed-off in the process. Even when the distinctively rough guitars kick in, they’re just a bit more gentle than the band’s earlier output, reflecting a stated turn toward “conscious anger” in its songwriting. (We’re guessing the album’s later track, “F The NRA” won’t be quite as sweet.) [William Hughes]

Stella Donnelly, Beware Of The Dogs

A self-proclaimed “shit-stirrer” with a sardonic wit and a fierce set of principles, Australian indie singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly isn’t afraid to speak truth to power. “Old Man,” which she says was inspired by Woody Allen, is a fuck-you to predatory creeps, who she taunts: “Are you scared of me, old man?/ Or are you scared of what I’ll do? / You grabbed me with an open hand / The world is grabbing back at you.” And that’s just one of the many joyfully defiant anthems on Donnelly’s debut full-length, Beware Of The Dogs; her latest single, “Tricks,” is a similarly spirited takedown of the music industry, made all the more withering by its cheerful twee-pop melody. [Katie Rife]

Foals, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1

On the group’s first album following the departure of bassist Walter Gervers, Foals certainly didn’t go the safe route: This month’s Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost is only the first half of a double album the U.K. alt-rock group will release this year, with Part 2 reportedly dropping in the fall. Foals appear to be pushing past the more glam elements contained in 2015’s What Went Down, judging from tracks like new single “Sunday.” The song’s first half is a mellow groove of ambling Brit-pop, before it abruptly pivots into a pulsing electronic beat, as though traversing from the front half of Coldplay’s career to the back. There’s some Duran Duran to the new sound, and a hearkening back to the pop jams of Holy Fire—a fittingly broad sonic palette for such a large project. [Alex McLevy]

Patty Griffin, Patty Griffin

Patty Griffin is one of modern folk’s most distinct and consistent artists, having released nine unwaveringly beautiful albums over the last two decades. Ever since her 1996 debut, Living With Ghosts, written after the dissolution of her marriage, Griffin has been putting hard emotions and hard-luck stories to song, but her self-titled 10th studio LP is one of her rawest yet, with 13 tracks that came together during and after “a profound personal crisis, several years in which [Griffin] battled—and ultimately defeated—cancer.” Patty Griffin is spare and intimate, but also as eclectic and full of life as we’ve come to expect from the veteran singer-songwriter. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Helado Negro, This Is How You Smile

Several words come to mind listening to This Is How You Smile, the sixth studio album from Helado Negro (stage name for Roberto Carlos Lange): airy, expansive, generous, assured, and above all else, charming. The warmth that radiates off “Pais Nublado” is like intermittent rays of sunshine instead of a high-noon blast, while the dreamy “Running” finds Lange’s admission of anxiety serving as an invitation into his headspace. This Is How You Smile is another big-hearted release for the Ecuadorian-American Lange, but his ongoing quest for understanding is just part of its appeal. The album boasts some of his most complex tracks to date, with Lange’s personal and professional growth spiking in tandem. [Danette Chavez]

Sasami, Sasami

After a stint ruling over the keys as “synth queen” of L.A. rock outfit Cherry Glazerr, Sasami Ashworth embraces her multi-instrumentalist side on Sasami, her debut full-length as a solo artist. The video for “Not The Time” features an extended French horn solo as Sasami busks on the streets of L.A. and rocks out with the members of Kathleen Hanna-endorsed tween punks The Linda Lindas, and the album itself hums with throwback energy, with buzzing guitars and sugar-sweet melodies that recall Pavement, My Bloody Valentine, and everything fizzy and swirling in between. [Katie Rife]

Rosie Tucker, Never Not Never Not Never Not

Rosie Tucker drew upon Dusty Springfield, Buffy St. Marie, Sibylle Baier, and other “queer, blacklisted, and forgotten female songwriters of the 1960s” when they wrote Never Not Never Not Never Not, the L.A.-based songwriter’s follow-up to 2015’s Lowlight. Rollicking with humor, character, and plenty of loud guitars, the album finds Tucker flexing their charming, versatile vocals across lyrics that paint vivid, empathetic portraits of cowboy gay bars, the California desert, and a dog named Pablo Neruda. Through it all, Tucker oscillates between satisfying, melody-driven rockers and stranger, more atmospheric tunes that shine brighter and brighter with every listen. [Randall Colburn]


