March's Best New Music

  • Publish Date: March 31, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 8 user comments

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

The best albums released this month

Below, we look at March's best-reviewed releases. While reviewing the list, feel free to listen to Metacritic's March Playlist, consisting of some of our favorite tunes from this month's albums:

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.

The Dillinger Escape Plan: Option Paralysis (Season of Mist)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Farewell, Mona Lisa

42% 58% 0% 0% 86 6.5

Known for their instrumental prowess, the members of Dillinger Escape Plan make loud, aggressive metal with an experimental bent (think tricky time signatures). "Option Paralysis," their fourth and longest album, is their first for their own label, and also their first recording with new drummer Billy Rymer.

What the critics liked: It's another strong effort for a band that has few equals. The songs are emotional and dramatic. Greg Puciato's Mike Patton-esque vocals are among metal's best.

What they didn't: The band's music can be challenging, and the new album doesn't break any new ground.

Also by this artist:
Ire Works 2007 84 6.1    
Miss Machine 2004 80 9.0    

Erykah Badu: New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh (Motown)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Window Seat

60% 20% 20% 0% 85 8.9

The R&B singer-songwriter's follow-up to her 2008 album is analog and personal where Part One was digital and political. The new disc features contributions from ?uestlove, Lil Wayne, 9th Wonder and Madlib, and has caused a stir due to a racy video for the song "Window Seat."

What the critics liked: The album's loose structure gives Badu the freedom to explore and invent. It's smooth, soulful, odd, and inventive. It's also more accessible -- and possibly also more enjoyable -- than its predecessor.

What they didn't: The songwriting is a bit too loose, "leisurely" and "hazy," and Badu doesn't take quite as many risks as she did on the previous record.

Also by this artist:
New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War) 2008 83 8.4    
Mama's Gun 2000 80 9.8    
Worldwide Underground 2003 69 9.2    

White Hinterland: Kairos (Dead Oceans)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Icarus
, No Logic (both links from the official Dead Oceans site)

13% 87% 0% 0% 83 n/a

Singer-songwriter Casey Dienel's second LP under the name White Hinterland (now a Portland, Ore.-based duo that also includes musician Shawn Creeden) showcases a new minimalist sound with elements of electronica that range from lush to dubby.

What the critics liked: The group demonstrates an admirable willingness to experiment with their approach. Despite its minimalism, there is a lot happening on the album, and it rewards repeat listening. Dienel's voice is another high point.

What they didn't: While it's a step in the right direction, the band hasn't gone quite far enough in establishing a distinctive sound.

These New Puritans: Hidden (Domino)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Attack Music

28% 64% 8% 0% 82 9.4

This expansive second album from the British art-rock four-piece incorporates a full orchestra, a choir, sound effects, and more electronics than the band's more guitar-driven debut. It was co-produced by Graham Sutton of Bark Psychosis.

What the critics liked: It's a fascinating, thrilling, and ambitious experiment. The beats are strong. You won't hear anything else much like it.

What they didn't: There are few actual songs. The album lacks coherence and is close to being too over the top, and the vocals can grate.

Also by this artist:
Beat Pyramid 2008 76 8.0    

Titus Andronicus: The Monitor (XL)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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A More Perfect Union
, Richard II

37% 52% 11% 0% 81 5.9

The vaguely Civil War-themed "The Monitor" is the second album for the New Jersey indie-rockers. Members of Vivian Girls, Wye Oak, and The Hold Steady guest.

What the critics liked: It's an accomplished, intelligent album. The concept doesn't get in the way of the songs being relevant and fun to listen to, and the band shows a refreshing sense of humor.

What they didn't: It's a bit overindulgent and overlong, and the theme doesn't work for some critics.

Also by this artist:
The Airing Of Grievances 2008 84 8.6    

The Besnard Lakes: The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Albatross

9% 91% 0% 0% 80 7.5

The third album for the Montreal indie-rockers led by husband and wife Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas features layers of sound (mainly guitar) in service of a '60s psychedelia-meets-shoegaze whole.

What the critics liked: The sound is darker, bigger, and more muscular than on their previous album, and all the better for it.

What they didn't: The songwriting sometimes takes a back seat to technique, and not every track is a winner.

Also by this artist:
The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse 2007 83 8.1    

Polar Bear: Peepers (Leaf)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Peepers
14% 71% 14% 0% 80 8.1

Award-winning British experimental jazz outfit Polar Bear returns with a fourth album.

What the critics liked: It's another strong effort for the band. The record exhibits a winning irreverence and originality, and is both approachable and "invigorating" despite its experimental and all-instrumental nature.

What they didn't: There were few complaints about the album, other than it being a bit "heady."

Also by this artist:
Polar Bear 2008 72 n/a    

Liars: Sisterworld (Mute)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Scissor
, Scarecrows on a Killer Slant

21% 71% 8% 0% 79 7.2

One of the more challenging bands to emerge from the New York indie-rock scene in the early 2000's, Liars refuse to sit still, changing their sound (and, typically, even their location) with every release. Recorded in Los Angeles, this fifth LP is earning the band yet another batch of strong reviews.

What the critics liked: "Sisterworld" is one of the band's most accessible outings yet. The band continues to push their boundaries and make intriguing, compelling music.

What they didn't: Like previous Liars albums, its very calculated and challenging, and missing an element of fun.

