Lana Del Rey, Vic Mensa, and 23 more albums we can’t wait to hear in March

Lana Del Rey, Vic Mensa, and 23 more albums we can’t wait to hear in March

Clockwise from left: Caleborate (Photo: FilmMagic/Getty Images), Mitski (Photo: Rune Hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images), Lana Del Rey (Photo: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images), and Win Butler of Arcade Fire (Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images)
Clockwise from left: Caleborate (Photo: FilmMagic/Getty Images), Mitski (Photo: Rune Hellestad/Corbis via Getty Images), Lana Del Rey (Photo: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images), and Win Butler of Arcade Fire (Photo: Erika Goldring/Getty Images)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

The ides of March used to signify the beginning of a new year, and in 2021, that feels strangely apropos. In a couple of weeks, it will have been a full year since nationwide lockdown began, but as more and more people receive the vaccine, and we edge ever closer toward the return of some semblance of normalcy (still while masked, of course), it’s starting to feel like there’s a new tenor of optimism in the country’s mood. Such a mood needs a soundtrack, of course—so here are the albums coming out in March that we’re most excited about, from massive pop stars like Lana Del Rey to little-known noise rock bands just starting to make a name for themselves. (Hey there, Stella Research Committee.)

Note to desktop users: As always, if you’d rather read this list in a scrolling format, you can simply narrow your browser window.

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Mitski, This Is Where We Fall [March TBD]

Mitski, This Is Where We Fall [March TBD]

Over the course of five albums, Mitski’s songwriting has evolved from confessional lyrics to a more character-based style of musical storytelling. With that in mind, a soundtrack would be her next logical step—but although she studied film, her first full-length score will be for a graphic novel. No teasers have been released as of yet, but This Is Where We Fall, from writer Chris Miskiewicz and artist Vincent Kings, is described as heady sci-fi that grapples with big questions about “theology, death, and the after-life.” [Katie Rife]

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Stella Research Committee, A Proposed Method For Determining Sanding Fitness [March 2]

Stella Research Committee, A Proposed Method For Determining Sanding Fitness [March 2]

Don’t come to the Stella Research Committee expecting hummable toe-tappers—instead, brace yourself for the aural equivalent of a normal rock song turned inside out, then pummeled into oblivion. The Cincinnati three-piece blends aspects of Amrep-style noise-rock with the riotous freak-outs of no-wave art, like Captain Beefheart did a bunch of acid and then played some Jesus Lizard covers. It’s off-putting and intense, in all the right ways. [Alex McLevy]

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Adult Mom, Driver [March 5]

Adult Mom, Driver [March 5]

Adult Mom’s Stevie Knipe, along with collaborators Olivia Battell and Allegra Eidinger, has delivered two albums and multiple EPs’ worth of increasingly sophisticated bedroom pop, and Driver is the most mature to date, maintaining the fey sensibilities and blunt lyrical playfulness that define Knipe’s songwriting while creating new, more robust arrangements and fuller production. It’s all in service of an attempt to—as they themselves describe—“soundtrack the queer rom-com they’ve been dreaming of since 2015.” [Alex McLevy]

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Arab Strap, As Days Get Dark [March 5]

Arab Strap, As Days Get Dark [March 5]

“Sex and death seem to be my eternal occupations,” Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffatt told The Guardian in a recent interview—another way of saying that the Scottish duo returns as paraphilic as ever on its latest record, As Days Get Dark. Known for its psychosexually charged blend of post-punk and dark folk, the band broke up in 2006, and aside from a series of shows in 2016, have been quiet ever since. But you’d never know it, as the duo slips back into grim disco beats and monotone vocals on singles “Here Comes Comus” and “The Turning Of Our Bones.” [Katie Rife]

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Chevelle, Niratias [March 5]

Chevelle, Niratias [March 5]

Two decades removed from their double-platinum Wonder What’s Next, the Ozzfest undercard darlings of Chicago’s Chevelle still seethe and croon like Tool’s anxious younger brother. There remains, too, a beneficial touch of grandeur to Chevelle’s slashing anthems: “Remember When,” one of three singles off the band’s ninth full-length, isn’t so, ahem, far away from the Deftones—or at least from the Deftones Lite crunch of “Send The Pain Below.” Lyrically, Niratias hops on a different trend; it’s another 2021 entertainment about how—to crack the code of the title—“nothing is real and this is a simulation.” [A.A. Dowd]

