This year has been a whirlwind of amazing albums—and it’s only April. With all of these new tunes coming out faster than hotcakes at IHOP on National Pancake Day, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed. Below are some notable releases that should keep your ears busy until the next mindblowing album drops (which let’s be real will probably be in a few hours, the way things are going).
Sleater-Kinney—No Cities to Love
The indie punk-rock darlings returned after a decade-long hiatus to give us No Cities to Love. It’s an album that proves the girls still got it (as if anyone had any doubts) and that punk never dies.
Father John Misty—I Love You, Honeybear
FJM’s 11-track album is an incredible ode to his wife (Honeybear is a term of endearment for her). The album balances on chronic cynicism and marveling at the mysticism of love. It’s sentimental in spite of itself. Frankly, it’s glorious.
Drake—If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late
Let’s not forget about Drake’s surprise release. The precedent for unannounced albums has been established, and so far the bar has been set pretty high. Of course, this strategy can only succeed when the songs are able to speak for themselves, and If You’re Reading This definitely talks the talk.
Kendrick Lamar—To Pimp A Butterfly
Kendrick Lamar’s latest release entered into the world to unanimously rave reviews (WIUX gave it the prestigious 7/7). This album is masterful and important. To Pimp A Butterfly is fully aware of the political-cultural climate in which it exists. It’s full of insight and wisdom and funk.
Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield—Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith
Cover albums are usually ambitious undertakings. Covering Elliott Smith while respecting the sacredness with which many people regard his music is an even greater challenge. Fortunately for Smith and Avett/Mayfield fans alike, the pair do justice to these songs. It’s a beautiful album that sweeps Smith’s discography and cradles the songs tenderly.
Courtney Barnett—Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit
I don’t want to name names, but someone here is a bit fanatical about Courtney Barnett (it’s me). After the much-deserved praise of her Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, Barnett delivers a full-length album with her signature narrative, almost spoken-word style, lyrics. All of Barnett’s songs seem to celebrate the mundane, to find meaning in house-hunting, skipping work, and grocery shopping. This album is on repeat until the sun burns out.
Sufjan Stevens—Carrie & Lowell
Sufjan Stevens’ album was featured on NPR’s First Listen last week, and I haven’t stopped crying since. It’s a cathartic record in which Stevens moves through grief surrounding the loss of his mother. It’s concerned with the eventuality of death and the wonder of being alive and here. Carrie & Lowell is deeply personal without being exclusive. If you haven’t given it a listen yet, find a quiet place and let the melodies wash over you.
Leon Bridges—Coming Home
This Texas-native has been getting a lot of attention and with good reason. Leon Bridges is delivering old school soul with a voice that could melt precious metals. “Better Man” will make you groove and “Coming Home” will make you swoon.
Florence + The Machine—“St. Jude” and “What Kind of Man”
Though she went under the radar for a bit, Flo has returned with two stellar tracks with cinematic videos as fitting accompaniments. “What Kind of Man” gives us the powerful Florence vocals with a new edge and “St. Jude” shows a reserved side to the singer we don’t often see. It’s an incredibly striking song because it lacks a chorus, but is all the more affecting for that. Needless to say, her summer album is highly anticipated.