Get the scoop on the latest albums by Vampire Weekend, Savages, and Deerhunter, as well as an extensive list of May's new releases.

You’d think that the record release schedule would have to slow down at some point, but the albums slated to come out in May only up the ante on the months before. This month is highlighted by new efforts from indie touchstones that come right on each other’s heels, one week after the next, starting with Deerhunter’s Monomania on May 7, followed up by Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City (May 14) and the National’s Trouble Will Find Me (May 21). And that’s not to mention what might be 2013’s most anticipated debut outing, Silence Yourself by UK post-feminist punks Savages, or deluxe anniversary editions that will make any demographic feel old, whether you’re talking about R.E.M.’s Green turning 25, the Breeders’ Last Splash 20, or Four Tet’s Rounds 10. What follows are some picks to listen out for, be they favorites you’re going to check out anyway or standout efforts a little more under the radar.

 

Artist: Sam Amidon

Album: Bright Sunny South

Label: Nonesuch

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US Release Date: 2013-05-14

UK Release Date: 2013-05-13

Sam Amidon
Bright Sunny South

Maybe it's important that Sam Amidon no longer goes by samamidon. Then again, maybe it's not. The make-up of a name is exactly the kind of structure Amidon would quietly break down, and it's either a twist of that structure or an admission that altering your name doesn't matter if people know what you're about. And what Amidon is about on Bright Sunny South is another set of (mostly) re-shaped traditional folk tunes that twist melodies and song structures without leaving behind the past. Amidon's version of "I Wish I Wish" is a swirling fever dream of piano and guitar and shuffling drums, but it still feels as intimate as a campfire tune. "Streets of Derry" is shadowed beautifully by fiddle and Amidon's voice is cracked but never broken. These are familiar stories told in a new language, and while these may peel back the layers from the last two records, Amidon's work with Doveman's Thomas Bartlett and others here still feels quietly expansive -- see the spacious, worried joy of closer "Weeping Mary". It's a testament, too, to Amidon's talent as a performer that he can weave in Tim McGraw's "My Old Friend" and Mariah Carey's "Shake It Off" without irony, and make them seem as timeless and yet immediate as the songs around them. These are songs of community and isolation, of the land and the path we tread on it. They're songs long sung but, once again, made fresh in Amidon's innovative compositions. Matthew Fiander

 

Artist: The Baptist Generals

Album: Jackleg Devotional to the Heart

Label: Sub Pop

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US Release Date: 2013-05-21

UK Release Date: 2013-05-20

The Baptist Generals
Jackleg Devotional to the Heart

The Baptist Generals' last record, 2003's No Silver/No Gold was an unsung classic because, well, it sounded more like the scraped out husk of a classic. Those songs were static-laden transmissions from a civilization perpetually falling apart only to rebuild itself. It was a strange album, but it was stunning. Jackleg Devotional to the Heart is also strange and stunning, but not at all in the same way. The acoustic guitars are still percussive or slicing or both, but here they're housed in thicker, though still cracked, husks. "The Dog That Bit You" is a downright pop gem, coated in the dust of highways and byways, but it also leads us to the strange world of "Clitorpus Christi", with its skittering percussion and negative space around Chris Flemmons' version of a jilted john. Things are clearer here, but still take jagged turns, from the rolling acoustics cum downhill tumbles of "Broken Glass" to the spoken-word clatter and emptiness of "Floating". Most fascinating, perhaps, is the bittersweet, string-laden "My O My", a spaced-out ballad as pristine as any written this year, but still with the band's eccentric edge. The broadcast is clearer this time around, though by no means crystalline, and while Flemmons sings of love, his honeyed howl conveys it with all the unpredictable, pent-up emotion of a once-feral child baying through night terrors in his new suburban bedroom. Or maybe they're sweet dreams of a once-held freedom, the kind too borderless to define. Jackleg Devotional to the Heart may be impossible to define, but there's something primitive and beautiful at its core, something we don't need a name for, just a feeling. This feeling. Matthew Fiander

