Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Clockwise from left: Mark and Taeyong of NCT 127 (Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images), Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam (Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images), and Meg Remy of U.S. Girls (Photo: Adela Loconte/Getty Images)
Graphic: Natalie Peeples

We’ve been anticipating some of these albums since we published our 2020 preview, but some of March’s upcoming releases are full of surprises. From Stephen Malkmus’ new folsky infusion to Pearl Jam’s unexpected ’80s synth sound to NCT 127’s sophomore growth spurt, these are the 11 albums we can’t wait to hear this month.


March 6

Anna Calvi, Hunted

English singer-songwriter Anna Calvi made a singular statement with her 2018 album, Hunter—so singular, in fact, that Calvi’s raw, fierce point of view translates just as strongly in stripped-down acoustic reworkings of those same songs. That’s the basic idea behind Hunted, which enlists Courtney Barnett, Joe Talbot, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Julia Holter to help Calvi bring forward what label Domino Records calls “the innate fragility” of the original, self-recorded demos for what eventually became Hunter. [Katie Rife]

CocoRosie, Put The Shine On

CocoRosie’s Sierra and Bianca Casady have always been sonic alchemists, their combustible cuts toying with strands of pop, ambient, freak folk, and hip-hop. That experimental spirit lives on Put The Shine On, an LP they recently described as “very beat-based” and packed with “heartbreak, swag, frogs, roosters, and old-timey hooks.” That’s evident in the sassy, theatrical flow of “Restless,” as well as “Smash My Head,” an electro-pop banger punctuated by daggers of grimy electric guitar. [Randall Colburn]

Stephen Malkmus, Traditional Techniques

For Stephen Malkmus’ third album in three years, the former (and soon to be current—for two dates, at least) Pavement frontman tries sometimes pastoral, sometimes psychedelic folk on for size: Twanging Americana for “Cash Up,” a thrumming bad trip for “Xian Man.” There have always been traces of these Techniques in the Malkmus songbook; the new Traditional elements are instruments like the rabab and the udu, which approximate musical customs much older than the album’s cut-out bin forebears, providing clever juxtaposition to the wry, extremely online commentary of “Shadowbanned.” [Erik Adams]

U.S. Girls, Heavy Light

With its driving dance beat, jumpy guitar, and blistering saxophone solo, Heavy Light’s “Overtime” is musically of a piece with the political disco pop of U.S. Girls’ widely praised In A Poem Unlimited. Thematically, both the new single and album see Meg Remy getting more personal (publicity materials call her thirteenth LP a “deeply introspective about-face”), but whatever mode they’re in, Remy and her collaborators always put forth works of art that are at once pointed and intoxicating. [Laura Adamczyk]

NCT 127, Neo Zone

NCT 127’s last full-length LP was a dream-state concept album that blended conventional pop with more experimental garage-like beats. The band’s second effort teases a well-rounded showcase of every single member, ranging from bass-heavy funk to chaotic hip-hop. Tracks like “Love Song” rest comfortably in their velvety R&B purview, but it will be exciting for fans to experience the more complex vocal arrangements of a group eager to show their growth as vocalists. [Shannon Miller]

Caroline Rose, Superstar

Alt-country songwriter-turned-offbeat pop purveyor Caroline Rose describes her new album as tracking a person’s doomed pursuit of fame after receiving an accidental phone call from Los Angeles’ Chateau Marmont. There’s humor to the premise and all kinds of color in lead single “Feel The Way I Want,” which pulses with 16-bit synths and a vibrant, funky rhythm. As on her last LP, Loner, Rose’s energy is infectious. [Randall Colburn]


March 13

Pearl Jam, Gigaton

Longtime fans were understandably a bit nonplussed when “Dance Of The Clairvoyants,” the first single from the Pearl Jam’s upcoming Gigaton—its first record in more than six years—was released a few weeks back. The song was an unexpected venture into icy ’80s synth-pop, a strange look on the classic-rock outfit. But new single “Superblood Wolfmoon” is a reassurance that, no, the band isn’t completely reinventing its sound. Pearl Jam is just trying a little experimentation; once in a while, it’s not so bad to do the evolution. [Alex McLevy]


March 20

Matt Wilson & His Orchestra, When I Was A Writer

Matt Wilson says the lyrics of When I Was A Writer’s title track refer to “my lifelong descent from a minor brush with fame that I experienced in my youth” as a member of the seminal Minneapolis band Trip Shakespeare. Now decades later, with a group he’s dubbed Matt Wilson & His Orchestra, his wholehearted vocals sound as honeyed as ever. Wilson is still steeped in Midwestern pop, but now backed by banjo, harp, and handclaps as he ponders his fate in hooky laments like “Come To Nothing” and the title track: “For now I’m a no one / Can I get some drinks for you? / Maybe I should sing for you?” His low-key return is extremely overdue but just as welcome. [Gwen Ihnat]


March 27

Basia Bulat, Are You In Love?

Singer-songwriter Basia Bulat releases albums on what is almost a Leap Year schedule. Four years after the debut of Good Advice and its pop-leaning folk songs, Bulat returns with Are You In Love? She’s reteamed with My Morning Jacket’s Jim James on the introspective and melodious new album, which includes the just-this-side-of-mournful track “Your Girl.” The death of her father and the discovery of new love were the inspirations for this new album, and you can hear the sadness and elation in every strum and warbly vocal. [Danette Chavez]

Half Waif, The Caretaker

The swooping blend of organic instrumentation and fluttering electronics that has marked Nandi Rose’s solo career as Half Waif looks to come into stark clarity with The Caretaker. A musician who has built her career on enigmatic presence and ambiguity steps into a lusher and more mature territory with her fourth album, guided as always by her clear and restless vocals, delivering poetic turns of phrase that can twist from grandly universal to painfully intimate within a single measure. Artistic growth should always feel this natural. [Alex McLevy]

Waxahatchee, Saint Cloud

For Katie Crutchfield, who’s released a steady stream of confessional punk, folk, and indie rock since she was a teenager, each new collection of songs can feel like journal entries written to preserve fleeting thoughts and experiences no less significant for their ephemerality. The Alabama native was inspired by singer-songwriters like Lucinda Williams and Linda Rondstadt on this, her fifth album as Waxahatchee, and she shows similar ease and confidence on tracks like the country-twinged “Lilacs.” [Laura Adamczyk]

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