Another month gone too fast. Chuck Berry gone as well. But March also brought the first new Chuck Berry song since the Carter administration, the first Jesus and Mary Chain album in 19 years, Grandaddy’s first album in eleven years and the first albums from The Magnetic Fields and The Shins in half a decade. There was also another solid release from indie rock’s most consistent band, Spoon, and a beyond-words emotional collection from Mount Eerie. There were sophomore LPs from Temples and Jay Som, a third album from Blanck Mass; Real Estate’s fourth and lots of teases from Gorrilaz. White Denim released a song that will only play when it’s raining; Local Natives’ latest tune only plays via facial recognition through a webcam. As with every year, March also meant SXSW, the launch of spring tours and lots of news surrounding summer album announcements. So what will be remembered? Which is already forgotten? Once again I asked various music journalists, bloggers, columnists and the like a simple question, “what music stood out to you in March?” As with the January and February editions, the intention was to get their immediate reaction, a quick response that could be anything: an album, or several; a new song or music video; a mind-melting concert. What pops into mind without having to think?
Thanks to everybody who participated! Read on to see who and what they named and sound off below or on Facebook with the albums that stood out to you…
“Kelly Lee Owens s/t debut was the album I kept going back to the most, but Mount Eerie’s A Crow Looked at Me was certainly the most heartbreakingly beautiful.”
Why wait to December to consider the album of the year when you can easily mull it over every month with albumoftheyear.org? Organizing the best, worst and latest releases with averaged critic and user scores, genre lists, and a visual layout using the albums’ covers (that makes it easier to sort than similar sites like metracritic), Album Of The Year is a must-bookmark site for fans that want to stay updates on new releases. Follow on twitter at twitter.com/aoty.
All Tomorrows Music
“My favourite album was Mount Eerie, A Crow Looked at Me
Song: Yves Tumor, ‘Limerence’
Video: Kendrick Lamar, ‘HUMBLE.'”
All Tomorrows Music has perhaps the best Facebook page for direct links (to YouTube etc) of the cream of just-released indie music. Just like their name suggests, their feed is all the tunes that were released today – which is to say, everyday – that will likely be remembered tomorrow. Ditto the twitter feed. Follow on spotify too.
Shiver Canyon Shiver Canyon – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
“An immediate standout on the EP is Shewan’s own vocal performance. As drenched in reverb as some of the guitar work, her voice flies high upon the top of the mix, always echoing amongst the instrumental flux we’re consistently presented.”
Belles Will Ring Sideways Century – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
“Some creations and ideas are forged through careful brainstorming and meticulous craft. But as we know, sometimes the best way to let the seed of something beautiful grow is to leave it alone. Despite their hiatus Belles Will Ring have lost none of their potency and creative aptitude, and Sideways Century is the fully-bloomed opus which only their time away could have birthed.”
Cameron Avery Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dream – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
“Lyrically, the album certainly isn’t frivolous. Avery sings with great ardour and at times, sorrow about broken relationships, buying happiness and deep love, sporadically bringing to mind songwriters such as Father John Misty.”
Trapdoor Bison – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
“It brings a snarl to your face. Trapdoor are Led Zeppelin without the screeching vocals of Robert Plant, steeped in fanaticism and a penchant for the legends of old. Bison is a ripper of a record any blues or hard rock fan should get around.”
Spoon Hot Thoughts – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
“Hot Thoughts is the loosest, most experimental record of Spoon’s career. However it still feels unified, not only as work on its own, but as an addition to the band’s acclaimed discography.”
Colour Machine 2 – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
“Bringing a blues swing to the swollen indie rock dialogue earns them special mention, for while they already nail the tropes of their laden genre, their unique and angry take is certainly a breath of fresh air.”
Angie – Shyness Click here to read more at Happy Mag
“The album is centred around feelings and spaces; the small moments, sounds, familiarity and place. The subject of the songs is portrayed in the instrumentation, each track having its own little quirks while feeling spacious.”
Jackson Reid Briggs & The Heaters When Are You Going To Give Up On Me So I Can Give Up On Myself – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
“Beneath the chaotic dissonance of the Melbournian punk thrashers Briggs finds his muse. Drawing from his experiences within this urban morass Briggs relays lyrics of misery and depression with brutal honesty.”