 

Artist: Mikal Cronin

Album: MCII

Label: Merge

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US Release Date: 2013-05-07

UK Release Date: 2013-05-13

Mikal Cronin
MCII

Mikal Cronin's second solo record is, flat out, the rock record of the summer. He's toured and recorded with Ty Segall -- who makes a guest appearance here -- but Cronin tends away from the fuzz of his friend's sound and toward the pop bliss underneath it. Cronin's songs are bright but muscled, full of propulsive energy and a very real self-doubt. "I know I'm still looking," he admits on "Turn Away", but if he is, he's finding more than he lets on. There's a lot of searching and indecision -- "Shit goes on and on," he groans on "Shout It Out" -- but the album never bogs down in self-indulgent navel-gazing. Instead, solitary worry becomes a unifying declaration. Even if it's him carrying "Weight" on the opening track, his piano-guitar riffage takes that same weight off the listener, the dreamy verses implying hope and hard-earned release. On the other hand, you don’t need to read much into the sweet jangle of "See It My Way" or the lean speed of "Change" to get lost in Cronin's unassumingly sweet vocals, his earworm hooks, or the instrumentation -- which he plays almost exclusively himself and yet sounds for all the world like a years-together tight rock band. But what makes MCII is not just its sunburst rock tunes, and it's not its deep pathos and emotional intelligence. It's the seamless meshing of the two. "Piano Mantra", the bold closer here, starts as a quiet coda, but erupts in groaning guitars and epic strings. It's big, it's bittersweet, it's fuzzed out but still clear. It's not a shadow after all these glaring rock songs. It's the lasting warmth left behind, emanating out. Matthew Fiander

 

Artist: Deerhunter

Album: Monomania

Label: 4AD

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US Release Date: 2013-05-07

UK Release Date: 2013-05-06

Deerhunter
Monomania

If there's a band that can maintain a distinctive identity while constantly changing its sound, Deerhunter is it. That's because one of the defining characteristics of the group has been its prolific adventurousness -- frontman Bradford Cox and guitarist Lockett Pundt are brimming over with so many good ideas, they've got side projects almost as productive as their gig in Deerhunter. That process of ceaseless reinvention has made Deerhunter one of the most vital acts in indie rock, with Monomania its latest compellingly unpredictable work, as it takes a detour from the surreal, spacey art-rock of previous efforts and trudges in the direction of rough-hewn garage rock. There’s something more spontaneous and intuitive about Monomania than what came before it, be it “Neon Junkyard”’s demented take on Pavement, the Elastica-like post-punk of "Leather Jacket II", or the Marquee Moon-ish strut on “Back to Middle”. And when Cox claims that Deerhunter wants to be known as a "great American rock 'n' roll band", Monomania makes that case better than ever, especially with the rollicking "Dream Captain", which manages to be rootsy and glammy at the same time, and "Pensacola", which comes off like the Strokes if they were sons of the south as the Deerhunter guys are. All in all, Monomania is meticulously crafted by seasoned hands that know what they're doing, even as it radiates with the spark and energy of a first album -- which each Deerhunter album kind of is, considering how the band comes up with something new and unexpected every time out. Arnold Pan

 

