Listening Ahead: Upcoming Releases for April

Matthew Fiander and Arnold Pan

In a month known for celebrating musical independence with Record Store Day, it's appropriate that April's most anticipated releases are by independent voices both familiar and new.

April is becoming known as the month that music fans celebrate their independence on the annual Record Store Day -- see here for how an independent retailer near you is marking the occasion. So it’s appropriate that this April features distinctive independent voices making welcome returns -- like Jack White and Spiritualized -- as well as much anticipated debuts by Alabama Shakes and Willis Earl Beal. Below are some other picks-to-click that also capture an indie spirit.


Artist: Allo Darlin’

Album: Europe

Label: Slumberland


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US Release Date: 2012-04-17

UK Release Date: 2012-04-17

Allo Darlin’

Everything that made pop cuties Allo Darlin’ so charming on their self-titled debut is present and accounted for on their sophomore follow-up, Europe. Yeah, Elizabeth Morris still has a case of melancholy, but it’s hard to imagine that she’d want to have it any other way, considering how poignant, yearning tones come so naturally to her. Of course, Europe is good for more pop culture trainspotting, as Morris gets her points across by namechecking who she’s listening to and what she’s digging. And there’s still the ukulele. Yet there’s just something more mature to Europe that has nothing to do with Morris referring to the Silver Jews instead of Weezer: While the first effort got by on precocity and doing a pretty awesome job of tiding the twee kids over as they wait for the next Camera Obscura offering, Europe is, musically speaking, fleshed out and thought out, making its mark thanks to execution rather than just good intentions. Arnold Pan


Artist: Billy Bragg & Wilco

Album: Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions

Label: Nonesuch


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US Release Date: 2012-04-21

UK Release Date: 2012-04-23

Billy Bragg & Wilco
Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions

For fans of the two collaborations between Billy Bragg & Wilco -- Mermaid Avenue Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 -- where they put music to lyrics by Woody Guthrie (discovered by his daughter Nora), this new Complete Sessions is a real treasure. Nevermind that it collects all the tracks in one place, with a nice remaster of Vol. 2, but it also includes Mermaid Avenue Vol. III, a 17-song collection of rare and unreleased tracks from the same period that presents its own surprisingly unique, cohesive feel. Vol. III is a more stripped-down set, often far dustier than the shining Americana of the other records. Bragg, in particular, belts the buzzing hope of these songs out into ragged space on songs like "Ought to Be Satisfied Now" and "Go Down to the Water", while Wilco delivers intimate, sweet tunes like "Listening to the Wind That Blows" and the front-porch stomper "Chain of Broken Hearts". The boxed set also includes photos, full lyrics, sketches by Guthrie, and new liner notes by Nora, as well as a DVD of Man in the Sand, which documents the records' creation. It's a huge celebration for Guthrie in his centennial year, a trove of new artifacts for fans, and a glut of great music all in one big package. Matt Fiander


Artist: Lotus Plaza

Album: Spooky Action at a Distance

Label: Kranky


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US Release Date: 2012-04-03

UK Release Date: 2012-04-02

Lotus Plaza
Spooky Action at a Distance

Lotus Plaza is the solo project of Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt and his latest effort Spooky Action at a Distance is evidence of the influence he’s had on his main gig. While Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox tends to suck up all the oxygen when the plaudits are doled out, no small amount of credit is due Pundt and the shimmering, otherworldly guitar sound that’s the canvas for his better-known bandmate to work on. It’s outside of that environment on Spooky Action that Pundt’s impact on Deerhunter comes through the clearest, as you’re able to focus on all the guitar sleights-of-hand he’s capable of in their most natural state. On the whole, Lotus Plaza takes a mellow, easy-going approach, creating atmospheric sound that’s more open and airy than Deerhunter’s darker, distorted moods. With Spooky Action, Pundt shows that he’s not only indispensible to Deerhunter’s distinctly warped aesthetic, but that he’s also got a musical perspective that does fine standing on its own. Arnold Pan


Artist: Ty Segall & White Fence

Album: Hair

Label: Drag City


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US Release Date: 2012-04-24

UK Release Date: 2012-04-23

Ty Segall & White Fence

Is anyone on the current indie scene more prolific in terms of sheer output than lo-fi impresario Ty Segall, who needs a CPA to keep track of all the titles to his name? Well, White Fence’s Tim Presley might be giving the reigning king of garage rock a run for his money, releasing two new albums in various confusing formats over the next month (Family Perfume Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). On Hair, the two join forces to whip up the kind of buzzy, messy, sunbleached melodies you’ve come to expect from Segall. But even though you’d think the primal idiom they’re working in doesn’t allow for much innovation, Segall and Presley are anything but one-trick ponies, pushing the limits of lo-fi to a little mo-fi with a palette ranging from poor-man’s Beatles harmonies to mussed-up Elephant 6-like pop pranksterism. Drawing out some of their semi-psychedelic workouts, Hair only sounds simple because Segall and Presley are deceptively complex. Arnold Pan

Ty Segall & White Fence - “I Am Not a Game”


