The 10 Albums You Need to Hear in April

There’s a ton of great music coming out on April 1. But it’s no joke: the day brings the debut LP from a trio of rising stars in Nashville, the latest record from the Tuareg Jimi Hendrix, a record-breaking release from some old club heads, an EDM rapper that sounds like Biggie, and the third LP from a band called Tacocat. OK, the name might be a joke. But it’s also really good.

We’ve also got some hip-hop, country, and experimental ambient electronic tunes thrown in for good measure; something for all palates and predilections. Enjoy.

Music Band — Wake Up Laughing (April 1, Infinity Cat)

A rock ‘n’ roll cinderella story for the 21st century: the dudes in Music Band packed up their gear and headed to Nashville to bask in the burgeoning DIY scene spearheaded by local heroes JEFF the Brotherhood and Diarrhea Planet. Just a few years later, they’re BFFs with those same bands, and releasing their debut LP on JEFF the Brotherhood’s family label Infinity Cat Recordings. If you’re out West, catch them on tour with Diarrhea Planet all April.

Bombino — Azel (April 1, Partisan)

Bombino’s story is one of perseverance, empathy, and the casualties of war. His eternal optimism is infectious, and his guitar playing, fueled by an obsession with Hendrix, is particularly inspired. On his latest LP, Azel, it doesn’t really matter if you speak Tamasheq (if you’re  reading this, it’s fair to say you probably don’t); the music is undeniably fun. That it was born from suffering, his message one of hope and empathy for the plight of the refugee, makes it all the more beautiful.

Pet Shop Boys — Super (April 1, X2)

Pet Shop Boys recently notched their 40th single on Billboard’s dance club songs chart, so making kids dance is old hat at this point. They take a nostalgic look at their club-kid pasts on “Pop Kids,” as if to stake their territory as poptimist progenitors. They’ll likely be making kids dance until they can’t dance themselves.

Tacocat — Lost Time (April 1, Hardly Art)

Tacocat’s third LP Lost Time is probably done a disservice by its April 1 release date. Actually, the thing is nearly undone altogether by the band’s meme-based name and its goofy tracklist (“Dana Katherine Scully,” “Horse Grrls,” “The Internet”), too. But it would be a mistake to write off the Seattle quartet as a novelty, because this brief LP is one of 2016’s best yet.

The songs on Lost Time kick like moshing teens and cry out for justice, painfully aware that there’s no escaping injustice. “FDP” is a kiss-off to the first day of a period that has singer Emily Nokes “canceling her life” as “pain sears into the night.” “Talk” brilliantly bunches our obsession with the anti-society in our phones together with a backbeat that sounds as paranoid as weed demons feel. “I Hate the Weekend” should be played at every Friday night happy hour in Manhattan; there’s a song for every occasion. It’s an album of the Internet Age, and if aliens find it in the ruins of America, they’ll know what went wrong. —Shane Barnes, Associate Editor

Antwon — Double Ecstasy (April 1, Anticon) 

Antwon is a child of the ’90s. At a recent show he rocked out to Mariah Carey, Alice Deejay, Mark Morrison, and the Backstreet Boys without even a drop of irony. The San Jose, California-based rapper’s beat selection might lean more towards the darker corners of Internet EDM, but to say he attempts to channel a foulmouthed Biggie vocally would be an understatement. Still, as hip-hop branches out further from its disco, soul, and jazz-based sample roots, it’s interesting to see young talent push the boundaries of taste in their source material, and on Double Ecstasy, Antwon succeeds. Whatever Double Ecstasy is, it’s not boring.

Gallant — Ology (April 8, Mind of a Genius)

If Gallant is still a secret, he soon won’t be. His blistering falsetto could cut through a brick wall, and on stage, his passion is unbridled — he must have done 100 laps from each side of the stage at a recent SXSW set. First single “Bourbon” is a synthed-out burner that moves along just quickly enough to bob your head. It’s very much of the Dev Hynes/Miguel/Prince lineage — high praise indeed, but well deserved.

J Dilla — The Diary (Mass Appeal)

In an interview on Zane Lowe’s Beats1 show, Nas premiered J Dilla’s “The Introduction,” the first single from an upcoming release called The Diary. A lost Dilla album initially intended to be released on MCA in 2002, it’s the last batch of songs the late producer and MC put together while he was alive. It was to be his breakout solo MC moment, his College Dropout, if you will, but MCA got skittish and shelved the project. His estate resurrected his company PayJay as imprint to release the record with Mass Appeal. The record features beats and rhymes from Dilla, with guest appearances by Snoop Dogg & Bilal, and guest production from Madlib, Pete Rock, and Hi-tek, among others.

Royce Da 5’9” — Layers (April 15, Explicit Lyrics)

Royce has always been one of the more furiously spitting MCs in the game, wearing his short stature as a badge of honor lest it become a chip on his shoulder. A frequent collaborator, he’s held his own with both mediocre (Slaughterhouse) and legendary (Bad Meets Evil). On Layers, he’s as confident as ever, with more hits than misses. The above video for “Which Is Cool” shows him at his most lyrically deft and sardonic.

Sturgill Simpson — A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (April 15, Atlantic)

Sturgill Simpson’s latest LP, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, ruminates mostly on the longing for home that tends to come with a life on a ship on the open seas — or perhaps just a tour bus on the open road. He cut the record at the Butcher Shoppe in Nashville with David Ferguson and Sean Sullivan, and has a gang of guest musicians in addition to his touring troupe, including Brooklyn’s own Dap-Kings. If you hear a guitar crying, that’s probably Lil’ Joe.

Brian-Eno-The-Ship-1024x1024

Brian Eno — The Ship (April 29, Warp)

Somehow, after all these years, Brian Eno is still able to make ambient experimental music interesting enough to demand repeat listens. So any time Eno sets foot in a recording studio, it’s worth noting. This latest effort for Warp features the 21-minute opus below, to the Titanic. “A slave to hopes of destiny / Illusion of control,” he sings, for the first time on record since 2005. Just stop what you’re doing, lean back, and press play.