Artist: Dirty Beaches

Album: Drifters/Love Is the Devil

Label: Zoo

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US Release Date: 2013-05-21

UK Release Date: Import

Dirty Beaches
Drifters/Love Is the Devil

The kind of guy who’s only truly at home in any dive bar anywhere, Dirty Beaches’ one-man-band Alex Zhang Hungtai is a tried-and-true rock ‘n’ roll vagabond. Debuting with the perfect soundtrack for a road trip down a lost highway with 2011’s Badlands, Hungtai has set his sights on a bigger, wider world on Dirty Beaches’ ambitious double-LP, Drifters/Love Is the Devil, as tracks titled "Belgrade", "Casino Lisboa", and "Berlin" suggest. Yet as his itinerary has become transcontinental, Hungtai’s soul-searching sound has become more inwardly focused, with his dimmed, lo-fi electronics following along a more introverted path than his rebel-without-a-cause neo-rockabilly approach did last time out. Of the two new offerings, Drifters is the more immediately engrossing, as Hungtai’s scarred, vulnerable vocals wind their way through simmering low-budget electro effects, at their most penetrating when he asks, “Looking at me / What do you see?” on the voyeuristic “ELLI”. But while the almost entirely instrumental Love Is the Devil is more abstract and minimal, its eerie soundscapes express Hungtai’s loneliness and alienation all the more evocatively, much of it wafting like the background music to karaoke covers playing on loop after closing time -- just check out the distant sentimentality of the title track and “Alone at the Danube River”, which could pass as a mutant take on “The Way We Were”. Journeys like those that Hungtai embarks on here are never easy on the artist or the listener, but, then again, the whole point of Dirty Beaches is to explore the roads less traveled. Arnold Pan

 

Artist: Glenn Jones

Album: My Garden State

Label: Thrill Jockey

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US Release Date: 2013-05-14

UK Release Date: 2013-05-13

Glenn Jones
My Garden State

My Garden State may not possess the expansive breadth of tunes that its predecessor The Wanting did, but don't mistake this record for anything close to slight. While it may not reach out in all directions, it does reach back in fascinating ways to Glenn Jones' boyhood home in New Jersey, to sounds of the past and the well of endless melodies and phrasings Jones has buried deep inside him. Jones is brilliant all on his own here -- hear the excellent space and shadows all around "Blues for Tom Carter" -- but he also brings other players in to brilliant effect. Laura Baird, who also recorded the record, plays banjo on "Across the Tappan Zee" and her interplay with Jones is both spritely and unpredictable, sweet but just barely edged. Laura and her sister, solo artist and Espers frontwoman Meg Baird, join Jones at the end of "Going Back to East Montgomery", and they convey echoes of Jones' sound as well as tangles of the complex stories and emotions they create together. This is music that speaks without saying a word, that talks about the past without sounding like an elegy, that keeps all things yesterday -- places we've lived, sounds we've heard, traditions we've long ago codified -- and keeps them living, breathing, alive. My Garden State is a deeply personal statement, but in the hands of a musician like Glenn Jones, it feels universal, like some kind of shared experience. No, here's what it is: an event. Matthew Fiander

 

Artist: The Pastels

Album: Slow Summits

Label: Domino

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US Release Date: 2013-05-28

UK Release Date: 2013-05-27

The Pastels
Slow Summits

When you consider that the Pastels have been around in some form for over three decades, it's stunning to realize that the beloved Glasgow act has but a handful of studio albums to its name -- the upcoming Slow Summits is but the fifth proper full-length in their discography. But what’s a better time for the Pastels to resurface than the present, as the twee lifers come back around to school the latest class of indie-poppers at the height of genre’s renaissance. On endearing earworms like the organ-driven “The Wrong Light” and the sweet outsider-pop of “Check My Heart”, mainstays Stephen McRobbie and Katrina Mitchell, with more than a little help from a large cast of friends and followers, show how their craft is timeless and evergreen, still tugging at your heartstrings even when you know what's coming. Yet while this most shambolic of shambling pop bands come up with a characteristically immediate and heartwarming effort, don’t let their reputation completely fool you: The Pastels prove they’re pop craftsmen on the highest order, building on the understated, undercover chamber-pop touches of their last original work, 1997’s Illumination, with the DIY Bacharach of “Don’t Wait” and “Slowly Taking Place”, as well as the melancholy waltz of “Kicking Leaves”. And you can also hear the fruits of the Pastels beefing up their lineup, particularly the nudging influence of Teenage Fanclub’s Gerard Love when “Summer Rain” comes to a head. All in all, the Pastels turn the title Slow Summits into a self-fulfilling prophecy, having taken their own sweet time to return at the top of their game. Arnold Pan