Sarah Belkner But You Are, But It Has – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
“Although Belkner is classically trained and a self-professed lover of indie pop, her style is far from conventional. Belkner accompanies her practiced piano with electronic beats and synthetic sounds to produce an experimental, eccentric musicality.”
Happy is quarterly music and youth culture print magazine based in Enmore, Australia that also publishes new music reviews and special features daily on their web site, hhhhappy.com. The whole music world should know by now there’s something special going on done under (King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, The Tame Impala/ Pond posse, etc). Happy is the essential source to stay updated on that scene and beyond. Follow on twitter at twitter.com/happymagtv.
Psych Insight Music
“Some great releases again this month.
Absolute top spot in March must go to The Dead Sea Apes who have delivered an album (Sixth Side of the Pentagon) of political commentary which is both intense and powerful. It is also a career high music-wise; which is saying something for this great band based around Manchester.
Another strong contender is Swedish band The Janitors, who have also brought out a strong political statement with Horn Ur Marken. These guys aren’t that prolific, but when they do release something it’s always worth the wait.
Third, but by no means least is Kick Out The Jams by Berlin band Cosmic Fall. As I say in the review you’ve got to be pretty confident in your music to bring out an album with a title like that, and they really live up to it. Brilliant!”
Psych Insight Music is an essential reference for staying updated on psychedelic music, especially that of under the radar ilk. Read their reviews of the aforementioned new albums from The Dead Sea Apes, The Janitors and Cosmic Fall, and follow their top picks all month long at bandcamp.com/psychinsightmusic and twitter.com/psychinsightmsc. The site is run by Simon Smith, who is trying to raise £3000 for a cancer charity this year by walking 3000 miles. Details on how you can help him reach his goal are here.
Since 2002 Glide Magazine has covered music across genre lines (consider the albums on their “20 Best Albums of 2016” for example). Read Maeri Ferguson’s review of Hot Thoughts here, Apoorva Chiplunkar’s interview with Temples here and follow Glide at twitter.com/glidemag.
The Gig Whores
“alt- J, Father John Misty, Gorillaz, Perfume Genius”
The Gig Whores community offers up all things music, sometimes focusing in on, though by no means limited to San Diego.
“Though it had some big releases, March for the most part was somewhat underwhelming. Still, some of the month’s albums have the potential of being remembered come year-end. The stand out of the month is Mount Eerie’s A Crow Looked At Me. Phil Elverum dedicates the album to memory of his recently deceased wife, and it’s a heartbreaking meditation on grief. But at the same time, it’s a touching tribute to Elverum’s wife. The music is sparse, but it doesn’t need many bells and whistles to clock you over the head and leave a lasting impression.
One other album that you cannot miss is the long-awaited debut from Tei Shi. It’s a nearly flawless pop record that shows of Valerie Teicher’s range as an artist and positions her as one you’ll definitely want to keep your ears on in the future.”
Want a one-stop website to discover the latest indie music? Become pals with Earbuddy. With its steady influx of new reviews and online streams it’s been “opening ears to good music” since 2011. Among new albums reviewed this month: the latest from Stereolab’s Lætitia Sadier and the return of The Jesus And Mary Chain. Follow on twitter at twitter.com/earbuddy.
“A haunting cover of one of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s lesser known tracks, “Deep One Perfect Morning.” The Proper Ornaments bring out its retro quality via dreamily harmonizing vocals and a delicate warbling electronic effect that wavers with a human, analog touch. By stripping away the din of guitars from the DARKLANDS deep cut they may have improved on the original, highlighting its crafty quality.”
Vice chair of the Florida Film Critics Circle, Hans writes about indie music and cinema for a variety of websites including MiamiNewTimes.com and his own Independent Ethos. Follow at twitter.com/Indieethos.
“NPR streamed Diet Cig’s Swear I’m Good At This on First Listen at the end of the month, and it was so satisfying to hear the full album. I love Diet Cig’s energy, and it’s really exciting to hear what they’re doing on their debut album. Sometimes bands stumble when they make the transition from early lo fi recordings to their proper debut album, but Alex Luciano’s performance and writing work so well in this context. The lyrics can be so intimate, while the music sounds as big as it gets with power pop chord progressions and swirling backup vocals. The whole album has an awesome energy, the songs are fun and wistful and a little sad but super uplifting. And as an added bonus, all of their merch is totally dope.