March 15

Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Nocebo

In the years since Deafheaven’s Sunbather, the merger of extreme metal and shoegaze has become a trope, the kind used by bands to suggest a grand artistic scope that is, more often than not, actually fairly shallow. That’s not the case with Elizabeth Colour Wheel, as the Boston five-piece uses pummeling riffs and textured layers of effects in ways that feel truly fresh. After honing its perspective over the course of a few EPs, the band’s debut album Nocebo is a stunningly inventive work, with Lane Chi sounding like Joanna Newsom fronting an art-metal band and the rest of Elizabeth Colour Wheel spinning out songs that leave no influence on the cutting room floor. Nocebo is an album full of delicate moments that don’t just exist to be stomped out, but are paramount to the band’s vision, one that’s wielded like veterans instead of precocious newcomers. [David Anthony]

Karen O & Danger Mouse, Lux Prima

Lux Prima piqued our interest from the first, mysterious track singer Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and producer Danger Mouse (Adele, Black Keys) dropped last fall, but we now know a little more about the duo’s debut LP: Having talked about collaborating for a while without schedules lining up, the two finally entered the studio together carte blanche, working from instinct and developing a strong creative chemistry. Lyrically, O found herself exploring womanhood and maternity (see second single “Woman”) while a new love fueled the writing process for Danger Mouse. In the singles we’ve heard so far, this translates to a clear openness toward taking the music to unexpected places. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Stephen Malkmus, Groove Denied

It seems safe to say that Groove Denied, the new record from Stephen Malkmus, will prove to be divisive among fans of Pavement, the Jicks, and his other solo work. According to Malkmus, the title comes from his label’s reaction—a prompt rejection when he initially sent it over, supposedly. It’s certainly a change of pace: The entire electronic endeavor, heavy with synth sounds crafted solely by Malkmus via Pro Tools and Ableton, wouldn’t sound out of place on a synth-pop album from the new-wave era, à la Gary Numan or Human League. One thing stays the same, however: Even when singing in a far more halting and electro-friendly style, Malkmus’ playful lyricism is undeniably the same. [Alex McLevy]

Oozing Wound, High Anxiety

Chicago’s Oozing Wound has always occupied a unique space in aggressive music, falling somewhere between thrash metal, punk rock, and stoner metal without feeling like it’s merely genre-hopping. With High Anxiety, the trio continues to distill these sounds into a potent, focused package, but it’s the way Oozing Wound find new paths forward that make the album most engaging. Songs like “Birth Of A Flat Earther” are more spacious and textural than what the band has offered up before, and though High Anxiety is still plenty ferocious, it shows that Oozing Wound will continue to expand its creative palette in whatever ways it deems fit. [David Anthony]


March 22

American Football, American Football (LP3)

Since the beloved emo act first reunited in 2014, American Football has been more active than it ever was during its original tenure. And for the band’s upcoming third album—an unthinkable idea even five years ago—American Football proves it still has plenty left to say in the present day. Songs like “Uncomfortably Numb” pair Mike Kinsella’s mournful vocals with that of Paramore’s Hayley Williams, constructing a duet that ranks among the band’s best material. While its first reunion album saw the band figuring out how to be American Football again, this third self-titled effort is a confident and evocative stroke, proving that emo doesn’t always need to be fueled by youthful indecision. [David Anthony]

Apparat, LP5

German electro-wunderkind Sascha Ring’s ongoing war with his own love for big, bombastic beats appears to have reached a new plateau with his first solo project in six years. Content to leave the big swings with collaborative projects like his group Moderat, LP5 promises more reflective sounds, as on the album’s dreamy lead-off track “Dawan.” “Having a huge stage with Moderat gave me a setting for grand gestures and meant I could unburden Apparat from these aspirations,” Ring said when announcing the album. “I don’t have to write big pop hymns here; I can just immerse myself in the details and the structures.” [William Hughes]