 

Artist: Savages

Album: Silence Yourself

Label: Matador/Pop Noire

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US Release Date: 2013-05-07

UK Release Date: 2013-05-06

Savages
Silence Yourself

Savages is a band that is most certainly not fucking around. And look, that's been said about a lot of bands that trade in post-punk angles and hard-edged, dark aesthetics. Those bands were borrowing from their forebears, though, and Savages sounds like something much more personal, more organic than all that. Bands this new and this fiery should be aimless and scattershot with their anger, but Silence Yourself is an album of sharpened blades all pointing at the same throat. When singer Jehnny Beth asks, "Did you tell me to shut up?" on "Shut Up", you might find yourself at a loss for words. Her words, both beautiful and direct, hit with that kind of impact, part accusation, part call to arms. But the true greatness of Savages is how they aren't content to speed through their fury, preferring instead to build an affecting space around these songs -- see the haunting verses of "She Will", the ringing chorus of "Shut Up", pretty much all of "Waiting for a Sign". Guitarist Gemma Thompson can cut through Beth's vocals with scalpel-like precision, or she can cast a long shadow behind them. Ayse Hassan and Fay Milton are the rock-solid, serpentine spine behind them, as sturdy as they are shifting. There's nothing of promise in Silence Yourself. This is a fully formed statement, something that will remind you of another Matador debut in aesthetic -- Interpol's Turn on the Bright Lights -- but with smoldering energy in place of untouchable cool. Savages have an edge most bands can only imagine and Silence Yourself is set to make a lot of noise. Matthew Fiander

 

Artist: Vampire Weekend

Album: Modern Vampires of the City

Label: XL

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US Release Date: 2013-05-14

UK Release Date: 2013-05-13

Vampire Weekend
Modern Vampires of the City

It's no exaggeration to say that Vampire Weekend has actually made a discernible imprint on culture at-large, be it by defining world music-indie hybridity or shaping contemporary preppy culture. Despite the best efforts of its followers and imitators, the NYC band still remains unmatched as the most distinctive purveyor of a sound that helped to spawn not only musical styles, but post-millennial lifestyles. And yet, even with all they accomplished professionally and artistically with 2008’s self-titled debut and 2010’s Contra, they show that they still had room to grow by growing into the more deft and developed craft of their latest, Modern Vampires of the City. So while all of Vampire Weekend’s hallmarks are present and accounted for on Modern Vampires of the City, the new album has a level of refinement that suggests that even trend-setting acts can keep pushing themselves. The pronounced influences of African pop music, specifically, are blended into the quartet’s own aesthetic more fluidly and organically here, a feeling you get not so much because you’re familiar with Vampire Weekend by now, but because they’ve become better at hiding the seams -- just give a listen to the warm, mellifluous “Unbelievers”. Maybe “Finger Back” and “Worship You” shuffle with the jittery riffs of Vampire Weekend’s most memorable singles, but a lot of that anxious edge has been smoothed out this time around, whether it has been channeled into baroque-pop orchestration (“Step” and “Don’t Lie”) or it’s due to a more mature outlook (especially on the sparse opener “Obvious Bicycle” and the tender “Hannah Hunt”). On the whole, Modern Vampires of the City represents the work of band that’s comfortably settled into its own groove without settling for going through the motions. Arnold Pan

 

Selected Releases for May 2013

(Release dates subject to change)

May 7

Agrimonia, Rites of Separation (Southern Lord)

AM & Shawn Lee, La Musique Numerique (Park the Van)

Dean Blunt, The Redeemer (Hippos in Tanks/World Music)

Bracher Brown, Broken Glass & Railroad Tracks (Rock Ridge)

The Child of Lov, The Child of Lov (Domino)