Also, I happened to turn on PBS earlier this month while they were showing Roy Orbison: A Black & White Night. I love Roy Orbison, but somehow I had never heard of this concert. Which is insane, because his backing band is Elvis’ old band, and Roy’s joined on stage by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, and plenty more superstar musicians. The whole thing has a beautiful art deco set, and Orbison’s voice is unbelievable throughout. Apparently there’s a new 30th anniversary edition coming out, so I highly recommend watching!”
Up through last week Dave was marketing manager for Talkhouse, the internet’s premier destination for discussions between artists and reviews of music and films by peer musicians and filmmakers. Prior that he held music-related marketing positions with guitar pedal manufacturer Electro Harmonix and Google. He just started a new job at a creative agency – congrats Dave! – and also plays guitar and writes songs in the band Twiga. Pick up the new Twiga cassette here and follow them and Dave at twitter.com/TwigaMusic.
“Other than a few choice hip-hop singles (“Alexys” by Freddie Gibbs, the new rework of “Lavender” by BadBadNotGood featuring the Doggfather, Snoop Dogg himself, and the Twitter-feed-shattering hypebeasts “The Heart Part IV” and “HUMBLE.” by Kendrick Lamar), I found myself listening to Spoon’s latest, Hot Thoughts. I was finally converted into a full-fledged fanatic with their last album, They Want My Soul, and I was probably one of the very few. Either you love them or can’t see what makes Britt Daniel and company a driving force of the past decade plus. With Hot Thoughts, Spoon gets spacier and synthier, pushing songs from slice of life into insightful journeys that would’ve shot up the charts during Phil Collins’ reign. Hot Thoughts producer Dave Fridmann should be no stranger to you, and his work on Spoon’s latest chapter shows the band making strides in their songwriting without stepping into their own tropes. All in all, whatever energy Spoon has tapped into with these last two records, you should definitely give their stellar efforts your time.”
Beardfood editor Dylan Tracy was senior writer at OurVinyl and new music editor at Unrecorded along with writing for numerous other music sites over the years, Prefixmag among them.
“Now that the storms have receded, for all intents and purposes it’s summer here in California, and we hit the road and break out the cruising jams. I’ve got a lot of time for anything Brainfeeder related, and Thundercat’s Drunk is a welcome throwback to the exploratory IDGAF vibe of Funkadelic albums of yore, where you just didn’t know what the hell was around the bend. Cross that with being one of the few to unlock the key to the mighty funk pyramids of vintage Earth, Wind, and Fire, and you have a hell of a brew on your hands. Drunk is by turns demented and wistful, always in control, always questing.”
TOMA – “Going Nowhere”
“For a while there in the late ’90s and early ’00s, until it more or less died as far as the hipsters are concerned, rock’n’roll was increasingly taken to task for not offering up anything “new” or “original,” as if this most derivative of musical genres was ever truly about being new or original. Lazy critics yawning that this band or that wasn’t doing anything you hadn’t heard before was always beside the point. Good rock’n’roll was never really about being new or original; it was about being good. Much of rock’s goodness has always been grounded in visceral impact: does a song grab you? Does it work precisely because you don’t need to analyze it or philosophize about it or fit it into this or that intellectual construct? If at the same time a rock song can integrate its influences in ear-catching ways, then, well, we’re moving beyond good to great.
And so here comes the Austin quartet Toma, doing precisely this: taking a variety existing aural elements, integrating them in engaging ways, and crafting a song that grabs the ear quite firmly.”
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com
Hideout – “See You Around”
“An odd, enticing chugger of a song, “See You Around” has the relentlessness of a run-on sentence, packing a lot of action into a short amount of time.”
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com
Echo Ladies – “Nothing Ever Lasts”
“‘Nothing Ever Lasts’ starts cranked to 10 (or maybe 11), equal parts commotion and grace, and never lets up. I like how much the song accomplishes, dynamically, despite the sonic onslaught. In and around the foundational wall of sound, there is freight-train percussion below, a minimal, anthemic synth line above, and Matilda Bogren’s buried but endearing vocals.”
