This Month's Best New Albums: April 2013

  • Publish Date: May 1, 2013
  • Comments: ↓ 1 user comment

The best albums released this month...

Here are the best new studio albums released in April (minimum 7 reviews):

Jama ko 91 (Out Here)
by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

"An album for anybody who likes rock music to sound angry about something."

— Mojo | More reviews...

Malian musician Bassekou Kouyate enlists several of his family members—many, like him, skilled on the ancient West African lute known as the ngoni—on this truly angry, politically charged album co-produced by Howard Bilerman (formerly of Arcade Fire).

Beautiful Africa 87 (Nonesuch)
by Rokia Traoré

"It feels like a natural step, consequently expanding the margins of Malian roots music and rock and pop simultaneously."

— All Music Guide | More reviews...

Yes, the month's two best-reviewed albums each hail from Mali. Beautiful Africa is the fifth album for singer and guitarist Traoré, whose international profile has been rising with each passing album. The lyrics here on what might be her most accessible album to date are in three languages (including English), and the disc is produced by occasional PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish.

Haw 86 (Paradise of Bachelors)
by Hiss Golden Messenger

"A uniquely rich stew where country, soul, rock 'n' roll, gospel, folk and more exotic influences mingle freely."

— The Line of Best Fit | More reviews...

The folk music of this month's third band hails from America rather than Africa—specifically, North Carolina, where the duo of MC Taylor and Scott Hirsch (formerly of Ex-Ignota and The Court & Spark, and now supplemented by three additional band members) have been blending genres across four increasingly successful albums. Guitarist William Tyler (Lambchop) guests.

Also by this artist:
Poor Moon 2012 80

Shaking the Habitual 86 (Mute)
by The Knife

"It shouldn't work--they went all or nothing. They got all."

— Paste | More reviews...

This double album is easily the most challenging, least-accessible work yet from the Swedish brother-sister duo of Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer, returning after a seven-year break (Andersson's Fever Ray side project and opera scores excluded). Songs range in length from 37 seconds to over 19 minutes, and while there isn't anything here as radio- or club-friendly as early hits like "Heartbeats" ("Full of Fire" might qualify if it were five minutes shorter and less insane), critics have been praising the record's ambition and invention.

Also by this artist:
Fever Ray by Fever Ray 2009 81
Silent Shout 2006 74
Tomorrow, In a Year with Planningtorock and Mt. Sims 2010 67

Sister Faith 85 (Temporary Residence / Holy Roar)
by Coliseum

"Sister Faith is rich with engaging depth and an inventive accessibility that should put the band on the radar of independent music lovers everywhere."

— Alternative Press | More reviews...

This fourth album from the Kentucky punk/noise-rock trio was produced by J. Robbins (Jawbox).

Sempiternal 85 (Epitaph)
by Bring Me the Horizon

"Ready to break noisily out of the underground, the quintet have made one of the year's most accomplished metal albums."

— NME | More reviews...

The metalcore band from Sheffield, England recorded this fourth album with veteran producer Terry Date, who has worked with artists ranging from Soundgarden to Deftones and here seems to have encouraged the band in a more electronic and atmospheric direction.

Also by this artist:
There Is a Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It, There is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret 2010 80

Excavation 84 (Tri Angle)
by The Haxan Cloak

"Listening to Excavation is a profoundly visceral experience."

— Consequence of Sound | More reviews...

With baselines at frequencies so low that they cannot be heard with ordinary stereo equipment, Bobby Krlic's second album as The Haxan Cloak is, as another reviewer describes it, "extreme" indeed, as far as minimal electronica goes. Just don't mistake it for cheerful music; most critics have been noting that Excavation is "dark, ominous and sinister," "bleak," and "mournful."

Amygdala 83 (Pampa)
by DJ Koze

"Amygdala is the sort of wonderfully slowed-down and spun-out electronica that suggests DJ Koze should get himself into the studio more often."

— Q | More reviews...

Guests including Caribou, Matthew Dear, Apparat, Hildegard Knef, Ada, Milosh, and Dirk von Lotzow appear on the first solo artist record in nearly a decade for producer Stefan Kozalla.

A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart 83 (Domino)
by Bill Ryder-Jones

"There's a disarming openness to the lyrics and a warmth to the arrangements that make this an album that rewards repeated listening."

— The Observer | More reviews...

The second solo album from the former guitarist for The Coral is more conventional than its more soundtrack-y, instrumental predecessor, utilizing full band arrangements (with an emphasis on guitar and piano) on Ryder-Jones' gentle singer-songwriter compositions. Simian Mobile Disco's James Ford produces.

Also by this artist:
If... 2012 81

Nomad 82 (Nonesuch)
by Bombino

"A perfect match of sound and soul, the set introduces a new guitar hero, and confirms Auerbach's arrival as a roots-music producer to be reckoned with."

— Rolling Stone | More reviews...

The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach produced this bluesy second solo album by Tuareg guitarist Omara "Bombino" Moctarin. He and his backing band recorded the album in Nashville, and they'll be returning to the U.S. for their second American tour later this month.

Wakin on a Pretty Daze 82 (Matador)
by Kurt Vile

"The 11 songs collected here are all among the very best of his career, enlivened with a vividness and warmth that offers something new with every repeated listen."