Co La, Moody Coup (Software)

James Cotton, Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator)

Creative Adult, Bulls in the Yard EP (Cover)

Dailey & Vincent, Brothers of the Highway (Rounder)

Melissa Ferrick, The Truth Is (Mpress)

Fitz & The Tantrums, More Than Just a Dream (Elektra)

Four Tet, Rounds (10th Anniversary Reissue) (Domino)

Gansch & Breinschmid, Live at Wiener Konzerthaus (Preiser)

Laszlo Gardony, Clarity (Sunnyside)

Goo Goo Dolls, Magnetic (Warner Bros.)

Grandchildren, Golden Age (Ernest Jenning Co.)

Patty Griffin, American Kid (New West)

Karl Hyde, Edgeland (Universal)

In Cahoots, Boxed Wine Country EP (Critical Sun)

Jacques, a robin, Statuettes (Hortus)

Justice, Access All Arenas (Elektra)

Talib Kweli, Prisoner of Conscious (Blacksmith Music/Universal)

Lady Antebellum, Golden (Capitol Nashville)

The Lightwings, Sleeping Is Not for Dreamers (UK release) (Beatnik Geek)

Ivan Lins & SWR Big Band, Cornucopia (Sunnyside)

Little Boots, Nocturnes (On Repeat)

Natalie Maines, Mother (Columbia)

Mother Falcon, You Knew (self-released)

Night Birds, Maimed for the Masses EP (Fat Wreck Chords)

Van Dyke Parks, Songs Cycled (UK release) (Bella Union)

Phaseone, If I Tell U (Williams Street)

Pinkunoizu, Second Amendment EP (Full Time Hobby)

Pistol Annies, Annie Up (Sony Nashville)

Joshua Redman, Walking Shadows (Nonesuch)

Retox, Ypell (Epitaph)

Joe Satriani, Unstoppable Momentum (Epic)

She & Him, Volume 3 (Merge)

Rod Stewart, Time (Capitol)

Still Corners, Strange Pleasures (Sub Pop)

Sun Angle, Diamond Junk (New Moss)

Tiny Dancer, Who Am I? (Croydon Boy)

The Uncluded (Aesop Rock & Kimya Dawson project), Hokey Fright (Rhymesayers)

Various Artists, The Great Gatsby Soundtrack (Interscope)

We Are Loud Whispers, Suchness (Hardly Art)

We Are the Wilderness, Descending from Paramount (Baeble)

Shannon Wright, In Film Sound (Ernest Jenning)

Yuna, Sixth Street EP (Verve)

May 14

Trace Adkins, Love Will... (Show Dog/Universal)

ADULT., The Way Things Fall (Ghostly International)

Gabrielle Aplin, English Rain (UK release) (Parlophone)

Anamanaguchi, Endless Fantasy (dream.hax)

Aufgang, Istiklaliya (InFiné)

Beams, Just Rivers (Independent)

Bibio, Silver Wilkinson (Warp)

Blank Realm, Go Easy (Fire)

The Blank Tapes, Vacation (Antenna Farm)

Jason Boland & the Stragglers, Dark & Dirty Mile (Proud Souls)

The Boxer Rebellion, Promises (Absentee)

The Breeders, LSXX (Last Splash 20th Anniversary Reissue) (4AD)

Brother JT, The Svelteness of Boogietude (Thrill Jockey)

Bushman's Revenge, Electrik Komie, Live! (Rune Grammofon)

Will Calhoun, Life in This World (Motema)

Boris Carloff, The Escapist (Die Arbeit)

Andy Cato, Times 7 Places (Apollo)

Classixx, Hanging Gardens (Innovative Leisure)

The Cleaners from Venus, The Cleaners from Venus Vol. 2 (Captured Tracks)

Will Calhoun, Life in This World (Motema)

Cosmin TRG, Gordian (50 Weapons)

Del-Lords, Elvis Club (GB)