Andrew Bird, My Finest Work Yet

Andrew Bird is back with his 15th studio album, to the delight of the multitude of fans ready to dive back into the multi-instrumentalist’s myriad musical strains. They might be even more pleased than usual: Bird has titled this new release My Finest Work Yet, adding cheeky quotes to song videos like “A swashbuckling romp,” and “I think My Finest Work Yet is my finest work yet.” The haunting, whistled tones that kick off “Sisyphus” could belong to no one but Bird, as the song encourages us to let that giant boulder roll away once and for all. And the previously released single “Bloodless” kicks off with smoky, jazzy Brubeck-ness before strolling into bright, testimonial gospel territory. So far the album seems appropriately titled. [Gwen Ihnat]

Duster, Capsule Losing Contact

The fact that Duster has become a mythical indie-rock band is still kind of shocking. The band was given modest accolades during its time, and it wasn’t until Duster broke up in 2001 that, slowly, people began taking notice. The band’s material was passed around like a sacred tome by the next generation of indie-rock kids, and inevitably, Duster’s influence took root. Now, years after Duster’s albums fell out of print, Numero Group is reissuing all of its material as Capsule Losing Contact. The music contained therein is measured and deliberate, in the way the best slowcore and space-rock bands often are, but it’s concise in ways few acts could muster. While Duster wrote its fair share of epics, the band’s strength was always the ability to dash off grandiose compositions and burn through them in a mere minute or two. Capsule Losing Contact is a reminder of everything great about Duster, and it’s proof that it feels right at home in the present. [David Anthony]

Ex Hex, It’s Real

Had Ex Hex named its second album as aptly and simply as its first, the cover of It’s Real would instead bear just one word: “Shreds.” Mary Timony and company lay down enough too-cool-for-school guitar riffs on their follow-up to 2014’s excellent Rips to silence all those “Is rock dead?” handwringers. Like the power trio’s debut, It’s Real calls up summers past, a certain early-’80s nostalgia: neon, Ray-Bans, smoking cigarettes in cars playing The Cars. Lead-off track “Tough Enough” could accompany a training montage from the era, with “Rainbow Shiner” playing as our hero takes a good long look at her nemesis before putting her in her place. What It’s Real demands is simple: Bob your head, enjoy just how easy Ex Hex makes it look. [Laura Adamczyk]

Lambchop, This (Is What I Wanted To Tell You)

The creative process behind a new Lambchop record is pretty simple: Frontman Kurt Wagner makes a new musical pal, absorbs him into the “band”’s ever-growing musical collective, and applies their work to an extremely loose alt-country template. For Wagner’s latest output, that pal is drummer and synth wizard Matthew McCaughan, whose electronic flourishes mingle with Wagner’s distinctively warbling voice on this, Lambchop’s 13th studio album. [William Hughes]

Mary Lattimore & Mac McCaughan, New Rain Duets

Mary Lattimore’s Hundreds Of Days was one of 2018’s most arresting releases, serving to demonstrate the harpist’s talent at crafting melodies as lovely as they are bold. Her newest release, a collaborative LP with Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan, is a surprise, but a welcome one. New Rain Duets was born from improvisational sessions between the two artists, ones recorded in the spring of 2017 as a means of coping with the cultural shifts brought on by the 2016 election. “[T]he idea of playing music with no words, which is improvised and therefore new, was very appealing in the spring of 2017,” McCaughan told Stereogum. The result is a spacey, immersive work, split across four parts, that finds Lattimore’s harp and McCaughan’s synthesizers looped and layered into oblivion. As songwriter William Tyler said of the songs in a press release, “It’s a new vein of chamber music, both meditative and exploratory.” [Randall Colburn]