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Prism B!tch, Perla [March 5]

Prism B!tch, Perla [March 5]

Blending the angular rhythms and swirling guitars of early ’90s indie rock with the soaring harmonies and lilting melodies of classic Americana, Prism B!tch offer a bracing dose of cathartic rock. Maintaining an engaging lo-fi aesthetic while still delivering the distortion-pedal stomps that erupt from speakers with glee, the band’s debut album Perla finds the group operating in confident badass mode. Like a new millennium Veruca Salt, they’ve got hooks for days, and the vocal and musical chops to back it up. [Alex McLevy]

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Teenage Fanclub, Endless Arcade [March 5]

Teenage Fanclub, Endless Arcade [March 5]

Few bands age as gracefully as Teenage Fanclub. The group is now 30 years into its career, but each step of the way, TFC has continued to refine its sound, with its 21st-century output setting aside the ebullience of its early music for an increasingly focus on deft composition and unexpected harmonies. No one will mistake Endless Arcade for some sea change in the band’s music—all the jangling guitars, upbeat melodies, and fuzzed-out sunniness that made fans fall in love with TFC in the first place are here. And they’re just as rewarding as ever. [Alex McLevy]

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Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird, These 13 [March 5]

Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird, These 13 [March 5]

Former Squirrel Nut Zipper bandmates Andrew Bird and Jimbo Mathus reunite a new album they’ve titled These 13, referring to the number of tracks. Their former band crafted modern songs that sounded like they were straight from the swing era; similarly, these new cuts resemble dusty compositions from the bluegrass heyday of decades past. Not only do their voices weave together seamlessly in a poignant manner, but Mathus’ acoustic guitar and Bird’s fiddle combine to create a joyous noise that could fill the whole Tennessee Valley (sometimes aided by Bird’s whistling, naturally). Those strings can sway atmospherically moody on cuts like “Three White Horses And A Golden Chain” and “Sweet Oblivion,” while the sympathetic “Poor Lost Souls” has a hook you can hang a porch swing on. [Gwen Ihnat]

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Yungmorpheus, Thumbing Thru Foliage [March 5]

Yungmorpheus, Thumbing Thru Foliage [March 5]

There’s a slick, old-school effortlessness that suffuses Yungmorpheus’ music, a vibe that feels as apt for backyard barbecues as for late-night parties. It’s the mellifluous nature of his voice, a honey-on-flypaper baritone perfectly suited for his verses that range in subject matter from the deeply personal to the broadly political—and often both at the same time. Thumbing Thru Foliage pairs his flow with the jazzy sounds of retro soul, a perfect fusion of form and content that makes this a must-hear sequel to January’s States Of Precarity. [Alex McLevy]

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Allie Crow Buckley, Moonlit And Devious [March 12]

Allie Crow Buckley, Moonlit And Devious [March 12]

Like Tori Amos with dark synths and distorted guitars instead of a piano, Allie Crow Buckley conjures up worlds of strange desires and internal exiles, a singer-songwriter who engages listeners through distinctive compositions that straddle decades and genres with abandon. Her debut album, Moonlit And Devious, is full of artfully arranged songs that somehow feel both intense and airy, like musical molotov cocktails exploding in the sky. And just as some funereal beauty descends upon a chorus or melody, a fierce riff lashes out, starting the process over. [Alex McLevy]

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Perfume Genius, IMMEDIATELY Remixes [March 12]

Perfume Genius, IMMEDIATELY Remixes [March 12]

The sublime Set My Heart On Fire Immediately felt like it cracked open the world of Perfume Genius, threading new sounds and old traditions into musician Mike Hadreas’ singular vision. The new companion record, IMMEDIATELY Remixes, continues that theme of expansion, inviting an exciting roster of artists (like A.G. Cook and Jenny Hval) to re-work every track. Boy Harsher’s “Your Body Changes Everything,” for example, transforms the ferocious standout into a pulsing New Wave banger. IMMEDIATELY promises to bring astonishing new dimensions to an already dynamic work of art. [Cameron Scheetz]

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Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett, Her Original Score [March 19]

Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett, Her Original Score [March 19]

Despite being more than seven years old at this point, this is actually the first time the original score to Her, the 2013 Spike Jonze masterpiece, will be getting an official soundtrack. Even with an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score, the music somehow avoided a proper release until now, but as anyone who has heard the film’s rich, swooning arrangements can attest, the story of digital love received one hell of a warm musical accompaniment. [Alex McLevy]