Dirty Projectors, The Socialites Remixes 12” (Domino)

Dungeonesse, Dungeonesse (Secretly Canadian)

Eluvium, Nightmare Ending (Temporary Residence)

Eve, Lip Lock (From the Rib)

The Fall, Re-Mit (Cherry Red)

The Features, Wilderness (Serpents & Snakes/BMG)

Ashleigh Flynn, A Million Stars (Home Perm)

Greta Gaines, Lighthouse & The Impossible Love (Big Air)

Natalie Gelman, Streetlamp Musician EP (Modern Vintage)

John Grant, Pale Green Ghosts (Partisan)

The Handsome Family, Wilderness (Carrot Top)

Hessian, Manegarmr (Southern Lord)

Jaga Jazzist, Live with Britten Sinfonia (Ninja Tune)

Kisses, Kids in L.A. (Cascine)

Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle, Perils from the Sea (Caldo Verde)

Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood, Black Pudding (Ipecac)

Marauder, Elegy of Blood (Pitch Black)

Matuto, The Devil and the Diamond (Motema)

Jono McCleery, Fire in My Hands (Ninja Tune)

Bobby McFerrin, Spirityouall (Sony Masterworks)

Mike Pride, Drummer's Corpse (AUM Fidelity)

Mike Pride's From Bacteria to Boyz, Birthing Days (AUM Fidelity)

Modeselektor, We Are Modeselektor (Monkeytown)

Hedvig Mollestad Trio, All of Them Witches (Rune Grammofon)

More Like Trees, Roots, Shoots & Leaves (BBE)

MS MR, Second Hand Rapture (Columbia)

Okta Logue, Transit EP (Columbia)

The Orange Peels, Sun Moon (Minty Fresh)

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, Volume Three: The Skeletal Essences of Voodoo Funk 1969-1980 (Analog Africa)

pacificUV, After the Dream You Awake (Mazarine)

Peals, Waking Field (Thrill Jockey)

Pharmakon, Abandon (Sacred Bones)

The Phoenix Foundation, Fandango (Memphis Industries)

Pure X, Crawling Up the Stairs (Acephale)

Randall Bramblett, The Bright Spots (New West)

The Quick & Easy Boys, Make It Easy (self-released)

Darius Rucker, True Believers (10 Spot)

Saltland, I Thought It Was Us But It Was All of Us (Contsellation)

Small Black, Limits of Desire (Jagjaguwar)

Snowden, No One in Control (Snakes & Serpents)

Standish/Carlyon, Deleted Scenes (Felte)

George Strait, Love Is Everything (MCA Nashville)

Survival (with Hunter Hunt-Hendrix of Liturgy), Survival (Thrill Jockey)

Marques Toliver, Land of Canaan (Bella Union)

Tone of Arc, The Time Was Right (!K7)

Scott Tournet (from Grace Potter & the Nocturnals), Ver La Luz (self-released)

Vår, No One Dances Quite Like My Brothers (Sacred Bones)

Vidis, Silence Please! (Get Physical)

Steve Von Till, As the Crow Flies (Neurot)

Wampire, Curiosity (Polyvinyl)

Wild Nothing, Empty Estate EP (Captured Tracks/Bella Union)

The Wonder Years, Sleeping on Tracks (No Sleep)

Dustin Wong & Takako Minnekawa, Toropical Cycle (PLANCHA)

May 21

Alpine, A Is for Alpine (Votiv)

Blue Angel, Departures (43 Records)

bridges and powerlines, Better (Daisy Pistol)

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, Howl (Bloodshot)

Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes, Baby Caught the Bus (Vanguard)

Club 8, Above the City (Labrador)

Come, Eleven: Eleven Deluxe Reissue (Matador)

Dead Gaze, Dead Gaze (Fat Cat/Palmist)

Death of an Era, The Great Commonwealth EP (Artery/Razor & Tie)