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com
“It’s been a bit of a quiet month, so there’s only two stand out albums. First up is Those Who Walk Away [The Infected Mass] an album that attempts to make some kind of sense of death and loss. It’s a majestic work of ambient sounds and distress calls and it is made a real emotional impression on me. Check it out – you won’t be disappointed.
That album led me back to some old favourites, including From Monument To Masses, so they’ve been getting played a lot this month, and in particular, a track called “Sharpshooter.”
The other album I really enjoyed was Gnod’s latest [Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine]. Repetition, brutality and a good old fashioned anti-corporate message all wrapped up in one handy album? Bargain. Oh and a song about Mark E Smith….what more could you want?
Finally, I went to see SUNNO))) at the Barbican and that was an absolutely stunning show. The last time I saw them was at the much missed Temples Festival a few years back, where as legend has it, the audience suffered nose bleeds, people passed out, dead pigeons fell from the rafters, the PA had to be replaced and the building itself had to be checked out after the performance for structural damage, such was the ferocity of their set.
The Barbican show was about as sedate as they get, but it was still music that you feel as much as hear. Additionally, they’ve added real nuance to their arsenal, and what with an amazing smoke/light show, they’ve ramped up the theatricality to another level. They’re back over soon, so if you want to see an evil statue of liberty thrashing about in smoke whilst having your internal organs rearranged by a relentless drone, I’d get some tickets ASAP.”
Sam reviews new albums, mostly for musicOMH (but also Sings The Browns). Read his reviews of the aforementioned albums by Those Who Walk Away and Gnod. Follow Sam on twitter at twitter.com/socksinhell.
“You don’t intimately know the name Colter Wall, but you will slap yourself across the face if you don’t catch this Canadian as he starts taking off on a rocket like Sturgill Simpson did just a few years back. Wall’s voice has this gravely, rugged quality that makes him sound wise beyond his years and he’ll make you believe he’s a country veteran after just a few songs. He was touring with Margo Price, and it’s an incredible bill.
Husbands takes all the infectious surfy energy of Weezer and slaps some synthy right on top. They also do what so many Oklahoma bands forget to do. They remember to have a blast onstage and the fun resonates immediately. Check out the song KARLSTAD, it’s a song named after a coveted IKEA sectional couch that frontmen Danny and Will both own. They say it’s very comfortable.
Samantha Crain is no secret to people who pay attention to music in Oklahoma. It’s always especially exciting to get a new album from her because that means great new music (duh) and one of our brightest luminaries gets to share her work with the world. She’s on a European tour right now and you can’t go wrong with any of the tracks on “You Had Me At Goodbye,” a fantastic blend of folk and pop sensibilities.”
Writer/ photographer Nathan Poppe is editor of LOOKatOKC and a reporter for The Oklahoman, as well as house photographer for Oklahoma City’s Criterion and the cinematographer behind Spy FM and Fowler Volkswagen’s VDub Sessions (in which a band creates a performance video while driving inside a VW van). In other words, he’s busy. Follow him at twitter.com/NathanPoppe.
“Here is a rundown (in no particular order) of some things on my radar: Frank Zappa, Weasels Ripped My Flesh, Sheik Yerbouti, Hot Rats (LP reissues); John Lee Hooker, Whiskey and Wimmen (new best of LP); Guided By Voices, August By Cake (new LP); Los Lobos, Gates of Gold (latest LP); Alice Coltrane, Monastic Trio (LP reissue); The Creation (CD box set); Bill Evans, On A Monday Evening (live archival CD); The Doors, Band From Venice (first live show, 1966, box set); George Harrison, Brainwashed, Live in Japan, All things Must Pass (LP reissues); Bobby Rush, Porcupine Meat (CD); Otis Taylor, Fantasizing About Being Black (CD); The Kinks, Mono Box Set; Remembering Mountains (Unheard Songs by Karen Dalton) (first time LP issue); Song Reader (new Beck songs covered by other artists) (LP).
