April New Music Roundup: Did you miss these great releases?
As we enter May, we close the books on a month that saw the release of several blockbuster albums, chart-shifting singles and enough new music to get us through the summer. With April in our rearview mirror, we took a look back at some of the noteworthy releases from GRAMMY-winning artists and newcomers alike with our latest installment of the Monthly Music Roundup.
Father John Misty, Pure Comedy
Notorious late-night tweeter and self-styled indie rock iconoclast Father John Misty released his latest effort, Pure Comedy. Typical of the singer/songwriter's trademark lyrical density, Spin.com says the album "evokes increasing comparisons to '70s singer/songwriters like Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson, who hid their acidic commentary within sturdy pop structures."
Joey Bada$$, Amerikkkan Badass
Brooklyn-based rapper Joey Bada$$ dropped his second studio LP. The rapper has shifted from the self-aware thematic content of his debut record, B4.Da.$$, toward hip-hop stylings centered around political themes and imagery. Pitchfork calls Amerikkkan Badass a "starting point for those who may not have thought much of economic, social and political disparity."
The Chainsmokers, Memories … Do Not Open
GRAMMY-winning duo the Chainsmokers released their debut studio album, Memories … Do Not Open. The 12-track set launched at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and the chart performance of its three singles, including Best Pop Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY winner "Closer," made the Chainsmokers just the third group ever to have three simultaneous Top 10 singles on the Hot 100.
Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
Kendrick Lamar hype was at an all-time high following the release of this album's lead single "HUMBLE.," building to a fever pitch ahead of the release of his fourth studio effort, DAMN. Rolling Stone calls the album "a dazzling display of showy rhyme skills, consciousness-raising political screeds, self-examination, and bass-crazy kicking."
John Mayer, The Search For Everything
Connecticut-born genre jumper John Mayer has never been short on talent. The Search For Everything comes after a candid interview with The New York Times and just ahead of a summer tour. His latest album shows off a more mellow thread of the GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter's DNA. As AllMusic.com says, "He's settling into a groove he can claim as his own, and it feels like he's at home."
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, So It Is
Switching gears from the bluegrass-influenced sounds of 2013's That's It!, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band tapped the production duo of TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek and current member and music director Ben Jaffe to curate a record of more worldly stylings. AllMusic.com says it "showcases a soulful, bluesy, groove-oriented set of songs heavily influenced by the roiling, kinetic sound of Afro-Latin and Cuban bands."
What sounds at first like an unorthodox combination of artists — Incubus and GRAMMY-winning DJ/producer Skrillex — turns out to be the former's most aggressive and punchy rock album of their career. As Incubus' lead singer Brandon Boyd explained to Rolling Stone about the collaboration, "It was like there was one more lick to get to the center of the Tootsie Pop and we found it."
Robyn Hitchcock, Robyn Hitchcock
The revved-up pace and sound of singer/songwriter Hitchcock's self-titled solo album comes in stark contrast to 2014's reserved and pensive The Man Upstairs. "Existing fans will rightfully be thrilled that Hitchcock not only hasn’t lost his edge, but has sharpened his knives on this superb set," American Songwriter claims. "Newcomers can start here to get a whiff of one of music’s most pungent, eccentric and lovable journeymen doing what he does best."
Sheryl Crow, Be Myself
GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow returns to familiar retro form, enlisting Jeff Trott and Tchad Blake, who worked on her self-titled album in 1996. The resulting comfortable surroundings, according to AllMusic.com, find Crow "happy to embrace her eccentricity in addition to her fondness for big pop hooks."
Following rumors that the group had fallen out and disbanded, the Gorillaz returned to music after a seven-year hiatus with Humanz. Themed around emotional reactions to world-changing events and subtle political undertones, Pitchfork call the record a "gloomy party playlist for the end of the world."
Trombone Shorty, Parking Lot Symphony
The genre-busting New Orleans trombonist, trumpeter and singer returned to dip his toes into the deep end of '70s R&B and funk sounds with Parking Lot Symphony. AllMusic.com says the LP is "one of Trombone Shorty's most balanced productions, equal parts New Orleans R&B sophistication and loose, block party fun."
It's been six years since Feist released her critically acclaimed album, Metals, and now she is back with a more intimate sound and some of her best material yet. According to Consequence of Sound, "Pleasure is a record of patience, and each surprising twist in its understated songwriting is used to illustrate how Feist keeps her cool."
Mary J. Blige, Strength Of A Woman
The GRAMMY-winning R&B superstar has done it again. Mary J. Blige's new album, Strength Of A Woman, arrived with much anticipation. BET reports that fans are "celebrating the fact that the R&B veteran truly did put her heartache (and hope) into her music once again — much like she has throughout her entire career."
Willie Nelson, God's Problem Child
Coming off a GRAMMY win for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album at the 59th GRAMMY Awards, the outlaw country music legend tells it just like it is at age 83 on God's Problem Child, which features some of Nelson's sharpest songwriting, most purposeful lyrics and most vulnerable vocal performances, according to Rolling Stone.
Beyoncé, "Die With You"
Beyoncé released "Die With You" in honor of her ninth wedding anniversary with husband Jay Z. According to Billboard, the GRAMMY-winning artist also curated an exclusive 63-track playlist for streaming service Tidal to accompany the single track and music video release.
Harry Styles, "Sign Of The Times"
The One Direction star found himself on the top of the U.K. charts with his new single, "Sign Of The Times," bumping fellow English countryman Ed Sheeran from the top spot early in the month. According to Huffington Post UK, the song has a "surprising backstory."
Royal Blood, "Lights Out"
The British blues-rock duo are back with the first single from the anticipated follow-up to their 2014 self-titled masterpiece. If the fuzzed-out "Lights Out" is any indication their album, How Did We Get So Dark?, out in June, it will offer an even heavier version of the band's garage sound.
The French synth-rock quartet came out swinging with their first new music since 2013's Bankrupt! The track makes for an apt preview to their forthcoming LP Ti Amo, which lead guitarist Laurent Brancowitz told Consequence Of Sound will focus on "simple, pure emotions."
What was your favorite release from April? Share your thoughts in the comments.