Jenny Lewis, On The Line

Jenny Lewis’ fourth solo album is a “recorded live in the room” affair, and what a room it was: The bulk of On The Line was tracked in Capitol Records’ Studio B, where the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman worked with a Beatle (Ringo Starr), a Heartbreaker (Benmont Tench), and an incomparable resonance that kicks you right in the gut from the first notes of “Red Bull & Hennessy.” That concoction—which she doesn’t recommend, by the way—is a rousing shot chased by additional late nights, heartbreaks, and scenes from the less glittery corners of Tinseltown. The bluesy shuffle of “Little White Dove” camouflages lyrics about watching a parent die; in “Heads Gonna Roll,” “Dogwood,” and “Taffy,” Lewis presents a trio of piano ballads that push her voice in all sorts of stunning directions, the first of which contains one of her best lyrics to date: “After all is said and done / We’ll all be skulls.” It’s enough to make you forget that Ryan Adams is on more than half of the album. [Erik Adams]

Avey Tare, Cows On Hourglass Pond

Don’t worry—Animal Collective is still a going concern. 2019 will simply see two of the hugely influential experimental pop group’s major players, Avey Tare and Panda Bear, continue to stretch the aural boundaries of indie music with new solo records. Avey Tare has been especially prolific in this department, releasing a solo record, Eucalyptus, in 2017, an Animal Collective audiovisual album, Tangerine Reef, in 2018, and now a new solo album—his third—titled Cows On Hourglass Pond. His new excursion into synesthetic soundscapes offers a gently skewed take on introspective folk-rock, the sound of wildflowers melting in the psychedelic sun. [Katie Rife]


March 29

Gang Of Four, Happy Now

Forty years after the band’s classic debut, Entertainment!, Gang Of Four improbably rocks on, even with only one founding member: Andy Gill, who helped define the band’s sound with his jagged guitar riffs. In this latest Gang Of Four incarnation, Gill has surrounded himself with a crop of younger players: John Sterry is an impressive replacement for longtime vocalist Jon King, while Thomas McNeice and Tobias Humble formidably round out the rhythm section. Now Gill takes his new troops back to the studio for GOF’s 10th studio album, Happy Now, announcing “the past is done” in first single “Paper Thin.” The song exposes a more melodic side of the band, filling in GOF’s typical sparseness with dance-y synths, while Gill’s guitar sounds as fierce as ever. [Gwen Ihnat]

Marvin Gaye, You’re The Man

Marvin Gaye intended to follow up What’s Going On?, his 1971 political concept album and one of the best in music history, with another socially conscious record called You’re The Man. But a disappointing reception for its titular lead single—from both the public and Motown label head Berry Gordy—cast doubt on the project, and it’s been in the vault ever since. The label will finally release You’re The Man in full this month, four days before what would’ve been Gaye’s 80th birthday, with new mixes and extra recordings from the same era. Single “My Last Chance” has surfaced a few times throughout the years, but here it receives a sublime remix by Salaam Remi. [Kelsey J. Waite]

Beth Gibbons & The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Henryk Górecki: Symphony No. 3 (Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs)

Who better to perform a piece of music subtitled Symphony Of Sorrowful Songs than Portishead’s Beth Gibbons? But, as perfect for the job as she is, for her performance of Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Gibbons faced a number of challenges. Not only did she have to, in the words of label Domino Recording Co., “[learn] the original text (and the emotional weight it carries) without speaking the mother language” of Polish, she also had to train her voice to sing for extended periods of time as a soprano, one register higher than her usual contralto range. Given that this is Gibbons’ first recording of any kind since Portishead’s 2008 album, Third, however, it was bound to be something special. [Katie Rife]

Quelle Chris, Guns

Fresh off of Everything’s Fine, last year’s strong collaboration with his real-life partner Jean Grae, Quelle Chris returns with a solo follow-up almost certain to be as bursting with creativity and experimentation as that 2018 release. Guns features guest appearances from Grae, Mach-Hommy, Denmark Vessey, and Bilal Salaam, but the Brooklyn-based rapper-producer is always the standout, as the title track, with its piano loops and stumbling thumping beats, amply demonstrates. Chris has said the album is about “things that can be weaponized for good or evil, including ourselves,” and calls it a “sonic study of the question ‘do ‘guns’ kill people or do people kill people?’” As with everything the artist does, it promises to be interesting. [Alex McLevy]

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