— musicOMH | More reviews...

The former War on Drugs member is now a well-established solo artist, drawing increasing acclaim for his five albums since leaving that band five years ago. The foggy, introspective rock tunes here rank among Vile's best compositions to date, with production perhaps a notch above that of the previous LP.

Also by this artist:
Smoke Ring for My Halo 2011 82
So Outta Reach [EP] 2011 76
Childish Prodigy 2009 71

Twelve Reasons to Die 81 (Relativity / Soul Temple)
by Ghostface Killah

"In an era where it increasingly seems like rap albums are being rendered obsolete by mixtapes, this tightly focused, wildly entertaining collaboration between two master craftsmen is a testament to how powerful the form can still be."

— A.V. Club | More reviews...

Produced by composer Adrian Younge (best known for his Black Dynamite soundtrack), this latest solo outing from the Wu-Tang member is one of his most daring yet: it's a concept album, based on the comic of the same name, about a gangster in 1960s Italy. Critics mostly love it, though they note that it needs to be heard as a whole to be fully appreciated.

Also by this artist:
Fishscale 2006 88
Apollo Kids 2010 84
The Pretty Toney Album 2004 84
More Fish 2006 77
The Big Doe Rehab 2007 77
Ghostdini: Wizard Of Poetry 2009 68
GhostDeini The Great 2008 62

Overgrown 81 (Polydor)
by James Blake

"While James Blake felt aloof, even ahuman, Overgrown is packed with feeling, and releases it with the smallest of gestures."

— BPM | More reviews...

The sophomore set from the young British artist (matching the acclaim for his Mercury Prize-nominated 2011 debut) includes collaborations with Brian Eno and RZA (sadly, not on the same track), and puts the emphasis on Blake's growing songwriting talents.

Also by this artist:
James Blake 2011 81
Love What Happened Here [EP] 2011 77
Enough Thunder [EP] 2011 64

New History Warfare, Vol. 3: To See More Light 81 (Constellation)
by Colin Stetson

"To See More Light is a masterpiece that organically and coherently blends Stetson's avant-garde playing and dark, complex themes with accessible and compelling compositions that bring a ray of hope not just for the characters in his underlying narrative, but for the future of music."

— Exclaim | More reviews...

A saxophone player who has toured and recorded as a member of Arcade Fire and Bon Iver, Stetson is becoming increasingly known for his own solo work, which he often records in single takes with no overdubs. Produced by the similarly experimental-minded artist Ben Frost, Stetson's latest also offers added accessibility, as Bon Iver's Justin Vernon sings on four of the 11 tracks.

Also by this artist:
New History Warfare, Vol. 2: Judges 2011 82
Those Who Didn't Run 2011 79
Stones with Mats Gustafsson 2012 66

Paramore 81 (Atlantic/Fueled by Ramen)
by Paramore

"At 17 tracks, Paramore's self-titled release seems like it should also be a textbook victim of its creators' self-indulgence--but in fact it comes off like the great Blondie-indebted 21st-century new-wave album that No Doubt were trying to make with 2012's Push and Shove."

— Entertainment Weekly | More reviews...

Moving on after losing two members (co-founders Josh and Zac Farro), the Hayley Williams-fronted band scored their first ever #1 debut in the U.S. while also receiving some of their best reviews to date with this stylistically diverse (if a bit overlong) fourth album.

Also by this artist:
brand new eyes 2009 73
Riot! 2007 67
More Well-Reviewed April Albums
Album Label Metascore
Floating Coffin by Thee Oh SeesCastle Face80
{Awayland} by VillagersDomino80
Cruise Your Illusion by Milk MusicFat Possum80
Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time by Steve MasonDouble Six80
Jake Bugg by Jake BuggMercury80
Holiday by Port St. WillowDowntown80
Victim of Love by Charles BradleyDaptone / Dunham 79
The Terror by The Flaming LipsWarner Bros.77
The Low Highway by Steve Earle & the Dukes (& Duchesses)New West77
Tape Deck Heart by Frank TurnerInterscope / Polydor77
Wheelhouse by Brad PaisleyArista77
Stories Don't End by DawesHub Records76
Vanishing Point by MudhoneySub Pop76
Pearl Mystics by HookwormsGringo Records76
English Electric by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the DarkBMG / 100%76
Save Rock and Roll by Fall Out BoyIsland / Mercury76
Wait to Pleasure by No JoyKemado / Mexican Summer76
Junip by JunipMute76
Ghost on Ghost by Iron & WineNonesuch76
Ultramarine by Young GalaxyPaper Bag Records76
Avoid these:
Cosy Moments by KinskiKill Rock Stars59
Reincarnated by Snoop Lion RCA 56
#willpower by Interscope 52
Hotel California by Tyga Republic 50

The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). All scores are from May 1, 2013.

What do you think?

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

Comments (1)

  • jyo_tirmaya  

    David Bowie The Next Day; Phoenix Bankrupt!; Devendra Banhart Mala; Jim James Sounds...; Sinead O'Connor How About...; Dead Can Dance Anastasis; Prince Rama Shadow Temple.

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