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Lana Del Rey, Chemtrails Over The Country Club [March 19]

Lana Del Rey, Chemtrails Over The Country Club [March 19]

Lana Del Rey spent much of the past year keeping her cards close to the vest. She released the title of her follow-up to Norman Fucking Rockwell—the extremely Lana Del Rey-like Chemtrails Over The Country Club—and teased a little snippet of one new song, “Tulsa Jesus Freak,” in a since-archived Instagram post. That was it, for a long time. Then, after the delayed release, she finally dropped the excellent title track last month. Given her track record—and despite some less-than-great recent comments—a new album from the singer is a must-hear. [Alex McLevy]

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Loretta Lynn, Still Woman Enough [March 19]

Loretta Lynn, Still Woman Enough [March 19]

Country music legend Loretta Lynn releases her fiftieth album this month: Still Woman Enough (the same title as her 2002 memoir), intended as a salute to the women of country music. To that end, the record features a few duets of Lynn classics with modern Nashville stars—like Margo Price on “One’s On The Way” and Tanya Tucker on “You Ain’t Woman Enough”—along with some new compositions: Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood join Lynn on the title track, which she co-wrote with her daughter Patsy Lynn Russell (who co-produced the album with John Carter Cash). But Lynn also takes a solo journey through some musical benchmarks from her past, offering a new interpretation of her very first single “Honky Tonk Girl,” and a spoken-word version of “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” [Gwen Ihnat]

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Caleborate, Light Hit My Skin [March 26]

Caleborate, Light Hit My Skin [March 26]

Bay area rapper Caleborate possesses the flow of a time-tested veteran; it’s what made his introspective 2018 album Real Person such a breezy listen. It’s hard to imagine his next project, Light Hit My Skin, failing to improve on that energy, especially when this new collection promises a mix of “’90s alternative, classic 2000s rap, electro-pop and beyond.” And while he can certainly carry this effort on his own, collaborations with DUCKWRTH and Kota The Friend offer added assurance that this will be his most tonally vibrant LP yet. [Shannon Miller]

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Evanescence, The Bitter Truth [March 26]

Evanescence, The Bitter Truth [March 26]

As podcast Switched On Pop observed, women are reclaiming nu-metal one guitar shred at a time. After 2020 saw artists like Grimes and Rina Sawayama craft transgressive pop with the sounds of the mocked genre, it’s only fair that Evanescence get its due. The band saw major success in 2003 with debut Fallen—even as nu-metal’s reign began to wane—and it has been rocking steadily ever since. Fifth album The Bitter Truth is set to be Evanescence’s thundering return, early single “Yeah Right” brimming with the energy of an industrial beat and vocalist Amy Lee’s eternally commanding vocals. [Cameron Scheetz]

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Fitz, Head Up High [March 26]

Fitz, Head Up High [March 26]

The title track of Michael Fitzpatrick’s first solo album still has the signature horns and feel-good frequency you’d hear in his work with his Tantrums, but there’s also acoustic guitar you wouldn’t find on his band’s most popular singles, “Moneygrabber” and “HandClap.” Fitz maintains that balance through the entire 14-track album: For every massively produced track like “Spaceman” (which features an unexpected and enjoyable sample of “Dream On”), there’s the dreamy “Still Cool” or R&B-tinged “SlowDown.” We want more Tantrums albums—but if this is Fitz just starting to mold his solo sound, we’re excited for more side projects, too. [Patrick Gomez]

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Floatie, Voyage Out [March 26]

Floatie, Voyage Out [March 26]

Math rock evolves into something dreamier and more ethereal with Voyage Out, the debut record from Chicago’s Floatie. On first listen, the songs don’t seem that different from the gentler offerings of other groups that blended intricate riffs and odd time signatures in the late ’90s, from June Of 44 to Shipping News, but there’s a warmth and humanism to the sound that rarely comes through in the often heady genre, thanks to singer Sam Bern’s engaging sing-speak vocals and airy interludes in the compositions that let the more complicated sequences breathe. It’s idiosyncratic music that ends up far more than the sum of its already appealingly oddball parts. [Alex McLevy]

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Genghis Tron, Dream Weapon [March 26]

Genghis Tron, Dream Weapon [March 26]

