Blur: “The Magic Whip“
Release Date: April 27
It’s been 12 years since the English rock band Blur released their last album “Think Tank.” Since then, lead vocalist Damon Albarn has split his time up forming another wildly successful band with Gorillaz, scored movies and released his long awaited solo album “Everyday Robots.” “The Magic Whip,” Blur’s eighth studio album, is a triumphant comeback for the band and as expected, there’s a natural progression in the band’s sound. The pieces for a great Blur album are all here: Guitarist Graham Coxon is back for the first time since 1999’s “13” and producer Stephen Street, who hasn’t produced a Blur album since 1997’s “Blur,” returns. Recorded in a small Hong Kong studio in 2013, “The Magic Whip” is blends decades worth of experience from the band into a wild mix of old and new-school sensibilities. The band just works really well with each other and together, Blur has crafted an album that’s unlikely to disappoint fans.
Recommended tracks from “The Magic Whip”: “Go Out,” “Ghost Ship” and “Ong Ong”
Braids: “Deep in the Iris”
Release Date: April 28
One of the stronger albums in an already fantastic year for music, Braids’ third studio album “Deep in the Iris” also manages to be the Canadian psychedelic pop band’s best album. Raphaelle Standell-Preston has really grown as a singer. Her vocal performance on “Deep in the Iris” is incredibly cathartic and immensely beautiful. The band has also slightly toned down the electronics in favor of more live instrumentation. “Taste” contains some fantastic piano work and the drumming throughout the album is much less programmed than it was on the band’s previous albums. “Deep in the Iris” is an easy album to get lost in. It’s drop dead gorgeous at times and quite emotionally gripping, thanks in part to Preston’s game-changing vocal performance. “Deep in the Iris” is the kind of album that hits right in the feels, especially if listened to at night. Don’t miss it.
Recommended tracks from “Deep in the Iris”: “Taste,” “Blondie” and “Miniskirt”
Release Date: April 24
On their sixth studio album and first since 2009’s “No More Stories,” Danish dream-pop/art-rock band Mew stick to what they do best on “+-.” Namely, they’ve crafted an album full of catchy pop tracks enhanced by utterly gorgeous melodies and Jonas Bjerre’s stunning vocals. Throughout the “+-“‘s hour long runtime, Mew moves between dreamy and upbeat tracks like “The Night Whisperer” and darkly atmospheric tracks like “Water Slides.” While the band isn’t particularly branching out into uncharted territory with the sounds presented on “+-,” it’s still a consistently enjoyable listen. Mew’s knack for beautiful songwriting and luscious production is on full display here and it makes for one of the band’s very best albums.
Recommended tracks from “+-“: “Water Slides,” “Interview the Girls,” and “Clinging to a Bad Dream”
Raekwon: “Fly International Luxurious Art”
Release Date: April 28
Wu-Tang Clan founder Raekwon is back with his sixth solo release and first since 2011’s “Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang.” As expected, “Fly International Luxurious Art” is packed with bangin’ production and Raekwon’s trademark borderline-spoken-word-poetry flow. The album is packed with features from rap heavyweights; A$AP Rocky, Snoop Dogg and fellow Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah all show up to spit some bars. “Fly International Luxurious Art” may not reach the heights of the best Wu-Tang affiliated albums, but it’s a real thrill to hear Raekwon lyrically obliterate an entire album again. Oh, and yes, it’s way better than that piss poor 2014 Wu-Tang reunion album, “A Better Tomorrow.”
Recommended tracks from “Fly International Luxurious Art”: “All About You,” “Heated Nights” and “Revory (Wraith)”