Also by this artist:
Drum's Not Dead 2006 79 9.0    
Liars 2008 79 7.8    
They Threw Us in a Trench and Stuck a Monument On Top 2002 77 7.5    
They Were Wrong, So We Drowned 2004 64 8.3    

Gonjasufi: A Sufi and a Killer (Warp)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Klowds

33% 50% 17% 0% 79 7.4

"A Sufi and a Killer" is the debut LP for San Diego, California's Sumach Ecks, who was signed to Warp after guesting on a track by Flying Lotus. Hard to pin down, the album is a hallucinatory mix of hip-hop, trip-hop, electronica and psychedelic folk, produced by Gaslamp Killer.

What the critics liked: It's trippy, appealing music. The album exhibits great attention to detail, and seems to exist outside of any time or genre. It greatly rewards repeat listens.

What they didn't: It can be hard to wrap your head around what you are hearing, and it makes for a challenging listen at times.

Gorillaz: Plastic Beach (Virgin)

% Great % Good % Mixed % Bad Metascore Users  

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Empire Ants
, Stylo

30% 57% 10% 3% 79 8.3

The third studio album from the hugely successful "cartoon" band led by Blur's Damon Albarn features contributions from Snoop Dogg, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, Gruff Rhys, Lou Reed, Little Dragon, and more.

What the critics liked: It's a fun listen. Several critics feel that it is not only the Gorillaz' best outing yet, but also an ambitious, groundbreaking work of pop music.

What they didn't: It's not as immediate as previous albums, and it falters a bit in the home stretch. A few critics also complain that it lacks coherence, while a few others find it a bit dull.

Also by this artist:
Demon Days 2005 82 8.7    
Gorillaz 2001 71 9.2    
D-Sides 2007 69 7.5    
G-Sides 2002 65 9.0    
More Well-Reviewed March Albums
Album Label Metascore
San Patricio by The Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder Hear78
I Will Be by Dum Dum GirlsSub Pop77
Come Down With Me by ErrorsRock Action77
The Winter Of Mixed Drinks by Frightened RabbitFat Cat76
Two Thousand And Ten Injuries by Love Is AllPolyvinyl76
Volume Two by She & HimMerge75
Black Light by Groove ArmadaOM75
The Big To-Do by Drive-By TruckersATO75
Interpreting The Masters, Volume 1:
A Tribute to Daryl Hall And John Oates
by The Bird And The Bee
Blue Note75
Broken Side Of Time by Alberta CrossATO75
High-rated compilations:
Quarantine The Past by PavementMatador84
Under Great White Northern Lights [Live] by The White StripesWarner Bros.83
Avoid these:
Raymond v. Raymond by UsherLa Face59
Back To Light by Bomb The Bass!K759
In The Dark by The WhigsATO58
The Alphabet Of Hurricanes by Tom McRaeCooking Vinyl57
Black Swan by AthleteOriginal Signal52

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 March 30, 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 (8)

  • DR Jam  

    Right now, I'm heavy on Trip-hop, and electro-chill, and a bit of everything else. (Wax Tailoer "Hope & Sorrow," Gil Scott-Heron "I'm new Here," One Eskimo, Air, Etienne de Crecy, Sia, the usuals Ghost, Rae, & Meth and the Wu, the list goes on....) Can't wait to get my new Erykah Badu album which I've already pre-ordered.

  • Beau  

    Whats not on the list but you will want to check out:

    Shout Out Louds: Work (A Swedish indie rock/pop qunitet)

    The Ruby Suns: Fight Softly (Think Merri Weather Post Pavilion/electronic Beach Boys pop)

    Carolina Chocolate Drops: Genuine Negro Jig (African-American string and jug folk group)

    Vampire Weekend: Contra (Signs of indie,punk,pop,rock,reggaeton,classical, world. Clearly influenced by Paul Simons Graceland)

    Yeasayer: Odd Blood (Brooklyn based indie rock group, dense with lots of sounds but an honest and great push at moving music forward and defining their own sound. A lot of different sounds, very rewarding after repeated listens, don't mind the opener it's very odd indeed)

    Broken Bells: Broken Bells (Danger Mouse and James Mercer (of the Shins), very groovy and fresh... except for the middle of the album.

    Everybody Was in the French Resistance...Now: Fixin' the Charts, Volume 1 (Art Brut's Eddie Argos and Blood Arm's Dylan Valdes take a look with responses and re-imaginings of classic chart hits from artists such as Simon & Garfunkel, Michael Jackson, Avril Lavigne, Kanye West, etc.)

  • Christopher  

    Liars have always challenged their listeners. Even despite being a more accessible album, Sisterworld still preserves that classic Liars sound. Definitely my album of March and so far the best album I've heard this year, well, at least till The National's High Violet comes out.

  • Sean  

    The Morning Benders deserve to be in this list. Metacritic hasnt even cataloged its review scores, Big Echo is an amazing album

  • damon larkins  

    Love is an outstanding album by AVA, if you like unique rock music then here you go. Plus, tom's energy in his songs truly show why this music is a great listening experience. Please check it out

  • Suleiman.  

    LOVE by Angels & Airwaves is an incredible record, and one that I cannot seem to let go of! Download the record for FREE off of their website, angelsandairwaves.com

    Seriously guys, it's a good listen, and what do you got to lose? It's free!

  • Dan  

    Where are The Morning Benders? They put out the greatest album of not only the month but the year so far and metacritic hasn't even compiled the reviews.

  • Denise  

    From the list, I can get behind These New Puritans, The Besnard Lakes, Liars, Gorillaz and Dum Dum Girls. All recommended! Best month of the year so far.

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