Funny name, killer band. Over a decade ago, this New York four-piece merged extreme metal and electronic music better than just about anyone in the game—2008’s Board Up The House was a triumph of majestic and pummeling mosh-pit synth. Returning from indefinite hiatus with a new frontman and an actual drummer, Genghis Tron pulls back on the digitized aggression and amps up the spacey soar on reunion album Dream Weapon. Expect less screaming but still plenty of noise; you don’t get Converge axman Kurt Ballou to man the boards if you’re looking to completely mellow out. [A.A. Dowd]

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Lost Girls, Menneskekollektivet [March 26]

Lost Girls, Menneskekollektivet [March 26]

Menneskekollektivet is the culmination of 10 years of collaboration between Norwegian polymath Jenny Hval and multi-instrumentalist Håvard Volden, who together go by the name of Lost Girls. Hval’s 2019 solo album The Practice Of Love flirted with New Age, dance, and spoken word, all of which are present on this five-song set; both Hval and Volden say the recording process was marked by intuition and blind faith, which reflect sonically as the duo flits between improvisation and composition, melody and dissonance, and organic and electronic sounds. [Katie Rife]

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Noga Erez, Kids [March 26]

Noga Erez, Kids [March 26]

Last year’s releases “Views” and “You So Done” gave us a natty peek at Tel Aviv rapper Noga Erez’s upcoming LP, Kids. Erez is no stranger to a highly danceable political statement, and the new album promises more sharp insight paired with swaggering beats and shoulder-bopping zeal. Fans of her 2017 effort Off The Radar will instantly endear themselves to her telltale intensity and fearless lyricism. This time around, she’s shedding some additional layers and getting a little more vulnerable, delving into matters like toxic relationships and mortality. [Shannon Miller]

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Serpentwithfeet, DEACON [March 26]

Serpentwithfeet, DEACON [March 26]

Serpentwithfeet’s 2018 debut LP soil was a sweeping, often heartbreaking, portrait of Black, gay love, anchored by experimentalist pop production and the Baltimore artist’s otherworldly vibrato. His upcoming follow-up, DEACON, aims to build on that foundation, but with a softer, more “sensuous” edge. In an interview with his label, Serpentwithfeet described DEACON as “a lot more gentle than [his] previous work,” going as far as to exclude any songs about heartbreak from the album. The first tracks released from the project—”Fellowship” and “Same Size Shoe”—showcase the fruits of that labor. [Baraka Kaseko]

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Tomahawk, Tonic Immobility [March 26]

Tomahawk, Tonic Immobility [March 26]

It’s been eight long years since Mike Patton’s Tomahawk delivered its high-water mark, 2013’s all-killer-no-filler Oddfellows, but the new release from the hard-rock supergroup doesn’t sound like it’s missed a single step in the meantime. Filled with the same sinister, tightly arranged exercises in fierce, angular stompers that drove the previous record, Tonic Immobility offers up some surprisingly hook-filled barnburners, while still delivering throwback spaghetti-Western-flavored numbers that hearken back to the group’s beginning. There’s no reinventing the heavy-rock wheel here—they’re just doing it really, really well. [Alex McLevy]

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Tune-Yards, sketchy [March 26]

Tune-Yards, sketchy [March 26]

Tune-Yards’ last album was as ambitious and danceable as ever—it was also the first to give bassist and co-writer Nate Brenner top-billing alongside energetic front-woman Merrill Garbus. The duo continues to push one another in intriguing new directions on fifth studio record, sketchy, born out of their re-discovered joy in making music. First single “nowhere, man” has the frenetic eclecticism of early Tune-Yards, while its follow-up “hold yourself” showcases the kind of raw power the band can achieve with a more naturalistic, live sound. [Cameron Scheetz]

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Vic Mensa, I Tape [March 26]

Vic Mensa, I Tape [March 26]

The Chicago rapper and activist has said his upcoming I Tape will be a “formal follow-up” to the music and themes he developed on last year’s acclaimed V Tape, and judging from the politically engaged verses he’s spitting on lead single “Shelter” (featuring Wyclef Jean and fellow Chicago star Chance The Rapper), the musician’s fiery flow has only gotten more unyielding in the ensuing months. The five-track release features production work from Just Blaze and Smoko Ono, among others, meaning this should be another essential offering from Mensa. [Alex McLevy]

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