Artist: Suckers

Album: Candy Salad

Label: Frenchkiss

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US Release Date: 2012-04-24

UK Release Date: 2012-04-24

Candy Salad

Suckers return this year with the follow-up to their excellent 2010 album, Wild Smile, and the band avoids the sophomore slump by forgetting about our expectations. As you might expect from a band who could produce the unpredictable, maximalist pop of Wild Smile, they have produced a record that bears little resemblance to its predecessor. This is a more cohesive, warmer, and sturdily constructed set, but that doesn't mean Suckers have become tame on Candy Salad. Instead, they've concentrated and focused their eccentricities into a set that is dreamlike but not at all dream-pop, and sweet without ever slipping into cloying twee territory. Suckers flat out go for it here -- check the guitar solo on the towering "Chinese Braille" -- and deliver some of their sweetest pop tunes to date in the process. If the first album got your body moving, the second one got the band moving in a new direction, and the results are as sweet and strange as the album's title. Matt Fiander


New Releases for April 2012

April 3

Addison Groove, Transistor Rhythm (50 Weapons)

AU, Both Lights (Hometapes)

Willis Earl Beal, Acousmatic Sorcery (XL/Hot Charity)

Bear in Heaven, I Love You It’s Cool (Dead Oceans)

Clark, Iradelphic (Warp)

Elvis Costello, The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook (Universal)

fIREHOSE, lowFLOWs: The Columbia Anthology (‘91-‘93) (Columbia/Legacy)

Great Lake Swimmers, New Wild Everywhere (Nettwerk)

Ben Howard, Every Kingdom (Republic)

Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson, Thick as a Brick 2 (Capitol)

Jezabels, The Prisoner (Mom+Pop)

Lightships, Electric Cables (Domino)

Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (Republic)

New Cassettes, Winterhead (Hype)

Orbital, Wonky (PID)

Screaming Females, Ugly (Don Giovanni)

David Sylvian, Victim of Stars 1982-2012 (EMI)

White Arrows, Fireworks of the Sea (Votiv)

White Fence, Family Perfume, Vol. 1 (Woodsist)

WZRD, WZRD (Universal/Republic)

Zammuto, Zammuto (Temporary Residence)

April 10

Alabama Shakes, Boys and Girls (ATO)

Amadou & Mariam, Folila (Nonesuch)

Black Dice, Mr. Impossible (ADA)

Counting Crows, Underwater Sunshine (Or What We Did on Our Summer Vacation) (Collective Sounds)

Dante vs. Zombies, BUH (Neurotic Yell)

Kat Edmondson, Way Down Low (Spinnerette)

Eternal Summers, The Dawn of Eternal Summers (Kanine)

Florence + the Machine, MTV Unplugged (CD+DVD) (Universal/Republic)

The Funkees, Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria's Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77 (Soundways)

Grand Duchy, Let the People Speak (Sonic Unyon)

Nanci Griffith, Intersection (Spunk)

Lords of Acid, Deep Chills (Metropolis)

The Mastersons, Birds Fly South (New West)

Old Time Machine, Old Time Machine (File Under Music)

Opeth, Blackwater Park Casebound Legacy Edition, Damnation, Deliverance, Lamentations DVD+2-CD live recording (Reissues) (The End)

Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream (Redwing)

Scars on 45, Scars on 45 (Chop Shop/Atlantic)

Sleep Party People, We Were Drifting on a Sad Song (Brine and Barnacles)

Sleepy Sun, Spine Hits (The End)

Theatre of Voices, Ars Nova Copenhagen, and Paul Hillier, Arvo Part: Creator Spiritus (Harmonia Mundi)

M. Ward, A Wasteland Companion (Merge)

Alex Winston, King Con (Cooperative)

Zambri, House of Baasa (Kanine)

Various artists Saigon Rock & Soul: Vietnamese Classic Tracks 1968-1974 (Sublime Frequencies)

April 17

Azealia Banks, 1991 EP (Interscope/Polydor)

Bleeding Knees Club, Nothing to Do (IAMSOUND)

John Cleary, Occapella (FHQ)

Dog Shredder, Brass Tactics (Good to Die)

Donovan, The Essential Donovan (Epic/Legacy)

Grinderman, Grinderman 2 RMX (ADA)

Horse Feathers, Cynic’s New Year (Kill Rock Stars)

LoCura, Semilla Caminante (Face Pelt)

Moonface, With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery (Jagjaguwar)

Sidi Touré, Koïma (Thrill Jockey)

Spiritualized, Sweet Heart Sweet Light (Fat Possum)

Swans, The Burning World (reissue) (Water)

Ebo Taylor, Appia Kwa Bridge (Strut)

Treme, Season 2 soundtrack (Rounder)

Loudon Wainwright III, Older than My Old Man Now (2nd Story Sounds)

Dar Williams, In the Time of Gods (Razor & Tie)

Wooden Wand, Brushfire Demos (Fire)

Woods & Amps for Christ, Woods & Amps for Christ split (Shrimper)

April 21

Hush Arbors/Arbouretum, Aureola (Thrill Jockey)

April 24

Anathema, Weather Systems (The End)

Bad Veins, The Mess We’ve Made (Modern Outsider)

Brendan Benson, What Kind of World (Readymade)

Dandy Warhols, This Machine (The End)

Death Grips, Money Store (Epic)

Ministry, Relapse (AFM)

Marty Stuart, Nashville 1: Tear the Woodpile (Sugarhill)

Waco Brothers and Paul Burch, Great Chicago Fire (Bloodshot)

Jack White, Blunderbuss (Third Man/Columbia)

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