Hamilton de Holanda & Andre Mehmari, Gismonti Pascoal (Adventure)

Japanther, Eat Like Lisa Act Like Bart (Recess)

Emma Louise, Vs. Head Vs. Heart (Frenchkiss)

Majical Cloudz, Impersonator (Matador)

Man or Astro-man?, Defcon 5...4...3...2...1 (Communicating Vessels/Chunklet)

Middle Class Rut, Pick Up Your Head (Bright Antenna)

Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits, Sarawoga (Tuku)

The National, Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)

Scout Niblett, It's Up to Emma (Drag City)

Poisonous Relationship, Garden of Problems (Ecstasy)

Radiation City, Animals in the Median (Tender Loving Empire)

Radical Dads, Rapid Reality (Uninhabitable Mansions)

Saturday Looks Good to Me, One Kiss Ends It All (Polyvinyl)

Shannon & the Clams, Dreams in the Rat House (Hardly Art)

Ten Kens, Namesake (self-released)

Texas, The Conversation (PIAS)

Thirty Seconds to Mars, Love Lust Faith + Dreams (Virgin)

Townes Van Zandt, High, Low and In Between / The Late Great Townes Van Zandt (Omnivore)

Wild Party, All Nighter EP (self-released)

May 28

Alice in Chains, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here (Capitol)

All Tiny Creatures, Dark Clock (Hometapes)

Anvil, Hope in Hell (The End)

ASG, Blood Drive (Relapse)

Baths, Obsidian (Anticon)

Tony Bennett & Dave Brubeck, The White House Sessions, Live 1962 (Columbia/Legacy)

Big Farm, Big Farm (New Amsterdam)

Terence Blanchard, Magnetic (Blue Note)

Alex Bleeker & the Freaks, How Far Away (Woodsist)

Blue-Eyed Son, Shadows on the Son EP (Eenie Meenie)

Brazos, Saltwater (Dead Oceans)

The Bug, Filthy (Ninja Tune)

Cloud Boat, Book of Hours (Apollo/R&S)

CocoRosie, Tales of a Grass Widow (City Slang)

DJ Rupture, Fire in the Dark mixtape (Dutty Artz)

The-Dream, IV Play (Def Jam)

Eisley, Currents (Equal Vision)

John Fogerty, Wrote a Song for Everyone (Vanguard)

Free Time, Free Time (Underwater Peoples)

Hooded Fang, Gravez (Full Time Hobby/Daps)

Hot Club of Cowtown, Rendezvous in Rhythm (Gold Strike)

Imaginary Cities, Fall of Romance (Votiv)

Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette, Somewhere (ECM)

Kermit Ruffins, We Partyin' Traditional Style (Basin Street)

Kylesa, Ultraviolet (Season of Mist)

Della Mae, This World Oft Can Be (Rounder)

Laura Marling, Once I Was an Eagle (Ribbon)

Paul McCartney & Wings, Wings Over America (Hear Music/Concord)

Mount Kimbie, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth (Warp)

Octo Octa, Between Two Selves 2 x 12" (100% Silk)

The Polyphonic Spree, Yes It's True (Good)

R.E.M., Green (25th Anniversary Edition) (Rhino/Warner)

Rodion G.A., The Lost Tapes (Strut)

Secret Colours, Peach (self-released)

Skinny Puppy, Weapon (Metropolis)

The Stranglers, Giants (U.S. release) (All My People/Fontana)

TEEN, Carolina EP (Carpark)

Tijuana Panthers, Semi-Sweet (Innovative Leisure)

Tricky, False Idols (!K7)

Ugly Heroes, Ugly Heroes (MelloMusicGroup)

Various Artists, The Rough Guide to African Music for Children (World Music Network)

Various Artists, The Rough Guide to Psychedelic Brazil (World Music Network)

Various Artists, True Blues (Telarc)

W-H-I-T-E, III (Aagoo)

Justin Walter, Lullabies & Nightmares (Kranky)

