April's Best New Music

Our monthly roundup looks at the best-reviewed albums released over the past month. For reviews of these and many more albums, visit Metacritic Music.

The best albums released this month, according to critics

Below, we look at April's best-reviewed releases. For each album below, we list the percentages of "great" critic reviews (with an individual critic score above 80), "good" critic reviews (61-80), "mixed" reviews (40-60), and "bad" reviews (below 40). Note that all song download links go to Hype Machine, where you can find the indicated MP3s on a variety of music blogs.

Sam Amidon: I See the Sign (Bedroom Community)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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How Come That Blood
, Relief (R. Kelly cover)

22% 78% 0% 0% 85 8.6

In his third album, produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson, folk singer Amidon again takes on both the old and the new with guests such as fellow folkie Beth Orton and classical composer Nico Muhly.

What the critics liked: Amidon's distinctive voice and interpretations allow listeners to engage in his rustic reimaginings of both murder ballads and R. Kelly.

What they didn't: Critics didn't seem to find anything to dislike. (You, however, may not be a fan of his voice; listen before you buy.)

Caribou: Swim (Merge)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Odessa

33% 62% 5% 0% 85 8.9

Electronica guru Dan Snaith's latest Caribou album, created as he was learning how to swim, is less upbeat than 2007's Andorra, but still very danceable.

What the critics liked: Heavily textured dance tracks and Snaith's trademark compositional sophistication make for an immersive aural experience.

What they didn't: The vocals seem to be the common weak link, and Cokemachineglow was disappointed that the album contained "mild retreads of stuff we already know."

Also by this artist:
Up in Flames 2003 88 8.6    
Andorra 2007 83 8.6    
The Milk of Human Kindness 2005 81 8.3    
Start Breaking My Heart 2002 76 9.0    

Laura Marling: I Speak Because I Can (Astralwerks)

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Rambling Man

33% 60% 7% 0% 84 9.0

This precocious folk-rock artist's assured second album vindicates her as more than a one-time wunderkind.

What the critics liked: Both darker and more sophisticated than Marling's Mercury Prize-nominated debut, the album evokes both passion and delicacy; more than one reviewer referred to her as a sort of folky PJ Harvey.

What they didn't: A few reviewers seemed uncomfortable with Marling's ability to imbue even the mundane with gravitas—but they might be the type who think women tend to take some things too seriously.

Also by this artist:
Alas, I Cannot Swim 2008 73 9.4    

Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings: I Learned the Hard Way (Daptone)

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I Learned the Hard Way

32% 56% 12% 0% 83 9.8

This retro soul outfit's timeless appeal is anchored by both impeccable production (using vintage gear) and the fantastically gifted vocalist Jones.

What the critics liked: Jones' voice just gets better with age, and the band's soulful musicianship continues to perfectly evoke themes like "he done me wrong" even as the songs veer into funkier territory.

What they didn't: Some critics complained that the music is nothing new but admitted that the artistry still elevates the material.

Also by this artist:
100 Days, 100 Nights 2007 79 9.0    

Avi Buffalo: Avi Buffalo (Sub Pop)

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Whats In It For?

13% 88% 0% 0% 83 9.0

19-year-old Avigdor Zahner-Isenber heads this dreamy California indie-pop quartet that is currently riding a wave of Internet hype for this self-titled debut.

What the critics liked: Catchy songwriting and an age-appropriate blend of melancholy, lust, and innocence make for an irresistible record.

What they didn't: While some critics may have called them sentimental and naive, they meant it in the best possible way.

The Tallest Man On Earth: Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)

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King of Spain
, Burden of Tomorrow

35% 55% 10% 0% 82 10.0

Acoustic folkster Kristian Matsson's virtuosic guitar strumming and evocative rasp lead many to refer to him as a Swedish Dylan (Bob, not Thomas)—a title this record will only reinforce.

What the critics liked: Critics swooned over his lyricism and his ability to attain a variety of moods from a minimalist palette, with Clash Music going so far as to refer to him as "the saviour of modern folk."

What they didn't: Drowned In Sound said that the album "lacks distinctly in original thoughts, or ideas, or anything that doesn't bring to mind a few predecessors. "

Dr. Dog: Shame, Shame (Anti)

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Stranger
, Where'd All The Time Go?

