march of 2015 will go down in history as an unprecedented month in terms of high-profile album releases – both announced and unannounced. to combat the sudden, staggering volume of new music, we decided to double down and tackle twice as many album reviews as usual; you’ll find them listed below next to the date the review ran on the site, which may or may not coincide with the album’s actual release date. as usual, we’ll start with the long format works that were dropped in our laps this month before moving on to smaller – but just as indelible – musical servings.
march 24th: lightning bolt – fantasy empire
let’s talk about rap music first. heems seemed poised to carry the torch for at least a month or two before an industry heavyweight came along to challenge him. eat pray thug is incredibly direct and unforgiving in its portrayal of a brown man’s post-9/11 america, and it speaks volumes for a grossly underrepresented minority in american pop culture. then kendrick lamar unexpectedly dropped to pimp a butterfly, and the collective attention appropriately shifted. it’s an unbelievable dense body of work to grapple with, both musically and lyrically, though lamar was gracious enough not to shroud too much content in metaphor. to pimp a butterfly is one of those albums designed to sink in organically over many months, but there are a few spot-on reviews floating around if you’re interested.
in similar fashion, earl sweatshirt rolled out his follow-up to 2013’s doris the following week with even less spectacle. i don’t like shit, i don’t go outside may not have appeared as mysteriously or inexplicably as sweatshirt wanted it to, but the album is undeniably his best work yet. earl retains one of the best flows and use of wordplay in the game and these qualities are only magnified by the grainy, bare-bones production throughout i don’t go outside. rounding things out for the month was action bronson with his long-awaited debut, mr. wonderful, although we still find his cooking shows to be much more consistent.
march was a busy month outside of hip-hop as well. yumi zouma kicked things off with their excellent sophomore ep; for a group as contentedly displaced as they are, a steady delivery of material through the ep format might be the band’s ticket to sustained success, especially if they keep developing ideas as rapidly as they have been. the middle of the month was dominated mostly by lamar, but it also saw the long-awaited release of new music from modest mouse and the impressive piano-based debut effort from tobias jesso jr. laura marling’s fifth album is quite possibly her strongest, and the same could be said for lightning bolt’s latest, although it does lack a bit of the duo’s glorious live energy. march bowed out with the highly-anticipated courtney barnett debut and sufjan stevens’ carrie & lowell, a mid-career masterpiece by the singer-songwriter.
march also played host to a slew of single servings. speedy ortiz and waxahatchee both continued to drum up interest in their respective albums out next month with a new song each; speedy ortiz’ “the graduates” isn’t quite as heavy as “raising the skate,” but the band is still charting an impressive course for a highly successful sophomore effort. elvis depressedly detailed a bit more information about new alhambra, announcing a may release date and letting go of the warbling, understated “bruises (amethyst),” while mikal cronin offered up another outstanding cut from his forthcoming mciii. finishing off the month was jamie xx, who announced his highly-anticipated solo debut, in colour, and released a pair of new tracks in “loud places” and “gosh.”
hopefully we can keep pace with april. soft cat, waxahatchee, and toro y moi all have albums out within the first week of the month, with efforts from the aforementioned speedy ortiz, passion pit, and braids due out in the weeks to follow. and, just as january set the tone for this monstrous first quarter of 2015, april is sure to be the platform for a lot of releases in may and june; anticipate a bevy of new singles and concrete album announcements over the next thirty days. as always, we’ll try to recap the happenings in this spot next month. check back soon.