When Saints Go Machine, Infinity Pool (!K7)

Yellowbirds, Songs from the Wild Frontier (Royal Potato Family)

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60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta



19. Antwood: Sponsored Content (Planet Mu)

Sponsored Content is a noisy, chaotic, occasionally beautiful work with a dark sense of humor that's frequently deployed to get Antwood's point across. For instance, throughout the aforementioned "Disable Ad Blocker", which sounds mostly like the creepy side of Tangerine Dream's early '80s experimental output, distorted slogans and recognizable themes worm their way into the mix. "I'm Loving It", we hear at one point, the Sony PlayStation startup music at another. And then there's a ten-second clip of what sounds like someone getting killed in a horror movie. What is there to make of the coexistence of those sorts of samples? Probably nothing explicit, just the uneasiness of benign and instantly-recognizable brand content in the midst of harsh, difficult art. Perhaps quality must to some extent be tied to sponsorship. That Antwood can make this point amidst blasts and washes of experimental electronic mayhem is quite the achievement. - Mike Schiller



18. Bonobo - Migration (Ninja Tune)

Although Bonobo, a.k.a. Simon Green, has been vocal in the past about not making personality driven music, Migration is, in many respects, a classic sounding Bonobo record. Green continues to build sonic collages out of chirping synths, jazz-influenced drums, sweeping strings and light touches of piano but on Migration sounds more confident than ever. He has an ability to tap into the emotions like few others such as on the gorgeous "Break Apart" and the more percussive "Surface". However, Bonobo also works to broaden his sound. The electro-classical instrumental "Second Sun" floats along wistfully, sounding like it could have fit snugly onto a Erased Tapes compilation, while the precise and intricate "Grains" shows the more intimate and reflective side of his work. On the flipside, the higher tempo, beat driven tracks such as "Outlier" and "Kerala" perfectly exhibit his understanding of what works on the dance floor while on "Bambro Koyo Ganda" he even weaves North African rhythms into the fabric. Migration is a multifaceted album full of personality and all the better for it. - Paul Carr


17. Kiasmos - Blurred EP (Erased Tapes)

The Icelandic duo of Olafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen, aka Kiasmos, is a perfect example of a pair of artists coming from two very different musical backgrounds, finding an unmistakable common ground to create something genuinely distinctive. Arnalds, more known for his minimal piano and string work, and Rasmussen, approaching from a more electropop direction, have successfully explored the middle ground between their different musical approaches and in doing so crafted affecting minimalist electronic music. Blurred is one of the most emotionally engaging electronic releases of the year. The duo is working from a refined and bright sonic palette as they consummately layer fine, measured sounds together. It is an intricate yet unforced and natural sounding set of songs with every song allowed room to bloom gradually. - Paul Carr



16. Ellen Allien - Nost (BPitch Control)

BPitch boss and longtime lynchpin of the DJ scene in Berlin, Ellen Allien's seven full-length releases show an artist constantly reinventing herself. Case in point, her 2013 offering, LISm, was a largely beat-less ambient work designed to accompany an artsy dance piece, while its follow-up, 2017's Nost, is a hardcore techno journey, spiritually born in the nightclubs and warehouses of the early '90s. It boasts nine straight techno bangers, beautifully minimalist arrangements with haunting vocals snippets and ever propulsive beats, all of which harken back to a hallowed, golden, mostly-imagined age when electronic music was still very much underground, and seemingly anything was possible. - Alan Ranta

It's just past noon on a Tuesday, somewhere in Massachusetts and Eric Earley sounds tired.

Since 2003, Earley's band, Blitzen Trapper, have combined folk, rock and whatever else is lying around to create music that manages to be both enigmatic and accessible. Since their breakthrough album Furr released in 2008 on Sub Pop, the band has achieved critical acclaim and moderate success, but they're still some distance away from enjoying the champagne lifestyle.

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Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

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There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

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