Here are some recent reviews: George Harrison, Extra Texture and 33&1/3; Fleetwood Mac, Then Play On (original LP reissued); Pugwash, Almanac (first time issue on LP); Owen Maercks, Teenage Sex Therapist (rare LP reissue with Henry Kaiser); Kate Bush, Before The Dawn (four LP live); Bobby Darin & Johnny Mercer, Two of a Kind (CD reissue); Whitney Rose, South Texas Suite and Heartbreaker of the Year (With Raul Malo) (CD); Pansy Division, Quite Contrary (LP); Toys That Kill, Control the Sun, Sentimental Ward (LP); Dead Boys, Young Loud and Snotty (Rhino green vinyl reissue”).”
Among many other pursuits – including creating the rock opera dial with his band ing – Mark writes for audiophilereview.com specializing in commentary specifically for vinyl collectors (very helpful for making purchasing decisions especially concerning which reissues are worth buying). Want an assessment not just of the music, but also the package? His reviews are what you’re looking for (often with photos of the vinyl or sleeve included). Read his aforementioned recent reviews of Extra Texture, 33&1/3, Then Play On, Almanac, Teenage Sex Therapist, Before The Dawn, Two of a Kind, South Texas Suite and Heartbreaker of the Year, Quite Contrary, Control the Sun, Sentimental Ward, and Young Loud and Snotty. Follow Mark at twitter.com/Smotroff.
“My son and I got to hear the entire 50 Song Memoir album performed live by The Magnetic Fields during the Big Ears festival. That was wonderful! And Clipping was pretty cool opening for The Flaming Lips last week.
Oh yeah! Duh — I love the new Jesus and Mary Chain!”
Downtown Randall Brown writes a weekly column for the USA Today network’s Knoxville News Sentinel and fronts the band Quartjar – buy their just released new album Squatch: An Odyssey In Space and Time on bandcamp. Here’s his recent profile on the origins of Deerhoof, and his report on The Flaming Lips’ “Brainville” Rye Whiskey and his connection. Follow him at twitter.com/RandallMBrown.
Zoya Feldman from Hype Machine linked us to Stack, the site’s weekly “mix of the most interesting new music on the web, handpicked by the Hype Machine team.”
- Stack #130 with She-Devils, Cadence Weapon & Kaytranada, Kiefer, You’ll Never Get to Heaven, and Dj Kala
- Stack #131 with Samantha Crain, Girl Ultra, Sudan Archives, Alex Napping, Shanti Celeste
- Stack #132 with Chastity Belt, DUKWA, OSHUN, TOPS, CC Dust, Ellie Herring
- Stack #133 with Sango, Jonti + Steve Lacy (The Internet,) Soccer Mommy, Nan Kolè, Smino + Noname
- Stack #134 handpicked by Toro y Moi with Person Of Interest, Huerco S., DJ Seinfeld, Company Records’ Tanukichan & Madeline Kenney
Since 2005 Hype Machine has tracked the new tunes generating buzz on the countless blogs around the world and allowed an easy way to listen to them all. Subscribe to Stack by e-mail here and follow Hype Machine at twitter.com/hypem.
Jason Grishkoff from Indie Shuffle linked us to his monthly playlist. He says, “This one’s definitely the best ‘best of the month’ playlist I can remember pulling together in a long time. I had a really tough time trying to figure out what to put up front because there were just so many favorites. Top of the pick (as far as hype) was no doubt the four new Gorillaz songs, though I must confess they weren’t necessarily my favorite. There was also new Feist, Milky Chance, HAERTS, Soulwax, and a whole bunch more. Oh, and even Lorde. Honestly, it was a blockbuster month.”
- Kayex – My Friends
- Icarus – King Kong
- Brunettes Shoot Blondes – You’ve Got To Move
- Milky Chance – Blossom
- Julietta – Beach Break
- HAERTS – Your Love
- Crooked Colours – Flow
- Alt-J – 3WW
- Hykuu – The Up and Down Ft. Olivia Reid (Cassini Remix)
- Paloma – Touch
- North Downs – Plastic Clouds
- Geoffroy – Thirsty (ft. Men I Trust)
- Slow Dancer – You Were The First
- Feist – Pleasure
- Cathedrals – Don’t Act Like A Stranger
- Gorillaz – Andromeda (Ft. D.R.A.M.)
- Joy Again – Winter Snakes
- Fleet Foxes – Third of May / Ōdaigahara
- Wayward – Transcience
- CRi – Rush (ft. Ouri)
- Embee – MOONS
- POND – The Weather
- Soulwax – Missing Wires