36% 64% 0% 0% 81 8.7

Lively, cheerful psych-rock with irrepressible harmonies gets a more polished production in Dr. Dog's more ambitious sixth album.

What the critics liked: The band draws on their experience to create songs with appealing hooks and emotional exuberance.

What they didn't: Dr. Dog occasionally wear their influences on their sleeves, which may bother some listeners.

Also by this artist:
We All Belong 2007 73 9.2    
Fate 2008 72 8.9    

Nedry: Condors (Monotreme)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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A42

14% 71% 14% 0% 81 n/a

Not to be mistaken for the duplicitous Jurassic Park employee, this London outfit consisting of vocalist Ayu Okakita and producers Matt Parker and Chris Amblin pushes dubstep to the forefront.

What the critics liked: Dark, glitchy, and compelling, this 8-song debut features Björk-like vocals and a gritty neo trip-hop ambience.

What they didn't: All Music Guide mentioned that while the debut lacked focus at times, it showed impressive potential.

The Radio Dept.: Clinging To A Scheme (Labrador)

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Heaven's On Fire

8% 75% 17% 0% 80 8.6

This Swedish band's dreamlike, melancholic indie pop was prominently featured in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. This is only the band's third album, though they've been together for almost a decade and a half.

What the critics liked: More polished than previous outings, this 34-minute LP is heavier on the synths while still retaining its shoegazey backgrounds and bittersweet lyricism.

What they didn't: When it's good, it's very good, but for the most part, the band seems content with the familiar.

Also by this artist:
Lesser Matters 2004 84 9.4    

Dosh: Tommy (Anticon)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Number 41
(feat. Andrew Bird)

38% 38% 25% 0% 78 n/a

This Minneapolis experimental musician's fifth album, which prominently features guest Andrew Bird, is dedicated to a friend who recently passed away.

What the critics liked: Sophisticated percussion and "vulnerable, exultant melodies" (Onion A.V. Club) further Dosh's sonic explorations, which lean heavily electronic while defying genres.

What they didn't: The sheer breadth of styles brought a few reviewers to exhaustion, though none denied the artistry it required.

More Well-Reviewed April Albums
Album Label Metascore
Country Music by Willie NelsonRounder78
Go by JónsiXL77
I Am What I Am by Merle HaggardVanguard77
Travellers In Space And Time by The Apples In StereoYep Roc75
Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast by CornershopAmple Play74
...And Then We Saw Land by TunngThrill Jockey74
Hippies by HarlemMatador74
Avoid these:
Rise Up by Cypress Hill Priority56
The Dark Leaves by Matt Pond PA Attitude55
Nobody's Daughter by HoleMercury54

The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores are from April 28, 2010.

What are you listening to?

What new albums or songs are in heavy rotation on your MP3 player? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (9)

  • PR Newswire Help Des  

    I thought the Tallest Man on Earth was Ewan McGregor at first. I hate how whenever I hear the name Ewan McG., I imagine him fellating Louis CK. Have you seen that bit? Hysterical. Anyhow, you've got me churning up my back catalog with your features, Zeenat. I love Radio Dept. Need to bring those dudes back into my life.

  • Sean  

    The new Field Music album - Measure. I got it in March and I still listen to it everyday. It's a double album so it's a lot to absorb but so worth it.

  • 10 Must-Hear Albums  

    [...] 5/4/201011:34 pm Each month, CBS Interactive site Metacritic rounds up the best album releases according to critics. Below is the list from [...]

  • j  

    Awesome segment. These features are rocking my world.

  • Christopher  

    I have to admit, I've been listening to so much of the new National album that I haven't had time for releases this month. Granted, from what I see, it wasn't that great anyways.

  • Lattocky  

    What about circa survive? Their new album has a 81 currently

  • Evin Coronado  

    circa survive?

  • Mark T  

    The new Plants and Animals (La La Land) is fantastic. I dont understand how this got such a low average rating. Also Gonjasufi's "A Sufi and a Killer" is awesome.

  • Micah  

    What about Plants & Animals or Horse Feathers (both out 4.20)?

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